Raft down the Mississippi

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

  1. djwkd
    Joined: Jul 2006
    Posts: 380
    Likes: 2, Points: 18, Legacy Rep: 51
    Location: Newcastle-Upon-Tyne

    djwkd Senior Member

    Sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo... You doing it this year?
     
  2. Raftman1979
    Joined: Oct 2008
    Posts: 33
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Peotone, IL

    Raftman1979 Junior Member

    I was gonna build the raft in the summer of 2009 and make the trip in 2010 but it ain't looking like I'm gonna be able to get the time off, due to the economy. I'm a long-haul truck driver, so I don't have much time unless I turn in my truck and take a month or two off, and that just ain't a smart thing to do with the economy the way it is. Until the economy starts to recover, my raft trip is on hold.
     
  3. djwkd
    Joined: Jul 2006
    Posts: 380
    Likes: 2, Points: 18, Legacy Rep: 51
    Location: Newcastle-Upon-Tyne

    djwkd Senior Member

    :(
    Big shame...
    Are you the same person as Qwist04 then?
     
  4. BacShortly
    Joined: Jan 2009
    Posts: 7
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: North Carolina

    BacShortly Junior Member

  5. BacShortly
    Joined: Jan 2009
    Posts: 7
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: North Carolina

    BacShortly Junior Member

    Mississippi River

    I didn't mean for last note to be so short, but I had a call (I'm a fireman) and had to bug-out.

    Anyway, floating/boating/rafting, just doing the Mississippi has always been in the back of my head - after raising a family and at the end of a career - I'm finally going to put my feet up and do it.

    I'll keep notes as I go, you can find them at the above website, BacShortly.com

    Thanks

    Tom
     
  6. Raftman1979
    Joined: Oct 2008
    Posts: 33
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Peotone, IL

    Raftman1979 Junior Member

    No. I'm not Quist04.

    I called the boss, told him to switch me back to "full time" status. My raft trip is post-poned. Instead of building a raft, I'm investing in ammunition. It's kind of reckless to plan something like that, not knowing if we will still be a free country next year, not knowing if I'll even have a job to return to after Obama taxes my employer out of business.
     
  7. djwkd
    Joined: Jul 2006
    Posts: 380
    Likes: 2, Points: 18, Legacy Rep: 51
    Location: Newcastle-Upon-Tyne

    djwkd Senior Member

    Hey Bac- Sounds cool!I'm reading it all now :D
     
  8. BacShortly
    Joined: Jan 2009
    Posts: 7
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: North Carolina

    BacShortly Junior Member

    Thanks for checking

    Why not?

    Been up and down the road, and then through a family and career - why not give the river a shot - wanted to for a long, long time, and now I'm finding (making) some time. No matter what you do it takes an effort - a little research, choosing a sound/right vessel, and finding the route - I'm keeping alot of notes on the effort, and as most trying to do it in the most cost effective manner. The only thing in question now is whether the wife will come get me in NO or not, if she even answers the phone......

    Looking forward to the peace, a rare opportunity - I'll make the most of it for sure and notes along the way.
     
  9. mons
    Joined: Feb 2009
    Posts: 13
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: St. Cloud, MN

    mons Junior Member

    Going down this summer!

    My buddy and I are going to raft the river from Minneapolis to NOLA. I know we'd be better off in the spring but due to school, we only have time in July and Aug of '09. I read through this forum and I's been a HUGE help so far.

    Our design is much like refter's design, but we may have a 3rd pontoon in the middle. And we're going green on this one. We will power the rig with a few trolling motors and bicycle generators. Passably even some solar power, if the budget is forgiving of coarse. And we may have to alter the design to lighten the load.

    If anyone has some advice, let me know. I'd love to hear it!

    What about licensing in all the different states. Do you have to register in each state along the way? Do lock keepers charge to go through the locks?
     
  10. Raftman1979
    Joined: Oct 2008
    Posts: 33
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Peotone, IL

    Raftman1979 Junior Member

    Want my advice? Grab a battery, any car battery will do for testing purposes, and an automatic battery charger with the gauge on it that tells you how many amps the charger is feeding the battery. Make sure the battery is fully charged, then hook up JUST ONE trolling motor and run it in water. has to be in water, a 55 gallon drum full of water, bath tub, whatever. Watch the amp gauge on the battery charger jump WAY up when you turn on that trolling motor.

    Now try pedaling a bicycle with one of those generators and see how much harder it is to pedal when you're only powering a tiny little flashlight bulb. There's no way in hell you're gonna generate enough power to run a trolling motor with bicycle generators.

    Now take a $100 solar panel and see how well THAT powers a trolling motor. You'd be lucky if the damn thing even spins the prop when it's OUT of the water.

    Tree hugger technology is in it's infancy. It's just not possible to be "green" and power a raft down the river with enough POWER to not only GO, but go fast enough to get the hell out of the way of a barge, or to fight a headwind, or both at the same time.

    If you want to be "green", you can use solar panels to maintain a charge in a deep cycle marine battery that you ONLY use for the red, green and white navigation lights required at night, and so you can charge your cell phones or maybe run a laptop with an inverter for an hour or so a day. But you will NOT get enough power to run a trolling motor from solar panels or any kind of bicycle generators.

    I have been told that on the majority of the trip, the winds blow north, against the current, so sail power is not a reliable option either. If I ever make my trip, I'm going to use something like a sideways "keel" mounted on the front of the raft (not the back) that is mounted on a hinge, so if I hit a submerged object, it can flip back under the raft, but when the wind is blowing against me, the board will stick straight down in the water and kind of "grab" the river current and pull me along with the current, against the wind. That's about as "green" as you can be, without running an engine.

