Capt. Doug Hajek was master of the Wedell Foss for many years
Ask Doug Hajek, who retired June 1 as senior captain at Foss Maritime, what he liked about his job, and he will answer without hesitation: “It was just the opportunity to take a boat and make it perform work and do a good job at it.”
Hajek, who ran tractor tugs on Puget Sound for the last 30-odd years of his 46-year career, got his start in 1969 after serving as a radioman in the Navy. A neighbor in Everett, Bud Klemp, was running tugs for Foss in the north Sound.
“I was thinking about it one day, and it occurred to me that Bud seemed to have a great career working on tugs, and I liked being on the water and on boats,” Hajek said. “I asked him to put in a word for me and he said he would.”
So Hajek began working as a deckhand out of Everett for PacTow, which was owned by Foss. Much of the work was handling logs with 40-foot tugs, moving them to mills and loading them on ships for export, a business that has almost entirely disappeared.
In the early 1980s, he decided that if he wanted to run boats he would have to get a license. With that, he started working on the new tractor tug Arthur Foss in the Seattle and Tacoma harbors, moved up to mate and eventually to relief captain.
His first full-time captain’s job was in the late 1980s on the Puget Sound tractor tug Brynn Foss, now stationed in southern California. Hajek also spent many years as captain of the Wedell Foss, a sister of the Brynn, and finished his career as captain of the Pacific Star.
Hajek, 67, has lived in Everett his entire life and has two children and four grandchildren. In retirement, he has been working with Habitat for Humanity and traveling and describes himself as an “avid golfer.”
“I don’t know how I had time to work,” he said.