Working Around the Clock--Tug Boat Captain Joe Maggioni

Working Around the Clock--Tug Boat Captain Joe Maggioni
Joe Maggioni
Joe Maggioni

Did you have a long day at work today? No matter how many hours we put in, most of us can look forward to going home at the end of the day. But imagine staying on the job for one solid week. WTOC found a Coastal Empire man who's doing exactly that. We followed tug boat captain Joe Maggioni, who works seven days straight before he can have seven days off.

It's eight in the morning. The sun is rising over the Savannah River and Joe Maggioni is beginning another week on the job.

"I like the work," he says. "I like working with a group of people and working for the same goal, getting the job done."

Maggioni is the captain of the tugboat Georgia. For more than 25 years, he's been helping ships in and out of port. He and his crew move on board for an entire week. They'll help as many as 45 ships during that time, keeping them busy day and night.

"The harbor doesn't open at eight and it doesn't shut down at five," says Maggioni. "That's why we're here 24 hours a day."

Life on board a tugboat means you live with your coworkers.

"It's not so bad most of the time. Everybody has their moments, just like every place else," Maggioni tells us.

As the crew moves in, they load up on supplies for the week. By 9am, they start the engines and head out on the first job of the day.

By noon, the Georgia is on assignment with another tugboat. The tugs will turn a ship around and move her into dock. They'll push from the ship's stern, while the other tug pushes from the bow. A docking pilot, on the ship's bridge, talks them through the job. Soon the ship is on its way to dock.

You don't have to go any further than the Savannah River to realize why tugboats are so important. Some of these ships are 500, 600, even over 900 feet long, like the Georgia. They're built for cargo, not maneuverability, and that's where Joe Maggioni and his crew provide such a valuable service.

"Basically, what we do is we help ships to the dock and we help ships away from the dock, and we assist them in maneuvering in a way they can't normally maneuver," explains Maggioni.

By 3pm, the Georgia is docking more ships and pulling others, like a 965-foot container ship, out to sea. But not everything runs according to plan. At 6pm, Maggioni learns his next ship is delayed at the port. It could be hours before it's ready to leave.

At 10pm, the Georgia finally heads out to help the ship to sea. It's dangerous work. If a line breaks, tension on the rope could cause a serious accident. But this job goes well. By midnight, the ship is at sea and the Georgia is on its way back to the dock.

The day is over, but the job is not. Maggioni's got six more days before he finally goes home. It's difficult, but the upcoming week off makes it worthwhile.

"The first thing I do is unpack my bags, put everything in the drawers and start all over again with another week," he says.

If you can handle the schedule and living for a week at a time with your coworkers, being a tugboat captain might be a job you'd enjoy.

Reported by: Liz Flynn,