Campbell River is a hub for Vancouver Island tugboat companies, but Reuben Buerge lives in Heriot Bay on Quadra Island.
“When I first started, I was the deck hand. At that time we were towing log booms up and down the coast. I worked locally here on a really cool boat called the Utah for a winter too. Then, I had a job up in Prince Rupert and it was all rock barges, they were building breakwaters and stuff like that,” he explained.
Now Buerge is a tugboat captain, working for a company in Vancouver.
He would like to stay in the local area, but is only aware of one tug that actually works out of Quadra Island. Of course, there are a number of boats in Campbell River.
“Vancouver’s only a 10 hour tow, or something like that, from Quadra,” he said.
He goes wherever his employers send him, towing anything from wood chips or rock, to a barge full of equipment for a remote camp.
Some days he’ll leave in the morning and return home that night, but there are also longer hauls where he is gone for a week or two at time.
It can get pretty cramped in a tug with a crew of four, but they work in six hour shifts.
“There’s a full kitchen on the boats. We actually eat pretty well. Sometimes I cook, sometimes a deckhand cooks.”
There is also a hefty food budget, so they can eat whatever they want.
He is mostly gone during the winter months, but has two weeks off after a two week shift at sea.
All photos courtesy Reuben Buerge, the two lower one were taken by Dianne Reid.
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