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Old 28-08-2012, 20:39   #1
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Sailing the Mississippi

I am planning on sailing (or motoring) the Mississippi from Minneapolis to Mobile, Al via the Tom Bigbee system. I will be by myself for the majority of the trip and have a 30 foot s2 sailboat with a 5 foot draft. Can someone advise me of the essentials I will need? What to look for, how to plan it? Eventually I will be taking it to the Middle Keys of Florida. I have no big water experience, so I am probably going to avoid the Gulf as much as possible.
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Old 29-08-2012, 05:54   #2
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Re: sailing the Mississippi

There are some great online sites like AGLCA ( that have extensive sections on max mast heights for bridges, fuel availability, anchorages, locks, etc..., at least for the sections from Cairo to Mobile. Waterway Guide Great Lakes Edition, Skipper Bob's Chicago to Mobile, and other guide books are a great help for planning and for along the way. There is a stretch of 250 miles with no gasoline available, for example. Can you carry enough to make it? There are places you can step and unstep your mast along the way, but most just leave the mast down and strapped to the boat or ship it to Mobile since it's hard to get much sailing done along the way. You may be able to rig up a tabernacle so you can put it up and take it down without assistance with a boat your size...or maybe not. Hope this helps. Have a great trip!
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Old 29-08-2012, 07:30   #3
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Re: sailing the Mississippi

I don't have any knowledge above Paducah at the mouth of the Tennessee River, but have made the trip from Kentucky to Punta Gorda. If your mast (including antennas, etc) is less than 52 feet and you adjust for rises in the normal pool, you can go from Paducah to Mobile with the mast up. I went in a Cabo Rico 38 and we cleared all the bridges but some were close to the antennas, but we never did scrape.

Look at Active Captain and the electronic waterway guide and you can get a lot of information on marinas, fuel stops, anchorages etc. Also check the notices about lock closures - listed in the Waterway Guide. Below Demopolis there is only one place for fuel and that is Bobby's Fish Camp just above Coffeeville lock. That is around mile 118. From there to Mobile, You will have to anchor out and make it on the gas or diesel you can carry. The River is narrow and the anchorages on that stretch are few and far between, so ample planning is required.

Once in Mobile, you can get to Pensacola with the mast up. The controlling bridges east on the GICW are 49 feet past Pensacola. if you are higher than that, you will have to go outside to Panama City or Port St. joe. There is a 49 foot bridge on the GICW between Panama City and Port St. Joe, after that to Appalacacola on the GICW you can get there if below 65 feet.

You can also go offshore at Pensacola to Clearwater. That is what a lot of sailers do. You wait for a "norther" and run from there.

Hope this helps with your initial research.
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