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Old 26-02-2016, 13:53   #1
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Ten Tomm and Mississippi current this spring

Be a bit cantankerous, I'm doing the Ten Tomm et al.in reverse of recommended practice, from Mobile to Chicago, this spring,taking a boat I bought in Louisiana back to Canada. My question is what adverse current speeds can I anticipate and where. Are there counter currents that flow along the river edges? I know that when transiting the St Clair River into Lake Huron, by hugging the Canadian side the current is much slower. Does this apply to rivers like the Mississippi, Ohio, Cumberland etc?
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Old 26-02-2016, 19:01   #2
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Re: Ten Tomm and Mississippi current this spring

I don't think you can count on much current at all on the Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway, unless you're fighting a spring flood.
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Old 26-02-2016, 23:14   #3
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Re: Ten Tomm and Mississippi current this spring

Unless you have a jet pack on the Morgan (in your signature), it's pretty much a no go.

The Tombigbee will have currents in sections but those will usually be manageable and there marinas closely spaced, so you can rest and get fel. Unless the flooding is really bad...difficult but doable.

The Mississippi will be your problem. Currents are slower on the insides of bends and near the shore but no counter currents of signifcance. Also the commercial traffic decides where you get to go when you meet. More importantly, the Mississippi is loaded with wing dams that will happily take out your keel if you hang out near the edge. In the spring you can expect 4-6kts for long stretches (not the half mile under the blue water bridge you reference). It's unsafe to travel at night due to debris (worse in the spring) and there are no fuel docks till you get just south of St. Louis.

Even in the summer/fall when the current ebbs it's still mostly above a 3kt current.

We've gone down twice. To give you an idea I set the throttle at around 1/4 (4-5kts) and were averaging 11kts.

People don't go up for a reason.

Now if the new boat has a 300mile range at 25kts, it is doable.
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Old 27-02-2016, 06:36   #4
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Re: Ten Tomm and Mississippi current this spring

Thanks for the reality check, Valhalla! You've just changed my route to Marathon and the ICW/Erie Canal. A lot longer but a lot more ship and crew friendly!

Figure I'll take the Gulf ICW from Slidell La to Port St Joe Fl then go offshore to Fort Myers. Take a break then offshore to Marathon. I'd appreciate any comments relative to this itinerary by anyone whose done it in spring.
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Old 27-02-2016, 08:34   #5
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Re: Ten Tomm and Mississippi current this spring

Also a lot more to see and do, good choice.
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Old 27-02-2016, 09:01   #6
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Re: Ten Tomm and Mississippi current this spring

Exactly what I was to recommend. East coast.
Minimum 8 - 10 weeks unless you sail offshore from Marathon.
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Old 27-02-2016, 11:27   #7
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Re: Ten Tomm and Mississippi current this spring

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Originally Posted by Scaramanga F25 View Post
Exactly what I was to recommend. East coast.
Minimum 8 - 10 weeks unless you sail offshore from Marathon.
Since it is going to take 8-10 weeks why not just wait 8-10 weeks and do the TennTom? And yes spring currents on the TennTom can be dangerous. There is a video of a tugboat on YouTube being sucked under a bridge. But all of this information is available online and the TennTom trip is definitely not boring. Much shorter, much less fuel and cost. Not a doubt in my mind that I would not take the TennTom. By the way, part of the trip the river runs North !!
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Old 27-02-2016, 14:43   #8
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Re: Ten Tomm and Mississippi current this spring

Marathon direct to Moorhead City area South Carolina offshore in the GS and then the ICW to New York. Can be done in 10 days or less. Up the Hudson to Lake Ontario can take 2 weeks.
No experience in the Mississipi.
St Clair river southbound with 1/4 throttle will produce 7 knts as opposed to 3 knts. (yanmar 3 gm with a 3 blade fixed prop in a 33 foot boat) The current is very strong. The Lakers do 15knts going down there.
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Old 28-02-2016, 00:07   #9
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Re: Ten Tomm and Mississippi current this spring

Hi Mainstreet. I'm heading that way from Slidell around the end of March. I don't know what your air draft is, but there are a couple of GICW bridges at Destin that only have around 50 ft. of clearance. I plan to drop offshore at Pensacola and put in in Panama City, then straight from Panama City to the Tampa area.
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Old 28-02-2016, 07:15   #10
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Re: Ten Tomm and Mississippi current this spring

Thanks for the heads up Jesse. I still have to do a lot of detailed route planning before we start. Your comments really help. Seems we're just around the corner from each other. I'm planning on starting out about the same general time. Going to stay with a GICWW inland passage for a few days to get the feel of a new boat then move off shore once the boat and I get to trusting each other.
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Old 29-02-2016, 09:29   #11
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Re: Ten Tomm and Mississippi current this spring

I am planning taking the TenTom from Mobile to the Tennessee river and then east. Is this practical in a 23' sailboat with a 10 hp diesel?

