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"You'd go back to the Ice Age, O.J., by the sound of your engine!"
Top Hat to O.J.

Quarantine is the eighth episode of TUGS.


It is the year of the big heat wave. Many incoming boats have sickness aboard, and must fly a yellow flag to show they need to have a medical examination to determine whether or not their sickness is contagious. If their disease is infectious, they must anchor away from port and fly the checkered flag to show they are under quarantine for the compulsory 40 days, and warning everyone not to go near, for fear of being infected. Once they are checked, they are free to have a tow into port.

Burke and Blair (a pair of evil minded scrap-dealing tugs) have their eyes on O.J. whose engine has been acting up lately. They have already made Captain Star an offer for him, which he’s not yet agreed to.

Ten Cents and Sunshine arrive at the Star Dock, late and having missed the briefing. After furiously threatening to sell them for scrap, Captain Star informs Ten Cents that he was supposed to collect a fire barge from the station across the harbour, and that O.J. is now taking care of it. Ten Cents is sent to help him while Sunshine has to bring in a tramper called Nantucket. If O.J. is alright, he and Ten Cents can join the others, ready to take away vessels cleared from quarantine.

Meanwhile, O.J. (on his way to the ferry pier with the barge) is watched by Burke and Blair. The two scrap dealers delight at the sound of his choking engine. At the same time, the Fultan Ferry follows an intersecting path, on a regular journey. O.J. suddenly spots The Coast Guard’s messenger rapidly approaching him from the distant harbour entrance. Before he knows it, it is right on top of him. O.J. reverses out of the way just in time, but his faulty engine spins him, swinging his barge into the Fultan Ferry. The ferry now has a large hole in her hull, causing her to sink.

Ten Cents (on his way out to meet O.J.) sees the situation and tries to save the Fultan Ferry with a towline. But he is forced to cut the rope, and the ferry sinks to the bottom. Sunshine arrives (not too far behind Ten Cents) and is sent to get the emergency services.

Burke and Blair make a second attempt to purchase O.J. at the Star Pier. Back at the scene of the Fultan Ferry, the Fire Chief arrives to take care of the situation and cranes are put into position to raise the sunken ferry. Zorran and Zug arrive to criticise the Star Fleet, especially O.J. and gloatingly express their delight that there will be fewer Star Tugs available for quarantine work.

When Ten Cents and O.J. arrive at the mouth of the harbour, they find Top Hat and the two Z-Stacks still waiting. The Coast Guard informs the tugs that the schooners are quarantined, as they may carry Microbonic Plague. Ten Cents is surprised when Zorran sends Zug packing and says that he himself will go further out. Ten Cents (knowing Zorran) suspects foul play.

Sunshine is out of port, looking for Nantucket, when he spots the tramper (flying a yellow flag); he makes sure not to go too close. The tramper lowers its flag. As Sunshine moves closer, Nantucket requests a tow into port. With no customs boat in sight, Sunshine wisely hurries away, not wanting to risk being infected.

Zorran sees Sunshine on his way out and asks if there’s any cleared trampers. Sunshine refuses to tell him, but Zorran won't let him off the hook as if he just wanted some information for the fun of it. Ten Cents and O.J. quickly come to Sunshine's aid. Sunshine explains that Nantucket's yellow flag was pulled down. Zorran thinks the tramper has been cleared, and tries to seize upon this "golden opportunity" by rushing out to the tramper immediately and pushes Sunshine asside. Ten Cents gives chase, determined to beat Zorran to it. O.J. follows Ten Cents doing considerable damage to his engine in the process, and manages to stop him. He is certain the tramper is either waiting for examination or to be quarantined. O.J. brushes off the two switchers' concern for his burnt-out engine, telling them that they both could have been quarantined.

