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Date: April 27, 2002 at 02:19:44
From: Captain Mike, [user-119at1j.biz.mindspring.com]
Subject: The Captains Log


Today was agrand day for steamboatin, because today, the Magnificient Mississippi Queen sailed for the first time in months! Today we did the first actual sea/ river trial of the MQ in action, and it went very well. The day dawned bright and clear, and an early morning wind out of the south had me a bit worried, but it rapidly subsided as the forecast had promised. Tugboats Karche, Heide and Mildred M. all arrived as scheduled at 8 am, and the Heide and the Karche made up alongside of the Delta Queen in preparation to move her to the upper end of the wharf once the MQ was clear. Captain John Sutton was in command of the tugs handling the Delta Queen. At about 8:15 am, with Captain Kenny Williams at the helm, the MQ departed Robin Street Wharf, northbound, on a two hour trial run. I was impressed at how well the big MQ moved off of the dock as I gave engine and rudder commands to Capt. Kenny. The MQ danced off the dock and headed north like a colt being let out of the barn in the morning, I could feel her exuberance beneath my feet as she trembled to life! The river was high, but we started out on a slow ahead, then after a few minutes went to a half ahead, and then after a go ahead from our great engineering staff, full ahead we went, northbound on the Mississippi again! What a grand experience on such a perfect morning. I knew immediately that the hopes and hearts of many of you true steamboat friends were sailing with us, and I thought of how thrilled we all would have been together, sharing this very special steamboatin moment. I can assure you, my friends, you were all there with us, as we went up that chocolate brown river this morning! We proceeded up the river to just below 6 mile point, where I asked Captain Kenny to turn her, and give the engines a good test astern. He backed her slow at first, then half, and then, with the encouragement of Chief Engineer Dave Lorman, full astern! The Old MQ flipped around south like the proverbial outhouse door, amazing all of us with her rapid manueverability. She's a class backer! As we headed south, we radioed ahead to Capt. Sutton on the Delta Queen, and he began to command the tugs and move the Delta Queen off the dock and up river, to make room for us to put the MQ in a downstream landing spot, right in front of the Steamboat terminal, to prepare her to board passengers, ( and to complete painting on the port side!)As we rounded the bend avove the New Orleans bridges, there was the Delta Queen, being held up high above the old River City Casino Dock, awaiting for our arrival. Working closely with Capt. Kenny the pilot, I walked the Mississippi Queen slowly around the point, occassionly backing and coming ahead to keep the stern in close to the dock in the strong current. I'm sure it did'nt look very good from the wharf, what with the bow pointed almost straight across the river, and the stern almost scraping the wharf, but folks, it's the only way to do it in high water. We worked her slowly down, in and around the Delta Queen until we touched gently against the wharf, and mate Buford and crew lassoed the bollards and wrapped her off tight. Once we were all secure, Capt. Sutton on the Delta Queen eased the old girl gently against the dock, facing up river, and head deckhand Teron Spencer wrapped all lines off perfectly. The deck crews ran out gangways, and us Captains, mates and pilots all met on the wharf to congradulate each other. The office staff was exuberant, I think they are finally catching on that we actually know what we are doing out here! They are great folks and we need them as good members of the steamboat team! As always, I went to the engine room to thank to Chief,firemen, tenders, and especially the engineer at the controls, my friend Jeff Smith, for superb dexterity and swift response on the throttle, it means a lot to have an engineer at the controls that you know and trust, thanks Jeff!
In summary, steamboatin' is alive and well as we speak. Soon, the Mississippi Queen will once again grace our nations waterways with her magnificience. Not to long after,the Beautiful, graceful beloved steamboat Delta Queen will follow her daughter, heading up river, to carry the eternal message that something good, something of the American past and present remain melded together and shall not be taken away from us, for any reason, for steamboats are the heart and soul of this great nation, and they lay in the center of our being, just as the Mississippi River connects the heart of our nation.


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