My employer is looking for towing mates

I work for a good, small company. We need a Mate for a wire boat on a run between Tampa and New Orleans. We get in the notch and push while inland and tow while offshore. Vessel is the Copper Mountain, look it up.

My employer doesn’t advertise for jobs. He lets us come to him with people we know. I’ve run out of people I know. Until we find a Mate I’m working much more than I want to.

It’s 21/21, paid travel anywhere in US, and mates are just above $600/day. Must have Mate of Towing, near coastal.

The company is Poling & Cutler Marine Transportation. The tug and barge are owned by Apex Oil, P&C crews and manages it. Decent benefits, promotion from within. I don’t have time to properly check this post, so please email Ed Poling at Ed is a nice guy, just very busy. You can also email me at I’m one of the captains. I’ll check this when I can. First time poster.


$600 a day?
I am definitely in the wrong job, if not the wrong country.

Just out of curiosity, does $600/day for this job seem extraordinarily high or extraordinarily low to you? Always interesting to compare to other’s experiences.

That seems pretty in line with other EC operators, especially with paid travel anywhere in the us. Wish I had what you’re looking for.

We’ve lost wheelhouse personnel to Centerline and Crowley ATBs recently, so I think 600 a day might be low for a boat that is almost an ATB. But high for the GOM area, we’re paid NYC wages, which are pretty high.

That’s a fair wage, slightly more than Centerline was paying just a year ago if you were to include their $50/day “sea buoy” pay, total was about $560/day when I left.

Things may have changed since then I don’t know or care as I moved on, they’re also going through some crazy times with lawsuits right now and depending on who you ask …be it the union guys who got burnt or company men who are still there, you’ll get different stories for why they are operating how they are.

Personally I wouldn’t leave a $600 towing job to go to CLL. Politic aside.
At Centerline their Mates are also Tankermen and work for Olympic Tug/Barge out of Seattle and must pump the barge as well…their harbor towing company is LEO based out of SF and LA…then there’s the NY division…I have no idea what they make but I’d take a straight Mate job that pays $40 more per day at your company…but that’s my personally opinion.

The day rate isn’t far off from where it should be, very close to what I heard they’re paying at Savage for instance for just a towing Mate with a little license on a cake run like that…it’s a good deal.

A Mate in the Gulf on an OSV right now is paying anywhere between 650-900/day depending on experience and skill (position) and the company of course, more than that even in a few rare instances (vessel, contract) but have to have Unlimited tonnage and OICNW etc.

Just my thoughts, good luck!

I heard from a friend at CLL that they were recently offering $650 to new chief mates, can’t confirm that, just what I heard from a friend over there.

I’ve never understood this. I guess maybe it saves on labor costs by not having a separate barge crew, but this just always seemed like far from the best way of doing things to me.

Why not have one group of guys whose sole responsibility is getting the boat safely from one place to another and another group of guys whose sole responsibility is making sure that the cargo doesn’t explode or get spilled? That seems WAY more sensible to me.

I get that on ships it’s standard practice for mates to tank, but they also have a crew of 20, so on an ATB there’s no comparison. I think ATB mates tanking needs to go the way of the dinosaur.

What do ATB mates do while somebody else does the tankering?

Radio the tankerman every 15 minutes on what their rate is and their ETC.


I think it’s on the low side, if the mate is doing the barge handling too.
I feel it’s a high skill set making/breaking tow on the fly in the Mississippi river. Unless that copper mountain has had some upgrades, that boat and winch could make the best of boat operators look bad.

There’s always something to do on the tug, just like while the boat is underway and there’s no tankering going on there’s still always something to do on the barge.

“What time we gonna be finished?”

“Has the gauger shown up yet?”

“What time are you gonna be ready to sail?”



I guess my point is ships with 3 mates and ATBs with 3 mates could run the same schedule. There’s always something to be done on a ship as well.

At OTB (Centerline) we were both tankering…Depends on the charter It was required.

Most terminals want two men on the barge at all times, that meant (at least for me it did) the “Mate Tankermen” worked opposite each other alongside an AB Tankerman who had an opposite as well. There was no Chief Mate or Junior Mate, just Mate Tankermen and AB tankermen.

Had to have two on the barge at all times, who together make a load and discharge plan, do the paperwork and make the connection, line up, tank the barge alternating 15 minute rounds and strip/top off tanks together. We liked to each work one side of the barge or each one set of tanks in unison.

In short…
Usually when finished and once gaugers are aboard we would split up and one drain, disconnect the hose or arm while the other gets the barge buttoned up for transit and monitors gaugers. (Closes all blocks and deck valves, gauges fuel tanks etc)

Once gaugers finishes gauging the barge we would have one guy go make up the tug and the other finalizing paperwork for the terminal and closing gauges, close logs, COE report, ORB, etc.

Mate-Tankerman also is leading mooring and unmooring ops.
Responsible for ALL of the inspections and paperwork, voyage planning and drills, record keeping and clerical duties (depending on the Captain, some do more than others)

Once underway you begin your navigation watches whilst the AB’s begin their Netflix watch.

It was fairly demanding, and you need a wide variety of skills including being proficient in directing the assist tug with commands over the radio, I promise you will earn every dollar of that $560/day.
I wouldn’t take the job again, instead I’d take $30’ish less per day and have a quarter of the responsibility as plain old AB-Tankerman.

Not a complaint, just reporting my experience there as accurately as possible. I’m sure it varies by vessel too.
In my opinion, the company should have different manning but it is what it is.


600 a day is higher than what a crowley ATB 3M starts at

Why dont they just hire fake mates like Reinauer?

Theres no amount of money that would get me to leave a navigation watch in the wheel house and then go load or unload the barge.


Even after the recent pay raises?

Yes, 2M is 600 but must work as 3M for usually a year first. 560ish for 3M and the best part is the tankerman only make about 20 less a day than that and don’t have to sign any cargo paperwork.


Fake mates? Like 30 day wonders? I’m not sure what you mean, can you elaborate?

Reinauer in an attempt to appear that a licensed officer is handling custoner cargo created a position called “second mate.”

They are not mates and most are not officers of any sort. They are tankermen.

When this was being proposed the wheel house guys went nuts but were rebuffed by Reinauer management.

At least Bouchard had the decency to put barge in the name ie barge captain and barge mate.