A tugboat captain from Heriot Bay

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.

Sign-up for Cortes Currents email-out:

To receive an emailed catalogue of articles on Cortes Currents, send a (blank) email to subscribe to your desired frequency: