Davy Quits Politics
I N ORDER to make some money Davy next began cutting the timber on his land. There was a considerable demand for pipe staves in New Orleans, and he contracted to supply a large quantity. He hired men, employing some to cut the staves and others to build flatboats in which to float them downstream to market.
That was in 1826. By summer of the following year he had loaded a number of scows and was ready to launch them. He had had little or no experience either in navigating the river with these unwieldy barges or, for that matter, in building this type of craft.
As had happened with most of his business ventures, misfortune followed close on his heels. He and his crew were out only two days when they ran into disaster. They failed in two attempts to land at wood yards, although men came out with lights and tried to guide them to shore. Their boats were too heavy and the current too strong. That night, when Davy was down in the cabin of one boat, he was trapped. He relates the experience as follows:
The hatchway into the cabin came slap down, right through the top of the boat; and it was the only way out except a small hole in the side, which we had used for putting our arms through to dip up water before we lashed the boats together.
We were now floating sideways, and the boat I was in was the hindmost as we went. All at once I heard the hands begin to run over the top of the boat in great confusion, and pull with all their might; and the first thing I know'd after this we went broadside full-tilt against the head of an island where a large raft of drift-timber had lodged. The nature of such a place would be...to suck the boats down. As soon as