Raft down the Mississippi

Discussion in 'Boatbuilding' started by qwist04, Jan 18, 2005.

  1. cor
    Joined: May 2008
    Posts: 114
    Likes: 9, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 85
    Location: Alaska

    cor Senior Member

    The bugs were not too bad. The river is big and wide, you are normally far enough from shore to avoid all the bugs. When camping out on the beaches there were a few bugs, but nothing terrible.

    The changing senery made for a great trip. It is a nice combination of wild and undeveloped, small towns, and big cities. We had fun in all those places.

    C.O.
    http://whatsintheshop.blogspot.com/
     
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  2. Boston

    Boston Previous Member

    sounds like you guys had fun, and I'll bet the fishing was pretty good as well.
     
  3. Frosty

    Frosty Previous Member

    Bugs are no problem, just start a small fire burning Elephant dung, and I mean small the bugs knows smoke means fire and leave.

    Or coconut husk. If you have no Elephant dung or coconut husk you could use mosquito repellent.
     
  4. Boston

    Boston Previous Member

    nothing works better than mud, just ask my old horse.
     
  5. Submarine Tom

    Submarine Tom Previous Member

    Small fires do work wonders on bugs.

    -Tom
     
  6. Boston

    Boston Previous Member

    Thats the ticket, a smoke oven. I even already have one. Don't tell Frosty tho cause he's out picking his mud now.
     
  7. cor
    Joined: May 2008
    Posts: 114
    Likes: 9, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 85
    Location: Alaska

    cor Senior Member

    Here are a few photos from the trip. I don't have any pictures of the boat. It was an 18' pontoon boat with a 1964 Evinrude 18hp outboard.

    I actually had a complete second motor that I brought with for spare parts. One of the photos shows me at a marina in Hannible Missouri trying to make one running motor out of the two.

    One of the photos shows my wife cooking on a camp stove on deck. In the corner you can see the drum that we rigged up for a fuel tank. Looking back I probably shouldn't have mounted the fire extingusher right next to the drum.

    C.O.
     

    Attached Files:

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  8. Boston

    Boston Previous Member

    nice, you guys were having a blast.

    I'm thinking off all things of a CO2 system for the engine room on my build. Its a pretty "sure fire" solution and its got a remote switch.

    that fire extinguisher, ya, opposite side as the fire hazard is what I seem to remember
     
  9. Submarine Tom

    Submarine Tom Previous Member

    Great pics!

    Good call on the CO2 for the engine room Boston, just remember CO2 kills and there's a protocol for it's use you'll need to post.

    -Tom
     
  10. Boston

    Boston Previous Member

    ya I haven't really looked into it yet, still working on the lofting floor.

    I'm closest to the Mississippi than anything else and I've planned on a trailerable boat so no reason I shouldn't try a summer on the Mississippi as well. Should be some pretty good fishing.
     
  11. brian eiland
    Joined: Jun 2002
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    Location: St Augustine Fl, Thailand

    brian eiland Senior Member

  12. willdeh2
    Joined: Apr 2011
    Posts: 8
    Likes: 3, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 35
    Location: Iowa City

    willdeh2 Junior Member

    Still planning my trip. Looking to ship-off in a week or so out of Minneapolis. What are the dangers with this flood going on? Debris? Closed locks? Closed marinas (no gas)? Any insight on this would be great. Please let me know any information about this.
     
  13. willdeh2
    Joined: Apr 2011
    Posts: 8
    Likes: 3, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 35
    Location: Iowa City

    willdeh2 Junior Member

    Starting today! Check out the blog:
    willdeh2.wordpress.com
    Thanks to all who have added something here.
     
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  14. Boston

    Boston Previous Member

    hey hey have a great time
    I'll have to go check it out
    cheers
    B
     

  15. willdeh2
    Joined: Apr 2011
    Posts: 8
    Likes: 3, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 35
    Location: Iowa City

    willdeh2 Junior Member

    I actually did it

    I recently completed 1700 miles of the river, with 3 friends of mine. We are just 19 years old and had no problems making it down the river. It took us just under a month to travel from St. Paul to New Orleans and we had the most marvelous time. It's been a few weeks now that I've been on land and I will shine some light on the idea of boating down the river. I will try to answer the questions I had at the beginning, and debunk a few myths from the grouchy old codgers...

    Before I begin, I must say that ALL the knowledge I have attained is from just ONE month on the river, at ONE river level, in ONE season. I am no river rat, and have witnessed only a portion of what the Mississippi is, how it acts, and what it is capable of. I will now tell what I have personally witnessed.

    Our vessel was a 24 foot pontoon boat, with a large canopy covering 20x10 feet. The engine was a 1990 40hp Evinrude. We carried up to 47 gallons of gas at a time, and 20 gallons of water. There were 3-4 of us on the boat and we had a futon for sleep and a few camping mats. We carried a small grill, and a camping burner for boiling water. We ate mac n' cheese, ramen noodles, hot dogs, and burgers. We often stopped in towns for provisions.

