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The Delta Queens Captains Log

Posted 01-06-2012 at 07:03 PM by Capt Mike
October 28....We departed Kentucky Lock at midnight, having finally locked through after a 3 and a half hour delay. We are ALWAYS delayed at Kentucky lock, and even held out to allow tow boats to go through even when we have arrived first! So much for priority! It has gotten so bad that our office has written to the Lockmaster and the Corp to complain. It was a smooth lockage, we landed on the wall without a bump. I've been fortunate this whole month, not so much as a tiny bump as I've made many locks, and the wind has been mercifully light for every one!That makes it a lot easier. We cruised down the last 22 miles down the Tennessee River, arriving at Paducah at 2:30 am. Once again, an easy, smooth landing as the mate and crew quickly tied us off at the city front. I wish they were all that easy! Off I went to my tiny cabin for a few hours rest!
I arose early, made my rounds of the vessel chatting with the passengers and consulting with the Chief Engineer. As I move around the boat, I can instantly feel her slight port list, feel the deck slightly trembling from the big commercial wash machine spinning, off balance, down in the linen cage. This old boat talks to sense of her this morning is that she is happy and content, like a grandmother with her house full of her family. All is well...
During my rounds I discovered 2 steel capstan wedges, used to engage the anchor windlass on the bow are missing from their mounts on the main mast. I queried the mates but neither knew where they are or how long they have been missing. Without the wedges, we can't pick up the anchor should we have to drop it! Why does it have to be the Captain to find this? Perhaps it's my 15 years as a mate coming out in me...
I took a walk up town strolling through the peaceful old neighborhoods of old Paducah.Worn old homes and sidewalks raised and cracked by roaming tree roots mark this place as a neighborhood long past its' prime, yet I can almost sense the happier times, when here children played on cool fall days blissfully unaware of a future filled with challenge. I love these old neighborhoods, whose quite streets gently hint of the past as if in a dream. I stopped to scratch a friendly cats head who meowed and came to meet me at the gate of an old home. I strolled on the the corner convienience store where I bought a few days hope in the form of 5 lottery tickets. As I headed back to the boat, I thought about what I would do with the millions if I won the lottery; I know one thing, I wouldn't quit the Delta Queen...
Noon arrived and we departed Paducah, and entered the Tennessee River, up bound for Kentucky Lock again. When we arrived below the lock a couple of hours later, the was of course a tow boat in the lock, so we eased into the shore just below the lock to wait for the tow to get out. While waiting, I listened to the pilot tell me why he should be Captain. There is a Captains job opening coming up next year, and several pilots are vying for the job. It has become at times a vicious campaign, with some candidates talking bad about the others. I listen quietly with little comment, trying not to take sides. Suffice it to say, it is an unpleasant situation...
We finally got through the lock about 5 pm, and departed out into the vast Kentucky Lake. It's almost like going to sea. The passengers lined the front decks as we pushed out of the lock, and stood in awe at the vista of the huge lake, stretching away to the horizon. The weather was clear, with 168 miles to our next stop at Savannah, Tennessee. As the sun set I spent an hour in the pilot house talking with the pilot. He is a good and decent man, who has helped make my job as Captain a lot easier. Not all pilots are like that. Still, I listened as he complained about our "incompetent office management" and how his friend, the other pilot, was going to get cheated out of the next Captains appointment, by another guy who is back-stabbing and incompetent. I could see the anger twist him, and each month he seemed to become a little more cynical and bitter, not realizing that he rails against things that he can't change, and aren't necessarily true. As I said, he is a decent fellow and a friend, and I wondered if I should tell him to relax and not allow himself to become embittered. Sometimes it helps when a friend tries to harken you back to reality, but I was reluctant, worried that I might anger him and loose his friendship which I valued a lot.
After an evening round of the boat I retired here to my cabin at 9 pm, as I write the Delta Queen pushes up through the huge dark lake all alone. I am looking forward to going home in 4 days to see my girls...
Total Comments 2


Thanks!! I love your writing and look forward to more -- and then your book!!
Posted 01-08-2012 at 07:29 AM by Pat Carr Pat Carr is offline
We loved both segments and sure look forward to reading your entire book and adding it to our small library.
Posted 01-08-2012 at 08:24 AM by Suzanne Taylor Martinez Suzanne Taylor Martinez is offline
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