Tug Barge Combo

Who among us hasn’t  has contemplated the idea of a tug barge combo? Every tug boat site I have ever come across that offers plans for amateurs promotes the idea of a tug/shanty/barge concept
Surely at some point we have all thought about it, dreamed of it and wished for it.  *ahem* at least anyone interested in the shanty lifestyle probably has at least thought about a small affordable little tug to tow around an accommodations vessel, feeling like a true tug skipper,  and loving the freedoms and advantages  it brings.  Especially us liveaboards. Well for me at least…
So I decided, it high time to get out there and do it!


But here is the real deal. I am attempting, to live the dream.

I have scoured the internet, looking for  a liveaboard, who owns  a small tug/barge combo. Surprisingly , (perhaps due to costs?),I could not find one example of it…?

I am not saying there are none out there, but I have yet to find any “white crows” so to speak. But it makes the greatest sense. Especially here on the Great Lakes with the endless ports and coves, shipwrecks to explore, and amazing anchorages, which could make this the ideal shanty type retreat.

The tow vessel could be anchored and the tug go on to do other things, such as cruising to other areas, or going to the supermarket for supplies.

Well you now have a  “white crow”.

The pics are of my “Fred Murphy” build from Glen-l’s site.  A  small, highly seaworthy, 26 ft steel tug



He(Tugs are always Masculine) has a 65 hp MD 30 Volvo-Penta inboard, with a 2.47:1 ratio(which will later be geared 4:1 to accommodate a huge prop).

It is built in steel in order to not worry about Georgian bay’s, nasty, rock riddled shoals.


It will Tow a secondary barge with larger accommodations, but this will be built later after I have lived for about a year on the FM.

I will obviously NOT call my new tug the Fred Murphy, but was thinking something along the lines of the “Towminator” or what not.

The tow barge would be 20 ft x 8’6″ and possibly about the same size as a Waterlodge. But done in taped seam style. Btw, I am done with steel after this…just too hard on my back. I doubt I have another steel boat in me. Even though I am tooled up for steel and would easily build a steel barge for it, I just don’t have the shop facilities, and doing an outdoor build is too taxing for me. But I will plug away on this tug.

Completion date is tentative but I am hoping it will be at least functional and launched by next June or July. Plate up is scheduled for around mid to late Oct at the latest.

Douglas J. Westover

Originally posted 2015-08-10 06:32:06.

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