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Thread: Alan Bates and Me 9

  1. #1

    Default Alan Bates and Me 9

    Why Alan did not come back as mate for the 1966 season, I'm not sure. Rumor had it that he had gotten "cross wise" with some of the board members and they didn't want him back. Maybe he was tired of riding herd over a gang of deckhands. Perhaps he wanted more money than they were willing to pay since he had gotten his masters license, I really don't know, we never discussed it. Alan didn't seem upset about it. After he left the boat, he did consulting and design work whenever the boat needed it.
    Our lives went in different directions; me to the DQ, then the Army, marriage, career and family. Alan went on to write his Steamboat Encyclopedium which brought him recognition as a expert on steamboat design and construction among the river fraternity. When the encyclopdium was published, Alan sent me a copy while I was in Vietnam; how surprised and proud I was to see my name on one of the boats illustrating his book.
    I guess it was his fame from that book that led Wilbur Dow to approach Alan to design an excursion boat he was planning to build and run in New Orleans. Dow wanted a boat that resembled the VIRGINIA. Occasionally I would visit Alan in his office while he was designing what would become the NATCHEZ, Alan would be at his drawing board making some complex plan with his record player (no MP3 players back then) playing opera and classical music. The NATCHEZ was designed to the melodies of Verdi, Beethoven, Brahms and Mozart....no wonder it's such a beautiful vessel, every part on it harmonizes.
    Alan became quite a naval architect designing excursion boats and dinner boats for various shipyards. I know that Seredino built several boats designed by Alan; but most of his designs were built by a local builder, Arthur Pluckebaum, who had a yard building high end houseboats. For several years Alan and Pluckebaum worked together until the market got saturated and demand for those type boats pretty much ceased to exist. A Bates designed boat looked like a steamboat, not some Hollywood excuse for a steamboat; although, I personally think most of Alan's designs were too narrow and too tall, but that is my opinion....I'm no naval architect.
    Alan gave me the first boat I ever owned. He had built a little sternwheel scow, powered by a 1 1/2 hp lawn mower motor named the MINNIE BAY. When I was about 14 Alan, I guess got tired of it, and he told me if I wanted it, I could have it. For several years I had a lot of fun with the MINNIE BAY using it for camping trips on Six Mile Island and exploring the creeks around Louisville. I loved that little boat so much that when I got older I used a Weaver skiff and built one of my own, the INTREPID, ( I beat Nelson Jones two years in a row at the Charleston Sternwheel Festival). Alan seemed to really enjoy the rides on the INTREPID. He knew he had planted the seed and, I think he was proud that he had.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Ohio River Mile 545.9
    Posts
    635

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    Jim, Do you have any photos of the Minnie Bay?

  3. #3

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    Steve, no I don't. It was about 14 ft long and 3 ft wide with about a 4 ft wheel. In calm waters it moved right along. I do have one of the name boards which Alan painted that's all thats left of it I think, The reason I say that is eventually my friends and I built a pontoon boat so I had no use for the MINNIE, besides that the clutch, which was from one of those old motorized push mowers, broke. Kenny Howe and I towed her out to the middle of the river with the pontoon boat and attempted to sink it, which we couldn't. We just left her there half sunk full of water. As we were leaving a shanty boater..there were still some shanty boats back then...rowed out and retrieved the hulk. So who knows what the final outcome was....fire wood or a fine little rowboat?

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