Happy birthday, Barbie D.!

The story of the Barbie D, a little tug that has worked Camden Harbor for 60-plus years

Tue, 05/19/2020 - 12:45pm

There used to be a story for children about Little Toot. It has been a long time since I heard it, but I believe it was about a little train trying to make a big hill. So it kept repeating,”I know I can; I know I can; I know I can” until it finally made it.

Now I know a true story about a little tug boat, and compared to most, she is tiny. But it knows it can and does tremendous jobs in Camden Harbor. It is visible around the harbor from early spring to late fall, and almost anytime of year that it is needed.

The little red tug boat, Barbie D, was built in the mid 1950s by yacht builders at Camden Shipbuilding Company, Inc., when the yard was building elegant pleasure yachts.

The same ships' joiners and craftsmen built the Barbie D with the same perfection as they did the yachts. All boats are named and the workmen requested the little tug be named for their girl office manager.

The Barbie D has since carried out many tasks, towing vessels many times larger than the tug herself, to and from mooring constantly, whether inner harbor or outer harbor.

Whenever hurricane warnings came, she brought all the vessels to safe harbor, as well as those that the shipyard stored and did the maintenance on.

Then as the water got rough, other owners called and asked for the Yard to hurry and go save their yachts, and the little tug kept working very diligently. Last minute calls came and she continued as long a the waters were safe, but finally stopped when hurricanes had reach in full force. 

A  fun job for the Barbie D has been to bring Santa Claus in by water at Christmas time from the North Pole.

This year, in the “Christmas by the Sea” parade, the owners (now Lyman Morse-Wayfarer Marine) decorated the little tug with many lights, and she rode through town on a flatbed. Candy was thrown by the ones riding on her to children and adults along the parade route. She drew quite a bit of attention. 

The tug has seen so much hard work for more than 60 years. There have probably been a half dozen different people who have owned the Yard since she was built. New owners never wanted to part with her. So several times she has been refitted to make her strong and able again. 

So, like Little Toot, the Barbie D keeps on working as”she knows she can.”

She also loves the admiration she gets from the people around Camden Harbor watching her at work.

Barbara F. Dyer has lived in Camden all of her life, so far.


More Barbara Dyer

Postcards and the way we communicated 100 years ago

Figureheads at sea

The Babbs:  A family integral to Camden history

Lighthouses of the coast

Garden theater

When Camden paid a fine for having no minister preaching in town

Goodbye Old Schools

Presidents’ Day

Tall ships we never saw

Another new year

Trolley transportation

More shipwrecks

The burning of the Annie L.

The demise of a Camden-built vessel

Camden’s wooden boat builders were perfectionists

Building wooden boats in Camden, many years ago

The Hub of Camden

Socializing and such, before television

The first years of the Camden Snow Bowl

Snow Bowl

Launching ‘Whimsey’

The many moods of Camden Harbor

Demise of the Camden steamboat wharf

Curtis Island Lighthouse - the sentinel of Camden Harbor

Camden Harbor: As old as the last glacier

Mr. Camden Harbor

Windjammer cruises in Camden

Memorial Day remembrances