I have been to shipyards from Florida to California and many places in between. Regardless of the region, they all have similarities, including a preponderance of fuels like diesel and gasoline and other accelerants on the property.

But there is one fuel source that is, if not more abundant, certainly more visible than any other: Coffee.

I’m not a coffee drinker myself. I get my caffeine fix from Cokes, but that’s another story. However, my family, especially on my mother’s side — the Blancqs — were avid coffee drinkers. If there had been coffee drinking teams, the Blancqs would have been nationally ranked, if not world contenders.

The question is whether coffee consumption and the production of some of the most sophisticated vessels ever built in the U.S. are connected in any way.   

A recent British study of more than 9,000 adults reported a dose-related improvement in cognitive thinking — the ability to reason, form concepts, and solve problems using unfamiliar information or new procedures — with higher levels of coffee consumption. There seems to be more coffee drinking going on inside the office than out in the yard. Interestingly, there are studies that suggest that habitual coffee/caffeine consumption may boost the cognitive reserve of older adults. Older shipyard employees tend to work in the office.

Still other studies have found a reduced risk of cognitive decline across different measures of cognitive impairment with caffeine intake.

I was having lunch yesterday in Houma, La., with Lynn Falgout and Dan Gaiennie of Leevac Shipyards. At one point, we were talking about all the technological innovation that is now part of the shipyard business and certainly part of the operation and maintenance of the new generation of workboats in the industry.

Falgout said that there is no denying the importance of technology, but that, in the end, it's still people who design and put the boat together. Lynn was right, of course, but he forgot to mention the coffee.


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.