Monday, March 29, 2010

Shooting for TUGS

In my near 3 years of working at MYSTIC SEAPORT I have been granted many a great opportunity. Some of the most exciting include meeting world class sailor Gary Jobson, installing equipment for the amazing Object theater in last year's FROZEN IN exhibit, and of course access to our countless tapes of priceless maritime footage within our secure vault. However, I can honestly say, shooting for the new TUGS exhibit coming in May has given me some of the coolest experiences in my life.

Fall of Last year brought myself and my co-worker Dan Harvison to the harbors of New York City to shoot the annual Tug Games that take place there. He on a historic tug boat, myself on a chase boat, we were both well equipped with some spiffy High Definition cameras!! My were they ever a joy to work with. These cameras not only were lighter and easier to maneuver than anything we've ever worked with previously, but the picture is absolutely indescribable!

Sitting on chase boat I watched and filmed in awe as a river full of Tug boats of all sizes and models raced and frolicked around me. The collective wake of the opening race was massive, nearly toppling me over on the deck. Once the race was over, the fun continued all at once. Some boats move into the dock for a line tossing contest, attempting to lasso the dock brace with a rope the thickness of my arm...some even bigger! Meanwhile, out further into the water, some boats had nose-to-nose contests. Each tug pushing against each other in a sort of "Tug" of war, only in reverse. Surprisingly, even the smaller tugs seemed to hold their own against the massive barge tugs in these contests of brute force.

A few months later, we again found ourselves filming for TUGS with our friends the High Definition cameras. This time, we were aboard a brand spanking new ATB Tug boat. This tug was absolutely massive, it's cockpit rising nearly 80 feet off the water. We were the guests of honor as the captain and crew gave us a full tour and cruised out into open water for a brief, but extremely memorable sea trial. I can't seem to put into words how it feels to be on a ship this massive that can spin nearly in place!

Touring the engine room was like visiting the tug straight off the assembly line. Everything was spotless and shone from the lights above. In some areas, crewmen and engineers worked with various tools making final adjustments before the Tug could be handed off to it's owner.

By far the most amazing thing out of all of these was walking on top of a steel barge while still under construction. We had to be at least the same height as the tug cockpit, the unfinished behemoth being held up only by a few supports allowing work to continue underneath. All around us welders were applying their trade, blinding sparks fixing new plates into place. At one point we were told to be careful where we pointed the camera, for right next door to the manufacturing facility was non other than GENERAL DYNAMICS.

Sadly, TUGS is in post production, and all adventures have long been had and passed. Fortunately a new adventure still awaits us...watching the finished programs in sparkling High Definition!!!

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