? Questions ?


“Well Tom…… Can anyone ‘boat, raft, canoe, or kayak’ the Mississippi River?”

– my answer “With good sense, yes.”

Recreational boating on the Mississippi is an everyday occurrence, yet be advised that the river from Minneapolis to the Gulf of Mexico is active with commercial towboat activity. These powerful vessels maneuver very large barge sets; now with that said – plenty of room remains for private and recreational vessels.

True rafting, paddling (canoe or kayak), and riding the river’s meandering current southward continues to draw a handful of folks per year.  This method of passage is possible yet within the realm presents its own very real set of perils – any private vessel HAS to be able to avoid those towboats/barges along the way.


From Baton Rouge South ocean-going ships are present……


the jaws of doom

In several areas along the way (above the Missouri, below St Louis, Cairo, Baton Rouge, NOLA, etc) there are ‘hubs’ of activity where repair and the resetting of barge sets occur; these areas are busy with smaller tows criss-crossing while doing the work. Moving through this activity is much like riding a ‘moped’ on the interstate highway system.

  • for a ‘raft’ of any size – a dependable motor ranks right up there with toilet-paper.

Other dynamics of the Mississippi are present – weather (storm-worlds), wing dams, the perpetual current, plus the ever tangible effects of mother nature’s wrath upstream – sending debris downstream.

Recreational use can be contentious, or it can all be a simple amusement…..


Upper Mississippi” – North of the Ohio river confluence, Cairo, Illinois

Lower Mississippi” – South of the Ohio river confluence to the Gulf of Mexico




Yes, there are dams, @ 25 on the Upper Mississippi, none below St. Louis.


The Army Corps of Engineers is tasked with maintaining a minimum 9-ft channel dept for the ‘upper’ and a 12-ft channel dept on the lower Mississippi.  This effort includes a dam-system on the ‘upper’ Mississippi (24 but numbered through 25).  The ‘dams’ create areas known as ‘pools and are in essence ‘water-flow systems’ with gates that help manage the required depth and ever-fluctuating water conditions.

‘Locks’ are part of each dam, these areas allow the passage of vessels from one section (‘pool’) of the river to the next level; free of charge – however, there is a hierarchy to vessels “locking-through.”  Commercial barges have priority and recreational vessels are secondary; a private vessel just might have to wait – usually no more than an hour.

VHF radio Channel 14 is used for communication with the ‘lock-masters,’ several of the last locks use a different channel. Telephone numbers for each lock are available on your navigation chart – calling ahead is an option.

On the upper Mississippi the number of barges the tow is pushing may require a separation of the barges to pass (‘lock-through’); so plan on a wait.  Awaiting clearance to enter a lock is where a motor is most important; wind and current will draw you toward, into and potentially over the dam creating a nuisance and ruining your whole doggone trip.

Calling ahead, having power, and a couple locks experience behind you will reduce any stress associated with this event – you’ll get better at it as you go.


With the river’s constant fluctuation, the movement of sand and sediment (‘shoaling‘) frequently occurs within the main channel.

Barely visible wing-dam (high water)

An added effort with maintaining the required depth is through the power within the water itself.  Wing-dams are man-placed rock formations (a jetty) which direct the hydraulic certainty of the current towards the desired route and reduces the muddy sediment from settling in undesired areas.

Wing-dam’s extend from the shore to the channels edge and are normally marked by a buoy (a green ‘can’ or red ‘nun’).  Wing-dam formations can be a hazard to boaters when obscured by the waters level or when the markers have been displaced by higher water (the Coast Guard works diligently to maintain them).

CURRENT; The rate of flow. It is said that a drop of water takes 90 days to travel from Minneapolis to the Gulf of Mexico.


What will you drink?

(fact) – in Mark Twain’s book Life on The Mississippi it was mentioned that you could scoop a glass of water from the Mississippi, let it settle for thirty-minutes – then drink the top part and plant in what was left….. It is unfortunate that in being surrounded by water one cannot depend on it for healthy sustenance.  This Great River drains 40% of our country – so nowadays it wouldn’t be the dirt that I would be concerned with. We carried 7 gallons (65lbs) of tap water on hand for basic ‘birdbath,’ teeth, drink, and morning COFFEE – we refilled when possible and used it sparingly (adult beverage alternatives).

Where/what will you eat?

