View Full Version : Mississippi River Navigation/Info

10-06-2015, 08:33 PM
We're looking at planning a trip up the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers starting at the Arkansas River, time frame maybe late spring or early summer. We have driven over the Mighty Mississip several times but have never taken the boat out on it. The boat is an 80 footer with twin 305hp Merc I/O's and no thrusters. Does anyone know of any references where we can find info for preplanning, such as river flow rates and what would be a go/no-go current, fuel stops, safe anchorages/marinas, overall do's and don'ts, and anything else any of you can think of? The Mississippi can be a bit intimidating. Any and all advice is appreciated, and thanks in advance!

10-07-2015, 07:03 AM
You might consider later rather than earlier in the season. Let the river calm down a bit.

10-07-2015, 11:53 AM
We would have no problem with that. Our timeframe is very flexible. All we want is to be out of the colder climates before the cold, nasty weather arrives. So probably the latest we would want to be up north would be around Thanksgiving or so.

10-07-2015, 05:20 PM
There are some Cruise Guides / Books that I know exist. I am unable to find them online right now.
I have a few of the Tenn Tom that have been used on a few trips to Pensacola, from Tenn.

I also have read allot about the Mississippi by reading blogs of Great Loopers as found here:


Here is another source to start learning the Upper Mississippi


10-07-2015, 05:33 PM
I found it, here at this link:


10-07-2015, 06:44 PM
Contact the Army Corps of Engineers, Nashville Tn. District

10-07-2015, 08:40 PM
Thanks for the info...I'll be sure to take a look at the links and dig around the web.

10-08-2015, 05:10 AM
What brand/type of boat is it? The Mississippi has a lot of current for a flat bottomed lake houseboat to handle. Also a lot of trash, barge traffic, etc. Going up river, your speed, and fuel usage is going to suffer a lot.

10-08-2015, 08:08 AM
It's a Sharpe 16x80 flat-bottom hull with a 3 foot draft, twin Merc I/O's 5.0L. We knew there was quite a bit of current on the Mississippi River, and we figured later in the summer or Fall would be a better time to travel upstream.

10-12-2015, 05:50 PM
Your boat will be fine for normal river conditions. Grew up on the mighty miss. on the upper end. Our current boat was a rental on the river for 7 years before being transported to our lake. It's a 15 x 50 with a 3.7 mercuiser single.

10-12-2015, 09:44 PM
Thanks Captrsimon, that's good info for me! Now my other question would be, what is "normal river conditions" and what kind of flows would be unacceptable to go out into?

10-13-2015, 06:39 PM
Normal, as in not near flood stage. Lots of debris in the water than. Sometimes whole trees. I would worry about this more than the current.

10-13-2015, 10:19 PM
Oh trust me, that's my bigger concern. After a lot of rain upstream I wouldn't even think about trying to traverse it. Too much debris, strong current, and just too many things that could go wrong. Starting to rethink our timeframe would be better in the late summer or early fall, depending on what Mother Nature has to say about that.

10-26-2015, 08:00 PM
In mid june this year, current in the mississippi from the confluence of the missouri to the ohio was 7-9 mph, just before the usace closed portions of the river to pleasure traffic. lots of trash in the water. no gas or marinas for pleasure boats between upper mississippi mile 158 to mile 0; pretty sure that there is nothing between memphis and cairo. no marinas or gas for pleasure boats for the first ~60 miles of the ohio. suggest that you plan your trip carefully. be handy, and carry plenty of spare everything.

10-27-2015, 03:29 PM
That is my other concern is the distance between marina/gas stops. My average range, depending on conditions, is 150-180 miles. From full tanks to running on fumes is about 200. Nothing that a few 15gal gas cans back aft can't fix for a few extra miles. I'm pretty handy with 99% of things that need to be done, so I'm not too concerned about that aspect. The big part appears to be pre-planning the entire trip, which we plan on doing. It seems like Quimby's Cruising Guide is a good reference to start with. And of course stocking up on spare parts.

01-14-2016, 02:40 PM
Contact the Army Corps of Engineers, Nashville Tn. District
That is the Memphis district

01-17-2016, 08:41 PM
Thanks Pirate!

Tony B
01-26-2016, 03:52 AM
The Mississippi is not all that user friendly to pleasure boats. Keep in mind that if the river is flowing at 6MPH, you will have to do 6 MPH fuel consumption just to stand still. That's not accounting for steerage. So you will probably have to 14MPH speed over water to make 8 mph speed over ground with speed over ground being your actual speed toward your target. That could be quite a freaking K-boom when hit by a tree. Going down river would be a lot safer. Your hull tends to push logs out of the way going in the same direction (down river) which is not safe but SAFER than going up river against the log direction which tends to make you hull ride over the log - NOT GOOD.
I would suggest that you would have more fun going down the Mississippi and taking the Port Allan Route through Baton Rouge to the Gulf of Mex. Then hang a left onto the ICW and follow the coast to Mobile bay. Then Hang another left up the bay into the Mobile River and keep going northward into the Tenn-Tom and then into the Tennessee River up into Kentucky lake which will dump you into the OHIO River near Paducah, Ky. Hang another left and not too much further down you will hit the Mississippi and make another left and go down river until you hit the Arkansas. that will be your first right turn and then home.
If you Take Cantrel Rd / I-10 West there are several marinas out that way. I think one of them is called Maumelle Park - NOT SURE. If you check with some of the boaters there. I guarantee, that anyone that came up from the Florida or anywhere else on the coast got to Little Rock via the Tenn-Tom and NOT up the Mississippi. I will be a long trip up the Tenn Tom route but much safer, much more boater friendly and much more enjoyable.
Just something to consider.