    I do plan on having some power on my raft, but not to run continuously, just because of gas prices. I think it's STUPID to get out there without some kind of adequate power so you can fire up the engine and quickly get out of the way of a barge that "came out of nowhere", or to turn around and go up-stream a ways in case there happens to be a bunch of hot chicks in bikinis on shore calling me over or something.

    As far as I know, you do NOT need to license a raft, if it's homemade. But you DO have to meet certain safety requirements. Like I mentioned before, if you drop anchor behind a wing dam or somewhere other than completely out of the water or in a marina, you need to run mooring lights, which I believe is simply a white light above the stern, visible from 180 degrees, from a mile away or something. This can be done "green" with an LED stern light. If you're under-way in the dark, you need the red and green bow lights, which you can also accomplish with LEDs. (A day's worth of solar power will certainly run these LEDs all night.)

    You need to have a fire extinguisher if you have a gas engine, or just have gasoline on board, or if you have a propane grill or something. You have to have a life jacket for every passenger, (I don't think you have to WEAR it, just HAVE it) plus a throw-able flotation device. You also need a whistle or a horn that's pretty loud, .. I'm probably forgetting something, but this is a forum so someone else will probably add whatever I missed.

    For FISHING, you need a license. Here's where it's kind of strange. You need a license for at least ONE of the two states that border the river. Say you're on the stretch between Illinois and Missouri. You need a fishing license in at least ONE of those two states, but that license becomes invalid when you get down south where you're between Tennessee and Arkansas. Then you need a license from one of those two states.

    Lock operators do not charge for locking through, and they are required by law to let even a canoe pass through the locks, however they do grant commercial vessels priority over pleasure craft, so you may have to wait sometimes. I've never gone through locks but I've researched this whole thing. They say there's a rope attached to a bell you're supposed to pull to notify the lock operator that you're there, but most people say to carry a marine radio and get a navigational chart from the Army Corps of Engineers before you go so you know what channel they're on at the locks.

    Spring is probably not the best time to start your trip cuz it's still cold up there in MN, and in the spring, here in the midwest we get all the rain and stuff, the rivers are high and the current will be fast.

    I'd recommend you check out the website http://www.bearnakedrafting.com/index.htm

    Two college kids made the trip last summer and if you e-mail Nate, you'll find he's intelligent and helpful.
     
  11. mons
    Joined: Feb 2009
    Posts: 13
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: St. Cloud, MN

    mons Junior Member

    You're probably right about the gas motor for emergencies.

    From what I've read, a guy can get a significant amount of power from a bike generator.

    http://www.mattshaver.com/bikegen/index.htm
    Check out the specs on the bottom of the page. I'm going to make a generator like that one and also play with the gear ratios to possibly get even more power.

    Thanks for the advice. I'll keep everyone posted.
     
  12. Guest625101138

    Guest625101138 Previous Member

    That is not your average bike generator.

    If you shopped around for a really good generator you could find one that will give around 90% efficiency.

    A male of reasonable fitness and not too many years can produce about 130W continuously, If you were doing it every day, you would find after a couple of weeks you could sustain maybe 150W.

    Your idea of having a decent battery and thruster is not too bad. The motor will be about 75% efficient. A lead acid battery about 80% overall. So you are throwing away a lot of energy for the ability to have burst power from the thruster but it will get you out of trouble.

    There is nothing wrong with a simple pedal power system but you are playing with very little power and need to design well to get the best from it. A big prop geared properly can produce around 200lb thrust with peak pedal power but it would not get you going very fast. You need to design the drive system to suit the boat and the boat needs to be optimised for the low power level.

    Rick W
     
  13. mons
    Joined: Feb 2009
    Posts: 13
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: St. Cloud, MN

    mons Junior Member

    I'm going to try the trolling motor idea and if it turns out well, I will try to ad solar power. It would really help out as long as the trolling motor had enough power to push it. I'm also going to add a direct bike powered prop and maybe a bike powered generator.

    Does anyone know how much current a 55lb thrust trolling motor generally draws?
     
  14. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
    Posts: 13,539
    Likes: 369, Points: 93, Legacy Rep: 2031
    Location: Milwaukee, WI

    gonzo Senior Member

    You need a fair amount of power to stay out of the way. Tows have right of way, which means that you have to move. The current is an average of 4Kt, about 4.4 mph. In some places, like Memphis, the record is 21 mph. One of the consequences is that if you miss and entrance, there is no way back. The turbulence from the tows will affect you for about a mile behind. At half a mile, on a sailboat with an inboard diesel, it was hard to steer a course. The boat would turn 90' before I could correct. Also, the wakes on the up river tows can be over six feet. Once you get past Baton Rouge, there are no stops until New Orleans, at least not for small vessels. Also, you are required to carry and monitor two VHF radios and to call Traffic Control to get a number assigned. Then, you have to obey instructions for maneuvering. You won't be able to do it in a barge. The USCG will consider you a hazard to navigation and get you out of the way. There may be a fine too. Higher up the river, if you manage to stay clear the USCG will let you alone. However, if commercial traffic complain, they'll go after you .
     

  15. mons
    Joined: Feb 2009
    Posts: 13
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: St. Cloud, MN

    mons Junior Member

    What did you mean by "won't be able to do it in a barge?" We'll basically be in a pontoon. Why does a guy need two radios?

    Thanks for the input gonzo!
     
Loading...
Forum posts represent the experience, opinion, and view of individual users. Boat Design Net does not necessarily endorse nor share the view of each individual post.
When making potentially dangerous or financial decisions, always employ and consult appropriate professionals. Your circumstances or experience may be different.