New log-towing tugs show off unique B.C. style

Gowlland Towing of Campbell River, British Columbia is expanding its fleet of log-towing vessels with the addition of two new tugs both designed by Canada’s A.G. McIlwain Ltd. and built by the small, local fabrication shipyard MacTavish Welding Ltd.

These are said to be the first locally built tugs in British Columbia in more than five years.

First to be completed was the 43-foot Inlet Wrangler, already in service for several months. A larger version, at 53 feet, is expected to follow by the end of the summer.

The two new vessels will bring the Gowlland fleet up to seven tugs and 19 boom boats. Gowlland Towing, owned and operated by Glenn Wheeler, is in the business of towing logs in large rafts or booms from up-coast logging operations to saw mills on the south coast.

These tugs may be relatively small, but they are deep draft and beamy and both are rated at more than 1,000 hp. Inlet Wrangler is built with a 20-foot beam and draft up to 10 feet. Her 43-foot hull includes tankage for 8,000 gallons of fuel.

“That’s a lot of power for a fairly small hull,” said naval architect A.G. McIlwain. “What these tugs do is like towing a small mountain through the water, and despite all that horsepower they still only tow at speeds of 2 or 3 knots.”

New log-towing tug Inlet Wrangler is one of two designed by Canadian naval architect A.G. McIlwain for Gowlland Towing.  (Rob Morris photos)

Inlet Wrangler is powered by a pair of Cummins KTA19-M3 engines each generating 500 hp at 1,800 rpm. Without a log tow, the tug can cruise at a free running speed of 9 knots. Combined with Twin Disc gears, 62-by-52-inch four-blade propellers, nozzles and four rudders, the complete package is designed to produce 39,000 pounds of bollard pull.

Electrical power is provided by a 10-kw Kubota-powered generator. A towing winch was provided by Harrison & Robbins Mfg. of Vancouver.

The boat is classed Home Trade 3 and will operate with a crew of three. A taller than traditional mast is the result of new Canada Transport regulations that mandates a greater separation between towing lights. The mast can be lowered on a pivot.

These tugs are typically engaged in towing operations that involve weeklong voyages hauling rafts of logs south to saw mills on the coast and up the Fraser River.

A tow can involve grouped bundles of logs put together in a package that can be up to 180 feet wide and up to 600 feet long. Such a tow involves floating acres of wood with a market value of millions of dollars being towed astern.

The tug design is such that it incorporates a high bow and a stern with roughly 2 feet of freeboard so that crewmembers can step on and off the log booms.

“You’ve definitely got to know your logging business if you want to be a crewmember on one of these boats,” said McIlwain. He added, however, that while the tugs may operate around the clock when on a tow, they include generous and comfortable forecastle accommodations for the captain and his two companions.

By Professional Mariner Staff