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Old 10-03-2018, 08:54   #1
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Lake Ponchetrain from the Mississippi River

I'm a 50 ft. sailboat with 6 ft. draft. and a 57 ft. mast. Has anyone entered Lake Ponchetrain by entering the Mississippi River at its Southern terminus and passing from the River to the Lake by way of the New Orleans Inner Harbor Navigation Canal? I was planning to get to the Lake by the Eastern route through the barrier islands, but the River route looks like a favorable alternative. Yes, I understand that there's a lot of large ship traffic in the River.

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Old 10-03-2018, 17:00   #2
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Re: Lake Ponchetrain from the Mississippi River

I would not come up the river unless you are absolutely positive you can't make it under the bridge. At a minimum you probably will have to wait a few months before it is even safe to do so. The river right now is running at high flood stage, meaning water flow speeds are likely higher than you could comfortably motor if at all. Combined with the amount of trash like trees and houses that are suspended in the water right now it is not a good time to show up without a very thick steel hull.


BTW I am not kidding about trees. Think about hitting a mature oak tree at 12kn.
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Old 10-03-2018, 18:57   #3
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Re: Lake Ponchetrain from the Mississippi River

Thank you. I fully understand and very much appreciate your information.
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Old 13-03-2018, 03:09   #4
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Re: Lake Ponchetrain from the Mississippi River

Not to mention that there are, I think, 4 normally closed vehicle bridges under your air clearance and a set of locks, all subject to erratic schedules, via the industrial canal (IHNC), whilst only 1 vehicle bridge, normally closed, and 2 railroad bridges, normally open, through the Rigolets and east Lake Pontchartrain...
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Old 13-03-2018, 03:57   #5
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Re: Lake Ponchetrain from the Mississippi River

Thank you. Guess it's not the way to go.
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Old 23-10-2018, 11:57   #6
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Re: Lake Ponchetrain from the Mississippi River

I would take the eastern route thru the Rigolets (NOAA charts 11367 & 11371)'. I recommend Rigolets Bait & Seafood or your starboard right before the hwy bridge. Pelican Pointe is to port just after the Hwy bridge, but last time I was there they had few amenities and less than 6' draft at low tide. You could also take the Chef Menteur Pass outlet from Lake Borgne if you're skilled and can approach at high tide (see same chart). One RR & one Hwy bridge. Few accommodations for cruisers.
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Old 23-10-2018, 15:47   #7
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Re: Lake Ponchetrain from the Mississippi River

Thank you. Bagged that trip for a number of reasons but hope to make it in the future. Right now planning on leaving for the VIs and then down the Leewards and Windwards to the ABCs and then Cartagena on the way to Panama. We'll see. Following a dream. Appreciate your advice about approaches to New Orleans. We love it there.

Best.
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Old 24-10-2018, 06:28   #8
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Re: Lake Ponchetrain from the Mississippi River

Chef Menteur Pass is pretty iffy with a 6' draft. I just bought a Bruce Roberts 44 in Gulfport and brought it home to New Orleans and I dismissed Chef Pass immediately. Rigolets is pretty easy especially if you have under 60' air draft. You mean your deck to masthead height is 57' or your air draft is 57'?



Motoring up the river can be a huge PITA due as Greg mentioned, all the trees and stuff, not to mention the current and scarcity of services available. Going downstream is sometimes practical, depending on your destination, if SW Pass is a good jumping off point. (watch for unlit oilfield structures and bouys!!!!) Radar and AIS highly recommended of course.


There can be very strong currents in the Rigolets too, but they are wind driven and so waiting a day or two can give you a current running in the desired direction. Meanwhile you can find services in Bay St Louis if you are waiting out a contrary current.


Ch 13 for the bridges. Or TOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT TOOT. The highway 11 bridge and railroad bridge will open together and you only need to call one or the other. Sometimes there is a long wait here, if there is a train on the bridge or one expected soon. The I-10 Twin Span is shown on the chart with 73' clearance near the west end of the North Shore Channel. Looks like 66' clearance under the US90 (Fort Pike) bridge. I think my air draft is 61' but I asked for and received an opening anyway. Funny, but Wikipedia says 72'. Guess which one I believe.



The latest NOAA chart 11371 and 11369 will work okay. The only cruising guide I have is pre Katrina LOL. You might have a look in Coast Pilot Vol 5 chapter 7, too. A highly recommended FREE download, like the charts.



There is usually transient berthing available at Orleans Marina but check ahead of time especially since you are 50' long. South Shore marina is a safer bet, though. It is the one next to Lakefront Airport.
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Old 24-10-2018, 07:56   #9
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Re: Lake Ponchetrain from the Mississippi River

Thank you.
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