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Old 18-11-2008, 12:01   #1
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pocket cruiser the wrong way up the Mississippi

My girlfriend and I are on the West Coast and getting ready to crew through the canal and up into the Caribbean, at which point she has convinced me I am moving to Pittsburgh with her(why?), and we were extremely loosely entertaining the idea of buying a pocket cruiser and sailing/motoring it up through the Mississippi/Ohio to Pittsburgh from the Gulf Coast. Would this even be possible given the fact that we would be going upstream the whole way? Are there parts of the Mississippi/Ohio that move faster than the hull speed of most pocket cruisers (thinking 17' [5ish knots]-25'[6ish knots])? Even if that is not the case would this little jaunt be such a slow miserable thrash upstream so as to make it too hellish to consider? Does anyone have any experience or heard of anyone with any experience of going backwards up these river ways?
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Old 18-11-2008, 12:15   #2
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I think hellish would be the right word. Some will cite some crazy high numbers for the current flow, but even if it were only a couple knots you had better have a good motor (over sized for that size boat) and plan to hug the banks, and play the eddies to get upstream.

Why not just head up the East coast instead? It does not sound like you are pressed for time with your route....
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Old 18-11-2008, 13:29   #3
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The current varies - more in Spring, less in Summer and also varies based on the width and depth of the river at a given point. I would think that you would be ready to drown yourself by the time you got to Vicksburg. (one cotton or soybean field looks pretty much like another and after a couple of weeks...).

Another option would be coming up the Gulf Intracoastal and crossing Florida at Okeechobee or rounding the Keys and coming up the East Coast ICW. You wouldn't be fighting the current, lot's of cool places to stop, etc.
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Old 18-11-2008, 14:27   #4
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Darn. I have no real urge to do the East Coast Intercoastal. Maybe we could buy a boat in Minnesota and sail down. Thanks
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Old 18-11-2008, 14:41   #5
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For the record I just looked up how fast the Mississippi flows it is about 1.2 MPH at the head water and 3mph further down the river. These, of course, are averages. The Ohio tops out at 6 Knots.
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Another option would be coming up the Gulf Intracoastal and crossing Florida at Okeechobee or rounding the Keys and coming up the East Coast ICW. You wouldn't be fighting the current, lot's of cool places to stop, etc.
Oh yeah and the east Coast Intracoastal doesn't land us in Pittsburgh either, which I wouldn't mind too much but might bother my girlfriend.
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Old 18-11-2008, 15:31   #6
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Why not skip the ICW at the east coast? Sail straight up to enter the lakes, and then go down river. Sailing north on the east coast is mostly a good thing. Places to duck in, and sit out weather. Wind & current mostly favorable for you.....i2f
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Old 19-11-2008, 10:57   #7
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Forget about the Mississippi (aat least the southern stretches). All the recreational boaters transisting between the Gulf of Mexico and Lake Michigan end up using the Tenn-Tom waterway.

THE TENNESSEE-TOMBIGBEE WATERWAY

Dumps you out in the Ohio river just upstream of the convergance with the Mississippi. From there it's a relatively easy trip upstream straight into Pittsburg.
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Old 19-11-2008, 11:35   #8
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What makes the Tenn-Tom a better bet than the Mississippi? Is it possible to navigate upstream? Is there an upstream on the Tenn-Tom? I am having a very hard time swallowing that this trip would be too difficult for us to make seeing that barges and freighters make it all the time (right?). I have been in touch with the Corp of Engineers Public Affairs Officer (very nice lady) and the Coast guard and no one can tell me, other than a few hokey looking web sights, the average flow speed of these rivers. What is up with that?

One thing I did find which was very cool in a bunch of nav charts for the Mississippi including pdfs and encs: Navigation Information Connection;
Inland Electronic Navigation Charts
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Old 19-11-2008, 12:02   #9
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The Tenn-Tom is a series of water ways from Mobile, Alabama You're not running up-stream on the Tombigbee Water Way. I think there are a series of 12 or 13 locks and dams. It runs into the Tenn. River. On the Tenn you would be traveling with the current. It would make things a lot easier until you get to the Ohio River.

I'll be traveling up the Tenn Tom to Charleston WV sometime this summer. Perhaps I'll see you.
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Old 19-11-2008, 13:37   #10
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Well,

Those barges are pushing with a lot of horse power. My first few sails were north of the Alton locks just north of St. Louis. It was take us all day to sail north, and an hour to get home. That has got to tell you something about current......i2f
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Old 20-11-2008, 18:01   #11
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I just finished the Tenn Tom over the summer. Unless there have been recent rains, the current is non existent to mild (less than 2 knots usually). Current won't bother you the whole way if it is there. It's mainly on the last quarter of a pool before the next lock. It would be easy with a small boat as long as your motor was reliable. The bottom 200 miles is completely rural. We leapfrogged a tug pushing some naval multipurpose barges up to St. Louis or somewhere and they came from New Orleans and took the detour because it was longer, but faster.
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