Ted655 - Now Coming Down The Mississippi - Pensacola Fishing Forum

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Old 09-04-2008, 08:17 PM   #1
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Default Ted655 - Now Coming Down The Mississippi

This is storywritten by Ted Shelton, aka Ted655, of Butte La Rose, LA and was originally posted on the Forum at www.houseboatmagazine.com

A little history:

Ted joined the houseboatforum and for about a year posted and learned about which boat to buy. He did find the perfect one and named it the "Merrybobber".

He was many things through out his life, from mountain man, hunting guide, mechanic, and very in love with his wife Mary Bob and they were best friends for 47 years, she meet him when she 13 years old.

He purchased the a boat andtook possession. The attached was copied off of his posts which were written in stages, over a period of weeks. The response to this thread on that forum resulted in over 23,000 views and many many posts from most of the activemembers in between. It became so popular, the magazine printed it in its publication, but took several monthly publications to do, as this story is long.

We all knew he was on the trip home and grew worried when he did not return to the forum for a long time. Some of us even googled "Houseboat Sunk on The Mississippi"

Ted finally showed back up after the trip, thus starts the story:

To all PFF Members including Garbo -

Please enjoy this as I respectfully submit the following as told by Ted655 :

<P align=left>Sorry all. We got home &amp; had no Internet. Levees, lines, digging, USC of Engineers. Oh what a mess it's been. Finally managed to get dial-up, still no DSL Anyhow, what an adventure! Not just the actual trip but the total experience. Shyster marina personnel, crooked transporter, thieves in motel rooms and more! Even a mutiny on board! Huck &amp; Jim had nothing on our river adventure. Yes Virginia, there are STILL pirates on the Mississippi &amp; Ohio. We managed to escape with our lives but not our moneys. We would do it again tomorrow, what a blast we had.<P align=left>I don't want to bore anyone, as the trip has been done by many but I urge all who can to make the trip.<P align=left>We had heard many warnings &amp; been told a few myths about the lower Mississippi. At no time did we feel in danger or even have a close call.<P align=left>Here are some figures; Total time on rivers was 12 days (2 spent at Memphis marina). We traveled only during daylight, average 12 hrs a day. The diesel got 4 MPG. We averaged 8 mph. on the Ohio (little current). We averaged 10 mph on the Miss.<P align=left>We were SO bad at the first lock we never did get a rope around a bollard. The lockmaster just lowered the level &amp; let us go. By the 2nd lock we had it together and by the 3rd. we were old hands. The rope/pvc pipe towline worked like a dream!!! Found out the hard way... there is no recreational fuel in Paducah. People there are NOT friendly (with 1 exception). Paducah was the worst experience of the whole endeavor.<P align=left>We learned that Cairo is pronounced Karo (like the syrup) and not Cairo, like in Egypt. They also will not give a recreational boater the time of day but are more polite about it than Paducah. Greenville has brand new marina and were nice &amp; fair to deal with.<P align=left>There is much to recount about a lot of things. I learned the difference between a lake boat &amp; a "travlin" boat Yipes! I better shut up now. Thanks for the concern, we are well &amp; pleased we "did it".<P align=left>Post script; We were here only a week &amp; the Corps of Engineers drained our swamp. The Merrybobber sits high &amp; dry on a mud bank until December. We walk to her to check on her.<P align=left>How about installments? #1....<P align=left>Of coarse the trip began with preparation. Most of it was spot on. Everyone here was part of that step. Thanks. We thought we had understandings with people to do certain things to the boat at the lake &amp; NEET us at the marina on the Ohio River. WRONG! Promises were broken, contracts rewritten.<P align=left>Things went South, fast.<P align=left>Pirates, well.... none of the traditional type. In fact, one of the queer things about the whole trip was the lack of other boats on the rivers. Sans the barge traffic, which was heavy every mile of the trip. Our "pirates were opportunists. Taking advantage of our situation at exorbitant prices. Getting off the lake to the river was the worst part. When someone has you over a barrel, they want that barrel filled with $$$$$.<P align=left>Once in Evansville thing went great. Untangled from the "transporter" &amp; sitting on dry ground, we proceeded to install the thru hull transducer &amp; other chores best done on land. The only exception was the motel owners who ransacked our room and stole a few things. 1/2 a day was lost filing with the police. Oh well.<P align=left>Other than the foreign motel owners the rest of Evansville was GREAT! I just can't say enough good about our stay there &amp; the people. Evansville has our hearts. NU Plaza Yacht Club and ALL the folks there went way above the term "hospitality". Jim Hall thank you! If possible stop there, you won't regret it. Also eat at the Dog Town Tavern. MMMMM, mmmmmm.<P align=left>We had a fair bit of modifications &amp; additions to do to the boat. We had repair of the genset to do &amp; spare parts to buy. We spent a week @ the marina, All our dealings were fair and fun. On 1 occasion we had a parts dealer drive 10 miles to the marina, jump into the engine compartment, find the # he needed &amp; returned to his store. He then returned with the part and charged only $30 for the impeller! The whole stay reflects that type of help/.<P align=left>On Sat. June 22, our friends flew in from Arizona. We laid in last minute stores and left Sun. morning around 9AM. In spite of having made a tow bar as described on this forum, I elected to leave our 20" skiff tied to the side of the houseboat. Bad move! as we went along on the stormy Ohio, every wave was spilt into the skiff. It darn near sank. I arrived in time to bail it out. We held up &amp; tied the tow onto it. It was safe &amp; well behaved all the way home.<P align=left>Down stream we headed &amp; I saw the hint of what was to be a problem all the way home.<P align=left>Tomorrow.... 1st lock, how funny we looked!.<P align=left>#2.<P align=left>I recount this trip as a newbe for other newbees OR wanna dos. You ol guys will no doubt be nodding up &amp; down.<P align=left>Away @ last, 4 babes, heading south to Louisiana. 2 with absolutely NO boating experience! The wives caught on fast/ they both learned the feel of the helm &amp; how to read the depth "thingy". The radio remained intimidating to them but they both came to "get" what was involved in sharing the river with the barge traffic.<P align=left>My problem was with my buddy. He NEVER ( the whole trip) learned the helm. Not the "feel", the throttle, the shift, the cense of speed &amp; drift or coast. What was worse, he didn't want to learn. This was to prove almost fatal @ one point. More later.<P align=left>I had been schooled by those @ the marina as to how to lock thru. It seemed simple enough, UNTIL we actually hit the first lock. How intimidating &amp; at first confusing it suddenly became. The women bailed out on me, they wanted no part of being at the helm. That left my reluctant bud @ the wheel &amp; me on the rope. I radioed the lockmaster when we were 2 miles away. He gave us immediate clearance &amp; told us which chamber to enter. A bit confusing but apparent as we drove closer. It was the one with the doors open. <P align=left>Duh!