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Date: July 07, 2002 at 19:15:44
From: Capt. Mike, [user-119at1j.biz.mindspring.com]
Subject: The Captains Log


I strolled upon the Legedary Delta Queen this morning at 6:30am, as the flaring dawn began to show itself on top of the wharehouses, a half a mile across the river. My first matter of concern was the Delta Queens easily noticeable list to starboard, out away from the wharf. The big 2" mooring lines hung loose, as relaxed as cows under a shade tree on a hot summers day. A growing gap between the boats hull and the wharf betrayed the fact that the Delta Queen was gradually slipping on down, further out away from the dock as the river continued it's slow but sure fall. It is the time of year when the Great Mid American watershed, for 2000 miles to the north, east and west, has begun to shrink, and the rivers and streams to the north all now draw away from their drying, cracked mud banks. Not a hint of a breeze to stir the limp flag on the foremast from its torpor. Another quiet, hot day at the wharf. I set my mind to the first task of the day, to warm the bow thruster and turn on the Delta Queens steering gear and to prepare to try to get her off the quadmire slowly building around her hull. I walked back off the gangway and down river a couple of hundred feet to look at the boat from a distance, and to judge her lean. A good captain always surveys his boat not only from on board her decks but also from afar. How true it is that quite often we can't see things "right in front of our face". Looking back on the old steamboat in the early morning light, I get a chill. My god,look at her! Even after all of these years, her shape, her lines, it's as if I where standing on a wharf a hundred years ago, looking at a steamer standing in at the dock. Not a straight line to her, no flat, drab metal plates, no smartly flung stack or vaulted glass atriums! She is truly, 100% slendid by-God Steamboat, the genuine article! She sits quietly, her bow lines a bit disheveled, only adding to her beautiful texture. The heat and humidity of the deep southern summer only add to the realization that I am living very close to the way of river folk of years gone by. As I walk across the gangway to reboard the boat, a catfish swirls and splashes just below, and leaves only a rapidly expanding ring of smooth, brown water to betray his passing. I went to the wheelhouse to work the controls, and after 30 minutes of gently swinging the old boat in and out against her lines, she settled out tight along the outer edge of the slowing growing mud bar. Soon the river will be near sea level and will stop falling. Down below in the Dining room, Mate Buford and Craig Hall, the Delta Queens' magnificent carpenter, are nearly completed sanding the floor to near original condition. It's going to glow like new when they finish! A relaxed, hot, but happy day here at the Wharf, and one day closer to Steamboating with you, on the Delta Queen!


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