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Judy Patsch 06-25-2009 04:21 PM

NATCHEZ IX bell, my trip report, etc.
3 Attachment(s)
Here are some photos of the roofbell of the current NATCHEZ:
1) The bell was cast in 1929 for the towboat J.D. AYERS. At the top: BUCKEYE BELL FOUNDRY. Fred Way noted in the 1975 Reflector article about the new NATCHEZ that the original frame and mounting was used also.
2) on the back side: THE E.W. VANDUZEN CO. CINCINNATI The acorn was made by Larry Walker. When Doc was Captain, the acorn he received from F. Way which had been on the QUEEN CITY adorned this bell, as it did on all the boats Doc served as Master. Buckeye Bell Foundry was the name of the company from 1894-1950 and was owned by the VanDuzens. It had several previous names and co-owners prior to that era. Verdin Co. bought the assets of the VanDuzen Co. after it closed in 1950.
3) at the Toulouse St. wharf. Forward of the bell is the canopy which was installed in 1985 ( a similar one is on the stern). Note the brass back of the old searchlight on the port wingbridge and the lack of brass on the new searchlight purchased for the Ohio River run in 2006. The Union Jack flag is on the jackstaff, and the Moonwalk and buildings of the French Market and French Quarter are in the background. The green structure to the far right is the Gov. Nicholls St. Wharf, currently a battleground because the city wants to move a frozen chicken exporter from the Industrial Canal to this site.
The NATCHEZ roofbell is used regularly as part of the departure sequence:
On the day trips, the narrator begins the introductory spiel at 25 past. At :30, a 5 minute warning whistle is sounded. When the Captain is ready to go, the pilot sounds the bell 3 times as the notice for the ticket office to quit selling for that trip, and for the deck crew to go to their posts for the departure. On the dinner trip, the 5 minute whistle is sounded at the end of the Dukes of Dixieland's first set, the bell sounds for breakup, and the narrator does a brief spiel once the boat is underway.

Judy Patsch 06-25-2009 04:30 PM

More views on the NATCHEZ June '09
3 Attachment(s)
1) A closer look at the port wingbridge. The brass running light is next to the megaphone, which is still used to call back to the pilot. The black thing above the megaphone on the railing is an intercom to the stern fantail. The brass-backed searchlight and ring buoy are also evident, as is the jack flag. Capt. Roddy Hammett was afraid of heights, but he was never bothered by being out on the wingbridge, strangely enough.
2) Looking up at the stacks from the Hurricane Deck. They now extend about 63 feet from the waterline to their tops. The section cut out for the Ohio River trip was never restored, as was the second spreader bar left off also. All this remains in storage in NOLA.(It is NOT in Rock Island.)
3) The nameboards were redone over the winter layup. The antlers are generic, obviously symbolizing her undefeated status as the Racehorse of the Western Rivers. The round object in the pilothouse window is a windshield wiper.

Judy Patsch 06-25-2009 04:39 PM

Still more NATCHEZ IX
3 Attachment(s)
1) passing Bienville St. on her landing approach. The port stage is raised so the deckhands can manuever under it. Roof flags visible on the port side: US, old Spanish Castille y Leon, Louisiana state. The Canal St. ferry landing is to the stern, as is the CREOLE QUEEN. The MQ is on the far left, above the bridges at Perry St. She appears to be 'popping a wheelie' with her decided upward slant from stern to bow. Note how little freeboard the NATCHEZ has - water taxi and harbor tugboat pilots love to buzz us and splash wheelwash onto the main deck.
2) same thing, with Capt. Steve Nicoulin on the wingbridge Note her beautiful sheer and camber - thanks Alan!
3) approaching the Toulouse St. wharf which is on an angle from Bienville.

Judy Patsch 06-25-2009 04:45 PM

The end, literally
3 Attachment(s)
1) the sternwheel up close and personal. Note there are no monkey rudders. She has the 3 rudders, from the CLAIRTON, forward of the wheel, period. Some might remember the distinctive white rim on the outer edge of the wheel. This was removed in the layup at Buck Kreis in 1990. They had the wheel off and on the wharf to paint it. Every time they turned it, they bent a section of the white rim, so they took it off (they almost rolled the wheel into the drink once also)
2) as she glides into the Toulouse St. wharf
3) 8 blocks from the NATCHEZ - my courtyard at the Beauregard Keyes House.

Judy Patsch 06-25-2009 05:01 PM

and a brief trip report...
Usually I bring a cold front from the north with me, but not this time. Every day I was there it was mid 90s and a heat index over 100. The NATCHEZ ran a 2:30 and dinner trip on Wednesday, but from then on it was 3 trips a day the rest of the week. Crowds are decent, certainly not the 500+ per trip of pre Katrina, but they seem to improve each time I go down there. And to have 3 trips a day quite often is a step up too. I narrated 2 day trips and did the short narration on each of the dinner trips. For a change, I used some common sense and rode just one day trip and the dinner trip each day, and the rest of the time I soaked up the a/c in my apartment. Doc and I did get over to Ruby Red's on the Westbank one evening, and I played golf one morning. Other than that, it was basically either on the boat or watching the golf tournament and cleaning my apartment the rest of the week. The river stage was 11+ feet, down from its high of 16.9 a couple weeks earlier. The traffic light at Gov. Nicholls wharf was still on - it goes off at 8 or 9 feet. Pilots now call in to "New Orleans Traffic" rather than to" Gov. Nick", and this is a 24/7/365 procedure. The light, the illuminated object on top of the tower, is on only during high water (8+ feet). Blaine Kern's Mardi Gras World is now open at Robin St - nothing is left of the DQ days - and they've painted the shed an off white. One evening I guess the heat had gotten to me, because as we came around Algiers Point, I looked up to that area and it looked like the DELTA QUEEN was docked there... wishful thinking! It did seem strange to say during the narration that the NATCHEZ was one of only two steamboats still running on the Mississippi River system this year. But hallelujah, she is still running and giving me a steamboat fix to keep me going!

Matthew Dow 06-25-2009 09:23 PM

Thanks for the update from New Orleans, Judy. And the pictures are great as usual!

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