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Date: July 20, 2002 at 01:13:20
From: Capt. Mike, [user-119at1j.biz.mindspring.com]
Subject: The Captains Log


Sorry for the silence from the Wharf. We have been completely immersed in our task of preparing the Delta Queen to sail, and the long, sweltering days leave us all drained. I have continued the fight to keep the vessel off of ground as the Mississippi steadily shrinks in her mud lined banks. A couple of days ago, I couldn't get her to move, even swinging the rudders and pushing out full with the bow thruster did no good. She wouldn't budge from her love embrace with the mud on the bottom of the river. Dejected, I suantered over to the office and told my boss, Mr. Ron Adams, that we needed to once again summon a tug boat to wash the mud away from under the hull. He agreed immediately, and soon the 800 horsepower tug boat "Heide" arrived and secured herself against the wharf, just in front of the Delta Queens bow, and began washing the mud away from underneath.After about an hour, the old ladys' bow began to fall in and out against her lines, and we knew that she was floating again. We were able to get the bow back in against the wharf, which was great because we had been just about out of gangway! As the river had slowly fallen, I had progressively been swinging the boat further and further out into the river, leaving us nearly 20 feet off of the Wharf! Now, with her bow back against the wharfs wooden timbers and well within gangway reach, I can breath easier for a week or so. The river stage stands at about 3.2 feet, and at 2 feet or so on the gauge we will begin to be affected by tides and winds, more so than the river stage itself. The lowest stage on record was in 1988, when the river stage ranged between 0.9 and 2 feet, depending on tide and wind influence from the gulf. The real determining factor is the flow of the Mississippi at the Red River Gauge above New Orleans, in 1988, the minimal flows were at 115,000 cubic feet per second, and that allowed for salt water intrusion into the New Orleans area. We are not quite there yet, but flow forecasts predict a possibility of nearing those same flows as in 1988. (As per the Corp of Engineers) Fear not, the Delta Queen sailed and completed all of her schedules in 1988, and though the towboats suffered because they had to drastically reduce the size and draft of their barge tows, we did fine. Actually, to see the river at such low levels is a rare treat, and in 1988 we discovered the wrecks of civil war gunboats and long lost steamers that had been forgotten by time, only to be re- exposed to us during that low water. It is a great time for river "buffs" to take a cruise because it is indeed a rare view of the river, usually only seen once in a life time. If you missed it in 1988, don't miss it now! Come see the Mississippi River exposed and revealed! It is a wonderful oportunity to begin to understand how the "Big Muddy" works.
Today at the wharf, as we completed the assigned tasks, a hellaiscious summer thunderstorm beset itself upon us. I was in the office, immersed in the wonderment of Federal Requirements for passenger vessels when it began to lightning, and I mean seriously, with flashes and booms every 10 seconds. It didn't take long for me to get on my rain slicker and dash across the wharf to the boat, because there is no place better to be in a heavy summer squall than on the Delta Queen! And a good thing too. As soon as I got across the gangway and entered the forward lounge, all hell broke loose!A sudden, fierce gust of wing rocked the boat, and slammed her against the wharf. In the forward and after cabin lounges, where the doors had been propped open by the painters, the torrent of hurricane force , wind- driven rain roared through the cabin, tumbling furniture before it! I struggled out against the roaring tempest at each door way, freeing the wind-pinned doors and letting them slam shut with the onslaught. From bow to stern I raced, closing doors and windows as fast as I could. Water flowing from the cabin deck starboard over heads showed that I was a little late, but it was a managable amount and no worse than the Delta Queen has ever seen in her days on the river. Then, as quickly as it had come , the storm suddenly subsided, leaving only a growing rainbow around the bow of the Delta Queen. I am not kidding! A rainbow formed directly on the bow of the Delta Queen, and the boiler repair men who had been working late, stood with me in amazement, each of us standing as close to the ends of a rainbow as any of us ever had! At least 8 of us stood there, for nearly 15 minutes, and watched in awe as both ends of a small rain bow danced around the bow of the Delta Queen! I walked to the very edge of the gunnel, and reached out to touch the brillant colors, and it retreated from may grasp. I remarked that surely, this was a good omen. After a long pause of silence, one of the guys said, "I'm going to play the lottery tonight"! We all laughed, but secretly, inside, I smiled, and said, "Thankyou". For I knew that the rainbow was special, and meant just for the DeltaQueen!Good night from the wharf!


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