There were few situations, if any, that the third most senior Aransas-Corpus Christi Pilot had not seen or encountered in his nearly half a century as a mariner, the last thirty years spent sailing on the bustling 29-mile long Corpus Christi ship channel - ranked among the busiest in the nation.
The sixty-four-year-old Captain Robert Louis Adams had accumulated countless wheelhouse hours aboard tug boats and ships, vessels and floating platforms of assorted flag, class, dimension, deadweight and gross tonnage. The son of a Houston Pilot, he was the product of a diverse maritime history spent initially aboard tug boats both inland and offshore. While working for Amoco, aboard the ATB Amoco Tallahassee, he was dispatched to Valdez, Alaska to help with the 1989 oil spill response and clean up. It was while working there that Adams received the phone call with the news that he had been accepted into the Aransas Corpus Christi Deputy Program. He graduated two years later from deputy pilot to full pilot after passing the rigorous apprenticeship required of all deputy pilots. And despite reaching the pinnacle coveted by most master mariners, Adams never strayed from his roots as a “hawsepiper” - a journeyman mariner.
The venerable mariner was respected and revered by his fellow pilots who elected him to two terms as their Presiding Officer. One senior pilot described Captain Adams as "the consummate professional."
Affable with a gift for gab, Adams exhibited aplomb whenever sitting for on-camera television interviews to talk about pilots and pilotage. And armed with a keen sense of humor, he rarely allowed a moment of levity to go unredeemed. Once, while piloting a ship with a local television news crew in the wheelhouse recording his every word and action on the conn, Captain Adams spotted a nearby tow and barge approaching with some speed on a certain collision course. He calmly responded by issuing a series of navigational commands, averting a potentially serious incident. The entire dramatic scene of his masterful performance was captured by the television news crew and it headlined that day’s ten-pm newscast. Later asked, in jest, if he had arranged the close encounter for the benefit of the camera, Adams casually mimicked talking over a two-way radio asking, “Hey, tow Captain, how much for a near miss?”
Captain Adams was imbued from childhood with a love of animals and had dreamt of a career caring for them as a veterinarian. He smothered all of his lifelong canine companions with abiding affection, and they reciprocated in kind. But one in particular had stood out. He often reminded the other members of the Adams family of his strict instructions to be interred with the ashes of his most beloved and deceased special pal - a Yorkshire Terrier named "Susie."
His other enduring love was taking his family to DisneyWorld, a ritual which he fulfilled nearly every year. He relished the times that he spent with his grandkids.
A dyed in the wool hail fellow well met, Captain Adams was admired and loved by everyone he touched. His funeral services on June 22 in Aransas, TX attracted an overflow gathering of friends and fellow mariners. His services ended with the spoken words, “Steady as she goes, Captain Adams, steady as she goes.”
Captain Adams is survived by his wife, Karen Adams, and two children, Robert Adams and Elizabeth Spivey.
Captain Louis Adams was the consummate professional, liked and respected by all who knew him and worked with him. Growing up in LaPorte Texas and coming from a maritime family, Louis was a second generation Mariner and a Texas State Pilot with more than 45 years of service to the marine industry making him a unique individual. Louis took special pride in the fact that he started his sea going career as an ordinary seaman and worked his way up the hawsepipe to sail as a Master Mariner.
Captain Adams valued the essence of Command; taking care of his crew first, the vessels he commanded and piloted, and the cargo he was responsible for.
One of the proudest moments of his distinguished career was when he was appointed as a Deputy Branch Pilot for the Port of Corpus Christi. One of his proudest achievements was serving two terms as Presiding Officer of the Aransas Corpus Christi Pilot Association. As President of the Pilots he offered a steady hand at the helm, valued leadership and sage advice.
Captain Adams loved life to the fullest. He was dedicated to his family, his friends, and his profession. His community involvement included being one of the original founders of the Aransas Pass Yacht Club.
Now that Captain Adams has crossed the final Bar, he will be sorely missed by all who were fortunate to have known him.