    We began our trip somewhere between Lock 1 and 2 I think, and ended our trip in New Orleans, on a navigational canal just south of Lake Pontchartrain. We made it through all of the locks except Mel Price and Lock 27. The water level was too high (31 or 32 feet) to allow rec-traffic through the Port of St. Louis. So we waited in Alton, Illinois for 5 days, and our friends brought down our trailer and moved us south 50 miles to the Meramec River to resume our travels. After that, it was smooth sailing til New Orleans.

    The biggest problems we had were the mix of heat and bugs during nights on the Lower River. It was too hot for blankets, but with out a sheet we were eaten alive.

    Whether on this site or people I talk to, I heard a lot of (sometimes ridiculous) claims, I will voice my opinion on them.

    Claim: Your vessel must be powered
    I would agree with this statement, there are barges always running up and down the middle of the river and you need to be able to avoid them. Without the ability to steer, you will surely be run over eventually. A canoe will be just fine on the river, because it is able to run along the shore, but a raft is just silly. And it will take you forever to get anywhere.

    Claim: You will surely die
    This one we heard a lot locally, from people in church and in the community that thought they knew everything about the river. There is a degree of danger on the river. Motor failure could potentially leave you stranded in front of a barge, dam, or debris. It is wise to bring an extra motor, although we never used ours. As long as the driver is paying attention, you will have zero problems with traffic or debris. We never got close to death. I guess lightning could be dangerous, but we survived.

    Claim: Dangerous wake and water speed
    Barges create a decent amount of wake at close range, we did the best to avoid their waves and handled them wisely, water was often aboard at the beginning, but we learned to handle the waves as to not get wet. When we met the Ohio River, the water was very wide and very windy. There were pretty big waves coming at us and we were forced to pull over quickly and wait it out. It was pretty dangerous. The water never felt dangerously fast, keep in mind the water was almost always above flood stage during our trip. We never feared the speed or felt out of control, with only a 40 horse motor.

    Regarding gas. We always found towns right along the river to walk into for gas, usually just a few blocks off the river. It helped being young and able-bodied. Gas is heavy and it was always a chore to get it. We never felt we were too far from humanity and always had a town within a day from us. It helped to have a pontoon with a low draft, often times we were beached on shallow water and in an illegal zone. Parking was especially difficulty in big cities. The coast guard doesn't necessarily prefer pleasure boats on the water and there are very few docks down south or ramps.

    Regarding sleep. We almost always parked in some trees out of the way of traffic. We anchored only twice the whole trip and it was a nerve-racking thing to do. This would be difficult to do in a 30 foot cruiser because we were always running into branches which would scuff up a nicer boat.

    Upper River vs. Lower River:
    There are some differences between the two sections of the river. The upper is MUCH slower and is plagued by large lakes and lots of wind. It has many marinas and many pleasure boats. The river is surrounded by bluffs and hills and many small communities and towns. The lower river is significantly faster and we got much better mileage down south. We averaged around 4-5 mpg north, and 6-7 south. The river didn't feel more dangerous in the Lower part like we had anticipated. There are more turbulent waters on the Lower River and many swirls and bubbles waiting to bounce you around. Again, we never felt scared of these swirls. The water was high enough that for the most part we observed our depth finder and ignored the buoys; we often took the shortest route leading us over wing dams buried safely under water. I would not advise this, but the water was high enough for us and our draft is only 2.5 feet. There were marinas in Memphis, and Greenville, but other than that, we had to walk into town for gas on the lower part, it was our only option. We didn't mind at all though.

    Swimming was a daily routine, we used it to cool down and to keep (more) clean. We didn't use life jackets and never felt the need to. You just float right along the boat at the same pace. The water was brown, but didn't feel dirty, we never had problems with snakes, fish or debris. We really loved to swim.

    Barges were never a problem and we always felt safe sharing the river with them. Often times they would read our canopy (Gulf Bound) and emerge from the cabin to wave or take a picture. Between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, there were dozens of enormous cargo ships and their respective tugs. We felt out of place there, but not endangered. Tugs would come up to us for the ol' picture and a wave. We really appreciated the gesture. It really was an awesome time.

    Maybe we got lucky, or others were just wrong, but we experienced no real danger and had no problems. We didn't even get stopped by the Coast Guard. The river always had something new to show us and we have a new-found respect for it, and the people who work on it. It was a trip of a lifetime and I will never regret it. It is something that everyone should do if they find the time and the money. I can't wait to tell my kids and grandkids!

    I would love to answer anyone's questions and maybe elaborate on any part of the river. My email is willdeh2@gmail.com and my blog is willdeh2.wordpress.com. I will return to this page often to help the future travelers and people interested in doing it.

    The attached picture is at the confluence of the Ohio and the Mississippi. Just upstream on the Ohio.
     

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