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Old 27-09-2011, 19:51   #1
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The Great Loop - Cincinnati to New Orleans

some friends and I got the idea to do either do a trip down the ohio river from Cincinnati(our hometown) and down the mississippi, or to do some stint of the great loop. Only one of us really has any boating experience, and we are just now starting to come up with/plan for potentially doing this.
I'm wondering about how long these trips might take, any strategic/logistical help. ive read around a bit and i would even consider building a craft(i have some experience in wood and metalworking. )
any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated
thanks
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Old 28-09-2011, 07:10   #2
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Re: the great loop/cincinnati to new orleans

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, rfrenc.
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Old 28-09-2011, 08:50   #3
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Re: The Great Loop - Cincinnati to New Orleans

Quote:
Originally Posted by rfrenc View Post
some friends and I got the idea to do either do a trip down the ohio river from Cincinnati(our hometown) and down the mississippi, or to do some stint of the great loop. Only one of us really has any boating experience, and we are just now starting to come up with/plan for potentially doing this.
I'm wondering about how long these trips might take, any strategic/logistical help. ive read around a bit and i would even consider building a craft(i have some experience in wood and metalworking. )
any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated
thanks
Sounds like a blast.

Before we can get specific, we need some details.
  • What kind of experience does this one person have?
  • What kind of craft will you use?
  • What type of trip? Stopping to smell the roses or is the trip the thing.
Some factors beginners miss:

The locks in the river usually take about an hour. Take that into account. But ALSO, be ready: commercial traffic has priority, you can wait half a day before going through. There are so many dams that the time spent in locks becomes a significant % of your running time. I plan for 2 hours per lock.

Stopping for fuel takes 1-2 hours. Almost never is the fuel right on your route. You gotta go through no-wake zones, wait in line, etc. Then people want to go to potty, stretch their legs.

Let's say you plan on an 8 hour day. If you have to stop for fuel and go through 2 locks, planning-wise, you only got 2 hours left for traveling.

When going for a live-aboard boat, many people go for too large of a boat. But, in my experience, people planning a one time adventure trip usually have too little room, or too many people. And they don't really realize how much room is needed for supplies.
Another mistake is not enough supplies, leaving out essentials, insecure storage (water, heat), inconvenient storage (have to move too much stuff to get to it).

Plan for how you would fare in a 2-3 day downpour.

I did a week on the Tennessee with a guy on a 21' run-a-bout. Coleman stove, etc. We had both been boy scouts and still are by nature. We spent months planning. Being very good friends, we had a blast. I would not have wanted 3 people in that space.

Make lists of EVERYTHING. For months ahead of time. Salt, cleaners, paper towels, each and everything you think of.

Most places along the rivers have drinks and ice. Some have snacks. Less have groceries. If you need something, odds are you have to get a cab, pay a $10-50 ride to the nearest town.

Get a cruisers guide for each river. It will tell you where the fuel stops are. Find where the longest distance between fuel stops are. CALL THEM and make sure they are still in business. Figure the mile, your fuel consumption, the multiply the fuel needed by 1.5 for a safety margin. On the Ohio, don't count on drifting. It is mostly dammed, so the closer you get to the dam, the more likely you are to hit a situation where the wind overcomes what little current there is.

Plan a dry run or two where you go with all your equipment and test it all out. What stuff you have to move around to make breakfast.. How long does it end up taking? How much distance can you really make in a day? What is your fuel consumption in real life?

I could keep going, but now's where we wait and see what questions you ask.

-dan
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Old 28-09-2011, 08:54   #4
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Re: The Great Loop - Cincinnati to New Orleans

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Old 28-09-2011, 09:46   #5
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Re: The Great Loop - Cincinnati to New Orleans

Quote:
Originally Posted by dacust View Post
Sounds like a blast.

Before we can get specific, we need some details.
  • What kind of experience does this one person have?
  • What kind of craft will you use?
  • What type of trip? Stopping to smell the roses or is the trip the thing.
Some factors beginners miss:

The locks in the river usually take about an hour. Take that into account. But ALSO, be ready: commercial traffic has priority, you can wait half a day before going through. There are so many dams that the time spent in locks becomes a significant % of your running time. I plan for 2 hours per lock.

Stopping for fuel takes 1-2 hours. Almost never is the fuel right on your route. You gotta go through no-wake zones, wait in line, etc. Then people want to go to potty, stretch their legs.

Let's say you plan on an 8 hour day. If you have to stop for fuel and go through 2 locks, planning-wise, you only got 2 hours left for traveling.

When going for a live-aboard boat, many people go for too large of a boat. But, in my experience, people planning a one time adventure trip usually have too little room, or too many people. And they don't really realize how much room is needed for supplies.
Another mistake is not enough supplies, leaving out essentials, insecure storage (water, heat), inconvenient storage (have to move too much stuff to get to it).

Plan for how you would fare in a 2-3 day downpour.

I did a week on the Tennessee with a guy on a 21' run-a-bout. Coleman stove, etc. We had both been boy scouts and still are by nature. We spent months planning. Being very good friends, we had a blast. I would not have wanted 3 people in that space.

Make lists of EVERYTHING. For months ahead of time. Salt, cleaners, paper towels, each and everything you think of.

Most places along the rivers have drinks and ice. Some have snacks. Less have groceries. If you need something, odds are you have to get a cab, pay a $10-50 ride to the nearest town.

Get a cruisers guide for each river. It will tell you where the fuel stops are. Find where the longest distance between fuel stops are. CALL THEM and make sure they are still in business. Figure the mile, your fuel consumption, the multiply the fuel needed by 1.5 for a safety margin. On the Ohio, don't count on drifting. It is mostly dammed, so the closer you get to the dam, the more likely you are to hit a situation where the wind overcomes what little current there is.

