Not a thing wrong with your plan conceptually; but, I would get some time on the smaller rivers first. We have done the Mississippi
to confluence with Illinois, the entire navigable Cumberland and Tennessee, and parts
of the Tenn Tom in 22 to 25 foot boats. (We have also done the entire Atlantic Coast ICW
, and entire Gulf Coast ICW
, in boats from a 14' runabout [beach camping], to 62' Ketch
.). The "great loop" has been done by two girls in a 16' Aluminum
,s, rowing boats etc.. I know a number of folks who have done the Pontoon route
, including one who made his own boat with plywood
, glassed over, light weight with an 8 hp outboard, and rig to pitch
the tent on the foredeck at night. Never slept ashore. Actually you are better off sleeping on the boat.
I would start with upper parts
of the tributary rivers rather than the Mississippi--or at least the upper part of the Mississippi--For example do the St. Croix from Navigable head
first. Then Mississippi to Dubuque, Iowa. Doing this gives experience on a quiet river first, then some of the Mississippi, where fuel is readily available.
Definitely do not do the lower Mississippi without experience. There can be swift currents, hazards, and heavy commercial
traffic. As already noted fuel is just not available, except by jerry can. You can use a very low powered outboard for the lower Mississippi, and let the current do the "work" for you--when that time comes. Explore side channels and towns along the way. The Tenn Tom waterway is a far better route, and I consider it more interesting, although to me it is not particularly "Scenic" in comparison to other Rivers. In the Winter
go to Florida
. One of my favorite river's is the St. John's. We have navigated it from just outside of Orlando to Jacksonville
and The Atlantic.
There are a number of Pontoon boats which have a "hard side" part cabin
, porti potty, shelter at the helm
for in climate weather
. I have seen fully tricked out pontoon boats, and ones which looked like they were ready for the scrap yard--all doing the rivers.
Be careful in buying
the boat. Many pontoon boats have floors made of non marine
and non treated plywood, with carpet tacked on top. These rot
and can be a can of worms...Check the status of aluminum
hulls. Also the support framework of the bridge deck
. There are also pontoon boats with fiberglass
hulls. I also agree with a big anchor
(for the size of boat)--I would use something like a 25# Mantus
, or 22# Vulcan, Manson, Ronca, etc...and an FX 11 Fortress
or Guardian (best for sand and mud). Use about 10' of chain, and a hundred feet of 1/2" nylon. I have seen good anchors at consignment shops and even purchased a couple of Fortress
anchors at yard sales... You don't need a large motor--25 to 50 hp would be plenty. (Even smaller if you are in some areas where there is no real adverse current). You want to go at "displacement speed".
Do it now; keep a log and publish it on the internet! I understand all of the stress of a divorce. My second marriage is now 43 years old, and we love the boating
You are 55 years old--just getting started. I will be 84 next month (with health
issues) and still get on the water
regularly, including two month long "cruises" each year.