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Old 04-14-2017, 08:53 PM   #1
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Mississippi status

As I am engaged to move a trawler up to the Great lakes from Alabama, I'd be interested in hearing from anybody on it about Mississippi conditions between the Ohio and Grafton.
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Old 04-15-2017, 12:34 AM   #2
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As I am engaged to move a trawler up to the Great lakes from Alabama, I'd be interested in hearing from anybody on it about Mississippi conditions between the Ohio and Grafton.
What is your timing? Are you looking for general conditions or specific conditions at this time?
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Old 04-15-2017, 07:22 AM   #3
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Late May, I think.
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Old 04-15-2017, 10:09 AM   #4
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There isn't a lot between the Ohio and Grafton. Conditions should be decent by late May, the spring run off having cleared. You will be going against a fairly strong current and you'll be in a heavily traveled commercial area. The first fuel stop will be Hoppie's in Imperial, MO. You need to verify conditions before starting up river.

Now your challenge will be clearing from Barkley into the Ohio and then from the Ohio to the Mississippi. It can be quite time consuming. How much crew will you have with you? This is most definitely not a trip for single handing. On the Mississippi, you'll encounter wing dams. There are very few decent anchorages along the way with a lot of down river traffic 24 hours a day plus the current.

At the moment, the section that is closed to recreational travel due to current and debris is a section of the Illinois River.

Also, be aware of the electric fish barrier on the Illinois and the protocol.

Charts for the river are generally not the greatest in the world. Garmin has the best river charts.
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Old 04-15-2017, 10:11 AM   #5
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Here is the site to keep you informed regarding lock queues.

Lock Queue Report
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Old 04-15-2017, 10:31 AM   #6
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That is very kind of you to send along. It's another site I had never heard of before.
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Old 04-15-2017, 12:27 PM   #7
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Stay under the points when north bound and in the bends when south bound, let that current work for you and lessen the amount working against you. You may find it easier and safer to grab a willow rather than anchoring at night.
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Old 04-15-2017, 02:44 PM   #8
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Stay under the points when north bound and in the bends when south bound, let that current work for you and lessen the amount working against you. You may find it easier and safer to grab a willow rather than anchoring at night.
He's only going north.
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Old 04-15-2017, 02:45 PM   #9
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As I am engaged to move a trawler up to the Great lakes from Alabama, I'd be interested in hearing from anybody on it about Mississippi conditions between the Ohio and Grafton.
How many days have you allocated for the trip from Alabama to Chicago? How much further do you have to take it? And how much crew?
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Old 04-15-2017, 06:03 PM   #10
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BandB: I was not informed as to the route he was taking from Alabama. If, as I assumed he was coming up the Tenn-Tom to the Ohio, then he would necessarily be going south bound on the Tenn. and then the Ohio until he reaches the Mississippi. My assumption could be wrong but since he stated he was only concerned with Miss. River conditions above its confluence with the Ohio I believe I may have been right.

I have made that trip hundreds of times and can assure you that it is south bound down the Ohio and the Tenn.
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Old 04-15-2017, 06:14 PM   #11
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BandB: I was not informed as to the route he was taking from Alabama. If, as I assumed he was coming up the Tenn-Tom to the Ohio, then he would necessarily be going south bound on the Tenn. and then the Ohio until he reaches the Mississippi. My assumption could be wrong but since he stated he was only concerned with Miss. River conditions above its confluence with the Ohio I believe I may have been right.

I have made that trip hundreds of times and can assure you that it is south bound down the Ohio and the Tenn.
No, you're correct. It is south on those two rivers and I overlooked that as I was thinking from the Ohio to Crafton. I thought you were thinking of a return trip.

I see the Tennessee and Ohio as being relatively simple except lock delays, but a much different type of boating once he hits the Mississippi.
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Old 04-15-2017, 08:01 PM   #12
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I am anticipating about six weeks to get the boat to Michigan City. It's a single Ford-Lehman powered Grand Banks 36, about 8 MPH in still water and maybe 9 if pushed a little. I took my own GB42 (29 years ownership) up to as far as Chattanooga once, but that was in the Fall and BEFORE Active Captain now showing on my chart plotter. Since the boat has no AIS, I have purchased an AIS dongle for my two Coastal Explorer laptops. Crew for this trip is wife and me, veteran cruisers. I have absolutely no concerns about the Tombigbee, Tennessee, Ohio, or Illinois rivers, as I have experience on some and have studied every AC anchorage entry and associated reviews for the entire 1300-mile trip and believe we will always be able to find nightly shelter with the possible exception of the Mighty Miss due to our slowed speed there. However, I will be carrying a large halogen work light to mount on the bow should we get stuck on any waterway at night. We know how to cross large bodies of water overnight, but have no intention of testing such skills in rivers. So my ONLY concerns about a waterway are centered on the 219 miles of the Mississippi we must traverse. We certainly won't see water so low there that we would have trouble entering some anchorages, but the more likely high water has its own issues. I am daily watching the Cape Girardeau levels with the idea that a stage of around 18 feet is doable but will gladly to consider any advice about this river from true veterans of it.
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Old 04-15-2017, 08:39 PM   #13
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. I have absolutely no concerns about the Tombigbee, Tennessee, Ohio, or Illinois rivers,
Well, at the moment the Illinois has a stretch closed to recreational vessels due to conditions, so I would be concerned about it as well. The Illinois certainly can rise and pick up a lot of debris during the spring, just as the Mississippi can.

