The History Channel is bringing to its ranks a new reality show, Great Lake Warriors, for fans who enjoy watching brave men do battle with water. This premiere will feature men battling the elements, runaway vessels, fatigue and their very lives on the Great Lakes. Indicates the History Channel, these tugboat men are in constant combat with the hazards and storms around them on the Great Lakes, “a deadly inland sea that has claimed as many as 6,000 vessels and 30,000 lives, [where] a way of life exists that few ever witness.”
Now, however, viewers of the History Channel will have the opportunity to take a look inside the lives of these men as they struggle to make a living in these harsh conditions, working around the clock and fighting ice forming all around as the winds whip around, threatening to throw men into the deadly cold waters around them.
Some of these men are continuing a family heritage; some came into the business with stars in their eyes. But, most of the men would agree, regardless of how you begin, it’s a dangerous, deadly way of life that gets into the blood, having two main goals: Make a living and get back home alive.
The History Channel introduces the captains of the crews on their website as follows:
- Captain John Selvick: Known as "The Legend" on the lakes, Captain John of the John M. Selvick, the son of another legendary Great Lakes captain, first started driving tugs when he was 14 years old. John's Calumet River Fleeting is a major player on Lake Michigan. It’s a gritty Chicago operation, doing whatever it takes to keep business flowing. After a tough summer, John’s biggest challenge in the winter isn’t finding work—it’s finishing it. Weather is creating massive delays, but if the team can’t serve its clients then their clients will find another tug company that can.
- Captain Ted Long: The son of a tugboat captain, captain Ted Long started working on boats when he was 14. His colleagues at Calumet River Fleeting call him "Captain Nice" for his no-nonsense demeanor and penchant for shouting commands, corrections and criticisms. Long’s boats include the Kimberly Selvick and the Steven Selvick.
- Captain Nathan Schley: Captain Nathan grew up in stepdad John Selvick’s pilothouse and learned to drive boats at an early age. For years, he has worked a relief captain for Captain John and the resident captain for their Sturgeon Bay operation. This year, when Captain John is too ill to come north for the ice-breaking season, Captain Nathan has to step into the legend’s shoes. He must take the helm of the massive Mary E. Hannah and run ice-breaking on his own for the first time. He also captains the Jimmy L.
- Captains Stan and Gerry Dawson: Captain Stan, older brother to co-captain Gerry, is the wild one and claims that you "don’t have to be crazy to do this, but it helps." He has been on the lakes since he was a teenager, working for his father. He currently drives the Point Valour for his brother’s company. Captain Gerry Dawson owns Thunder Bay Tugs, a small, family-run business out of the seafaring town of Thunder Bay, Ontario, on the shores of Lake Superior. As a second-generation seaman, he has seen it all out on the water. He is the leader of the operation and perhaps the most respectful of the seas. He once put his own life on the line rescuing a passenger vessel that was stranded at sea in 15-foot waves and 70-mile-an-hour winds. He and his crew all received Medals of Honor for their bravery. His boats include the Point Valour and the Miseford.
- Captain Mike Ojard: A dreamer and a doer, Captain Mike has put his money on the line to start a tug company, Heritage Marine, on Lake Superior, the deadliest and wildest of all five Great Lakes. He has enlisted a corps of volunteers from his circle of family and friends to carve out a piece of the tug trade on the lake. With a taste for the marine life in his blood, he hopes to create a new generation of sailors in his family. Captain Mike’s boats include the Nels J. and the Helen.
The series premiere of Great Lake Warriors airs on the History Channel tonight, July 19, at 10/9c.
Image: Wikimedia Commons