02-05-2016, 08:44 AM
Tony, thanks for all of the great info! We are now living full time onboard our boat here at Little Rock Yacht and have talked to several people here that have been up the Mississippi River. The difference is they were all in 60+ foot motor yachts with 1000+hp and 1000+ gallon fuel capacity and they even said it wasn't much fun. Going down stream seems like the way to go then back up the Tenn-Tom. With only my 200 gal fuel capacity I'm pretty sure I'll need to carry extra fuel on-board as I hear there isn't many fuel stops along the Mississippi. I appreciate all of the information. Very helpful!

Tony B
02-05-2016, 01:42 PM
Ron you are quite welcome. When I lioved in LR area everyone I met that brought boats up from the Gulf came up the Tom Bigbee and then down the Missippi via the Ohio and into Arkansas.
Where is the Little Rock Yacht Club? Other side of wooden fence from Maumelle Park?

02-06-2016, 09:00 AM
Tony, that's funny because everyone I've talked to here at the marina have all come up the Mississippi. But as I mentioned earlier, the majority of them are Hatteras's in the 60+ foot range. My neighbor in the slip next to me has a 67 ft Tollycraft that he brought up from Houma. I'm just a little Leary about taking an 80 ft houseboat with twin Merc I/O's onto the Mighty Mississippi. You are correct about the Yacht Club location. It's right next to the Maumelle Park. The RV park is right next to the marina. Looking out my front door I'm actually looking at it. We've lived all over this country and never thought in a million years we'd ever live in Arkansas, but so far we've been pleasantly surprised.

Tony B
02-06-2016, 12:18 PM
it's interesting how peoples experiences differ. I was probably hanging out in the low rent district at the time. LOL
Arkansas is a beautiful state. When I lived there I was not into boating but I always thought that a trip upriver would be fun. You should be able to get as far as Tulsa, Ok. At least at one time you could. I dont know how scenic it would be down river. I think that would be mostly flat farm land.

I still get to LR about twice a year to visit my daughters and grandson.

Keep us informed of your travels

02-09-2016, 01:10 PM
We can still make it as far north as Tulsa. I was looking at the charts for going down the Mississippi then over to Mobile Bay. It looks like there may be some open water exposure from the Mississippi over to the inland side of the barrier islands. I have no problem with watching the weather and waiting for a good time for the transit, but I thought that maybe I was missing something. Other than that it looks like it would be a great trip.

Tony B
02-09-2016, 08:28 PM
Coming Down the Mississippi, many cruisers split off onto what I believe is called the Port Allen Route which goes through Baton Rouge, La. It's supposed to be a safer route and more scenic route to the ICW.
I have never been on it so not sure. It should be on the charts.
Anyway, eventually, you will have to cross the Mississippi if you take the ICW. I think it was only about 5 miles - dont remember for sure- down river from Harvey, La. I could see where that stretch would be challenging and risky on a Houseboat. Then back on the ICW again, you will have to hit a marina somewhere near the lower end of Lake Ponchartrain, which may not be able to accomodate you. The best bet would be to try and anchor near Rabbit Island so you can actually see what the water is doing before you decide to cross what will be open water to the south for about 20 miles to either bay St louis or Pass Christianne and the some untill u hit Long Beach or Gulfport, Ms. For this passage you will have to really wait on weather. The forecasts are always notoriously wrong in this area. that is why I suggested Rabbit Island. From there you can see the Gulf. Even though the barrier islands offer some protection from the wind and waves, it's not much. Anyway, from Rabbit Island to Mobile bay it is pretty much the Gulf of Mexico even though it is called the Mississippi Sound. The water can be anywhere from dead calm to 4 to 6' seas/chops. I'm not saying it cant be done, I'm just saying that you had better plan some additional time for lay-overs due to sea conditions.

Not sure what the cut-off dates are for your insurance during Hurricane season. You insurance agent will know. June is always a good month as far as calm weather boating goes on the gulf.. The summer months usually all have pretty much dead calm water except when July hits you might have to worry about tropical storms and hurricanes.

If it were me, I would want to be on Mobile bay with the ability to head north by early July.
Somehow, when I lived there weather never bothered me. Maybe it was because I had a sailboat and the possibility of being hit with a hurricane was very remote. Hurricane season was more a pain in the ass than an actual worry. That is, until i got wiped out by hurricane katrina.

02-11-2016, 10:19 AM
I have ran from Pensacola to New Orleans in a Gibson 36. We had big winds and water the entire trip.
But we had fun. There is a marina on the south end of Lake Pontchartrain, Rigolets Marina.