<P align=left>The plan was my bud would ease in, come along side &amp; I would gently slip a rope over the bollard. RIGHT! He came barreling in, realized his speed &amp; panicked. Hit reverse @ more than 3/4 throttle, lost steerage and never could get me (standing at my center cleat) within reach of a bollard. Back into forward, propeller ventilating wildly &amp; my skiff bouncing from wall to bout hull, we shot across the lock to the other side, bounced and were out in the middle. This time he under powered &amp; managed to get the boat turned headed back from wince we came. Our wake did that to us. This caused another wreak with the skiff &amp; tangled things up good. We were SO wound up in the wreak at hand we never noticed we were sideways in the lock &amp; the<P align=left>water had been lowered. The blast of the exit horn alerted us to the gates opening. Not our finest move!<P align=left>I sheepishly radioed to thank the LM. "This was our very first lock" I said ".<P align=left>Really?, we would never have known" "Well thanks". NO no, thank you all....for the entertainment. Good luck Captain".<P align=left>So there it was, our 1st lock. An air of dread set in on us all. ONLY 4 more togo! Yippee.<P align=left>Down we went, next stop... Paducah, KY &amp; our next mistake.<P align=left>#3<P align=left>The first time your boat gets "lit up" by a barge captain is startling. The whole interior is suddenly bright as day. We eventually got accustomed to it as we came down the rivers. Our second d ay meant our second lock. I'd had all night to review &amp; had a few changes in mind. Since my friend was at the peak of his ability, then the rest of us would adjust.<P align=left>I moved extra fenders (really cute ones made from used ATV tires) to the front corners of the bow. I showed the girls how to pull the skiff up (sideways) next to the transom. We did this with a long rope that reached to the stern cleat of the skiff. On one side only, as the rope was pulled in, the skiff simply folded up and fit nicely across the houseboats aft. Next I broke out 2, longer ropes &amp; tied one end to the center cleat. I made sure the rope stayed outside of the many rail posts as I led it to the bow &amp; coiled the rest up by the corners. This needs to be done on port &amp; starboard, because you never know if the lockmaster will sometimes specify one side or the other in the lock. <P align=left>We were ready for round 2.<P align=left>My bud is one of those guys who had rather "die" than look bad. The<P align=left>previous day had destroyed his image of himself. "Don?t worry,? I said, "We will shine on this one" (I hoped). We passed the Golconda marina by, (this would come back &amp; bite us), and approached the lock. 2 miles out I radioed the LM &amp; he cleared us to enter a chamber. I picked the starboard side so I could coach thru the door to my friend. The ladies took their position at the stern. In we went. As we cleared the gates, the skiff was folded in, as the power was reduced. "Just hit that bollard with the corner of the bow &amp; go into neutral I coached. THIS he could do &amp; he turned towards the wall. "Cut the power,? I shouted &amp; he did. As we hit, (not so hard), the little tires took the impact &amp; scrape. I looped the rope over the bollard &amp; began walking to the center cleat, taking in the slack. The boat fell in sideways &amp; we were "locked". The only show this LM got was the sight of 4 GIANT smiles &amp; some high 5s.<P align=left>That was the best part of the day but Paducah lay ahead.<P align=left>#4.<P align=left>Our plan was to refuel @ Paducah, ease through Lock #52 and find a safe mooring towards sundown. I had passed Golconda, thinking it was too soon to top off. My "internet" research said there was a marina @ Paducah. This was the edge I wanted to make it to Memphis. As we motored closer we started picking up radio chatter about the backup @ lock 52. It was 3 PM &amp; the wait for barges (priority), was 6-7 hours! THEN, the boat started vibrating violently. We limped into Paducah and soon found that I had relied on old information. There was no marina in Paducah.<P align=left>My fried had lost the little enthusiasm he had about this trip at the first lock. Now these new problems were the final straw for him. We set about to first find fuel. No luck, we were run off from every place up the river. Often profanity &amp; threats were used. We were "advised" to get our houseboat BACK up to Kentucky Lake ASAP. We did what any good explorers would do &amp; sent a shore party inland. My bud volunteered as his opinion of the boat was that we would have to abandon it &amp; catch a bus home.<P align=left>The 3 of us choose to think that things had to get better cuz they sure couldn't get worse. A very hostile environment. A broke boat, no fuel depot &amp; a busted lock, Yippee!<P align=left>#5<P align=left>One of the things I did to the boat was pull the prop off. I did this while it was dry docked in Evansville. Being an old boat, I was afraid of frozen parts.<P align=left>Actually I put a new prop on @ the same time. I had a devil of a time getting the lock bolt &amp; hub nut loose. The spline was dry also &amp; removing the old prop also took some coaxing. I was sure glad I was "standing" on firm ground for the job. Everything went back on with grease except the lock bolt.<P align=left>So.... when I found the vibration to be the prop &amp; not anything in the out drive, It was an easy task to use the skiff &amp; put the old prop back on. I was assured that the new prop would fit both the long &amp; short shafts of the Volvo, if a long shaft, just add washers as spacers. WRONG! The washers will shift &amp; tear up the inside of the prop. An issue I am now taking up with the prop maker.<P align=left>We were still having no luck in finding fuel. We were given permission (gotta love cell phones) by the Paducah police to tie up to the city fishing/swimming dock. We were once again met with a cool reception by the guy running the store &amp; bait at the top of the hill there/ Actually he outright lied to my friend?s inquiries.<P align=left>Ah, but all was not lost! A gentleman in the store overheard the conversation &amp; caught up with my friend. " That feller is lying" he said," There is diesel a few blocks from here". So for a tank of gas in his old Lincoln car he &amp; my buddy made 3 trips to fill the 3 five-gallon cans we had &amp; enough fuel was added to make Memphis.<P align=left>By now it was dark. We stayed tied to the city dock for the night &amp; ordered a pizza. (This took some doing because they thought it a hoax), but finally they delivered the pizza. Love those cell phones!<P align=left>We were underway before daylight of the 5th day. We foolishly thought that the early bird would lock thru. Wrong! "Just paddle around up stream" That from the Lockmaster. Things obviously had not improved overnight. 52 was down to 1 chamber &amp; it's gates were not working properly. They had their hands full. It was here that we had our one &amp; only close call with a barge tow.<P align=left>My poor buddy. He had tried to jump ship &amp; the city dock and "Just go home to Arizona" His wife was having fun meeting all the challenges AND wanted the T-shirt that said she had come down the rivers. They choose to stay but my friend entered into a "zone" &amp; became preoccupied with his own thoughts.<P align=left>While we all were fixing breakfast (he at the wheel), we looked out just in time to stop him from going over the dam! We were alerted by radio blasts from a concerned tow captain waiting his turn for the lock. "Ya'll SEE that dam, don't you?" A very dry warning After that little "event" we ate, paddled around until almost noon. The banks were lined with barge traffic and other tows were coming &amp; going everywhere in the channel. I had NOT enough anchor rope to drop an anchor out in the deep center. (Another thing learned). So paddle around we did.