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Regarding the PA DENNY

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Old 07-18-2008, 10:03 PM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Rabbit Hash, KY and Decatur, Al Shipyards
Posts: 1,160
Default Cracking the Whip

Flipping a sternwheeler is something I was taught on the DELTA QUEEN by cracker jack steamboat pilots, Handsome Harry Hamilton and Harry Louden, to turn the boat when she wouldn't back all the way around in the wind. Like the DELTA QUEEN, in those days, the P. A. DENNY would only back up into the wind. Sometimes the wind was strong-enough that these boat would "stiffen-up" and not go all the way around.

As soon as that point was reached, the rudders were put hard-down in the opposite direction while continuing to back. This allowed the boat to go around in the opposite direction and build up enough momentium while getting all the weight of the boat moving in that direction. The desired results were for the boat to "crack the whip" and come all the way around and end up pointed where you wanted it in the first place.

Sometimes the sternwheeler would stiffened-up on that rudder, too, so the rudders would then be reversed again and it would really be cracking-the-whip with the boat's tail into the wind, and she'd usually come around... that is, if you didn't run out of room between the banks.

It was always thrilling to see the stern flying around at break neck speed, and fun to do if the boat acted in the desired manner. I have a 8mm home movie of the DELTA QUEEN flippin' so fast in a hard wind below Evansville that it nearly makes you dizzy to watch. The little Sternwheeler GRACO made several turns around the horizon behind our stern before the DELTA QUEEN finally straightened out.
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