Leevac Shipyard's River Explorer

Thursday, September 02, 1999
R/B River Explorer, which carries 198 passengers on two interlinked 295-ft. long barges, traverses the Mississippi River and Intracoastal Waterway on fout-to-ten day excursions. With interiors designed by Bauer Interiors, convertability was the prime directive throughout much of the vessel to allow a multitude of uses within a single space. In the lobby area, each etched glass partition between the two-man booths is an engraving of a major bridge spanning the Mississippi River from Ohio to New Orleans. The interior of the Sprague Theater is outfitted to resemble the interior of the vessel by the same name, the largest cargo-carrying towboat on the Mississippi River in the 19th Century. At the Cravasse Bar aft in the public barge, a wall-to-wall mural behind the bar depicts in a folksy way, the horrific levee branch that sent a towering wall of water into quiet Cajun towns in 1928. The event almost comes alive as the scene is carried over to the bar facade. The Pilot House Lounge duplicates most of the electronic gadgets found in the barge's real Pilot House. Passengers watch rader screens, hear ship-to-shore and ship-to-ship radio conversations, review maps and charts of the rivers and gain a first-hand experience of an operating towboat pilot house. The vessel, which was constructed from the two pre-built barges, was converted at Leevac Shipyard in Jennings, La.

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