<P align=left>Finally around noon it was our turn. We were to lock thru with another recreational boat &amp; we were summoned. Just by chance, my friend was @ the helm. We had gone 1 of the 2 miles from the lock (a distance suggested to us by a tow captain worried we may again wonder past the white buoys @ the dam), when at the VERY last second my bud decided to cross in front of the tow that was leaving the lock &amp; bound upstream, safely on our port side!<P align=left>Oh my gosh!!! What excitement there was. Horn blasts, screaming, wheel spinning, everything at once it seemed. He "woke up?, and barely managed to get back to the side of the barges. Crew members were [email protected] the rails, shaking their fists &amp; channel 13 was crackling with some VERY unkind comments from the tow captain. His wife moved to turn off the VHF but I grabbed her hand. I was mad &amp; scared, my zoned out friend needed to hear the comments. <P align=left>The radio traffic continued for 30 min. or more. The lockmaster said nothing past the instructions on which side to tie up. OL lock 52 is scarred with a million hits from years of traffic. It's bollards don't float, they are "fixed" at the top of the walls. A fellow will come out and loop your rope. As mentioned by others, by the 3rd lock it's old news. We had no issued &amp; we and a very new cabin cruiser left the lock. He soon made our 8mph look very slow &amp; we never saw them again. While the 3 of us triedto lighten the remainder of the day, my poor friend was sullen &amp; quiet. On to Cairo (Karo).<P align=left>Insert explanation to question<P align=left>These were old friends, very valued/ They had combined a vacation with the offer to help us get the boat home. Yes... we wanted to kill him several times along the way. We are only human after all. I tempered this urge with the memory of me, signing on to things that turned out to be not at all what I'd expected. All he had stronger than water was Pepsi Diet. It was just his way of dealing with being somewhere he didn't want to be I think.<P align=left>I am losing my eyesight to disease. Quite by chance, my wife suffered a detached retina just prior to leaving on the trip. Add to that mix the fact that he was not very mechanical &amp; goofed every other job assigned to him. Most of the time, out in the channel, he did an adequate job of piloting. Usually he had another person sitting next to him, doing the navigation/barge watch' I was the engineer, porter &amp; general step &amp; fetch. <P align=left>One of the differences between lake &amp; cruising is the long, all day JOB of wrestling the wheel back &amp; forth, keeping a course. As we've heard about sailing, that it's 1/3 boredom, 1/3 excitement &amp; 1/3 sheer terror. Well 12 hr river travel fits the bill with the exception of the terror.<P align=left>Females do fine on this type of travel. My friend?s wife actually was the smoothest pilot of us all. Both girls really got into the navigation program on the computer. My wife became the expert @ reading &amp; interpreting the forward looking sonar, She was great on debris watch &amp; reading the eddies. Engines &amp; systems were my balywig.<P align=left>That left the wheel to "zone man". He grilled a good burger too. As it turned out after a few days, he became the most alert to barge traffic. Wonder why.<P align=left>#6<P align=left>Paducah &amp; lock 52 are in our rear view mirror. To be fair, We didn't meet ALL of Paducah. I'll leave it there.<P align=left>We "floated" over the next lock because the water level was high. They are building a new lock a few miles down. It IS something to see!!! Here is a good spot to tell about river traffic. The rules of the road don't apply to barges. They choose their course &amp; stick to it. They have to, they are so big.<P align=left>It was up to us to get where they were not. If they overtake you going the same direction there is no "passing blast". There is no interchange with them on the radio either. Not that you can't talk to them, BUT...keep it simple and brief and respectful. A few times we were "the meat in the sandwich" In a narrow channel with 1 on the port, us, and another overtaking us on starboard. Stay cool, don't get froggy &amp; start jumping around. We interacted with well over 300 tows. Not 1 time was there a danger. Use those binoculars, make your decisions early &amp; get where they won't be. Its easy.<P align=left>One point you MUST know about bends in the river. Pay attention to your charts &amp; know if there is a bend ahead of you. IF meeting a tow on a bend, you go to the inside (your starboard to his starboard) and pass. As a tow enters a bend, the rear will swing out as the turn is made, sweeping the whole channel width. On some channel bends there is no room for you to move over. Other than that, everything is like driving a car.<P align=left>We swept into Cairo, mid afternoon in a rainstorm. How exciting! All hands on deck! My bud NOT at the helm. It was like rush hour traffic. Ferries crossing in front of us, big tows, little tow, crew boats, tugs &amp;even a paddle wheel. Helter- skelter, everything alive &amp; moving. Lightning and thunder to boot. I'll never forget it &amp; for 30 minutes we were part of it!<P align=left>Well, we weren?t in Kansas anymore, that was for sure. We were on the Big Muddy. We bade goodbye to the sweet gentle blue-green waters of the Ohio.<P align=left>With a collective "gulp", we headed down the Mississippi.<P align=left>#7<P align=left>I've crossed (by bridge) the Miss often. Until I was on it, I never got the full effect. We felt very small that afternoon. We were all 4 in awe of what we were seeing.<P align=left>Our speed increased by 4+mph. For the first time we had debris &amp; huge eddies added to our watch duties. Zone man decided getting the boat home ASAP was the cure to his predicament. He quit following the channel markers and adopted the straight line approach. All this accomplished was a big eddy grabbing the boat &amp; pushing the boat OVER the top of a red buoy. KAPLUNK, rattle, rattle, squeak!! The full length of the houseboat, out &amp; onto the skiff.<P align=left>It caught the skiff on only one side of its hull &amp; because its weight was not enough to fully submerge the buoy, the skiff lifted &amp; came very close to capsizing. aint ted655 came unglued. The Golden Rule was suspended &amp; the fur flew! I turned into Popeye, I stoods all I could stoods. Looked like airplane tickets would be bought in Memphis!<P align=left>The Ohio (for us anyway) had offered no really neat places to moor @ night. We seemed to be out of sync. When we passed a good spot, it was too early. We just pulled over, away from the channel &amp; spent the nights. Now it became imperative that we find better mooring @ night! The size of some of the debris &amp; the amount made it dangerous to moor anywhere but on the "inside" of something. A jetty, sandbar, island, even an abandoned barge.<P align=left>Our first night on Big Muddy was behind a nice neat stone jetty. Genset running smoothly, ice machine cranking out the next days ice supply&amp; XM satellite radio playing. "Some" had their feelings hurt but Life was Gooood for the remaining 3 of us, the hotdogs &amp; pork-n-beans tasted great. <P align=left>We were "lit up" many times that night. Laying in my bunk I came to understand the affection a sailor has for his/her ship. It is your home, without it you have nothing, you are nothing. Other boats (on lakes) were temporary diversions that you drove home from. The difference was "just" sinking in.