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Capt. Don Stober
The M/V Jamie H. is put through the paces in Mobile Harbor, AL
The M/V Jamie H. is the February 2006
Towboat of the Month.
A little 800hp shift boat- a lunch-bucket boat at that (!)-chosen as Towboat of the
month!?!?!  Yeah, yeah I know it does not seem like a very exciting or impressive
vessel at first glance but to drive it, to actually work this boat within its element, you
cannot help but be impressed. Owned and operated by
Henry Marine Service, Inc
(251.438.9442) of Mobile, Alabama, the
Jamie H. was refitted and purpose re-built
back in 1997 for one job; to shift barges at the maniacally busy
Mobile River
Terminal (MRT).  MRT is a dry-cargo bulk handling facility operated by Warrior &
Gulf Navigation Company. They load and unload ships both to barge and to ground.
Among the many other changes during the 1997 rebuild, the Jamie H. was fendered
all the way around including the
inside of the pushknees. "That is an MRT specific
modification for shifting empties (barges) behind a coke ship", explains Capt. Don
Stober. Capt. Don as he is respectfully known through out the area, worked at
far longer than he cares to admit, now retired, he still spends the occasional watch
behind the sticks of the
Jamie.  "Nothing else out there handles quite like that little
boat, all you have to do is think about what you want to do and that boat responds. It
has traditional rudders but they are so over-sized and exceedingly efficient it is
almost like having a Z-drive stuffed under there. If you are standing up and put the
sticks hard over, the wheel-wash shoots straight out the side of the boat and almost
no thrust is left driving you ahead. This thing turns!", he says with a rye, knowing
smile. "This is the most capable shift vessel I have ever piloted," he admits; and he
should know, Capt. Don has driven a double handfull of different vessels at
over the past three decades. While not a powerhouse by any means it's twin
Cummins main engines get the job done in all but the most severe high water. "A
pilot always wants more horse power, but if you drive with intelligence and don't try
to fight mother nature, the
Jamie is perfectly capable of doing the job it was made
for," asserts Capt. Don.
Things have changed and the demands of the job at
MRT have sadly  mandated the
replacement of the
Jamie H. with a larger, more powerful vessel, capable of longer
trips with more crew-friendly quarters.  The
Jamie H. is still working hard however,
getting the job done reliably and expertly at the
Alabama Power, Bary Steam Plant
just north of Mobile, Alabama. Her remarkable agility is continuing to satisfy any pilot
lucky enough to stand a watch in her little wheelhouse.

-Robert Rishel
Senior Editor

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