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Old 13-09-2015, 09:38   #16
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Re: Sailing up the Mississippi River

Don't forget to let us know how we can read the story when it's finished.
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Old 13-09-2015, 10:18   #17
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Re: Sailing up the Mississippi River

We locked through the Industrial Lock, heading to the Harvey Lock (up-river). It took us 2 hours to make the 5 miles, and that was motoring hard, not sailing our 36' sailboat. You are advised to be in contact with whatever traffic control is called, at least in this stretch.

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Old 13-09-2015, 10:32   #18
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Re: Sailing up the Mississippi River

Actually I think the cat or tri approach would be the best boat for this story. Big beach cats like the MacGregor 36 or tris like the Condor 40 or any of the Corsairs would have the best chance fighting the current.

Or just get the Waterworld tri.
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Old 13-09-2015, 10:55   #19
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Re: Sailing up the Mississippi River

7 days














On the Columbia river just sailing takes about 3 days to get to Portland. This predicates that it is in the summer when the current is less than 2.5 knots, the winds are prevailing NW which makes for a broad reach most of the way and only sailing 8 hours a day.

The calculations are based on the boat making an average of 4.3 kt over ground and 6.9 thought the water. This speed is reached by any 30' or longer sailboat (assuming 26' length waterline). Currents are not always running at the full rate, there are positions on the river where the current runs faster than others so a wise skipper can play the currents to increase his speed over the ground. And thus reduce the time to get upriver.

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Old 13-09-2015, 10:58   #20
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Re: Sailing up the Mississippi River

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Originally Posted by Sand crab View Post
Actually I think the cat or tri approach would be the best boat for this story. Big beach cats like the MacGregor 36 or tris like the Condor 40 or any of the Corsairs would have the best chance fighting the current.

Or just get the Waterworld tri.
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Old 13-09-2015, 11:25   #21
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Re: Sailing up the Mississippi River

In anything less than a high performance sailboat, it's going to take several weeks to make 250miles against the current if you can make it at all.

I recall docking at Hoppies just south of St. Louis at full throttle to compensate for the current.

If you are talking a histrical story with an old style boat, it's just not going to happen. They did take boats up rivers but not with currents like the mississippi.

If you switch to the hudson, it's much easier as the river is tidal up to around Albany, so by playing the currents, you get a boost and then you can anchor during the outgoing current.
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Old 13-09-2015, 13:28   #22
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Re: Sailing up the Mississippi River

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...

If you are talking a histrical story with an old style boat, it's just not going to happen. They did take boats up rivers but not with currents like the mississippi.

....
Sure they did, just not sailing vessels...paddle wheelers.

OP: damn slow going upstream depending upon river stage at the time. There are tactics you can use going up stream like hugging the inside bank of a bend or getting into the eddie downstream of a sandbar, but its slow going no matter what.

To get an idea, just look up current speed data from your choice of monitoring station, convert to knots and subtract normal boat speed under power. For example, if current rate is 2'/second thats about 1.2 knots. If your hypothetical boat motors (you're not gonna do much sailing) at 6 knots in static conditions then you will make about 4.8 knots upstream. Assuming 250 nautical miles (they use statue miles on the River though so you will need to convert for more accuracy) thats about 52 hours.

You can view data from monitoring stations here:

waterdata.usgs.gov/usa/nwis/uv?07374525

An observation: I dont know jack about writing, but do know a couple of successful writers. They both write about what they know, one about Colombia, and the other about Natchez, Mississippi (where I grew up, right on the River). Another successful writer who wrote about what he knew was Mark Twain, who actually became a Mississippi River Pilot (a big deal at the time), and later wrote "Life on The Mississippi", based on that experience. Seems to me its gotta be hard to write believably about what you don't know. For example, I recently re-read "Life on The Mississippi" and thuroughly enjoyed it because Twain not only gets the details of the boats of his era right, but really conveys the feel of life on the River. While obviously I wasnt around in his day, I did grow up on the River, and there is much that hasn't changed that I could relate to ... the inverse of this is why I avoid fictional books or movies about sailing ... they always come off as bogus.
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Old 13-09-2015, 14:24   #23
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Re: Sailing up the Mississippi River

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Broken, a few more details would help us give you better suggestions. A period of time would help determine what kind of boat we would be talking about. Such as, pre 1900 would be no engine or steam engine. When you say ''sail'', are you talking about actually sailing or just moving in a boat?
Wow! Thanks to everyone for their insights, I'm learning a lot of important details about the effects of current and wind, there are a lot of bends in my fictional river, so these are important factor.

As far as ships go, this would be pre-1900 and I was initially thinking a sloop would be the ship, but now perhaps I need to upgrade that to a yawl or a ketch. However, if there is as much complication in using the actual sails on the river, perhaps I need to either have the ship rowed (which will increase my crew members considerably) or towed via shoreline rope? Or use a some combination of these to get upriver.

Anyway, these details are great because I'd hate anyone to read it and think "A sailboat could never to that!" those little things break immersion in a story. I'd rather throw in some paragraphs or pages more about the difficulty of the journey than have someone read it and think "No. Way."