<P align=left>Insert Explanation<P align=left>At times we needed 4 (we really had just 3 1/2), other times it was SO calm &amp; boring 1 person was too many. Many, many hours like that, every day. IF... we knew our friends wife was at the helm for awhile, we would nap. As would she, IF he was napping &amp; 1 of us were @ the helm. When it was his turn, nobody napped!<P align=left>Yes, my wife &amp; I would do it alone, NOW, after having done it already. We know the boat, know what its like on the rivers &amp; would have longer to make the journey. I would have to install a zoom video camera to extend my failing vision.<P align=left>This was a rush trip. The friends had a small window to do it in AND we also had to get back for our sons wedding. Given the short time span, we HAD to fly along. We allowed 5 days of spare time. Lost 1 day @ lock 52 &amp; 2 in Memphis.<P align=left>No, if you couldn't travel for fewer hours per day &amp; take time out along the way, the rigors of being "on" for all day (12 hours of daylight), would kick anyone?s butt after say...4-5 days. There is just too much to watch for on the<P align=left>Mississippi. We averaged 100+ miles a day, everyday. As a rule of thumb, 4 hours @ the helm was it. While it was possible to reach &amp; read &amp; operate everything by you, it was easier if another spent at least some time watching depth, course &amp; traffic. Just having someone to talk with made the tour go easier.<P align=left>As soon as we get water back in the swamp (it rose 8" this week), My wife &amp; I are planning to take the boat to Orange, Texas via the ICW. A trip of 240 mi. BUT we have ALL the time we need to do it.<P align=left>#8 Second day on the Miss.<P align=left>Somehow the channel marker missed the out drive &amp; the fact that we awoke to a dry bilge/floors meant there wasn't a hole in the hull. A good start.<P align=left>Our "pattern" was to first get underway (start engine, raise anchors, &amp; power up the nav goodies. Then as the girls "gussied up we gradually increased speed as it became brighter &amp; we could see debris (and marker buoys) better. As soon as someone was available to "aid" the zone man, I set about double checking all systems. Then the genset was started &amp; breakfast was started. We ran the genset in the mornings to refreeze the fridge &amp; ice container. This also recharged the house batteries. The navigational equipment was on a separate, dedicated 2 battery system. It did have a "maintainer" charger but was really charged by the engine alternator AFTER the start batteries were topped off. This was done very simply by a VSR (voltage sensitive relay). <P align=left>The generator had yet another battery. In all there were 4 separate systems. I had big plans of using gel cell batteries but in the end I bought off the shelf Wal-Mart marine lead acid. Actually this proved to be a better choice. I asked my bud to help me run some wires one evening.<P align=left>He managed to run the drill bit through the wall (as planned) &amp; INTO one of the new batteries! Spreading acid into the equipment space behind the cuddy. (I don't make this stuff up I promise). Well, at least Memphis would have a Wal-Mart for another one.<P align=left>We usually ran the generator again in early afternoon &amp; then in the evening for awhile. I have no idea how much diesel this used. It was worth whatever it was. Along about 3 PM, Just as I lowered the engine hatch after my usual look-see, a loud screaming sound began coming from the generator. I hollered to shut it off. Now what? With the engine roaring in my ears, I lowered myself into the engine space so as to get to the genset. I soon found that the water pump had frozen tight. No electricity tonight.<P align=left>The remainder of the day went OK and we picked the lee of a BIG sandbar to spend the night. While our stove was electric, our grill was gas. Burgers it was to be &amp; the freezer was still holding, so we had ice. My buddy?s milk for his morning Cheerios was going to take a hit though. He might have to have a cold bagel for breakfast.<P align=left>As it was hot, we all decided to swim until bedtime. We had picked this sandbar thinking there would be few mosquitoes. After all, it was solid sand as far as you could see. WRONG! right @ dark we were swarmed by "clouds" of hungry mosquitoes. We fled to the stuffy cabin. All was not lost, we spent the time talking of past escapades &amp; telling stories on one another. A cool breeze finally showed up &amp; we all had a reasonable nights sleep. BUT... we all realized what the generator meant to us. Tomorrow....Memphis! 1/2 way home, Yippee!!!<P align=left>#9<P align=left>This morning was uneventful, in fact, mot even much barge traffic as I remember. I spent my time down in the engine space, amongst the roar of the diesel &amp; whirring fan belts, removing the Westerbeke's water pump. A word here about optical illusion. The Mississippi is a master @ them. It didn't go unnoticed by us that ALL tows were white. The big muddy told us why.<P align=left>White is the only color that is not "absorbed" by the river. I was glad the Gibson was white. Coves, inlets, even islands will not appear as they are. You need picture navigation to really see the river. The width &amp; color of the water will definitely play tricks on you.<P align=left>Yep! We missed the "slit" that led into the marina. We were almost 4 miles downstream before we decided it must be behind us. This meant beating back upstream against the current. MOW, we felt the power of the river, WOW! A glance @ the gauges told us we were overheating. We had to cut back to 5 MPH. Putt, putt, back we went.<P align=left>The Memphis Yacht Club lies behind Mud Island, @ the foot of the big pyramid (ex sports arena), behind Mud Island. Just as you go under the 3 bridges, look for the BIG flags. Don't miss it, duh!<P align=left>The marina is great, for many reasons. It lies close to the river, they are reasonable in prices, they are very friendly &amp; helpful, but the best part is there is no major climb out of the facility. You are allowed to park &amp; drive down the huge ramp. To get to an auto in Evansville (and most other marinas) you had to climb the "stairway to heaven". After fueling we were told there was a space available one dock over. Yes you guessed it, my bud had a few teeny weeny problems getting the boat into the hole. I sat aft &amp; used my legs to fend off the sides of other boats, His wife selectively inserted a big fender as needed here &amp; there and a couple of small boats fired up &amp; got the hell out of Dodge! Hey everybody, look at us!!! "these damn houseboats don't handle worth a darn in close spaces" my friend mumbled ashe left the wheel &amp; headed for dry land. <P align=left>I just shook my head as I smiled @ the marina operator. He shook his head as he coiled the bow dock line for me. I realized my friend was going to learn the art of piloting about as much as I was going to learn how to play a bagpipe All tied up &amp; electric hooked up, ACs running we started about the business of relaxing, repairing &amp; enjoying Memphis. After a few inquiries &amp; cleaning up, we rented a car &amp; set out. I had taken the time to show the water pump to the local marine supply pirate. He "thought" he might have one in his "warehouse" It would run around $350.00. "Did I want it?" More like... did I have a chouse! I gave him a cell number and focused on more pleasant activities for the moment. He was clean shaven, wore slacks &amp; a polo shirt,<P align=left>$100.00 dock shoes and a Rolex watch BUT... he was still a damn pirate. We loaded the battery with the hole, went to Wal-Mart, Bought new fan belts, a radiator cap. &amp; many more "stores" for the boat &amp; crew. I fully expected a trip to the airport to purchase a ticket but there was no mention of jumping ship. Milk for his Cheerios was bought instead. Of course the little pirate would have to "order" the water pump. <P align=left>To overnight it was another $170.00! How predictable that was!! My bud had to buy a new pair of shoes. Not everything he did was bad. He did good deeds also. In this instance he had saturated his shoes with diesel as he sat one evening in the engine compartment holding his finger over the drain fitting on the water separator.<P align=left>We had decided to drain the water off 1 night as part of our nightly PM chores. It broke, no ones fault, it just broke. Diesel started dripping into the bilge. He saw it &amp; jumped in &amp; sat there in the dark and mosquitoes while the 3 of us tried to make something that would stand up to the solvent effect of diesel fuel. After more than a hour we finally concocted a mix of toilet paper, silicon &amp; Permatex gasket goo. Then he sat there while it "set". <P align=left>Our HERO!! <P align=left>We had to throw his shoes &amp; socks away though. After 2 hot showers &amp; the marina (the one on the boat was a cold one), there was still a faint reek of diesel in close quarters. From then on we did our PMs in the mornings New shoes, a restaurant meal or two &amp; dry land made him a new man. <P align=left>We all enjoyed the layover. While standing in line for our Big Macks, my wife noticed we were all 4 swaying back &amp; forth, our legs were still on the boat. How funny. 1 more incident that night &amp; then back to the boat. Our friends decided they wanted a taste of "Memphis @ night" We found a steakhouse downtown a few blocks from the marina. It was so-so food @ exorbitant price, but real atmosphere. The building had been a warehouse for river trade in the steamboat days. As our friends lingered, learning of the history, we stepped out onto the sidewalk. <P align=left>A scruffy, dirty young man made a move to grab the wife?s purse. I picked up on the intent &amp; shot in between him &amp; the wife. As I did so I thrust my hand into my pocket for my knife. <P align=left>He saw the move &amp; broke off the advance. He left the curb &amp; barely made it across the 4 lanes of traffic to the far side. He was gone into the night. A small taste of" riverfront life." "The joke would have been on him" the wife quipped. "<P align=left>The parts pirate stole all our money this afternoon" We watched the beautiful horse carriages for awhile &amp; called it a night. We had arrived around noon &amp; wanted to leave early (if possible) the next day. I did want to install the golden water pump while stopped &amp; stationary, I was losing my hearing.<P align=left>#10<P align=left>Leaving the marina about noon with no problems AND a full crew, we waited for a tow to pass the inlet &amp; away we went. We ponied up the remainder of the $500 + to the parts pirate and I had the generator back up. Restored &amp; repaired. The debris was not as thick as it had been up river. All we had to do was steer a course. Things alternated between boring &amp; interesting. We passed a turtle out in the channel, we couldn't tell if he was heading to, or leaving Arkansas. 1 fellow in an orange kayak was picking his way along the Arkansas bank &amp; a few times we saw fishermen in bass boats blasting to a favorite spot. For the 1st. time we encountered dredges keeping the channel open.<P align=left>In searching for anchorage in the evenings we found the mighty Miss. to be very misleading. A mile + wide, you will be tempted to treat it like a lake. Don't! You can be in 50' of water 1 minute &amp; 2' of water the next Sand &amp; silt form willy-nilly &amp; what looks deep isn't. As you approach the banks you need to watch that sonar! Sometimes you can thread a channel &amp; follow it to get where you want. Sometimes you won't find a way over to the spot that looks perfect.<P align=left>The Arkansas bank was (for us) the most interesting stretch. Even zone said he wished we had time to explore &amp; fish for a couple days. I tell you, after Memphis, he was a changed man. We still found plenty of safe spots along the Ark banks. For the most part it was high &amp; rocky with less mosquitoes. A day and a half below Memphis we started seeing the "jumping" grass carp.<P align=left>What a hoot! Not so funny if you were in a boat with lesser freeboard I suspect. Some were HUGE, I can see how they hurt people. One night we moored in a protected cove of a beautiful "Gilligans" island Very soothing &amp; spiritual stay. Things were going good.<P align=left>I, (yes ME) had done a stupid thing that would scare the heck out of us all, but it would not reveal its self for a few days more &amp; at present was unknown to us.<P align=left>#11<P align=left>While we were coming down the Miss. &amp; staying in Memphis, it was raining cats &amp; dogs in the upper Arkansas River drainage system. By the time we arrived @ the mouth of the Arkansas, it was a mess of debris. Man made &amp; natural, it seemed there was everything imaginable to dodge. Giant trees. Green leaved limbs acting as flags &amp; 1/2 submerged wooden "things" gave us the most concern. The fact that I was down to 1 prop was the main worry.<P align=left>We "thump-bump, bumped for several miles before the "stuff" began to find its way over to the banks. It was impossible to miss it all. Going to neutral became quite common.<P align=left>It bears repeating that a GPS system is necessary to find specific areas on the Mississippi. We never actually saw the mouth of the Arkansas (except on the monitor). We were given a hint of where the inlet @ Greenville, Miss. was because we watched a tow disappear against the far bank. There one minute, gone the next. Sure enough, the chart showed Greenville. We turned to port.<P align=left>The entrance was busy. Before you can get up to the marina/casino complex, you have to rub elbows with the many industrial sites on both sides of the channel. Unlike Paducah, we received many waves &amp; hellos (none of them the 3 finger kind). We picked our way9 ( not really that difficult) up stream to the fuel docks. The girls walked up to the casino. The prices were the best we encountered. It was well worth the 3hrs off our day.<P align=left>We bade Greenville good by, the 2+ mile long floating dredge discharge pipe was spewing out sand @ the mouth of the inlet. It was carrying mud &amp; water from a site being dredged way up in the canal. Long lengths of 8" pipe on floats in a crazy zig zag route out to the Mississippi. Impressive! As the sound dimmed, we started planning our last night on Big Muddy. Tomorrow we would go through the last true lock of the trip. Old River Lock was just below Natchez.<P align=left>Mrs. Shelton Chimes In.<P align=left>Hi everybody, this is Marybob-Teds better-half. I am not the story teller that Ted is-he always keeps in fun with his great stories-but they are about his days on the ranch as a cowboy, trapper, and all that goes with it...These boat stories are true----I can attest to that!!! His buddy was....well he just was.<P align=left>From the female point of view--It actually was I who wanted to live on the water.. I lived on the Colorado as a child and have never gotten it out of my system I guess. I was excited about getting the boat and having an "adventure" as Ted kept telling me it was going to be, but.... I also was quite apprehensive-to say the least!!! I was concerned with all that could go wrong-if we had to do this alone-but once we had friends to go along, that would help-a little (little did I know)- I had read as much as I could to be prepared for the trip-WRONG...<P align=left>1. I just knew the barges would run us over-as it turned out-we couldn't have been treated nicer (except for when Ted?s bud tried to play chicken with one!!!