|This article is about the episode. You may be looking for the book adaptation.|
30 May 1989
Ghosts is the ninth episode of TUGS.
Winter arrives early in Bigg City Port, and so does the big fog that comes with it. It was much more difficult to navigate through fog in these years, due to the tugs having neither a radio nor radar.
One night, Big Mac is travelling back home to the Star Dock, after working with Scuttlebutt Pete, who has been telling him ghost stories. The fog makes everything seem very spooky. Just then, Big Mac sees some tugs – silent, white tugs that appear to be ghosts. Big Mac thinks it’s the Ghost Fleet Scuttlebutt Pete told him about while working. Big Mac rushes home, and while reluctant at first, tells the others. The tugs make great fun of Big Mac.
The next morning, the tugs still make fun of Big Mac. He wishes he hadn’t told them now.
That night, on Warrior’s way back to port, some shrimpers are using him a guide. Suddenly, Warrior sees a mud-bank, and swerves just in time. But the shrimpers can’t react in time and end right up on the mud-bank. Then, Warrior sees the Ghost Fleet too.
Further away, Izzy Gomez is about to attempt to get into port free, using the fog as cover. Zorran comes across Izzy and taunts him about it. He then leaves Izzy. Up ahead, Zorran sees two lights in the mist that he thinks is another tramper needing a tow – but it turns out to be the Ghost Fleet. Meanwhile, Izzy Gomez has started away on his own. Before long, he too sees the ghosts. A frightened Zorran has travelled right round in a circle, and ends running straight into Izzy’s side. A desperate Izzy, wanting to get into port away from the ghosts, offers Zorran to tow him for any price. Zorran though, also scared, says he will tow him in free as he needs some company on the way back to the port.
O.J. is also on the way back to port, after escorting two trampers out to sea. He takes a shortcut through the inlet where old cranes are kept. The fog makes everything look very creepy. Suddenly, Scuttlebutt Pete raises his dredger out of the water, startled by O.J., while O.J. is startled by Scuttlebutt Pete. O.J. soon continues on – and sees the Ghost Fleet pass right on by.
Top Hat is now travelling home after a long day. He is suddenly startled – but merely by a steam train crossing the rail bridge. The fog and all, it would seem, is getting to Top Hat’s nerves as well. Upon steering between two idle trampers, Top Hat sees the Ghost Fleet, and docks behind a tramper to hide, thinking he is miles from home.
Ten Cents and Sunshine are taking fuel to Lillie Lightship, but it’s hard-going. Just then, they hear a strange cracking noise. To add to that, the Ghost Fleet arrives. And further still, an old galleon slowly rises from the water. Lightning strikes it all over, several times, and a freakish face appears in the sky, of which Sunshine observes looks like King Neptune. The two tugs clear the scene in terror.
Next morning, Grampus finds Top Hat. As Grampus spits out some water, it happens to go onto Top Hat’s face, waking him up with a start. Top Hat shouts for the ghosts to go away, and then sees Grampus, telling him he must have been dreaming. Grampus makes great fun of Top Hat for mooring there, as he is only “500 yards from the Star Tugs Pier.” Top Hat heads over to the pier, and tells the others all about what he saw. O.J. mentions how Ten Cents and Sunshine encountered the rotten galleon as well as the ghosts. Top Hat continues to go on and on about his own incident. Hercules, just arriving back, hears the commotion, and calmly asks what the problem is. The tugs tell Hercules all about the Ghost Fleet. Hercules, smiling widely, explains. “They’re the White Fleet, down here from Northern waters, on the trail of an iceberg. These tugs sail at times with engines off, listening for cracking ice. There was a wooden galleon frozen in this iceberg, which must have melted in our warmer water.” And just then, Burke and Blair tow the old galleon by. The Star Tugs can only laugh at their mistakes. But they never forgot the fog that nearly sent them crazy.
- Ten Cents
- Big Mac
- Top Hat
- Izzy Gomez
- Scuttlebutt Pete
- The Shrimpers
- Captain Star (only narration role, cameo)
- The Ghostly Galleon (does not speak)
- The White Fleet (do not speak)
- Burke and Blair (do not speak)
- The Neptune Face (does not speak)
- Captain Zero (cameo)
- Schooners (cameos)
- Mighty Mo (cameo)
- Big Mickey (cameo)
- Puffa (cameo)
- Kraka-Toa (cameo)
- Nantucket (cameo)
- Johnny Cuba (faceless, cameo)
- Old Rusty (faceless, cameo)
- Lillie Lightship (mentioned)
- Port Authority (mentioned)
- This is the only episode of the series to use cartoon animation such as lightning bolts and the Neptune Face.
- Stock footage from Sunshine is used.
- Zorran is the only Z-Stack that appeared in this episode.
- This episode marks the final appearance of Grampus, Kraka-Toa, Nantucket, Old Rusty, Burke and Blair.
- This episode marks Grampus, Izzy Gomez and The Shrimpers' last speaking roles.
- This is the first and only appearance of The Neptune Face and The White Fleet.
- It is revealed that Top Hat has a fog horn.
- The cause of the Neptune Face is never explained.
- The Japanese version of this episode is called "Who's Afraid of Some Ghost Ship".
- The shadows of the train reveal that Puffa was pulling an eight-wheeled flatbed, which is the only time a goods car with such configuration has been used in the series.
- From the galleon scene onwards, Ten Cents is missing one of his side fenders.
- A piece of Big Mac's number on his stack is missing until the first day scenes.
- When Puffa's goods cars finish crossing the bridge, the lights on the sides of the tracks to create the shadow of the train, turns off, yet they were still on just before Puffa crossed the bridge.
Ghosts was first released on VHS in the UK in 1989 by Castle Vision. It was released along with the episodes Trapped and High Winds. It was released again in 1990 by Castle Vision under the Playbox range of videos along with the same episodes.