From Working Tug to Home Sweet Home

Jerry Voynik has spent much of his working life around tugboats. He started in the mid-1960s working for a number of companies in the New York and New Jersey area both in the wheelhouse and engine room.

He’s now a consultant to a company that has a contract with the Military Sealift Command, writing maintenance procedures and providing other services for tugs and barges.

But Voynik not only works around tugs, he lives on one.

  The Constant, a 98’ steel tug built in 1930 by Kensington Shipyard in Philadelphia, is the second he and his wife, Joanna, have converted to a liveaboard. They sold the first one in the ‘90s.

They bought the Constant in 2000 and went to work, turning her into 1,200 sq. ft. of comfortable living space that includes air conditioning and hot water baseboard heat, along with oak tongue-and-groove paneling.  

“She was pretty tired,” Voynik said. “She was a mess.”

The project took about nine months, and they did much of the work themselves. 

“We designed it for ourselves,” he said.

But the Constant, now tied up at a marina on the Trout River in Jacksonville, Fla., also is ready for work. “She can and is registered for towing,” Voynik said. The 12-cylinder, 1,200-hp EMD engine still has plenty of power. 

Such a conversion is not for everyone, he said. “A tugboat is far beyond the average boater’s grasp of maintenance,” he said. “You have to pretty much be a jack-of-all-trades.”

Which suits him well. “I like machinery. I like the look of a tug. I like the strength of a tug,” he said. “She looks just like a clean tugboat.”

The Constant is now for sale for $229,000. “We’re moving on to something different,” he said. 

It wouldn’t be surprising if it were another tug.                                 —D. DuPont 

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