Sunday Focus | Tug master puts in the long hours

Photographer Scott Gelston spends a day in the office of tug master Larry Wells as part of his Sunday Focus series.

A LOT of older residents of Launceston would recall the days where Kings Wharf was a bustling port, and the Tamar River was alive with shipping.

Today, Tasports still operates three tug boats out of Bell Bay, with a 24-hour a day, seven-day-a- week operation.

Tug master Larry Wells has been working the port for 25 years, guiding ships in and out of Bell Bay, and as required the Burnie, Devonport and Hobart ports, while also being involved in various rescue operations.

The deceptively simple looking tugs can sleep up to 12 crewmen or two full shifts of workers, and have a bollard pull, or towage capability of 30 tonnes.

Larry and his crew work rationalised hours; an intensive roster of 56 days straight, followed by 28 days off.

Larry and his crew work rationalised hours; an intensive roster of 56 days straight, followed by 28 days off.

"In that 56 days we are seven days a week 24 hours a day," Larry said.

"And on those 28 days you are obliged to be recalled if necessary in sickness and for a variety of reasons."

The shifts may be challenging but the variety of work has kept him interested in the job, although coming to work at 3am to find your pending job cancelled isn't much fun, nor would many be keen on the 7.30am starts.

"Our usual turn-to, if nothing is else is pending, is 7.30am and at midday we finish but we may well come back through the night, once, twice, three times ... whatever the demand is for the shipping."

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop