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Old 12-16-2018, 01:41 PM   #1
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How do ships in Nola get to the Gulf?

Stupid question Iím sure, but sitting here in Nola watching all these big ships going down river. How do they get to the Gulf?
Out the delta, or some other route?

I thought the delta was shallow?
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Old 12-16-2018, 01:46 PM   #2
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Mississippi River opens to a delta of about 20 branches or Ďpassesí. One of these, Southwest Pass, is maintained and dredged to 48í nominal, 45í usable. That is the ship channel.
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Old 12-16-2018, 01:48 PM   #3
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The river where you are looking at it, assuming you are on the levee at the French Quarter, is at its deepest point. It is 180í deep on the outside of the bend at Algiers Point.
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Old 12-16-2018, 02:25 PM   #4
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Yes in the French Quarter. Wow! 180í deep!

How long does it take to get from Nola to the Gulf for a 7 knot boat? Seems like a pretty long, twisted run.
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Old 12-16-2018, 03:30 PM   #5
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Itís 93 river miles from New Orleans to Head of Passes, 63 miles as the crow flies.
From Head of Passes to the sea buoy is another 17 miles, so 110 miles in total.
Down river current would give you a boost of minimum 2 knots at low river to up to 7 knots in places during the spring rise. I would figure on average your 7 knot boat would do 10 knots. So 11 hour transit time to open sea on average.
You DO NOT want to be heading upriver in a 7 knot boat in the springtime. That might take a week.
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Old 12-16-2018, 04:01 PM   #6
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Itís 93 river miles from New Orleans to Head of Passes, 63 miles as the crow flies.
From Head of Passes to the sea buoy is another 17 miles, so 110 miles in total.
Down river current would give you a boost of minimum 2 knots at low river to up to 7 knots in places during the spring rise. I would figure on average your 7 knot boat would do 10 knots. So 11 hour transit time to open sea on average.
You DO NOT want to be heading upriver in a 7 knot boat in the springtime. That might take a week.
I've gone DOWNSTREAM in the spring on the Mississippi near NO with that kind of current running, and it was a little unnerving in a 42 foot powerboat!
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Old 12-16-2018, 04:22 PM   #7
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Should try it on a 100,000 ton single screw tanker sometime.
Whoa daddy!,,,
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Old 12-16-2018, 04:28 PM   #8
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Just saw a big ship going down river with a little tug on the side about midships. Is that to help it steer?
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Old 12-16-2018, 05:06 PM   #9
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Should try it on a 100,000 ton single screw tanker sometime.
Whoa daddy!,,,
I remember driving south on 23 down around Venice with a merchant ship pacing me on my left. I could just see the bridge over the levee. I'm sure it was doing 25 mph over the bottom.
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Old 12-16-2018, 05:31 PM   #10
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Just saw a big ship going down river with a little tug on the side about midships. Is that to help it steer?


Likely the ship was going to berth or anchor soon and the ship was going to turn head up to the current. Itís a difficult maneuver for a ship to do without some assistance. There is an anchorage about two miles below Algiers Point. Also cargo berths at Domino Sugar and Chalmette Slip.

Very rare for a tug escort in regular navigation on the river unless ship has engine or steering problems in which case there would be multiple tugs.
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Old 12-16-2018, 06:32 PM   #11
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Maybe it was a pilot boat? These big ships just fascinate me.
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Old 12-16-2018, 08:13 PM   #12
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Big difference between a tug and a pilot boat eh?
Pilots are required for foreign vessels navigating in the river or for domestic vessels without a Master holding a state license.
There are three pilot associations in the river, each with a designated operating area:
1). Bar Pilot. From Sea Buoy to Head of Passes
2) Crescent Pilot. From Head of Passes to Mile 90. Also berths ships in the Port of New Orleans up to about Mile 95 if necessary.
3) New Orleans/Baton Rouge (NOBRA). From Mile 90 to max navigation which for most ships is the upper reaches of Baton Rouge. Lower bridges/shallow draft above there limit the size of vessels that can navigate above BR.
A pilot exchange takes place at each of the convergences of operating areas. You may well have seen a pilot boat as an exchange will take place about three miles below Algiers Point. Also crew boats pick up repair techs, surveyors, government officials or various sundry persons as needed. Usually that happens with the ship at anchor but it sometimes happens underway. The ship has to slow to minimum steerage speed to allow the crewboat to hold alongside a pilot ladder.
There are two crewboat operators with docks just below the French Quarter and they also use these boats the exchange pilots.
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Old 12-17-2018, 10:02 PM   #13
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I was going to respond to this thread with a smartarse response like....


"On the water" but decided against it.


Oh well....
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