Reinventing the “Commuter Boat” for the Modern Era.
In the early 1900’s, New York businessmen discovered that the trip from Long Island and Connecticut to Wall Street in Manhattan could be accomplished faster and more luxuriously on a boat. They built some amazing fast commuters or business boats specifically for this purpose. Pan forward a hundred years and boat commuting still works. A resourceful airline pilot based in New York City and flying out of LaGuardia follows the lead of these early commuter boat pioneers by living aboard and commuting to work on a Ranger Tugs R-29.
Instead of staying in an expensive and tiny Manhattan apartment and relying on public transportation or airport shuttles to get to work, Ross lives comfortably aboard his Ranger Tug, at Liberty Landing marina in New Jersey and other nearby locations. When he is flying, he drives the boat across the Hudson and up the East River to a dock near La Guardia airport where it stays while he is working. He finds that the boat has better accommodations than the New York apartments and hotels that pilots typically use. He has found convenient grocery and other shopping areas close to marinas where he can stock the boat easily. The commute is fast and fun; the boat not only provides transportation and a great place to live but also the ability to cruise and play in between work.
Ross has had many adventures on his R-29, before and after setting himself up as a New York City boat commuter. He started his voyage in Lake Michigan traversing the Chicago River system to the Mississippi and then connecting in Tennessee to the Tombigbee into the Gulf of Mexico. Moving from fresh water to salt he experienced a myriad of locks, canals, rivers, and channels. He emerged into the sea and was introduced to ocean tides and currents. His ocean cruising then took him through Florida and then up the Eastern seaboard completing a good chunk of the great loop on his way to his new station in New York harbor.
Currently based in New York Ross not only lives and commutes to work aboard his Ranger Tug but when he has time off, he is able to cruise. His adventures have taken him into Long Island Sound, Oyster Bay, Essex, and the Connecticut river, and up to Boston and other New England locations. Diverting into the great Salt Pond in Block Island he wound up anchored with a front row seat for 4th of July fireworks. The shallow draft of the R-29 let him tuck in and find a secure spot with a sandy bottom in the anchorage packed with holiday revelers.
Ross finds that living aboard his boat makes him part of a greater community. He has been treated like a local while traveling, welcomed by fellow boaters and professional watermen alike. The comradery extends to tug and ferry captains in New York harbor that recognize Ross and his bright Hero Red recreational tug (An apt color choice as Ross worked as an EMT prior to becoming a pilot). They ask questions about how his boat functions and what he does living aboard, extending courtesy and respect to him as a fellow waterman living and working on the harbor.
“Going back and forth, I got to know many commercial tugboat and ferry captains who would see me on the East River. They were curious and asked all kinds of questions regarding my boat on the VHF. The fun part of being in the harbor, I always call the harbor the sixth burrow, in that it is a neighborhood. You are in a huge city, but it is a small community on the water, and I became a part of it.”
Ross’ story is encouraging to anyone considering new and different ways to connect in and around the water. After completing the Great Loop, Ross will be obtaining a trailer to bring about an entirely new set of adventures.
Special thanks to Ross Warner IV for contributing to the Ranger Tugs Journal.
You can follow Ross' adventures on Instagram @ross.warneriv
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