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Old 09-20-2018, 06:22 PM   #1
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"Wrong way" Great Loop - river currents?

I may end up doing the Tennessee Tombigbee from Mobile, then up to Chicago, going north, instead of the usual southbound/counter clockwise direction.
I understand that, except for the 46 mile section of the Ohio River from Cumberland to Cairo, this will all be upstream work.
How strong are the currents likely to be? (I will be travelling the first half in the Fall, then finishing the northern section in the Spring)
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Old 09-20-2018, 07:19 PM   #2
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Once you get on the Tennessee around Pickwick it should be down hill to Kentucky dam about 150 miles. Maybe not downhill but not uphill. It’s Kentucky lake between the two dams . If they’re generating Kentucky dam you’ll get a little current flowing north . I loose about 1/2 knot when traveling south when they’re not generating. A little more when generating.
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Old 09-20-2018, 08:52 PM   #3
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It depends.....

Current going up the Tombigbee normally is modest. However, rainy periods add water to the Tombigbee through tributary rivers. As mentioned, you will get a down stream push from the Tennessee river through to where the Ohio merges with the Mississippi. Mississippi river, Missouri river and the lower Illinois rivers will have moderate or worse current. Last year in September, current in the Mississippi was a minimum of 1 knot. The outside of the curves (where the deep water usually is) could be an additional knot or more. There is a spot maybe 10 miles below Cape Girardeau where the river narrows, and the water speeds up. My 7 knot water speed increased briefly to 12 knots. That's a 5 knot current! This was during a period of low water. This area might actually have less current with higher water as the river would be much wider. There are other areas where the river narrows and the current increased a couple of knots. As theses rivers rise, most parts get wider. I don't know how this factors into their current. From the Illinois river up to Chicago, the current was very modest last September. Obviously this will change during a rainy period.

Something to consider. From Paducah on the Ohio river till you get to Hoppies at Kimmswick (around 30 miles below St Louis) there are no fuel stops. You're going to burn a lot of fuel going up the Mississippi river against the current. Plan accordingly!

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Old 09-20-2018, 09:09 PM   #4
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I traveled from Joliet IL to Knoxville TN in June, 2015. Spring storms in the upper midwest had filled the drainage basin. I experienced 7-8 MPH current in the Illinois, and as much as 13 MPH between the Missouri and Ohio Rivers on the Mississippi. Maybe 4 mph on the Ohio. Fuel is definitely a concern if you're going the wrong way. Towboat drivers going upstream were not having a good day, and were not happy that I was taking up ANY of their space.
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Old 09-20-2018, 10:24 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LongJohn View Post
I traveled from Joliet IL to Knoxville TN in June, 2015. Spring storms in the upper midwest had filled the drainage basin. I experienced 7-8 MPH current in the Illinois, and as much as 13 MPH between the Missouri and Ohio Rivers on the Mississippi. Maybe 4 mph on the Ohio. Fuel is definitely a concern if you're going the wrong way. Towboat drivers going upstream were not having a good day, and were not happy that I was taking up ANY of their space.
What!!!???A 13mph current? That's more like white-water rafting. How in the heck did you control your boat?
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Old 09-21-2018, 07:13 AM   #6
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When are you planning on doing this?
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Old 09-21-2018, 10:31 AM   #7
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In a 13 mph current, it is a stressful ride. RPM for 7 mph and the GPS says that I'm going 20. Mississippi was near flood stage. Lots of debris in the water. 2.5 foot chop in front of St Louis, but mostly <1 foot. Auto-steer was N/A. Of course, water was calmer and slower near the banks and still deep enough except for hazards. Fortunately I never had to turn around except to drop the hook one night tucked up behind a little towhead. Did 210 miles of the Miss in 14 hours of cruise, including the Chain of Rocks Lock; never over 1300 rpm unless I was maneuvering. I cannot recommend it. I wouldn't do it again. Too many ways for things to go bad.


The Coast Guard closed the lower Illinois River to recreational traffic only a couple of days after I joined the Mississippi. They were warning recreational traffic on the Mississippi, but I don't know if they closed it.
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