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Date: July 26, 2002 at 00:13:08
From: Captain Mike, [user-119at1j.biz.mindspring.com]
Subject: The Captains Log


It is 3pm at the wharf. Rolling,dark clouds drag low across the sullen New Orleans sky, racing off to the northeast as if late for an important appointment. As I round the top deck of the Delta Queen, as sudden gust of much-rain cooled wind brushes my face, and forewarns of another late afternoon tempest on the Mississippi. A quick glance to the southwest confirms what the cool, moist breeze has told me, rain coming, and coming fast and hard. I swing quickly to the wheel house and crack open the VHF marine radio, and quickly tune to the weather channel. I want to know how hard it is coming and how tough it will be. The usual forecast spews forth in monotonous tones, "frequent lighting, heavy downpours exceeding 2 inches per hour, high wind gusts exceeding 60 miles per hour, etc,etc" I relax, and mentally review how the Delta Queen and the American Queen are tied off. On the bow of the DQ,3 doubled bow lines, leading fore and aft, a quadrupled spring line, and two doulbled stern lines, one fore and aft leading-she's not going anywhere. Likewise for the big old AQ, multiple doubled head, spring, midship and TRIPLED up stern lines, if she leaves in the wind she's gonna take the wharf with her! The wheelhouse phone jangles and startles me momentarily, it is the boiler room, and it is raining down into the stack, and pouring down onto the boiler header plates where they are trying to weld! Dammit! I forgot to check the smokestack! The driving wind has blown the canvas tarp cover off and it is pouring buckets down the stack! I start to rush out the back door of the pilothouse to re-cover the stack, and BOOM! lightning strikes nearby, sending me back in the door like a whipped dog! A step inside and duty calls again, and back I go, rushing out to the rickety ladder already in place on the side of the stack, already soaked to the bone in spite of the heavy rainjacket I wear. I rapidly scale the stack-house and begin tugging the heavy, rain sodden tarp back into place, hoping to get it resecured before the next blast of lightning. I pulled the tarp tight and drained the rapidly building puddles off. No flashes yet. Every ounce of my soul told me to hurry! I struggled with the heavy tarp, fluttering in the heavy on slaught of wind. Standing straight up, I finally pulled the tarp into position, covering the whole stack top, and and brilliant white flash blinded me, and before I could cringe, and ear-shattering blast exploded around me! Here was I perched atop a steamboats stack, 60 feet above the water in a ferocious lightning storm! I realized for just a moment, how grand it was, then my senses snapped back to reality and I thought, "What the hell is wrong with me?" Thankfully back to reason I quickly climbed back down the ladder and retreated to the shelter of the wheelhouse. WeW! Just goes to show you, you never know when you will find adventure on the river! I sure hope to see some of you folks back out here with us again, I feel a lot better when we have a boat load of steamboaters to share the "Adventures" with! All progress well here, 30 days from tomorrow we sail, we sail!


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