Sam PfeifleSam Pfeifle
Sam Pfeifle is a freelance writer and former online editor of WorkBoat.com. He began his journalism career with the alternative newsweekly The Portland Phoenix, and still writes a weekly local music column for the paper. He can be reached at sam_pfeifle@yahoo.com.

Blog Activity

What snow? Christen that ferry

The snow did not stop the christening of the Blount-built ferry Wabanacki in Maine last week.An average day in January in Maine is a high of 31 degrees and a low of 13, which is bad enough when you’re working a ferry on Casco Bay. But this January was hardly average: There were six days below zero (and I don’t mean Celsius), and on only 18 days did the temperature rise above 32 degrees.    Wabanaki christening Plus, our little port city has had 68 inches of snow since Dec. 1. We...

The return of the 106-year-old tug Saturn

Jon Johansen is working hard to refurbish and bring back to life the 106-year-old railroad tug Saturn.One thing you can be guaranteed about us Yankees in Maine: We don’t like waste. Even in my rural town of 7,000 people, we’ve got a dump where you either recycle as much as possible or pay to put your trash in the hopper. Things must be similar in Brewer, up on the Penobscot River that pours into the Atlantic. There, Jon Johansen has been working awfully hard to refurbish and bring back...

Mystery barge structure in Portland Harbor

All eyes are on the water this week in Portland, Maine, as everyone tries to figure out what the mystery structure is on that barge parked down at Rickers Wharf.Until about five years ago, the people of Portland, Maine, barely registered the maritime industry here. Other than the whale watching trips and the ferries to and from the many islands, with maybe a nod to the cheap lobster and the fish exchange, all of the activity was pretty opaque to your general Portlander. We’re known...

Portland: A ferry boomtown

Portland, Maine, has begun two major waterfront projects to increase ferry access.When last I signed off in February, I was pretty high on Portland (Maine - duh. Bruce is the one living in the Pacific Northwest). The city had just announced plans for getting back in the multi-state tug-barge biz and it looked like the Yarmouth, NS, ferry was going to be making a return. Well, I didn’t know the half of it. Not only did Nova Scotia just agree to provide STM Quest with $21 million...

Don't call it it a comeback

McAllister and Foss vie for new tug-barge operation in Portland.Back in October, I told you about how Portland is getting back into the international ferry biz. Now comes word that after about four years, Portland is getting back into the multistate tug-barge biz. We're doing our damnedest up here to be a legit maritime city.  Last week, Portland put out an RFP to McAllister Towing and Foss Maritime, the two tug companies deemed qualified from an earlier RFP, for the operation of a hybrid...

Building ships? Not in my backyard!

One would think more than 30 years of shipbuilding on a certain site would get people used to the idea. You'd be wrong.One would think that after more than 30 years of shipbuilding on a certain site that people would get used to the idea. You'd be wrong. Just ask David Stimson. He's the guy up in Boothbay Harbor who restored the HMS Bounty recently (before it met its demise), along with a number of other old schooners you've probably heard of, as part of his work managing Boothbay Harbor...

We may never get the final word on Portland fireboat crash

Remember that time the Portland fireboat hit something in Casco Bay? No, not that time in 2009. I mean that time in 2011.Remember that time the Portland (Maine) fireboat hit something in Casco Bay? No, not that time in 2009, which caused $90,000 in damages. I mean that time in 2011, which caused $52,000 in damages. Anyway, it looks like we may never know what really happened that day in October 2011, when what has been described as a "training mission" (but had a dozen family and friends of...

Five things I learned at the WorkBoat show, 2012

It would have taken weeks to see and hear everything of value at the WorkBoat show this year.It would have taken weeks to see and hear everything of value at the International WorkBoat Show this year. It was mammoth, bigger than ever and nearly impossible to wholly consume. But I'll take a swing at offering five things that got the gears turning this year: 1. This industry needs skilled workers, badly: I know people talk about this all the time, and maybe the topic is boring, but when a...

Workboats go high tech

A Nickel More was as tricked out with as much survey equipment as I've ever seen, with laser scanning devices, multi-beam and side-scan sonar, ROVs and plenty more.A couple weeks back, I had the opportunity to visit the Trimble user conference as part of my other online work for WorkBoat's parent company Diversified Communications, where I also cover the 3D data acquisition market. I was there to look at laser scanners (devices that shoot out millions of laser pulses to create accurate...

Looks like Mainers have said 'no' to Maine Maritime

A bond question barely anyone knew about would have provided $500k for upgrades and capital purchases.Of all the highs and lows of Election Day on Tuesday, an issue near and dear to the WorkBoat community has gone largely unreported on: The matter of Maine's Question 2, a question as to whether to approve an $11.2 million state bond that would have provided funds to education, including $500k for Maine Maritime Academy. While most outlets are still recording the matter as "too close to...