EDIT: BelizeSailor, I agree. This is only a chapter in a larger story. The important part is the dialogue and changing relationship between the characters, but if the little details like the mechanics of getting up river are all wrong, it detracts from that story. So thank you.
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Old 13-09-2015, 14:51   #24
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Re: Sailing up the Mississippi River

Keep it simple, make it a sloop. If you can work it into the story, have the crew wait for weather when the wind is lacking, or coming from the wrong direction. I wouldn't try to write in that the boat is rowed, like you said it would take a lot of folks to row the boat upriver.

You used the word "ship". How big will this boat be? There is a limit to the size of a sloop, especially pre-1900. The sails get pretty heavy as the boat size increases.

Prevailing winds coming from across the river would help, since the predominant point of sail would be a reach (the wind would hit the sides of the boat). You're writing, so you get to make up your own scenarios.

When you are done, have a sailing buddy read it and see if it sounds plausible to them.

All there best!

Steve
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Old 13-09-2015, 15:56   #25
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Re: Sailing up the Mississippi River

The problem is there isn't much prevailing wind in that area.

It's not like on the coast. Unless there is a front going through you are lucky to get 5 knots.

I learned sailing on Arkabutla and Sardis Lakes..............just a bit North of there

You could use a beach cat like the foiling A Class Catamaran which is much faster than the trimarans mentioned above but if debris is encountered, it would break the boards

Best to go with a Hobie 16. They are very tough. They were used in the old days (1970's) to sail 1000 miles up the east coast in the Worrell 1000 race even going around the Outer Banks.

My son and his friends put a hole in one 12" long hitting rocks crossing a bar and still sailed for a couple weeks. After I noticed it, he said yeah that hull has been low for a while. It was half full of water

He was 15 and sailing Pensacola Bay
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Old 13-09-2015, 16:33   #26
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Re: Sailing up the Mississippi River

The Mississippi with out barges, probably would not have locks or dredging either, so sandbars would be a much larger issue than they are today.
One reason most riverboats are flat bottomed is the extremely variable depths. Your lowest current will be at low water in the fall or late summer, or winter when all the moisture is snow. High water and high current will be in the spring with snow melt and rain.
The Mississippi floods pretty reliably each spring before the locks and dams were put in. So the shores can be pretty swampy where they aren't bluffs. I don't think you could tow a boat along shore by mules like they did in the Erie Canal and other canals where they were designed with a level path for mules and tow lines.
I don't see a keel boat making progress up river in a Mississippi type river because of the shallow water near shore where the current is less and the sandbars that could be anywhere from season to season with flooding.

The Columbia has the advantage of prevailing wind blowing upstream and especially in the Gorge where it can be fierce. However the current is really reduced by all the Hydro dams that hold back nearly all the spring floods. There is not really much room for the spring rain water to spread out, so without the dams, the river would just go faster with extra water.
The Hudson is a pretty wide deep and straight river. It has bends to be sure, but because it is largely hemmed in by bluffs, it doesn't wander and loop. That would be your best model for a fictional river since sailing ships did go up and down before motors.
The Nile river kind of has a similar profile except it has bluffs on one side and flood plains on the other side, but generally is wide and deep enough to sail much of the year.
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Old 13-09-2015, 18:22   #27
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Re: Sailing up the Mississippi River

Early Egyptians sailed the Nile River for millennia. It is suggested that they even transported much material involved in the construction of their monuments and other stone structures. The river was too wide to allow for the use of animals for towing. Too deep for punting. Quite swift during the annual floods. Lateen rigs were their motive power.
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Old 13-09-2015, 18:29   #28
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Re: Sailing up the Mississippi River

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Early Egyptians sailed the Nile River for millennia.
They still do. I watched a video a while back of a Brit who sailed the Nile in a small boat but I can't remember the name.
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Old 13-09-2015, 18:48   #29
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Re: Sailing up the Mississippi River

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Early Egyptians sailed the Nile River for millennia. It is suggested that they even transported much material involved in the construction of their monuments and other stone structures. The river was too wide to allow for the use of animals for towing. Too deep for punting. Quite swift during the annual floods. Lateen rigs were their motive power.

I have sailed a felucca on the Nile in Luxor and Cairo. I have also spent a good bit of time on the Mississippi when the current was both ripping and gentle.

I would hope a river pilot pipe in, but I think it would be doable.


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Old 13-09-2015, 19:15   #30
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Re: Sailing up the Mississippi River

Read the journals of Lewis and Clark, who took an expedition up the Missouri River in 1804. The journals have a lot of detail. It was a slog, carrying a lot of men, food/clothing/packs, surveying equipment, trade goods. Haven't read them in a while, but memory is that they sailed a bit, rowed a lot, and had some lengthy and demanding portages.

Another option might be to choose the locale of your chapter such that the "Mississippi River" is not the main river and channel, but the delta, where there's seemingly infinite sloughs and bayous and marshes and islands, and the currents are not so swift. The sailing there would be similar to that described in "Riddle of the Sands."
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