Zorran triumphantly reaches Nantucket and pulls alongside, while Ten Cents and Sunshine tow O.J. back to the Star Pier. Ten Cents tells Captain Star what led to O.J.'s engine failure. Captain Star (having decided on selling O.J. for scrap) is left appalled to tears due to how many of his tugs had let him down throughout the day. Burke and Blair arrive yet again and make their final offer for O.J. Instead, Captain Star angrily dismiss the scrap dealers, and tells Ten Cents to take O.J. to Lucky's Yard for a new engine. He also sends Sunshine on garbage duty to end the day with a profit.

Just as Zorran prepares to tow Nantucket into port, the Coast Guard arrives and immediately places an arrest warrant on the tramper since he’s actually carrying disease without having quarantine flags up. Despite Zorran protesting that he had no idea Nantucket was still quarantined, the Coast Guard orders both him and the villainous tramper to put up quarantine flags. Burke and Blair pass Zorran and snicker at his dilemma. Zorran ends up quarantined alongside Nantucket for forty days.



Deleted Scenes

See: Deleted Scenes


  • This is the only episode in which the Fultan Ferry has a main role. It just makes cameos in other episodes.
  • This episode marks the first and only speaking roles of Burke, Blair and Nantucket.
  • Big Mac, Hercules, Zebedee and Zak do not appear in this episode.
  • This episode marks the final appearance of the Coast Guard's Messenger.
  • This episode was later written into a story for the Tugs 1990 Annual.
  • This and the TV version of Munitions are the only episodes where Big Mac does not appear.
  • Stock footage from the episode "Jinxed" is used.
  • Fire Tug's second speaking role.
  • This is the second episode to feature underwater footage. The first episode to have that was "Pirate" (although it was too dark to see in that episode).
  • Top Hat mentions Sir Francis Drake, an English privateer who defeated the Spanish Armada in 1588.
  • Although this episode doesn't have a photo book version, several shots were included on the front and back covers of British and Japanese VHS releases, and one was included on a magazine cover.
  • The Japanese title of this episode is called "オー・ジェーのおんぼろエンジン" (or O.J's Rag Engine).
  • Going by production order, this is the ninth episode of the series and the first proper episode where Zebedee does not appear.
  • The "Ten Cents" Part of Captain Star's line "Ten Cents tried to explain what happened to the Fire Chief" is Reused from a line from Sunshine "One little switcher, Ten Cents"
  • This was the last episode of TUGS to be preceded by a double feature of Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends the day prior on CITV. The Thomas episodes shown that week were "The Diseasel" and "Wrong Road".
  • Several boats in the episode have reused whistle sounds:


  • Sunshine bears a dangling fender during the scene where Zorran and Zug comment on O.J.'s accident.
  • When Grampus resurfaces, O.J. has disappeared and reappears in the next shot.
  • The rear cover of the single Japanese VHS release features a photograph from "Trapped," but that episode is not included.
  • When Blair explains that O.J. is at the top of their scrap list, Sunshine is seen pulling a crane in the background but in the next scene, the crane behind Sunshine is gone and the Fire Tug is beside him.
  • When the motorboat races towards O.J., it is at open sea but when it almost crashed into O.J., it is in the harbour. However, when the motor boat races away from O.J., it is back at open sea again.
  • The Coast Guard's Messenger seems to be smiling when he almost crashes into O.J.
  • The Coast Guard also seems to be smiling when he catches Nantucket without his quarantine flag.
  • O.J first refers to the Fultan Ferry as "boyo", a Welsh term for boy or man; however, after the accident he and all the other characters specifically refer to the Fultan Ferry as "She".
  • When O.J. says "Thanks, Captain. They'll see you never regret it.", Blair is still moored to his right and O.J. looked sad.


Season 1

Season 2 >>

#01 Sunshine #05 Munitions #10 Jinxed
#02 Pirate #06 Warrior #11 High Winds
#03 Trapped #07 High Tide #12 Up River
#04 Regatta #08 Quarantine #13 Bigg Freeze
#09 Ghosts