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Old 13-09-2015, 19:34   #31
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Re: Sailing up the Mississippi River

Originally Posted by BrokenKeel View Post

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.
Historically, I dont know of any sailing vessles that plyed the Mississippi...its just not well suited to sailing. Pre-1900's, paddlewheelers were the kings of the River, some rafts for dowmstream use, but no sailing vessels Ive ever read about on the Mississippi or seen during more modern times. Paddlewheelers started fading in the 1900s with increased use of rail roads. Ive run parts of the River on sailing vessels, but 100% under power, never sailing.

Towing from shore is also not practical on the Mississippi...its miles wide in many places. Towing from shore is used in narrow canals.

If you want your story to be even vaguely historically accurate then dont use a sailboat on the Mississippi or dont set it on the Mississippi.

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Old 15-09-2015, 03:04   #32
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Re: Sailing up the Mississippi River

Originally Posted by crazyoldboatguy View Post
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.
The OP clearly stated that he was writing about a fictional river. He used the Mississippi as a proxy in order to ask his questions. Unless I am mistaken, he is not writing a historically-accurate account. But, the story does require moving a boat upstream on a fictional river not named the Mississippi, and in order to keep the number of characters to a manageable level, he would prefer to use sail power.

In that regard, I think Crazy Old Boat Guy gives a great example of a large river that has been, and still is, sailed regularly. To the OP, some study of the types of boats and sailing rigs that are used on the Nile may give you exactly what you are looking for. The dhows had a simple lateen rig, and the hulls were full keel. Lots of good internet info out there to help you flesh out your story.

With the Nile as a model, and going back to your original question, you could allow a believable time for a trip of 250 miles in five or six weeks. That would allow for a couple days spent going aground and having to kedge off, time spent on repairs (canvas sails do tear and chafe), and time spent waiting on weather.

A suggestion I may offer is to have a small rowing dinghy for three people that is used to scout ahead or ferry people to shore. It would offer some options for story plot.




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Old 16-09-2015, 13:13   #33
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Re: Sailing up the Mississippi River

100 ton brigantine rigged top'sl schooner, 99' on deck,22' beam, Jacaranda ex: Corodina, used her square sails to sail up the Amazon River and her 671 Detroit to come back down in the '60s. Any of you old San Diego's Shelter Island sailors will remember her berthed at the Bali Hai. I was 24,lived with 2 others in the foc's'l.We rigged 5,000 ft. Of running rigging in the summer of '68. We were paid $50 cash per week and found. One of the best jobs I ever had.

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