Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

A Snowy Passage on the River ; the Crew of a Towboat Encounters a Winter Storm on a Rising Kanawha

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

A Snowy Passage on the River ; the Crew of a Towboat Encounters a Winter Storm on a Rising Kanawha

Article excerpt

Sixty-nine years old, and she is just as beautiful as she was the day she was christened in 1947. Possibly just as strong, if not stronger, with her twin diesels, she's 135 feet long, 28 feet wide and draws 71/2 feet of water. Capt. Danny Marr is at the helm of the MV Charleston, a towboat that hails from Port Amherst, located under the shadow of the West Virginia Turnpike bridge just off Campbells Creek Drive, in Charleston. Typically, he works another boat for Amherst Madison, a Charleston marine services company.

His crew consists of pilot Joey Doss, steersman Charlie Neal, engineer David Chapman, mate Ryan Groves, deck hand Anthony Colegrove, watchman Zack Crawford and watchman David Russell.

The decks are spotless, inside and out. The brass is shined. A sense of pride is evident as the crew goes about its duties. It's 20 days on and 20 days off and they refer to their shipmates as the "boat family.

While on board, the crew plans ahead for meals. Marr, 58, likes boiled chicken, while Russell watches what he eats and doesn't eat pork in any form. Doss made a cauliflower dish that was delicious. He is watching what he eats, as well. There is no single cook, but there appeared to be a self-appointed chef at every meal. And someone seemed to always clean up after everyone's done.

The crew takes two shifts of six hours on, then six hours off. Most spent their down hours in the quarters after meals. Some watched movies, played video games, watched TV or read. Others video- chatted with loved ones on land or simply talked with them on their mobile phones. And, of course, there is sleep.

Chapman said, "When I go home, I tell them to be noisy. Otherwise, it's just too quiet. Other crew members said the same. (Interestingly enough, no one kept his face glued to a smartphone.)

As the boat made its way downriver, talk in the wheelhouse and on deck was fearful at times. …

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