Living the Tug Life

The working waterfront in New York is not a world many of us get to see, and when we do see it, it’s usually only a sliver of it. On the ferry out of Dumbo. The parking lot at Ikea. South Street Seaport. But New York's waterfront is an incredibly active and crucial part of the city, whether it’s moving goods, people or the fuels that power our city. 

For a while now, I've been wanting to photograph life aboard a tug for few reasons. One, I’m fascinated with the boats themselves; small and strong and crucial to how and when bigger ships get in and out of the harbor. And two, the New York harbor, which is sort of not even really a harbor but the confluence of two rivers, is an amazingly complicated and busy waterway that connects so much infrastructure in the Northeast, and navigating a tug around it, is no easy task.  

So, I was psyched to to see this photo essay in the New York Times. New York-based tugboat Captain Chris Baker, takes us inside the Tug Life

“It’s not a portion of the city that many New Yorkers see,” Baker told the Times. “A lot of this work in the harbor goes on behind the scenes, so I try to document it for other people.”

And that’s not it. There’s also this video above of Baker that was produced five years go as part of the great PBS series: New York on the Clock.  Want to see more of the Tug Life? You can follow Baker on his Instagram as well.