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Judy Patsch 08-11-2015 01:59 PM

Live from the N.O. Levee
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Well, actually from the NATCHEZ lazy bench. With the heat index hitting 110 yesterday on my arrival, I decided to ride this trip in the air conditioned pilothouse. Capts. Don Houghton and Steven Nicoulin are on watch today. I brought a small album of pix from 1984, my first summer on the boat. Capt. Steven was 2 months old then.needless to say, with the temp as it is, things are on slow bell. But doc played 3 concerts yesterday on this hot roof, I am going to post a couple videos on Facebook from his 5:30 concert. The River is 13,1 and finally falling. Normally August stage is around 3 feet. I don't plan to head to Houma this visit, as the DQ isn't airconditioned these days.having trouble posting more than one pix. This is the view from the lazy bench, Capt. Steven Nicoulin is on the other side of the chair back, and the city skyline CBD, is ahead to the left of the pix. We are up bound by the Algiers Avondale Northrup etc. small shipyard.

Judy Patsch 08-11-2015 04:17 PM

A little further upriver
Reporting from the Outlet Food Court, which used to be Riverwalk, which used to be the 1984 Worlds Fair site, which used to be Julia St. Wharf, etc. One of the victims of Katrina was Mike Andersons Seafood. But there is a small carry out version here and I felt duty bound to check it out. I took the Riverfront Streetcar from Toulouse to Julia. If it were a few degrees cooler, I would have biked up. The view is blocked by the Port of NO dredge which is docked poised to clear the wharf side when the river drops..this is the site of the cruise ship terminal and they make sure those vessels can get in. Carnival has two a week, RCCL is a regular, and several other lines call throughout the year. I believe they've gotten this business back to preKatrina levels.
On a rare good business news for steamboats these days, the NATCHEZ has carried more passengers this year to date than in any of her 40 years!

Jim Reising 08-11-2015 04:43 PM

What wonderful news about the NATCHEZ, it just goes to prove that with good management, good crew and the right location, it can be done!

Judy Patsch 08-11-2015 06:17 PM

Real teamwork
Right, Jim! All trips have increased, both the sightseeing and the mainly food dinner cruise, so not just one department can take credit for it. One of the big factors is getting more group tours aboard. NOSCo. owns, at least partially, GrayLines, and that is one route for more boat bookings, but there are many tour groups that book and book again, so they must obviously be pleased with what they experience both leading up to and while on board. Of course the NATCHEZ is kept up well - I often hear women walk into the bathroom and proclaim their surprise at how nice it is (must have been expecting the open toilets of the 1950s AVALON)! Having the most famous Dixieland band left in town, the Dukes of Dixieland, as the house (boat) band since 1994 is certainly a plus too. Duke Heitger and friends as the Steamboat Stompers have live music on the day trips too, so there is music, music, music along with the narration/sightseeing/food. And something which never gets mentioned in advertising, but the safety factor. All the NATCHEZ' Masters and Pilots have FirstClass license and years of experience handling the boat in the 'war zone' that is the New Orleans Harbor.

Judy Patsch 08-11-2015 07:07 PM

Videos on Facebook
I posted 3 short calliope clips of Doc playing last night and one of the NAtCHEZ landing today. Wish we could post videos on here. They are on my page, which is now under my real name.

Judy Patsch 08-12-2015 08:49 AM

Dinner cruise
Day 2 ended with the dinner cruise on the roof of the NATCHEZ. I narrated and then was able to sit on the roof the rest of the trip due to a cooling breeze and less humidity. It was actually quite pleasant, and of course the sounds of the Dukes of Dixieland directly below me on the Texas Deck made it even nicer. The sun sets here about an hour earlier than at home, so it had pretty much gone under by the time we turned around and headed back upriver into it. But at 8:30 we were approaching Algiers Point, facing the lights of the city across the river, a beautiful scene. The river is high but dropping, about 13 feet. Doc always says it is trickier at 13 than at higher levels (got to 15 this summer), and that was obvious as we slid through a few boils, especially on the landing approach. For those not familiar with the N.O. harbor, there is an upstream eddy from Algiers Bend up to the bridges, which is why the NATCHEZ docks pointed downstream - she is actually facing the current. If you look at any of the webcams, you'll see unbound traffic come over to the East Bank side to catch that upbound current. So yes, Mrs. Collins my 3rd grade teacher, water DOES flow upstream!!!!!!

Judy Patsch 08-13-2015 10:22 AM

Day 3
After playing 18 holes of golf, it was time to cool down so I missed both day trips. I rode and narrated the dinner cruise, which was a repeat of the previous day: a cooling breeze made sitting on the roof in front of the pilothouse watching the sunset and listening to the Dukes very comfortable. There was a fantastic sunset, with the sun being a huge orange ball behind the city skyline, and a pink horizon for quite a while followed. I was camera less.... although the temps are still in the 90s, I'll ride the 11:30 today but maybe not sit in the sun the whole time as I did in my younger days. Its hard to believe, but my first trip on the NATCHEZ was in 1980 and my first summer of work was 1984, so I've been around her all but 4 years of her 40 year existence....

Judy Patsch 08-13-2015 06:45 PM

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After returning my golf clubs to the storage unit (one round was enough in this heat), I rode the 11:30 trip and then retired to my airconditioned suite at LeRichelieu to cool down and watch the PGA tournament. I hate sitting in a hotel room in NOLA, but sometimes common sense in this heat is needed. I'm about to head over for one more dinner cruise, which have been fairly comfortable while underway.
For August there are a lot of visitors in town - I saw 3 conventions listed in the airport so that is accounting for the higher activity this week. I'll bet if they are thinking of returning here, they'll pick a different month!

Just underway on the 11:30 trip with Capt. Troy C. Delaney. There was quite a bit of debris floating even though the river is dropping, today at 12.2. Also to avoid was a kayaker, pedaling down on the West Bank side, radio less of course and quite outsized in this harbor. With so little freeboard I don't know how he didn't get swamped by the speedy freighters. Not my idea of a river cruise!

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