THREE DE GRAAFF BROTHERS AT TOS
Grandpa De Graaff sailed on inland vessels called beurtschepen, father De Graaff was an engineer on fishing vessels and some uncles have their own cutter. So it’s hardly surprising that all four De Graaff brothers are sailors. But that three of them work through TOS and have ended up at the Fairplay Towage shipping company is incredible. Read the stories of Marcel, Robert and Andre de Graaff, their love for their profession and about their chosen field of harbour towage. Toys for boys. What are their plans for the future? Is the next generation eagerly waiting in the wings to take over? We had a great conversation with the De Graaff brothers.
PART 1: ANDRE DE GRAAFF: NEVER A DULL MOMENT
What do you do if you are 16 years old and are looking for holiday work? You get your brother to help J. “My brother Robert was already working through TOS on Fairplay vessels. I got into TOS through him and did holiday work as an AB. Very useful! When I was 7 or 8 I was already helping Pa wash down boats on Fridays during the school holidays. It was the start of the weekend in the fisheries. In terms of schooling, after secondary school I went to the STC in Rotterdam. I went first to location Anthony van Hoboken at the Coolhaven and later to the Lloydstraat. Once I had my papers, I worked for Vroon on a supplier as the second officer. It wasn’t my thing, a bit of floating around and unloading a few containers. And in bad weather or if there was too much swell, you couldn’t do anything, just sit there and wait.”
TOWAGE NEVER TIRES
“I have worked for Fairplay Towage since 2009 and really enjoy it. I was a chief officer in my first year and then I worked as the captain on the FP III. It’s never boring and it is very varied. You do the towage with two, three and sometimes even four tugboats and everything is different every time. The type of vessel, the wind, the current. You have a good view from the wheelhouse. You can see everything and you sometimes come really close to immense ships. Sailing for FP in the port of Antwerp is again completely different. Just the communications with the pilots, the current in the river Scheldt and all the braking you need to do close to the lock. It’s fantastic work! I don’t see myself in an office, sitting there from 08:00 to 17:00 and then being stuck in traffic jams to go home. You have freedom on tugboats and it doesn’t feel like work at all. And yes, there are long days and lots of long nights. You sometimes sail at 04:00 completely alone towards Maasvlakte II. But even that goes smoothly if you’re enjoying it. I do wonder, though, if school leavers today are prepared to work at night.”
FROM PORT TUGBOAT CAPTAIN TO …
“Hmmm, my dreams for the future? Actually, I’m a very satisfied person. At the moment, my rotation schedule, its regularity, is fine for my family with small children. Later, when I’ve grown up and the children are a bit older, maybe I’ll want to go to sea. Sea towage is very different and brings new challenges. But for now, it’s fine. Nothing is better than getting the job done in our wonderful port of Rotterdam with a great and pleasant team.”
DON’T MISS PART 2: ROBERT DE GRAAFF: EXPERIENCED AND PROUD SEA-GOING TOWER
From the very start of our company, TOS has concentrated on tugs, crew, total crewing and (harbour) towage. A world full of power and challenges. Nowadays, our clients are working around the globe, offering their harbour services to emerging countries worldwide. The demand for towage experts is growing, and TOS is worldwide know for her towing professionals.