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Old 11-01-2006, 17:08   #1
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Down the Mississippi

Has anyone sailed from the Ohio River down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico?

I don't have charts to look at and I'm curious as to how much travel time and how much of that time would be spent waiting for bridges to open?

I'm guessing somewhere around 3 weeks? Does this sound right for a ruff guess?

I'm up the Kanawha River about 50 miles from where it runs into the Ohio River at Huntington, near Ashland Kentucky.

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Old 11-01-2006, 21:16   #2
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This forum never ceases to amaze me. 2 days ago, I refered a friend of mine to this site, and he was asking this exact question. I look very forward to the answers to this one.

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Old 12-01-2006, 05:35   #3
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Send GregB on this forum a message, he has been doing some of the trip you are asking about the past couple of years.
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Old 17-01-2006, 07:28   #4
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Greg never answered, but I did get some great answers on another board.

Here's that link. I hope this helps anyone else asking these questions.

Down The Mississippi

Happy Sailing
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Old 25-01-2006, 08:33   #5
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You can get a great chart from the Army Corp of Engineers. In 1998 I got one and it was $14. I went from Catossa Oklahoma to New Orleans. I still have the 1998 version if you would like I would send it to you.

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Old 25-01-2006, 15:52   #6
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How long

does it take to go "UP" the Mississippi? It seems that everyone goes down. I guess that the 3-5kt current has something to do with that.

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Old 29-01-2006, 17:39   #7
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From the Ohio south you'll wait for no bridges. From the Ohio north are 26 lock and dams with numerous bridges. With the Ohio the Mississippi becomes very large wide and a heavily travelled commercial river. Exceptionally large tows of fleeted barges of 50 or more are common. There are no more lock and dams so they run 24 x 7.

It might be argued it is also an exceptionally boring trip with little to see and much to avoid. The upper portions of the river above the Ohio junction are actually quite scenic. The currents are not very strong but neither is there a tide. Flood stages in the spring bring large amounts of debris to be avoided.

I've never sailed on it but having lived on it for 28 years I don't think it would be very good sailing. More of a long motor boat trip.

The alternate route through the Tom Bigby would seem the more enjoyable trip. The romance of the lower Mississippi does not to me meet the reality.
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Old 20-02-2006, 09:55   #8
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I think you would be better off taking the Tenn-Tom Waterway than the lower Mississippi. Below St Louis there are no more locks so the current starts to pick up. I can be up to six knots. Services for pleasure craft are more limited. The senery is not all that interesting as the river really starts to widen out. North of St Louis the river is very scenic and gets ever better as you head north. A few years ago I went upstream from the Illinios River to Minneapolis. The locks are no big deal once you have done the drill a few times. The current was never a problem and was usually no more than 1- 1.5 knots. In a few places it may pick up a bit more but generally only for short stretches. We did this trip during a time of lower water so the current can vary. We had a 17 hp diesel on a 40 ft 12000 lb boat and had no trouble at all. I think bridge height restrictions were about 55 feet . I have talked to a few people who have been able to keep their rigs up and they mentioned sailing 25 percent of the time. You have to stay in or very near the channel to avoid wing dams which are quite numerous and jut out from the shore on both sides. They will usually be underwater unless the water is very low. Sometimes you can see them from the ripple effect in the water but most often they are invisable. I took nine days to do this trip north.
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Old 20-02-2006, 16:54   #9
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The Ohio River bridges along Kentucky (at least all of it that I've seen) should pose no problem unless your mast is extremely tall. There are many locks that you would have to transit, but I don't know about timing and costs; but I THINK the locks process you through as you arrive (if they aren't already raising/lowering someone else), and I THINK the service is paid for by tax dollars, but I'm not sure.

Tugs/barges would definitely be a concern. There are LOTS of them going both directions.

Also, after long and/or very heavy rains the Ohio can accumulate a lot of good sized trash (e.g. large tree limbs, etc.).

Another "watch out" would be shoals building up and extending out from the many horseshoe turns in the river.

I would also want to find a dock or safe place to anchor after dark.

With care I think it could be a pleasant, relaxing journey in about a 25 to 28 foot sailboat; BUT I'd always be ready to "motor" to get out of the tugsboat/barges way.
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Old 21-02-2006, 05:39   #10
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Went from St. Paul Mn. to Mobile Bay in 2003 on a 30ft. C&C.We used the Tenn-tom.Make sure you do not anchor at the confluence of the Ohio and the Mississippi.Toooo much barge traffic.Ran into a fellow who was hit by a barge while he was at anchor(and he had his running lights on).Toughest part of the trip was the Ohio to the Tenn river because of the strong current and all the STUFF in the water
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Old 02-06-2010, 11:56   #11
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Same trip

Do I have to take my mast down? It's approximatley 41 feet. I'm doing the same trip at the end of this summer 2010. Starting from St. Paul, going down the Mississippi river to the Tenn-Tom, and then going into the Gulf via Mobile Bay.
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Old 29-10-2015, 17:21   #12
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Re: Same trip

Did you make your trip?. We will be doing it next year
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Old 29-10-2015, 17:41   #13
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Re: Down the Mississippi

For anyone interested in investigating/planning an inland trip in the midwest USA here is a link to waterway charts:

Army Geospatial Center > Missions > Echarts > Inland Chart Books

They have free PDF's for download, but the actual chart books are very nice and quite reasonably priced.
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Old 29-10-2015, 18:19   #14
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Re: Down the Mississippi

Also, the Army Corps of Engineers website has digital charts of the inland waterways. Free download.
Life begins at the waters edge.
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Old 20-01-2016, 08:48   #15
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Re: Down the Mississippi


Considering a Tartan 3100 located in Lake City MN, and traveling the Mississippi River to Destin Florida. Anyone have a rough estimate on travel time?



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