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Old 25-11-2015, 15:00   #1
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Location: Middle Tennessee
Boat: 1979 San Juan 7.7M
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Cobwebs all over ...

Hi all!
I haven't been here in a very long time and I wish I could say I've been out cruising but that isn't the case. HOWEVER! I am planning to go cruising soon, even though I haven't actually sailed for almost 12 years. My name is Rico and I have a San Juan 7.7 currently on the Cumberland river in Tennessee. I'm planning to take the Cumberland river to the Tom Bigbee via the Tennessee and thence to the gulf. If I survive that, I may do some gunk holing to and through the Caribbean before heading west to Galveston or Corpus Cristi.

My primary question is: should I go now(within the next month or two) or should I wait for Spring? I'd like to hear from any and everyone who has made the Bigbee trip.


"There is nothing - absolutely nothing- half so much worth doing, as simply messing about in boats."
~ The Wind In The Willows ~
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Old 25-11-2015, 15:22   #2
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Re: Cobwebs all over ...

Waiting for spring puts you quickly into summer hurricane season. Of course you might spend a year on the first half of your adventure so....

"I spent most of my money on Booze, Broads and Boats. The rest I wasted" - Elmore Leonard

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Old 25-11-2015, 15:33   #3
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Re: Cobwebs all over ...

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Old 26-11-2015, 12:54   #4
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Join Date: May 2013
Location: Middle Tennessee
Boat: 1979 San Juan 7.7M
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Re: Cobwebs all over ...

Has anyone here made the run to the gulf via the Tom Bigbee from Tennessee in a sailboat, what was the average travel time considering an overnight or two some place reasonable? I'll be departing from the Nashville area...
"There is nothing - absolutely nothing- half so much worth doing, as simply messing about in boats."
~ The Wind In The Willows ~
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Old 28-11-2015, 10:08   #5
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Location: Grand Rivers, KY
Boat: Hunter 2003 356 - Persistence
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Cobwebs all over ...

I've been down twice, once in a Cabo Rico 38 in 2007 and in 2013-14 down from Kentucky Dam to Punta Gorda, Fl and returned once in March 2014 in our Hunter 356. We cruise at 6.2 knots and that is what the plan below is based on. You would need to adjust for any layover days, fog, rain, and reprovisioning time you would need on top of the schedule below.

You are getting late this year and will experience fog delays if you don't have radar (or don't want to run in reduced visibility and at night ) and you will be cold. Other than the cold and the fog, it is a good time to go. Once you get to the Northern Gulf coast it can be pretty cold there too. A friend of mine got to Mobile at the end of October, but didn't go back to cross the Gulf to SW Florida until mid December. They were in a Beneteau 34 without an enclosure and they nearly froze. They also didn't have a generator, so had no heat while cruising. I don't think he would recommend a trip in those conditions. I know his wife wouldn't.

From the canal between The Cumberland and Tennessee (I am a mile north at Lighthouse Landing), it is 658 SM to Turner Marine in Mobile. We made the trip in 10 days, stopping over in Columbus, MS an extra day to reprovision and do laundry. From LHL our itenerary was as follows:

LHL (24.4) to Pebble Isle Marina mile 96.1
Pebble isle Marina to Clifton, Marina mile 158.5
Clifton Marina to Grand Harbor Marina (top of Tenn-Tom mile 450)
Grand Harbor to Midway Marina - mile 394.0
Midway Marina to Columbus, Marina mile 335
Columbus Marina to Windham Landing Anchorage mile 286.2
Windham Landing to Demopolis Kingfisher Marina mile 216.1
Kingfisher Marina to Bashi Creek Anchorage mile 145
Bashi Creek to Upper Sunflower Cut-off anchorage mile 78.6
Upper Sunflower to Turner Marine - 78.6 + 15 miles on Mobile Bay

The above is 10 travel days with no layovers and I have radar, so I run in fog and at night. I also run our generator full time while not at the dock and have a full enclosure on the cockpit. I stay dry and in cold weather stand in the open companionway where the heat from our heat pump rises and keeps me warm, while steering with my hand held autopilot.

We made the trip in October. We returned in flooding conditions in March and if we do the return trip again, it will be in May, not March.

You can look at Active Captain and most all of the marina's, anchorages, bridge heights, etc are there. You have a clearance of 52 feet max from waterline to many of the bridges, so if your mast height is higher, you will need to step the mast.

There are 13 locks you will go through on the way down. They take between 15 to 45 minutes to go through, plus the wait if a commercial tow is there when you get there. The most time we lost in a single day was 2-1/2 hours due to tows. In the spring, we hit all but one lock and had or,al waits jus TDOT the lockmaster to set up the lock for us.

There is only one fuel stop between Demopolis and Mobile at Bobbies Fish Camp,at mile 118, so carry jerry cans if you don't have capacity to go that far.

Where on the Cumberland are you located?

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