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The Delta Queens Captains Log, Friday, November 21, 2003

Posted 01-17-2012 at 08:31 PM by Capt Mike
Secure at Robin St. Wharf, New Orleans
I rested well, as only a captain can when he knows his vessel is tied up securely in a safe port. I arose at 7 am and prepared for the day and the beginning of a new cruise. I hoped to spend the morning reviewing the upcoming cruises on the Intercoastal Waterway, and to call all the ports and locks along our route to let them know we were coming. The morning was clear and warm as I made my way into the office to confer with my boss in the Marine Operations department. I submitted my preferred work schedule for next season, and was surprised when he said he had one made up for me already. I dreaded looking at it! Since I am one of the Captains with the least senority, I usually got stuck with the most difficult and least desirable cruises. As I looked down the schedule at my on-off dates, I began to smile, it was great! I was scheduled to be off when I wanted to be and on the times that I preferred to be! I told my boss thank you very much, and he replied that it was purely coincidental that I got a work schedule that I wanted. He just leaned back in his chair and smiled...
The rest of the day was totally uneventful. My only concern was that we had taken on fuel by barge during the day and I knew that the extra weight would plant us further down in the mud along the wharf; I would find out at departure time, might have to do some "mud washing" with the paddle wheel to get her away from the wharf...
The wonderful crew went about their routine tasks of seeing departing guests off, taking on supplies, cleanig and preparing the boat for the next cruise. This trip would take us along the beautiful but narrow and congested intercoastal waterway to the Port of New Iberia, along the southern Louisiana coast, then back up the Atchafalaya River, and finally back out into the Mississippi River through the Old River Lock, some 74 miles north of Baton Rouge. Because of the narrow channel and the high volume of towboat traffic, this was always a stressful trip for me. We will be meeting and passing literally hundreds of boats on this voyage along this narrow canal, passing most no more than 15 feet apart! There are several locks and swing bridges to negotiate as well, adding to the challenge. I take comfort that I have 2 very competent and experienced pilots aboard, and hope for light winds and fair weather.
About a half an hour before departure time, I went out on the wharf and walked down alongside the boat, checking her draft marks, navigation lights, and general appearance. Even at 76 years, the old steamboat is an impressive sight, laying there against the wharf, her decks softly glowing from the small overhead deck lamps. Her tall slender smokestack emits a shimmering haze, hinting at the fire in her boilers below. Our new passengers walk around the decks, exploring their home for the next 7 days. The long, braided mooring ropes stretch and reach up to the wharf, adding to the old boats' lines and texture, I pause for a few moments and realize what a special place and time I am in right now, this very special moment, standing on a wharf in New Orleans, looking at an old steamboat aglow and preparing for a river journey. It is a moment and a scene experienced undoubtedly by many people before and long ago along these historical old wharves, but this moment and vision are mine forever!
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Thanks so much for sharing that "moment and vision" with us. It triggers memories of our experiences and how grateful we all are to have those memories -- to be able to "see" the picture you paint with your words.
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Posted 01-18-2012 at 02:28 PM by Pat Carr Pat Carr is offline
 
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