<P align=left>2. I was prepared to have problems with pirates-hey that is what I read!!!!- other than the people not being very friendly in Paducah, again no problem.<P align=left>3.Then also I had read somewhere-the eddys (whirlpools) could be a big problem-WELL I did not have a problem-now Teds bud did say that one of the times he ran over a BIG marker buoy-was because of the eddy around it....<P align=left>I had a GREAT time-cannot imagine a better summer. Well Ted and I would have preferred to have taken longer in getting down here. We never stopped, or even slowed down to have a look or a good time. The one night that all went well was when we stopped about 1700 and had time to get dinner grilled and relax before the skitos found us.<P align=left>I would do this over again in a minute!!!!<P align=left>It was nice at the marinas. People were nice to interact with--but it was just as nice being on the water.<P align=left>I would have preferred to have planned at least one hot meal a day- but they were happy with cheerios and hot dogs!!! Did learn one important thing-our friends bought granola bars for lunch and snacks-not good on a boat with one small latrine!!!!!!!<P align=left>If we had the money and time (well we do have the time-will have to wait till we win the lottery) I would turn around and go back to Evansville for the summers and down here for the winter!!!<P align=left>Nice to talk to all of you- bye for now-Mb<P align=left>#12<P align=left>5 AM came &amp; went this final morning on the Mississippi. We all slept in for the first time since Evansville.. This was to be a mixed day of emotions. If you truly love cruising, you will feel a since of regret at leaving the Big River. In spite of all the challenges, I was sad to make the starboard turn when the GPS said it was time to leave the main channel &amp; start looking for the gates of "Old River Lock".<P align=left>Vicksburg &amp; Natchez, with their beautiful homes on the hills they both had in common, were safe from the sometimes angry, high waters. While passing both towns I imagined old retired river pilots spying on the barge traffic as it made their way up &amp; down the channel. Maybe they felt even sadder than I that they weren't a part of it anymore. Who knows?<P align=left>We soon saw the lock, a call on channel 13 raised the lock master. We switched (as usual) to channel 14 &amp; received our instructions. The ock was set the wrong direction so we were told to wait at the "bull nose" while he filled the chamber. Wreak #, ??, hell I've lost count by now, but you guessed it. Zone man did not know what a bull nose was. By the time we had a quick group meeting &amp; decided it must be the big oval pillar that anchored the end of the crash fence into the chamber, ol speedy was well on it @ a fast speed.<P align=left>The boy just NEVER developed a "feel" for a boat! If any of you EVER have as many wreaks as my buddy while learning to pilot a HB, then sell your boat cuz you ain't "getting" it either. Trying to salvage the approach, I asked him to slow up &amp; we would tie of on the crash fence, Now I don't know WHY, but he turned to port to do this BUT didn't cut speed! We were darn sure going to test out the resilience of the fence! Here we come! Spreading my feet &amp; bracing for impact, I truly closed my eyes. Ahhh, at the last second possible, he spun the wheel hard to starboard AND (believe this) increased the throttle!! We hit a glancing blow &amp; turned hard. This served to whip my poor skiff, full length, VERY hard into the fence. Whack!!!<P align=left>I scrambled towards aft to see if I has anything left floating. As I passed the door I was screaming %%$&amp;&amp;!!!**%%$%%. My wife later told me that Zone man looked @ her and said "He could lose a good friend, using language like that", to which Marybob replied to him "Sink his skiff &amp; YOU could lose your life". By now we had made a circle in front of the gates.<P align=left>There was a blast &amp; the gates opened. Somehow, I felt as if our reputation had preceded us, but the kind LM said nothing &amp; we descended down to the level of the Atchafalaya River. It was Noon, the 3rd of July. Already I had experienced anticipation, sadness &amp; regret, anger bordering on temporary insanity, anxioety, and disbelief. It was JUST noon. Sheer panic wouldn't hit until just at sunset. What a day!<P align=left>Final stretch!<P align=left>We all came to realize our biggest complaint of the whole trip was "chairs". If you take nothing else away from my story, let it be this. Buy the very best chairs you can afford. The most expensive helm chairs ARE worth the money.<P align=left>Ours was a bar stool with (what we considered @ the start) a very soft cushion. Just 2 days out from Evansville &amp; I wish I had skimped more somewhere else and bought a good helm chair. The navigational chair was really a nice, adjustable office chair with arm rests. It was not tall enough to steer from, nor did it have a foot rest (very important part of sitting high for long stretches). We also skimped on cabin chairs, opting for chairs that folded up, in case we needed the room. We never did need the room &amp; paid for our choice the whole trip! On a hike it is your feet but on a long houseboat trip it is your butt. Air movement @ the helm was a issue also. A 12V. fan would have been nice.<P align=left>After my lunch, I reminded everyone we were on a smaller river (after the Miss., the Atchafalaya seemed tiny) and we needed to slow &amp; reduce wake when we encountered fishermen. This was for the obvious benefit of Zone man. He was on the home stretch &amp; acting like a barn soured horse, chomping at the bit &amp; prancing, with saliva oozing out at the corners of his month.<P align=left>I knew we "could" make it home today BUT... it would mean trying to find mooring late in the nigh getting friends out of bed &amp; transferring gear in clouds of mosquitoes. Sorry bud but we will spend 1 more night on water. I had a craving for boudin (boo-dan) for a couple of days. I wanted to stop @ the only real town downstream &amp; buy a few links, them find a spot for the night close by. Shoot tomorrow was the 4th, (we were 2 days ahead of schedule), maybe they would have a Cajun band &amp; Fe Do Do, who knew? I took a nap.<P align=left>Well, you snooze, you lose! I woke up to find a "executive decision had been made whilst I slept. We were well past the town &amp; headed home. Mutiny!<P align=left>Just plain ol mutiny. I wanted to set him &amp; his wife in the skiff and set them adrift. It was late afternoon by now, the first cove I came too I pulled in &amp; dropped anchor.<P align=left>The atmosphere was "chilly", not much more than nods &amp; mumbles. It had been 1,000 miles &amp; many days in close quarters. We needed to be done with this trip.<P align=left>" Were SINKING!" came the cry." The basement is all wet!" While not a nautical term, I knew what our friends meant. The cuddy floor was under water. A quick check of the forward bilge pump revealed it had given its life in its attempt to save the boat. You could smell that it was toast, a dark spot was evident on top of its housing. Man, I tell you, a thousand things rushed through my head! OK Ted, you're the Cap'n , now what? I saw the "deer in the headlights" look on the faces of my 3 crew. I started barking orders." Pull the skiff along side, Get a bucket, Call the Parish sheriff, call Bob (a friend) Get the papers, Make sure there is lots of repellent in the skiff, get flashlights!" Oh my gosh, were these words coming from ME? They sounded far off somehow. Could this really be happening? The rest snapped out of it, they started thinking of things to do also.