The Massachusetts Maritime Academy tugboat Ranger made its way along the Cape Cod Canal Tuesday afternoon, July 29, headed for Sandwich after leaving the pier at MMA.
At the helm was Thomas Bushy, steadily steering Ranger as it led a half-dozen other tugboats to the Sandwich Marina and the east end breakwater.
But this Thomas Bushy was not Captain Thomas L. Bushy, the academy’s vice president of marine operations, nor Capt. Bushy’s son, Thomas L. Jr., a teacher at Barnstable High School, who formerly taught at Bourne High School, where he also coached lacrosse.
At the wheel, perched upon a chair on the bridge of the Ranger, was the captain’s grandson, 8-year-old Tommy, his actions under the constant and watchful eye of his seasoned maritime grandfather.
“Come five degrees right rudder,” Capt. Bushy said to his namesake.
Obediently, young Tommy spun the ship’s wheel and watched as the needle on a monitor reached five degrees to the right.
“Steady as she goes,” the captain said.
As the boy silently complied, the captain took the opportunity for a little lesson in nautical protocol.
“When I say, ‘Steady as she goes,’ you say ‘Steady as she goes.’ We repeat everything so we’re sure of what we’re doing,” he said.
“Steady as she goes,” Tommy replied, smiling at granddad.
Tommy and his brothers, 7-year-old Nathan and 5-year-old Lucas, joined their father and grandfather aboard the Ranger for Tuesday afternoon’s tugboat parade, one of the events in this week’s Cape Cod Canal Centennial Celebration. Each took several turns manning the helm as Capt. Bushy and the Ranger’s own skipper, Captain William S. Bank, guided them along the waterway.
The tugboat parade was the idea of MMA president Rear Admiral Richard G. Gurnon, who served as chairman of the steering committee for the centennial celebration. Capt. Bushy said the admiral tried to get Boston Towing & Transportation to send its tugboat, Independence, to take part in the parade. Boston Towing told the admiral that Independence would come down if it was not called out on a job.
“For three days, they didn’t do anything; suddenly, they have two jobs today,” the captain said.
The Ranger left the pier at Mass Maritime at 3:30 PM Tuesday and led five other tugboats to the east end breakwater in Sandwich. The tugs passed tens of thousands of people already gathered in Buzzards Bay Park. Many of them mimed pulling down on a handle, a call for the ship’s horn to be blared. At every possible opportunity, the Ranger crew complied with the wishes of the crowds.
“I just wish I could do ‘Happy Birthday’, ” Capt. Bank said, acknowledging the cause for the day’s celebration.
The entire length of the trip is a little more than five miles, Capt. Bushy said. The Ranger headed out toward the Sandwich marina at a speed of roughly five knots per hour, occasionally topping six knots. For the return trip, however, that speed was kicked up a tad to seven or eight knots.
At the east end of the canal, a half-dozen other tugs awaited Ranger’s arrival and joined in the return trip back to the academy. Just before the start of the return, the fishing boat Cynthia C. was escorted past the tugs, so it would not be hampered by the parade in its own return to dock.
“Okay, parade of tugs! Let’s pull into tight formation,” Capt. Bushy said just after 4:45 PM.
With that, the parade wound its way back along the canal, passing more and more spectators who were gathering along the banks, the Ranger crew gratifying them with more and longer blasts from the ship’s horn. Both tugs Buckley McCallister and Andrew McCallister of McAllister Towing & Transportation made the trip going backward and at times doing 360-degree turnarounds in the water. Tugs in the parade included big boats like the McCallisters and Reliance; mid-sized boats including Jaguar; and small boats such as Hercules, Alert, Sea Smoke and Carefree. A total of 12 tugboats filed one after another through the canal, arriving back at MMA shortly before 6 PM.
The parade’s grand finale came with Bourne Fire Department fireboats sending several geysers of water into the air to the delight of the crowd gathered in front of the academy pier.
Crowds along the canal during the tugboat parade- https://www.youtube.com/watch?
Tall ships as seen from tugboat in parade - https://www.youtube.com/watch?