Amazon.com5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating tale, masterfully told. March 29, 2014 By Robert McDermott Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase
Nancy Taylor Robson watched in disbelief as Bob, the man she’d come to relieve, dumped her own bags on the dock and tossed his own in the back seat of the car before flopping into the driver’s seat and slamming the door.
“Isn’t there anything you should tell me?” she asked. “Oh, yeah. I got some pork chops out to thaw over the stove, but they might still be a little hard,” said Bob.
“Uh. Thanks. What else is there? How do you usually cook for these guys?”
“Do whatever you want, Nance. You know how to cook.”
And then Bob drove away. That was the sum total of the job orientation Nancy Taylor Robson received when she joined the tug Progress in May of 1975 as relief cook, the start of a six-year odyssey from Maine to New Orleans with excursions along the way in Bermuda and Mexico. A journey not just of miles, but accomplishment, as she worked her way up from cook and deckhand to become a licensed mate on oceangoing tugs. And quite a journey it was, in the rough and tumble man’s world of tugboats. A world where ‘sea room’ was often measured not in nautical miles, but feet or inches, and respect was earned by demonstrated competence — not apportioned based on educational accomplishment or what might be written on some paper. And in 1975, never to a woman.
Robson shares that journey unselfconsciously, with an easy-to-read style and a keen insight. I felt every discomfort, saw every dazzling sunset and porpoise surfing the bow wave, and shared her quiet pride the first time she ‘threaded the needle’ and maneuvered her tow through a trio of railroad bridges. The author writes with an authority that few can match, and none can surpass. Woman in the Wheelhouse is a fascinating tale, masterfully told.