<P align=left>We were a GREAT team; all was done (and more). We had never talked about or drilled for a real emergency. We all did great, I must say. I settled on a little ledge just forward of the bilge well. and started bailing like hell.<P align=left>Zone was the stair man, he lifted the heavy 5 gal. bucket up out of the cuddy &amp; twisted to set it in front of the sliding door. His wife pushed it over &amp; the water ran over the deck, into the river. Marybob made the calls and gathered the "stuff". Bless her heart, she also called our son and bade him "goodbye"<P align=left>In a moment of calm I overheard this. "This isn't the $&amp;^%*^ Titanic, were NOT going down in 40 fathoms" I hollered "were going down and I don't know HOW deep it is" she replied. We were only 20' from shore. Lol.<P align=left>As we settled into a regime of bailing, it seemed at first the water was not going down! I kept at it, we all did. I'm not sure when, I remember I was dog gone tired, maybe after 1 hour of intense work, I got a whiff of bleach. Whoa there, my brain said, this isn't river water. It's potable water. We were not sinking. " Are you sure?" "yep, fix some sandwiches, were OK".<P align=left>I'll wind up tomorrow with pretty dull ending &amp; some thoughts.<P align=left>Home!<P align=left>Nope! I can't tell you what happened with the water system. I will tell you when I find the cause. I've not pulled the floor yet as it's been too hot &amp; sticky. Sitting on the mud @ a 30 degree slant makes it hard to walk in.<P align=left>It was a mess but we worked into the night &amp; cleaned up what we could. I would bail &amp; sponge the well dry but in 30 minutes water would fill the well again. This was alarming to my friend?s wife. She wasn't convinced we were safe from sinking. She was up most of the night checking the well. What was going on was simple run off from ALL the bilge structure it takes time.<P align=left>We had other water in collapsible plastic containers. We had a good, last breakfast, weighed anchor &amp; headed home. Being from Arizona, the friends were amazed at how green the country was. For the first time they were @ 1/2 throttle and enjoying the sights. A cell phone call had Bob waiting on the riverbank as we choose a spot on the far bank. I untied the skiff &amp; motored across to Bob. By the time I got back to the HB, they were all packed a ready to go. They were not up to the final 6 miles &amp; the last lock.<P align=left>Bob drove us all into Lafayette where they chose a Holiday Inn. Their Amtrak train wasn't due until the next day. They both vowed to sleep until then. We hugged, I shook Zones hand &amp; it was over (for them).<P align=left>It was the 4th of July, our sons wedding wasn't until the 7th. We returned to our swamp &amp; the boat. It takes a 24 hr. notice to pass through the antiquated contrivance the Corps calls a "Lock". We would have to arrange another day to pass through, this day was shot. It was already raining hard. No matter, we were home.<P align=left>Truthfully, my butt was longing for my recliner &amp; a link of boudin. Marybob jumped into what was left of the wedding preparations. My able first mate turned back into a "girl".<P align=left>While in Evansville, I hooked directly to the water supply there. The pressure was too high. It expanded the tanks &amp; made the floor bulge a little. We soon discovered it &amp; unhooked. For the next week we watched for any harm that might have been done. We found none. I checked the bilge every day, it remained dry. I checked it a few times during the trip also. We were dry in Memphis. The last refill was Greenville, Miss. I must admit that I did not check the well after Memphis. Tons of suitcases &amp; other things were stacked over the access. All the faucets worked with good supply.<P align=left>While the Gibson took wakes well, there were a few that were gigantic. Marybob or I would angle into them IF we were the pilot. Falling under the heading of "not" getting it, the Buds would simply wallow in them. Twice under their watch, they both wallowed in BIG, hard wakes that resulted in tossing everything off &amp; out of the counters. Once I was rolled out of my bunk. Could this be a clue? Was it the markers we mowed down? Was a tank "ripped" or a sitting pulled? I reckon I'll know after I pull the floors. There are 2 tanks hooked into a common supply. Whatever happened, the WHOLE total of water ended up in the Bilge (and floor) Many, many, many 5 gal. buckets worth!<P align=left>Tomorrow, some final thoughts<P align=left>It might seem this was the trip from hell. I have had better weekends with fewer issues I must say. Our journey was not a day tour, a Disney adventure ride or a weekend outing. It was a 1,000 miles of challenges, hilarity, boredom, beauty and education. There were NO guarantees or time outs.<P align=left>The "possibility s" of danger and failure heightened the experience and gave the effort a strange sort of value to us. Even in a "groundhog" sort of way, we would do the same trip again in a heartbeat. There was so much more to this adventure that I did not or could not write about here. Those that can should make a similar trip, but do try to take willing people. The Gibson was great. My main complaint with her was the way the cables &amp; wires are "built into" the boat @ time of construction. Including the way the helm is constructed, it is almost impossible to find, trace, repair or replace anything concerning cables, or wires. The steps I made and the equipment I bought were good &amp; performed well. The boat was comfortable above but not in the cuddy. Once in the lower 1/2 of the trip, our friends slept on the salon floor just to get some breeze. <P align=left>Those better financed may run the Genset &amp; ACs all night I suppose. I found that redundancy wherever possible is best. I am going to install a set of engine gauges IN the engine compartment, a gas AND hand water pump &amp; a solar battery charger.<P align=left>The computer-based navigational/GPS was great. The 20" monitor however was over kill, hot &amp; a power pig. A laptop screen will do better. I was VERY glad I had installed a separate battery bank just for the navigational system.<P align=left>The sonar should be wired there also. We had 2 VHF radios, 1 was hand held, "The best" item we bought was the portable icemaker! It worked best when the ACs had the cabin temps down but even in the Deltas ambient heat, it made ice. We just had to tend it after each batch. No other single thing was better than ice in your drink while fixing another issue. It kept moral up &amp; was responsible for letting cooler heads prevail. Buy one.<P align=left>WE were a motley group! Various afflictions &amp; disease spread between us. We filled in each other?s gaps &amp; made a slightly dysfunctional team. We did it! There were no real ?Lower Mississippi? dangers. Luck played some small role (as it does in anything), but mostly we were cautious, alert (3 of us), &amp; used common sense. No big deal really.<P align=left>Thank you all for wanting to hear our story!!<P align=left>Ted655 ? Now coming down the Mississippi.<P align=left><P align=left>The waterrose in his swamp around thanksgiving of 2007. On 03/27/08 a bigwind blew water into the moored boat, the batteries expired and the Merrybobber sank, uninsured. On 07/31/2008, my friend Ted655 lost his long fought battle with cancer.<P align=left>This post is in memory of onegreat guy, Ted Shelton, Butte La Rose, LA, where the Aligator gets blamed for the Bull Sharks deeds.
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Old 09-04-2008, 10:03 PM   #2
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Default RE: Ted655 - Now Coming Down The Mississippi

