Working

How Does a Tugboat Pilot Do His Job?

Meet Capt. Jeffrey McAllister, a senior ship docking pilot on New York’s waterfront.

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When massive container ships arrive at a port city like New York, they find themselves in a tight space with lots of obstacles to navigate. Enter ship docking pilots, the expert hands that guide these massive ships into place.

This week, Jordan is talking to Capt. Jeffrey McAllister of McAllister Towing. Jeffrey’s family has been in the tugboat business for decades, which, as it turned out, was a life that suited him and his wanderlust just fine. Over the years, he worked his way up from deckhand to the position of docking pilot—a job that requires jumping onto a rope ladder from a tugboat to board a massive ship and using your expertise, local knowledge, and pure instinct to guide it perfectly into place.

You can email us at working@slate.com.

Podcast production by Jessamine Molli.