Thanks
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Old 29-02-2016, 09:41   #12
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Re: Ten Tomm and Mississippi current this spring

Bob, from the information I've received in this thread, it seems possible at certain months of the year as long as you stay off of the Mississippi. You may want to post a new thread for a more definitive answer to your question. The route is definitely out for me due to the current flow north to south in the Might Mississippi.
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Old 01-03-2016, 00:13   #13
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Re: Ten Tomm and Mississippi current this spring

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I am planning taking the TenTom from Mobile to the Tennessee river and then east. Is this practical in a 23' sailboat with a 10 hp diesel?

Thanks
BobL
What is your cruising speed and what is your range under power?

There is still some current going up the tenn-tom but unless it's in flood, it's drastically less than the Mississippi.

There is one stretch of around 150miles without fuel stops if I remember correctly but your range will have to be longer as the current will effectively reduce your range but that depends on how fast your cruise speed is.

(I'm assuming when you say going east, you are looking to take the Ohio, Cumberland or Tennessee up river.
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Old 01-03-2016, 17:29   #14
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Re: Ten Tomm and Mississippi current this spring

I boat on the upper Mississippi and have been from Red Wing, Mn. to Grafton,IL. There are a fair number of sailboaters in the Alton pool, this is the pool where the Illinois river joins the Mississippi. I haven't been south of Grafton but there is no reason a sailboat couldn't go north on any part of the river I've been on. If not in flood stage the current runs 1.5 to 3 mph depending on width of river. Even in flood stage and I've seen 12+' over normal pool I doubt it gains another 1 to 1.5 mph. The river below St. Louis carries the water of the Illinois and the Missouri rivers, I've talked with different trawler owners who brought boats up from the the Ohio river. These were FD hull boats with a wot speed of around 7 to 8 mph, one of them made the trip while the Mississippi was in flood stage, they did complain about their slow progress they said sog was 2 to 3 mph. I would guess your biggest problem would be fuel the 1st stop for fuel on the Mis north of the Ohio is Hoppie's. It is 260 / 270 miles between Hoppie's and the closest fuel south of them. A bladder may work for you or meeting fuel trucks at boat ramps or something but they don't want to come out for less than a couple hundred gallons. Good luck


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Old 01-03-2016, 23:34   #15
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Re: Ten Tomm and Mississippi current this spring

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I boat on the upper Mississippi and have been from Red Wing, Mn. to Grafton,IL. There are a fair number of sailboaters in the Alton pool, this is the pool where the Illinois river joins the Mississippi. I haven't been south of Grafton but there is no reason a sailboat couldn't go north on any part of the river I've been on. If not in flood stage the current runs 1.5 to 3 mph depending on width of river. Even in flood stage and I've seen 12+' over normal pool I doubt it gains another 1 to 1.5 mph. The river below St. Louis carries the water of the Illinois and the Missouri rivers, I've talked with different trawler owners who brought boats up from the the Ohio river. These were FD hull boats with a wot speed of around 7 to 8 mph, one of them made the trip while the Mississippi was in flood stage, they did complain about their slow progress they said sog was 2 to 3 mph. I would guess your biggest problem would be fuel the 1st stop for fuel on the Mis north of the Ohio is Hoppie's. It is 260 / 270 miles between Hoppie's and the closest fuel south of them. A bladder may work for you or meeting fuel trucks at boat ramps or something but they don't want to come out for less than a couple hundred gallons. Good luck


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Once you get past Chain of Rocks Locks (just north of downtown St. Louis), it's a whole different game. There are regular locks which control the current and there are pleasure boat marinas to few fuel and rest at regular intervals.

South of St. Louis there are no locks to limit current and as you say 260miles without a marina to fuel with a sailboat likely doing 2-3kts at full throttle means you probably need a range of like a 1000+ miles to have any reserve range if things go wrong. Even if you have the range, you are looking at upwards of ten 10hr days running the engine flat out.

We ran it (downbound) twice. Once during normal water levels and once at the tail end of a flood. During the flood trip, we would have been lucky to make 2kts upstream for large sections.
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