Homes near the river in Gravesend, woken early by the sound of tug whistles, were witness to the boats saying goodbye to one of their own.
Barry Pain, senior master in the Svitzer London tug fleet, came ashore for the last time last week after 49 years on the water.
Mr Pain, now retired, started life afloat as a cook for the Alexander tug fleet, based in South Woolwich. Over the years he qualified and became tug master, undertaking sea and coastal work as well as working up and down the Thames.
One of his last jobs was towing the German war ship Brandenberg into the Upper Pool in the Anglia.