Plan a dry run or two where you go with all your equipment and test it all out. What stuff you have to move around to make breakfast.. How long does it end up taking? How much distance can you really make in a day? What is your fuel consumption in real life?

I could keep going, but now's where we wait and see what questions you ask.

-dan
Thanks for the help!

we want to do the trip but kind of take our time as we go. the loose plan would allow about two months for travel time. i think we would rather shorten the distance according to time allowed than speed to make sure we go a certain distance. its more about the experience of spending time on the water.

all who would be going would have very little experience(we've all been canoing/kayaking/rafting before, little one day trips. my one friend with more experience worked at a summer camp where he spent a lot of time on sailboats, even teaching kids how to do it. this was on the great lakes so i would imagine things would be different with river travel.
we're not sure what kind of craft we're lookin at. like i said, i wouldnt be apposed to trying to build something but that seems it may be a longshot im not sure. two of us are in art school, one fine arts and one furniture design, and then there is also an architecture student, so we have some experience with building but not a whole lot. we do know people who could help out though. i was thinking since there are probably gonna be 4 of us, building two of these



but im not too sure about durability.we are not apposed to roughing it though, or doing a largely manpowered trip, so long as we dont sink haha
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Old 28-09-2011, 09:58   #6
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Re: The Great Loop - Cincinnati to New Orleans

Hey, great tips Dan, that you don't read about on the Loop sites. Calling ahead is on my plan. I figure I'll make a couple hundred calls to get 50 with 25 words of local advice....just guessing.

I'd suggest too, that you really study the rules of the road for river traffic, just get get your toots rights and not cause problems. Stay far away from commercial traffic, no sightseeing up and close to a string of barges!

The Great Loop is on my bucket list and I've been looking into this for several months with plans two years off.

You need a boat with less than 5' draft, less than 16' clearence I believe at Chicago and a range of 500 miles to be on the safe side if you are going down the lower Mississippi.

I began thinking of doing it in a 24 footer, while it has been done by jet ski and kayak, 24 feet won't carry the provisions and fuel I would need. There won't be alot of sailing either.....

A catamaran is great with shoal drafts, they will not be running aground like the trawlers do. There also seem to be some narrow passages and wide beams in the locks might be a problem.

As to the boat again, I was considering trying to build Bolger's Tenessee, a 32 foot sharpie style houseboat that could make the loop with a small outboard very economically. Haven't decided yet, but there are some great deals on boats now, buying is cheaper than building.

I too would not want more than two on a boat under 30', more like 40'. 1,500 miles is a long way. The more in the group the more to visit and fun too. If someone gets on your nerves, go back to your boat.

I'm no expert on this stuff, but it's what I have picked up so far. I don't know what boat to do either! There will only be two of us and a small dog, a Min Pin attack dog.
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Old 28-09-2011, 10:02   #7
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Re: The Great Loop - Cincinnati to New Orleans

one particular question, is there a website you could recommend on where i could find basic maps and things on where all the locks and damns are located?
ive been searching but cant really find a good site that gives all the info im looking for
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Old 28-09-2011, 11:44   #8
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Re: The Great Loop - Cincinnati to New Orleans

Quote:
Originally Posted by rfrenc View Post
one particular question, is there a website you could recommend on where i could find basic maps and things on where all the locks and damns are located?
ive been searching but cant really find a good site that gives all the info im looking for
Online charts
GeoGarage - Home

Free marine navigation software
OpenCPN | Official OpenCPN Homepage

Free river charts that the above software can use:
Chart Downloader for NOAA ENCsģ.
(Just now, this link times out for me. Give it a while and try again)

I don't know offhand of a site that has them listed in a friendly form. I'm sure it exists, but I just don't know them. I usually spend so much time looking at the charts, I prefer to make my on lists while I plan.

The development forum for OpenCPN is one of the Cruisers & Sailing Forums - just look under the Navigation heading.

There are a few apps for phones that use the same charts as above.

There are some other for-pay nav packages that ALSO use the same free charts. For a couple of these, the developers hang out here as well. GPSNavX and Polar Navy are the two i am aware of.

Also, ActiveCaptain is a website that has user contributed information. I have not looked to see what the coverage looks like for your proposed route. And, HE hangs out here, too.

It's not just that I am mentioning people who hang out here, it's that this forum is big enough, that the types of people that take the time to back up their products by going to forums are just naturally going to find themselves here.

-dan
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Old 13-10-2011, 01:12   #9
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Re: The Great Loop - Cincinnati to New Orleans

You can a Catch a concert at Wednesdays on the Point during the summer months taking place in Old Historic Algiers just a quick ferry ride across the Mississippi from the French Quarter and also you can visit FYIfly.com to know more about current event happening in New Orleans.
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Old 14-10-2011, 21:40   #10
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There have been several boats stop in the marina in the last few weeks heading south for the winter. In unfamiliar areas stay in the channel, get a Quimby's cruising guide it gives all the info on marinas, fuel, mechanical services and riverfront restaurants on most of the inland rivers. It gives info on names of contact people, phone #s and any relevant info on how to enter harbors. I usually try to make 30 to 60 miles a day, I like to be at my planned anchorage or marina by 4:00 pm, I call the afternoon before if it's a marina to reserve a slip. I plan 2 hours for locks but most of the time it is less than a hour, but I've sometimes have waited over 2 hours when a tow was ahead of me. Have a VHF radio to call the locks ahead of time will also give you a idea of time to transit, I call about a mile or 2 out then it I can speed up or slow down my arrival time if needed. Make sure your boat is mechanically ready & that all systems work, consider what spare parts & safety equipment to have aboard. Also it is a good idea to have paper charts, depth finder and a good gps is a plus. Good Luck
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