Great story, I had to make my little one dinner and play candyland while reading it, but that is a great post and may god rest his soul. I hope more take time to read this, it just proves the American Spirit is still alive and well. There are still adventures even for the most sedintary or us.:angel
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Old 09-05-2008, 12:52 AM   #3
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Default RE: Ted655 - Now Coming Down The Mississippi

Awesomeread!

I was a member of Houseboat magazine forum during Ted's original post and looked forward to his daily post. I admit that I'm relatedto BT (hi dad) just kiidin he's my older bro and I also ventured into the houseboat rental business during this time.As some may remember my houseboat (Easy Breeze)fell victimvia tornado that ripped through Bahia Mar last Oct.

Ted was definitely a class act.

Ted followed his dream even though he faced physical challenges then sharing his adventure with us all.

Thanks BT for sharing, I hope PFF members endure the long read and relate toTed's passion in obtaining the dream.

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Old 09-05-2008, 10:29 AM   #4
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Default RE: Ted655 - Now Coming Down The Mississippi

Now THAT'S the type of adventure story I love to read!! True life and very exciting, to me anyway. I know the Mississippi around the St. Louis area and the Ohio around the Cave-in Rock area and can relate to the trials and tribulations of boating on a large traffic river!! I was one who ventured out in a kayak on both rivers. You have to be aware of your surroundings at ALL times when you are paddling a 14' kayak!! Every barge, every piece of driftwood, each large boat that passes you no matter how slow they appear to be moving, create a positive danger and can create a disaster for the unaware boater in an instant!!

One of the main reasons that I moved to Florida in 2002 was the pervasive attitude of so many people in the Central Midwest!! You encountered it in Paducah, I lived amongst people like that in So. IL for the better part of 30 years!! You do what you have to do sometimes and I endured the ruderesidents and the self centered attitudes until I could take no more of it. I sold my farm, my business property, and stored most of my belongings down where my sons live in Carbondale, IL and headed South. You can imagine my disappointment when Ivan took the roof off my business building in FWB and I had to move back up North!!!

I jumped at the chance to move back even though it meant being an employee and not a business owner. I haven't regretted that move one bit. even though I am sort of a "man of leisure" right now after being laid off, I still will live in a fridge box under the Destin bridge before I move back to Rudeville, IL again!!

Great adventure y'all took and a great read for me!!
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Old 09-06-2008, 11:34 PM   #5
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Default RE: Ted655 - Now Coming Down The Mississippi

Great story...thanks for posting it!!!
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Old 10-10-2009, 04:07 PM   #6
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Default RE: Ted655 - Now Coming Down The Mississippi

Bump for the Great Looper coming down to P-cola right now.
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Old 10-10-2009, 08:27 PM   #7
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Default RE: Ted655 - Now Coming Down The Mississippi

Great read!!! May he rest in peace.
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Old 12-12-2009, 07:36 AM   #8
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Bump for a special day so my buddies life andhis memory lives on.
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