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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 back then.
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, tugs white all over that appear to be ghosts. Big Mac thinks it’s the ghost tugs Scuttlebutt Pete told him about while working. Big Mac rushes home, and while reluctant at first, tells the others. The tugs (except Sunshine who believes he could have seen ghosts) make fun of Big Mac while telling him to get a grip. The next morning, the tugs still give Big Mac a hard time, including O.J., after he sarcastically gives him wise advice about the fog. Big Mac 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 upon the mud-bank. Then, Warrior sees the Ghost Fleet too and quickly reverses in fright.
Further away, Izzy Gomez is about to attempt to get into port free after failing to get a cheap tow, using the fog as cover. Zorran comes across Izzy and taunts him about it. He then sails away from 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 ghost tugs. A frightened Zorran has traveled right round in a circle, and ends up running straight into Izzy’s hull side . A desperate and frightened 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, startling O.J. and shouts that he's scaring the other workers. He then tells O.J. to take care and O.J. soon continues on – then sees the Ghost Fleet pass right on by.
Top Hat is now travelling home after a long day. After sounding his foghorn, he is suddenly startled – but soon finds it is merely a goods 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 pass. As time goes on, the water bubbles and an old galleon slowly rises from the water. Lightning strikes it all over several times, and a freakish face appears in the sky, a face that Sunshine knows: King Neptune. Ten Cents and Sunshine clear the scene the way they came in terror, and forget about Lillie and leaving the fuel barge behind.
Next morning, Grampus finds Top Hat and spits some water at him, waking him up with a start. Top Hat pleads 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 no more than 500 yards from the Star Tugs Pier and the Zero Dock where Zorran met up with Captain Zero.
Top Hat heads over to the pier and tells the others all about what he saw, thinking his side doesn't matter since they have all seen the ghosts and an old galleon. Hercules (just arriving back) hears the commotion, and calmly asks what the problem is. The tugs tell Hercules all about the Ghost Fleet, an old galleon, and Neptune's face. Hercules explains the floating figures are not ghosts, but the White Fleet. Visiting from Northern waters on the trail of an iceberg, often sailing at times with engines off, listening for cracking ice. Hercules then explains that the galleon was simply frozen in the iceberg that melted in their warmer water, and doubts Sunshine saw Neptune. Hercules tells them they have let the fog get to them.
Just then, Burke and Blair pass by towing the old galleon, now nothing more than burned, destroyed and rotten. The Star Tugs are embarrassed, but soon realize they can laugh at their own expense. But they never forgot the fog that set them over the edge.
Main Article: Deleted Scenes
Early Writing Stages
In a early outline titled Ghost Fleet, the ghost tugs are are first discovered by Big Mac and Warrior one night and their appearance, lights and noise give them a ghostly look. Top Hat becomes the next witness the following night. One early morning, O.J. follows the ghostly vessels upon seeing them and is astonished when the fog lifts and the vessels disappear, despite having been only a hundred yards away.
Captain Star tells the story of a fleet of tugs who left the bay many years ago and were lost at sea.
Ten Cents and Sunshine (who don't believe in ghosts) head out beyond the Bars to find the Ghost Tugs and upon spotting some, thoughtlessly follow them to sea, despite the waves being strong enough to sink them. Ten Cents and Sunshine head out to sea and become stranded due to the fog and waves. If they try to turn, they will roll over. Without warning, a trident suddenly emerges from the water under the switchers and traps them between it's forks as it lifts them clean out of the water. Ten Cents and Sunshine are turned the other direction as the trident dives again. With the fog and waves preventing Lillie Lightship from being seen or heard, Ten Cents and Sunshine must brave their journey home.
Two lights eventually shine through the fog and the fog begins to swirl. Ten Cents and Sunshine think it's shore lights. The fog swirls. To their horror, the switchers comes across the giant face of Neptune (originally had glowing lights). There's no time for a reaction, as the fog obliterates the scene.
At the Star Dock, Ten Cents and Sunshine quiver and shake as they tell their story. Shrugging it off as the switchers dreaming, Captain Star informs them that the Ghostly tugs are in fact from the Great White Fleet.
- Ten Cents
- Big Mac
- Top Hat
- Izzy Gomez
- Scuttlebutt Pete
- Burke and Blair (do not speak)
- The White Fleet (do not speak)
- Captain Star (narration only, cameo)
- Captain Zero (cameo)
- Mighty Mo (cameo)
- Big Mickey (cameo)
- Puffa (cameo)
- Nantucket (cameo)
- Kraka-Toa (cameo)
- Snatcher (faceless cameo, larger role cut)
- Lillie Lightship (mentioned)
- Zak (deleted scene)
- Port Authority (mentioned)
- Davy Jones (deleted scene)
- Patrick Allen as Captain Star
- Simon Nash as Ten Cents
- Shaun Prendergast as Sunshine
- Chris Tulloch as Zorran
- John Baddeley as Top Hat and the Shrimpers
- Timothy Bateson as O.J.
- Sean Barrett as Big Mac, Hercules and Izzy Gomez
- Lee Cornes as Grampus
- Mike O'Malley as Warrior and Scuttlebutt Pete
- This is the only episode in the series to use cartoon animation, used for the lightning bolts and Neptune's face.
- The original name of this episode was "Ghost Fleets".
- This is the only episode to only feature one Z-Stack, that being Zorran.
- This episode marks the final appearance of Grampus, Nantucket, Burke and Blair.
- This episode marks Grampus, Izzy Gomez and the shrimpers' last speaking roles.
- This is the first and only appearance of the White Fleet.
- Bluenose's whistle can be heard when Hercules is explaining the "ghosts."
- It is revealed that Top Hat has a fog horn.
- The cause of Neptune's Face is never explained.
- The Japanese version of this episode is called "ゆうれい船なんかこわくない" (or I'm Not Afraid of Ghost Ships).
- The shadows of the train reveal that Puffa was pulling a bogie flatbed, which is seen again in Up River.
- When Zorran comments on Izzy trying to sneak into port without a tow, he exclaims ’You never learn, do you?’ This remark references the last time Izzy tried to enter port in a similar fashion.
- Going by production order, this is the tenth episode of the series, as well as the last episode set in Bigg City Port.
- From the galleon scene onwards, Ten Cents is missing one of his side fenders.
- When Burke and Blair are seen towing the Galleon away, Kraka-Toa can be seen sitting low in the water in the background.
- A piece of Big Mac's number on his stack is missing until the first day scenes.
- Due to an error with Zorran's model, light can be seen coming from beneath his hat.
- After O.J. leaves Scuttlebutt Pete, his paddlewheel clips one of the crane's buckets.
- 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.
- The Galleon appears to change scale when Burke and Blair are towing it away. It appears much larger earlier in the episode.
- The rear cover of the single Japanese VHS release features a photograph from the episode Regatta, but that episode is not included.
- In his last two close-ups, Hercules' glasses are upside down.