(fact) – Just like camping we were prepared in like manner.  On the Upper Mississippi ‘land-food’ was available in the towns along the way – a stop here and there at the local restaurants….  We had a small ‘Coleman grill’ and used it more on the lower Miss (MRE’s).


Be prepared to fry some catfish when presented by the locals – still one of my favorite meals from the trip.


Where will you sleep ?

(fact) – my plans were open to generally sleep aboard in a berth, atop, or around the boat – or sharing the ground with any sudden gravity storms.  After two days I slept better (in the berth) than I did at home – sleep was ‘the best! – being ‘disconnected’ from the world was even better.

Look for a place to tie-off/stop around 4 pm and have your vessel secured by 6 pm.  We found that the best place was on the ‘off’ side of an island; in the shade and out of any direct wake – wonderful sleep.

For options there are sandbars, camping areas, and marinas on the ‘Upper;’ on the ‘Lower’ Miss – similar, but miles in-between.  Memphis, Tn (Mud Island), Tunica, Ms (river park), Greenville, Ms (Yacht Club) were each welcome sights. From Baton Rouge to New Orleans beaches were rare, but places were available to ‘tie-off.’  The last decent sandy beach was behind the @ 143.4 marker (left side) – don’t pass it up – between there and NOLA is another ‘hub’ of barge-setting activity.

Where will you bathe?

(fact) -yes I like my morning shower, I depend on it…  while driving a truck years ago there were mornings that I managed with what my Dad called a ‘bird-bath.’  I learned that a clean face, teeth, and hair go a long way to improving a persons outlook to the day – this helped alot.  It was difficult to believe that surrounded by water there couldn’t be a way or time – I certainly had my bar of Ivory (bio-degradable) close at hand.

There were times that it became necessary to simply become ‘one with the river’ and jump in.  For a ‘bird-bath’ I simply got wet in the river, lathered up with soap on board, and then rinsed with a large coffee container of water from our on-board supply.  Wet, soap, wash, rinse – it felt much better and the world was a little clearer.  Further into the trip and on the lower, hotter part of the river – the plastic coffee container worked well for dousing too (I do have a ‘less-than-a-speedo’ story).

Our observation of the water quality was;

  • ‘locals’ swam in it – this was a good sign
  • if it is polluted you can’t tell – its so muddy.
  • the best thing about the water – its temperature.

Where will you use the bathroom?

(fact)ahhhh, the facilities.  Just where do bears go?  This was not a question or answer that curbed my desire for such an adventure – but not ‘in the water’ (oh crap! never say ‘never’).

Related Note: On any given day we take three perfectly good gallons of quality water (in the toilet) – pee in it, and then flush it down the pipes – no wonder folks in the Middle-east shake their heads at us.



What Safety equipment is needed on board?

(fact) – The Mississippi river is federally patrolled. USCG requires an audible horn, a fire extinguisher, type III personal flotation devices (vests) for each person on board; and a throw able type cushion or ring. For anchorage we used 4 solar ‘yard-lights’ attached to our roof even though we were away from the channel; the normal green/red marine ‘running’ lights are necessary if needed.

Does the vessel need to be registered?

The build

The build

(fact)  My craft (improvised pontoon) was registered in my home state, good; much like the tag on your vehicle.

Where will you get fuel?

(fact) – Fuel on the upper Mississippi was not a major issue, there were towns and marina’s along the river and stopping to just ‘top-off’ our fuel allowed for renewed conversation, a snack, and a change of pace.  For the lower Mississippi, fuel was more of a concern – I carried an extra fuel tank (total 30+ gallons for a 40 hp) and took maximum advantage of the current – ‘Idle speed’ was the norm (just to keep the boat pointed downstream) – it was a waste of fuel to go any faster.  A hand truck for shuttling fuel/ice/etc from land based points was a very handy…

You may be advised that there is NO fuel available for hundreds of miles (lower Miss), but if you have done your homework (knowing where the towns are) and are willing to walk – fuel will not be your issue.  Finding a place to tie (dock) below New Madrid was more of the challenge – but we always had fuel and we never ran out or even close.  At idle-speed (just to keep the bow headed downstream) we could easily span 200 miles in the current while getting 6 to 10 miles-per-gallon with the little 40-hp motor.


