Two days before the New Year, I was scheduled to visit The Carline Companies to go aboard its new 68'x34'x10' fleet/switch boat towboat, the Cairo. It’s the first Z-drive vessel ordered by the company, and the first Z-drive towboat built from a CT Marine design. Though I’ve passed near the area many times going between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, I didn’t know my way around towns like Geismar and Gonzales. Not to worry. I had my fancy new iPhone 6, a computer posing as a phone, to help me find my way.

The address I got from the Internet took me to a small strip center in Gonzales. Carline’s vice president of operations, Clay Harmon, had told me several days earlier that the boat was in Geismar, but the Internet said the address was in Gonzales. Who am I to argue with the Internet? Doesn’t it know all? Well, it turns out that the location I went to was where the company has a mail box. (It did seem funny that there was no water anywhere near the location, and I was actually going away from the Mississippi River from I-10.)

No problem. I called Carline, got the correct address, plugged it into my phone, and voila — the phone knows exactly how to get me there — or so it thought. For the next hour, I took a tour of the area until I was so turned around I didn’t know if I was going upriver or downriver. Finally, one of Carline’s dispatchers brought me in to the Geismar office location.

Everyone there was as friendly as could be, but I knew secretly they were thinking, “This guy can’t find a fleeting operation on the Mississippi River knowing the town he’s looking for and having an iPhone to assist him, how is going to write a story about our new boat?”

Well, you can read for yourself how I did in the upcoming February issue of WorkBoat. As for the iPhone, as my coworkers remind me from time to time — it’s not the machine, it’s the operator. 

Ken Hocke has been the senior editor of WorkBoat since 1999. He was the associate editor of WorkBoat from 1997 to 1999. Prior to that, he was the editor of the Daily Shipping Guide, a transportation daily in New Orleans. He has written for other publications including The Times-Picayune. He graduated from Louisiana State University with an arts and sciences degree, with a concentration in English, in 1978.