Association Revisited: Creation of the Towage Good Practice Guides

Association Revisited: Creation of the Towage Good Practice Guides

Previous WA Chairman Mark Meade takes a look back at the creation and development of the Towage Good Practice Guides.

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“Essentially it was designed to be a very down to earth and practical guide, it had to be easy to read and could be used not only to initially educate someone, but be kept in a wheelhouse and referred to by Masters throughout their career, or used by Crew Members actively as a toolbox talk or training aid.”

How did the concept for the Towage Good Practice Guidelines originate, and what was your involvement?

Following on from some of the discussions at various Workboat Association meetings back in the early 2010’s, I had the idea that the Association had all the right experience to document best practice surrounding Towng, the opportunity being to create a really useful book for reference and education specific to Towing operations.

My next consideration was how to start to write it, thank fully I was given great support from Mark Ranson and Norman Finlay. We mentioned to the MCA via Jenny Vines that we were in the early stages of creating such a guide and she was pleasantly interested. She took an early (and very incomplete) draft to a couple of her colleagues who had operational Tug experience and they agreed to meet us. Together we reviewed the material and they offered suggestions based on information they had in circulation, for example; in their Guidance to Surveyors.

(I must admit, one or two suggestions I disagreed with from experience!) but that is part of the learning curve in making a industry Good Practice Guide, it benefits much more than one user (eg a Seafarer), the overall process was very helpful and it inspired me to include much more material.

How long did it take to create the original versions of the Towage Guides?

Doing it in between my normal day job meant that it did take a couple of years I think, but the advantage of that was – coming back to it from time to time, I could see with fresh eyes that there was much more to add and revise.

What were the main considerations for inclusion in the guides?

Essentially it was designed to be a very down to earth and practical guide, it had to be easy to read and could be used not only to initially educate someone, but be kept in a wheelhouse and referred to by Masters throughout their career, or used by Crew Members actively as a toolbox talk or training aid.

Who were the main people involved?

Originally it was Norman, Mark and myself, me writing it with valuable input from Norman and Mark acting as Editor. This was until Mark saw the excellent Stability Guide that Gareth Bonner had prepared internally for SMS Towage, we persuaded Gareth to allow for us to include it as an Annex to our document. With a few small editing suggestions to Gareth, the final version was fantastic, it is a really useful supplement, simple to understand but practical to the operation. Written by an active Seafarer with considerable operational Towing experience, for his peers; this is just what is needed when explaining something theoretically complicated like Stability.

Is there any ideas for future additions/ updates to the guides?

It was always intended to be a ‘living’ document and to be developed over time, though as to yet the documents still remain in their original format. I have started making a list of corrections and new opportunities for a future review, noting some small editorial mistakes since its printing.

A couple of years ago a group of WA members got together at the AGM and started a discussion on developing a guide for barge handling and ship assist towage with workboats, I have started some writing on this, focusing on the barge element – I need to push it along [good pun Mark] but I need input from the others in the group regarding ship assist towage. It’s not always easy to keep up momentum when we are all busy.

I believe there is also scope to develop a guide for anchor handling with Workboats. I know there are, for instance, particular techniques developed between ‘our guys’ in Holyhead Towing and some of the Pipelay Barge Masters we work with that cover anchor handling in very shallow waters. I need to discuss with the guys involved and ask them politely to write down a copy that I can share.

How can we obtain a copy of the Towage Guides currently completed?

Head to the Workboat Association website, on the Training and Good Practice page you will find, amongst lots of other brilliant information, a link to order the Towage Guides. They are available in Hard-copy format only, available to both members and non-members, Association members do get a notable discount.