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Date: July 13, 2002 at 16:40:05
From: Capt. Mike, [user-119at1j.biz.mindspring.com]
Subject: The Captains Log


The sweltering southern days slowly pass here at the wharf, and work continues on the old Delta Queen. We still watch as the river gradually falls down, now beginning to show the deep black mud beneath the wooden wharf. The slight odor of creosote wafts from the old wharf support timbers, baked by the summertime sun. Work aboard the Delta Queen has picked up pace, as last Monday our engine room staff and "the boiler repair gang" arrived aboard. In the fireroom, they have set about breaking loose and removing the old refractory, the ceramic lining of the fireboxes where the oil fires are blasted to create the steam. It is sort of like the lining of a pottery kiln, except much larger, and it has to be renewed each year. There will be about 2 tons of the old lining removed, and it is tedious, hard work. I watched as several men struggled to carry the old crumbled material up out of the lower fire room, up two flights of stairs, then out across the gangway to the dumpster sitting on the wharf. Each bucket weighs about 40 pounds, and I saw the men cringe and strain as they lifted and carried the buckets. Drenched with sweat, they toil, but complain not do they, for they work as if they where wharfmen and roustabouts of a hundred summers passed. Not defeated nor enslaved by hard work on the river, but steadfast and resolved to complete the days task, and then to enjoy the rewards of the cooler end of the day. Surely, thought I, there must be a better way. I surveyed the scene, then saw the swinging davit arm hanging unused just above the gangway. Of course! I went to the bow thruster room where I procured a length of line, and grabbed a single wheel wooden block, the type we use in our rigging on our main gangway. I went up to the Texas Deck, where I proceeded to attach the block to the swing-davit, and then threaded the rope through the block and let the slack length hand all the way down to the bow. There, I attacked a small steel hook to the rope, thereby allowing a man to stand on the wharf by the gangway, and pull the buckets up to the dumpster with ease! They thanked me profusely, but I actually felt a little guilty for not having thought of it sooner! As I rounded the stern of the cabin deck on my way to unlock some doors for the painters, I saw two of our engineers on the stern fantail, attempting to remove the paddlewheel bearings, in preparation to take the wheel off before drydocking. They were directly exposed and unprotected from the blistering sun, assigned a task that would take all day. The weather channel reported a heat index of 110 ! That won't do at all, I thought. I went forward and soon returned with a large, plastic tarp, and proceeded to tie it in place above the paddlewheel bearings where the men were working. Instant shade, and supplemented by a big fan I installed made a tough, hot job at least a little more bearable! I'm not a saviour, or a wonderful guy, but as captain I do realize that the key to the success of the Delta Queen begins with her crew, and we need them now more than ever! The hard work, the heat, the falling river, all will seem small on that great day when the Delta Queen steams away from the wharf again!


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