What an incredible opportunity it was to join Jim Steel, the owner of Steel Towing, on Monday for the move-in of the superyachts on the face dock of Bahia Mar. Jim has been in the towing business since 1988. A third-generation Floridian, he was 13 when he started his boating career aboard the tug Bogie.
Steel Towing currently has a fleet of five tow boats and a crew of six full-time captains, with two part-time captains employed just for the boat show. The flagship of the fleet, the Or steel, is capable of towing vessels of 300-plus feet. Family is a big part of Jim’s life and many of his boats are named after family members.
I boarded at 10:30 a.m., with Jim at the helm. Our first boat to hook was the Lady Pegasus, a 130-foot Westport that was behind a house by Lauderdale Yacht Club. Steel connected to the bow line while
Capt. Ryan connected to the stern, and together the two tugs pulled her off the dock at 10:45. By 10:50, they had aligned her in the center of the channel and released the lines. We then headed over to the organized mayhem of Bahia Mar’s face dock. Super-yachts were lined up, awaiting their slip assignment from the show.
The second boat we assisted was the tattooed Pink Show, a 150-foot Damen Support Vessel. Jim and his team of three other tugs masterfully maneuvered the vessel, putting her into the cross current, then slowly assisting her in backing into her slip between several unforgiving steel piles. The deck hands tossed the lines and the Informa dockhands secured her to the dock. We hailed Pink Show’s captain on the VHF to confirm he was set, then quickly headed to the north side of Las Olas Bridge, where a plethora of stacked vessels awaited their opportunity to dock.
Jim’s team next assisted the Cape Ann towing team with the vessel Dorothea III, the 147-foot Choey Lee. The dockhands had their hands full with other boats, so I hopped off to assist with the lines on the dockside. The rain started and quickly increased to a heavy downpour as we secured the boat to the dock. Once secure, it was time for me to bid Jim and his team farewell.
I left with a greater appreciation for what these tow pros do. It’s an intricate dance with these multimillion-dollar vessels to get them into such tight docking situations without a scratch, and the Steel team has got the moves.
Photos by Kevin Quirk