Anchoring on the Mississippi is a matter of the lack of protection from commercial traffic.

As to water levels, Cape Girardeau just came out of flood stage today. It will continue to drop over the next few days. If you were trying to go right now, it would be a no go. It's as much about where it's been the last couple of weeks as where it is now. The water flow a couple of days ago was nearly double normal. Right now it's at 31'. Then when it reaches 15' they are going to do rock removal. Here's another website that may help you, although for some reason this week's update hasn't been made.

St. Louis District > Missions > Navigation > Status Reports
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Old 04-15-2017, 10:05 PM   #14
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Well for sure, no water body can be taken for granted, but on a scale of concerns the Illinois probably won't be as high as the Mississippi. I am up to my eyes in the site you sent and very much appreciate the edification. I am looking at the USACE Rock Island site, but have not yet found a reference to the Illinois being temporarily closed to rec boats. Can you direct me?
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Old 04-15-2017, 10:12 PM   #15
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Well for sure, no water body can be taken for granted, but on a scale of concerns the Illinois probably won't be as high as the Mississippi. I am up to my eyes in the site you sent and very much appreciate the edification. I am looking at the USACE Rock Island site, but have not yet found a reference to the Illinois being temporarily closed to rec boats. Can you direct me?
Actually, not closed, just strongly discouraged.

I got the information from Waterway Guide which got it from the Coast Guard.

https://www.waterwayguide.com/nav-al...rts+04-14-2017
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Old 04-16-2017, 10:49 AM   #16
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The upper Mississippi is similar to most all our other western rivers. There are challenges in both high and low water conditions and likewise benefits in each condition. I have run those rivers commercially towing 25 or more barges but it has been some time since I have been up there. You are doing the right thing by viewing the river conditions and stages of the River. It is more important to know the direction - either falling or on the rise and the speed of that direction such as a quick fall or a sudden rise. Anchorages or tying to the willows should not be a problem at all. During certain stages some of the wing dams can be run over and others may not. Likewise during certain stages on the Ohio you can run over the dams although I believe locks 52 and 53 are being rebuilt as one lock so that may not be an option any longer.
Follow a tow and keep your radio on - all will be well.
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Old 04-16-2017, 11:09 AM   #17
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Sage advice I have read before an will follow. With a boat that can run only 8-9 MPH in still water, I imagine tows may overtake ME. What's your take?
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Old 04-16-2017, 12:50 PM   #18
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8-9 MPH is not a problem. As are most rivers the current is not the same everywhere between its banks. You will find the strongest currents coming into and out of the bends of the river and the easiest current going up river under the points. You may often pick up an eddy or reverse current that will boost you along if you stay up and under the points as long as you can.
Contrary to what many say in regards to "right of way" the descending vessel does indeed have the right of way and they will tend to be staying in the current and on the bend side of the river unless you hear on the radio that they are "flanking". If so, slow or stop and give the tow the entire river until the complete that operation. They will need every inch.
You will be fine.
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Old 04-16-2017, 02:56 PM   #19
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A towboat acquaintance told me that when encountering a tow in turns, there is the possibility of the towboat "tripping" by having its stern hit the outside bank causing the barges to swing like a door into the outside bank along with anything between the barges and the bank. So the small guy like me should always aim for two things, good communications with the towboat and if agreement is reached, to pass on the inside of the turn. As you say, COLREGs are quite clear about in meeting a downbound vessel and I repeat Rule 14(d) here because it is the ONLY place where the term "right of way" is used :






(d) Notwithstanding paragraph (a) of this Rule, a power-driven vessel
operating on the Great Lakes, Western Rivers, or waters specified by the
Secretary, and proceeding downbound with a following current shall have
the right-of-way over an upbound vessel, shall propose the manner of
passage, and shall initiate the maneuvering signals prescribed by Rule
34(a)(i), as appropriate.
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Old 04-16-2017, 03:46 PM   #20
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The reality is you communicate and stay the heck out of their way. You're far more maneuverable. Their course is set and their options are limited. This is where you're electronics are also important in being aware of those you can't see, those around the next turn.
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