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Author Topic:   River cruising
cjmarlin posted 01-07-2003 05:26 PM ET (US)   Profile for cjmarlin   Send Email to cjmarlin  
I am planning to take a trip from Chicago via the SAG canal - illinois - mississippi - tennessee rivers to possibly Bilouxi in my whaler. Interested in talking to anyone who may have made this trip.
WhalerGoFar posted 01-07-2003 11:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for WhalerGoFar  Send Email to WhalerGoFar     
Sounds like a nice trip. I am sure you will have a great time. It is also a good direction to head...South...down stream....if you run of gas...just float.

Be careful out there. You have large river traffic, and Mike Fink's.

Mark Twain

David Jenkins posted 01-08-2003 08:28 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Jenkins  Send Email to David Jenkins     
Wow--what a trip! When were you planning on going? What size boat? How many miles a day? Sleeping in hotels or on the boat? Have you read Mark Twain's Life on the Mississippi or William Least Heat Moon's River Horse? Why would you pick Biloxi as a final destination?
cjmarlin posted 01-09-2003 03:12 PM ET (US)     Profile for cjmarlin  Send Email to cjmarlin     
Got this idea two ways. Last summer went with a Whaler cruising group on a 22' outrage from Bonita Springs to Ft Myers then the Caloosahatchee river to Clewiston. Then across lake Okeechobee to St. Lucie Canal to Stuart. Had lunch at Stuart and then returned to Clewiston and the reverse to Bonita Springs. Many dam locks across this trip. This was one of the best boating adventures I have ever had. This made up my mind to quit sailing (after 25 years) and then I went and bought me a new 17' Montauk. After I returned home, I read a book about a guy who took a 15' carolina skiff from Chicago to Bilouxi, staying at B&B's along the way. I have been carefully reading charts for the various waterways and plan to go this Spring. I have also been reading books for greater detail on the various rivers I plan to venture on.
andygere posted 01-09-2003 04:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
I second the vote for reading River Horse if you haven't already. It will not only inspire you, but will provide some practical information on the ins and outs of river cruising. Sounds like a great adventure!
David Jenkins posted 01-09-2003 10:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Jenkins  Send Email to David Jenkins     
I'm curious about the book written about the trip from Chicago to Biloxi—do you remember the name of it? I believe that you may have difficulty finding bed and breakfast lodging on the Mississippi River. How many miles were you thinking of travelling per day?

To me, New Orleans seems like a more logical destination than Biloxi. If you are going to leave the Mississippi River and head east, why stop at Biloxi—head for Destin or have Bigshot organize a Tampa Bay rendezvous and he will have a bonfire and a keg of beer waiting for you when you make landfall.

lhg posted 01-10-2003 12:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
I'm sure you can find a Cruising guide for your trip, since this journey is made every year by many Chicago boaters taking their craft to FL for the winter. Since you mention Biloxi, I assume you're planning on using the Ten-Tom route.

Are you planning a round trip? I know it's been done in a Montauk, since BW published a story, as did many local newpapers, of three guys who did the entire Great Circle trip, including Great Lakes open water portion, in their Montauk, SLEEPING aboard besides! I think it took them a month or so.

Might want to consider rigging your Whaler with all-weather Mills canvas for the trip.

kingfish posted 01-10-2003 01:36 PM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     

There is a cruising guide published specifically for the major US rivers; I can't think of the name of it as I'm sitting here, but I'll take a look at mine when I get home tonight and if someone hasn't already posted it, I will then do so.

The Army Corps of Engineers publishes actual charts on of the big rivers their website, too. I've downoaded quite a number of them and printed them for stretches of the Ohio River above and below Cincinnatti, laminated them and bound them into a book. As I remember each 8 1/2'x 14" page covers about 4 miles; might be a pretty thick volume for your trip, but might be worth examining nonetheless.


cjmarlin posted 01-10-2003 03:44 PM ET (US)     Profile for cjmarlin  Send Email to cjmarlin     
Yes, I have read River Horse. Also, have ordered charts and cruising guides for various portions of the rivers - Quimbys Guide is a good one. I don't really want to be on the Mississippi too far, and want to take the Ten-Tom route, that's why Bilouxi. I also understand I can't stay in B&B's all the way, but will stop at marinas, towns, for fuel and rest. I will get the name of the book of the guy that took this trip and post on this site. I am still a working man - but feel I owe it to myself to take 7/10 days and get as far as I can. Plan to leave the boat when I get as far as time permits and leave it until I can get back to complete the trip. The idea about continuing on to Tampa and getting to meet Bigshot and crew in person is a very cool idea.
andygere posted 01-10-2003 04:24 PM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
With a Mills canvas set as LHG suggests, you can have reasonable onboard sleeping accommodations. Here is a link to some photos of my Montauk with the Mills set (loosely) deployed.
You will need to construct a sleeping platform in the bow to extend to foredeck. Mine wraps around the console, similar to that on a Sakonnet. Here is a photo from the Reference section showing such a platform.
David Jenkins posted 01-10-2003 10:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Jenkins  Send Email to David Jenkins     
Looking good, Andy! The half platform (stern side only) is a great idea.

cjmarlin, Are you interested in having other boats join you for some or all of the trip?

Barry posted 01-10-2003 10:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for Barry  Send Email to Barry     
cjmarlin -- Look at this Cetacea page and check out the "Small Boat, Big Water". Casey has done some long trips. I don't know if he still monitors this site but you could try emailing him at I'm sure if you could get hold of him he could provide lots of advise on long distance cruising via Montauk.

Note the custom, bright yellow dodger on his Montauk. I believe he picked that color for visibility/safety reasons. The two poles in front of his console were designed as part of a custom windshield.

jimh posted 01-10-2003 11:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Web publisher David Magill has an excellent website with cruising narratives, including one through Chicago and southward.


Incidently, David started his ambitious publishing of his cruising narratives after reading several of mine. See the "Sail-Logs" portion of this website.

cjmarlin posted 01-12-2003 02:17 PM ET (US)     Profile for cjmarlin  Send Email to cjmarlin     
Thanks everyone for your comments. I am interested in all. The book that got me started on this is called River Adventures by Gary Gitchell. I bought in a bookstore in Niles, MI called Majereks. It is self published and they had only one copy left which I bought. I could scan and make available if others were interested.
jhill posted 01-20-2003 02:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for jhill  Send Email to jhill     
I boat at the mouth of the Tenn Tom on Pickwick Lake and have made the trip in a Montauk to Pensacola. If I can be of any help with specific questions, let me know. I know all of the fuel stops along the way. It is a great trip and I amy do it again this summer. I have been from Paducah to Mobile on the River system. Best scenery.
David Jenkins posted 01-20-2003 06:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Jenkins  Send Email to David Jenkins     
Paducah to Mobile—how long of a trip is that? How many miles would you travel in a day? How many locks? What are the sleeping accomodations like? Please post a trip report :)
jhill posted 01-21-2003 06:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for jhill  Send Email to jhill     
Its about 700 miles. I will be glad to talk to you if you call me at 662-286-9214. Lots of locks, about 12. On lower Ten Teom gas is hard to come by, but if you paln ahead, no problem. It would take to long to put on this site to explain. You can email me at jhill@tsixroads,com

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