1st Mate Jake D’Arcangelo was also splitting time in Jersey, living in South Carolina in the colder months.  D’Arcangelo is also a member of the band, The Following.


When we caught up with them, there were only a few weeks to go before Lees traveled west.  Both men looked weathered, their skin red and brown. Their TowBoat USA ball caps look fused to their heads. They were barefoot. If Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn grew up in New Jersey, they would be Lees and D’Arcangelo.


The Barnegat Inlet has been the scene of many wrecks and mishaps through out the centuries and even today.  The work of a towboat team can surely be treacherous, but there is a flipside...on this beautiful, clear uneventful September day we were treated to that other angle, the long, sometimes monotonous hours shared between a captain and mate.


We asked them if they have too much time on their hands. Lees said they must be on-call should their services be necessary, but in the downtime the two surf a lot. D’Arcangelo says that on-board they fill up their time by talking and asking each other random probing questions.  But make no mistake, this job is not all long sun-drenched days with nothing to do.  When the call comes in, the crew of Towboat USA must act despite the weather or time of day.  Their work begins when the skies grow dark and tempestuous.  They are on the water when no ones wants to be or should be.


Following our day with them, D’Arcangelo decided to stay put in Barnegat Light and forgo his yearly migration.  Lees, however resolved to relocate completely to Oregon.  This short film of our time on the #9 captured Lees in the final days of his employ in the family business. 


This was the shoot that started it all.  This was our first shoot.  We met up with the team of Towboat USA, Barnegat Light, NJ.  Captain Jeremy Lees and 1st Mate Jake D’Arcangelo invited us along on the #9, to experience marine assistance and rescue in the Barnegat Bay Inlet. 


Towboat USA was started by Captain Lees grandfather and is now in the steady hands of his dad, Matt Lees.  Captain Lees admitted being a reluctant teenage mate in the service of marine rescue.  While many other kids were out surfing or working simple summer jobs, Lees was called upon to assist in the family business.  We asked him if he was afraid of the work then. "No,” he replied, “I just didn't wanna work. I wanted to hang out with my friends."  He claimed to enjoy the job as an adult, at least for the length of time he does it each year, enough anyway to bring him back spring after spring.  Each winter, when the high volume of seafarers drops off, Lees migrates to Portland, Oregon. 






The Ballad of Light Blue and Burgandy: Barnegat Light, NJ