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[ Future of the Delta Queen Steamboat Co Boats ]


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Date: August 19, 2002 at 19:20:18
From: Captain Mike, [user-119at1j.biz.mindspring.com]
Subject: The Captains Log


There was a time in June when I had first boarded the Delta Queen, in all of her unkempt mess that I thought that this day would'nt come, the day when I actually realized that she would sail again! How can I relay the struggle, share the sweat drenched days, the worries and the fears with you? To feel the weight of the burden of attempting to reawaken a 75 year old steamboat after more than seven months at idle slumber! As I sit here at this receptive but blissfully ignorant keyboard, I can only recognise and acknowledge that those of us here at the wharf have perservered only because we have felt your presence with us each and every day! This job that we have shared, this monumental task, has become a vision quest, a quest to hear the steamers' whistle blow again, and echo off of the hills of Americas rivers, and to touch our hearts again!
This morning was special, because the fine folks from the United States Coast Guard were coming to begin the most important inspection of the Delta Queen in my lifetime, the inspection, that if sucessful, would send the great lady of the rivers back to her river faring ways. A Coast Guard Certificate of Inspection and blessing to sail is NEVER a given, as we all know from past history. The struggle continues every day to keep this vessel going. Again, I had another sleepless night, tossing and turning. I told myself over and over, there are no problems I can solve here or now, might as well get some sleep. Ha! Fat chance! As soon as I close my eyes, I start picturing that leaking fire hose on station 21, that radar in the wheelhouse that was working fine until today, and then just quit, and will the service man be there in time for the Coast Guard, and will the battery on the motor boat charge up in time for tommorrow, and why does'nt this damn river stop falling! After a few hours of this tempest in my mind I resolved to stop the worry, and to focus on the positive. On the first couple of cruises, we will have some of the Greene family aboard, (Always an honor!) and other folks of historical note like the wonderful author, Stan Garvey, Wonderful friend and Steamboat Captain of fame, Captain "Doc" Hawley, and dozens of repeat guests from many years gone by!
Finally, I fell asleep, about 10 minutes before the alarm clock sounded its' shrill alarm. I bounded out of the rack, ready to go, relieved at no longer being involved in the struggle to doze! Finally, the task at hand, the day of the Coast Guard Inspection! I stepped out at 6am to an early morning sky, with the rising sun backlighting a glorious towering cumulous cloud. The rivers surface was calm and opague and flat in the breezeless morning air, as if "the Old Man" was holding his breath. A slight scent of the drying, exposed mud under the wooden wharf revealed the low river, and with a sip of black coffee I crossed the gangway to the Delta Queen. She sits earily quiet this morning, her bow lines hang loose, and no squeaks or groans from her gangway. Shes' taken a liking to laying in the mud again, I reckon, dad burn it! If this river falls any more we'll be relegated to giving tours of the bottom! I really am not too concerned, I can get her out of the mud, just means I'll have to worry her back and forth with the rudders and the bow thruster for a while. My morning check of the river stage forecast reveals "Hope from Above", in the sense of heavy rains and a slowly rising river far up north. Might help us out in a week or so, if it ever trickles down here! As I make my morning rounds, deck by deck, I find an odd sight. On the Starboard sundeck, facing the rising sun, sits on the handrail, a beautiful, young female dove. As I paused some 50 feet away from her, she looks at me for a moment, and then turned back toward the sun and began to coo, that sweet, gentle early morning call that only doves have. She stopped after a couple of moments, and paraded a few feet up and down the rail a couple of times, and then fluttered away, heading out across the wide, still river. A small down feather slowly drifted like a falling leaf and settled on the deck, the only trace of her having visited. I picked up the weightless trace of her, and immediately knew that we had been visited by a gentle, loving spirit, whose message I percieved to be one of good fortune, and of counseling patience. I knew in that moment that these hard times of preparation would pass, and that it was inevitable that the Delta Queen would sail again.
A full progress report tommorrow!


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