At the helm was our river chart (US Corps of Engineers) and in the direction of travel.  The charts are printed for reading South to North, having it oriented in front of you helps in ‘reading’ the river ahead.  The charts also hold important contact information (locks) plus, they are a good place to record ‘adventure-notes’ along the way.


There are ‘Mile-markers‘ along the length of the Mississippi river – they are not at regular intervals.  For us, the markers provided some ‘cheap entertainment’ along the way – binoculars helped, circle their passing on your chart.



“The waves from a Towboat will sink you!!” Its very likely that the wake from a tow will be of little more than an inconvenience to you (“it’s just a part of it”) but stay clear of a working tow’s ‘wash’ area.

  • Waves, wake; Any object or vessel breaking the surface tension of a liquid (including a water-bug) will create a wave (or ‘wake’).  The ‘wake’ from a tow could conceivably roll over the ‘waterline’ of a homemade raft that sits low in the water, thus damaging or destroying the cabin – this has happened.  With regard for this ‘waterline’ our improvised pontoon provided us a greater margin of safety – not once did I feel threatened by the ‘wake’ (or waves) of a passing towboat. The ‘oscillating’ waves (the waves bouncing off of each shoreline and then returning across the river) after a towboat passed were at times the most inconvenient of wakes.

wash - 2629

  • “Wash;” The ‘wash’ is the ‘white-water’ area extending immediately behind the tow for several hundred feet – this is the DANGER ZONE and it could end your day no matter how high your craft sits above the water.  It looks like a great ride but the danger is within the trash, trees, stumps, etc that are in the water and propelled outward by the tows massive propellers.  Enlarge the picture above and notice how far the mountains (‘woop-tee-doos’) of water are behind the tow.

On many of the rivers ‘bends’ I chose the ‘inside-line’ (skirting the channel markers) as the tows worked their way upstream – this prevented getting into the ‘wash’ and being kicked toward (or into) the shore.  The tow Pilots are aware of their ‘wash,’ plus there is plenty of area on the river to stay away from them – not a big deal now that you know.

More about Towboats and their size



What is the best time of year for such a trip?

This may have alot more to do with your schedule than any particular reason.  In researching I found several folks making the trip during the fall months – I suppose for the cooler weather and maybe fewer insects.

We decided to go in the spring, the end of May until – which provided higher water from the spring rains.  Spring also provided favorable winds at our back and warming weather as we traveled Southward – light coats in the beginning and sweltering hot below Memphis …. May, June, and July happened to be my picks (there are also more events and festivals along the river during the summer, esp July).

There are many things to consider; spring flooding could delay you on the way (they close the locks with high water).  Spring storms (lightning), are just a ‘part of it’ – your preparation, research, and particular schedule will help you decide.  In 2008 it took thebigrivershow (similar boat/crew) 80 days, they were held back several weeks with spring/storm flooding which occurs every few years (I reasoned not every year). I scheduled for 60 days and made it at idle-speed in 32, still – give yourself ample time.

Do you have to stop each night?

(fact) – With all that I read and understood about the Mississippi, there were hazards enough during the day – wing dams, logs, trees, floating debris, tow boats and barges – hey I may be a little crazy but I’m not stupid. Not having the experience or electronics of the towboat pilots – stopping at night was the best plan.

In reality I wanted to stop each night – it was important to hear and sense the nighttime character along the river; that was a big part of why this ‘venture’ was important to me….

We ran late into the evening twice and found that tying-off after dark created more issues.  Choosing a good place early will insure a better nights rest.  Tie-off with at least two ropes; one for back-up/control.

Be prepared to hear trains through the night, especially on the Upper Mississippi.  The closer to a city you are the more the trains sound-off (for crossings).

Solar lights mounted on our roof and reflectors added nautical visibility.

How will you cope with insects (mosquito’s)?

(fact) – fly swatters, bug spray, mosquito netting, and in the end I simply ‘cowered-down’ to fatigue and let them have me. On the lower Mississippi Mosquito netting was awesome and it worked well.

I did not experience ‘Mayflies’ (‘Shadflies?”) on the numbers that I had read about – the ones that we did experience came from one of the locks (14) many lights.  Even though we were prepared the insects on our adventure were not unbearable nor did they create unbearable conditions.

Will I need a fishing license?

(fact) – I have heard that as long as you have one from a bordering state you are fine, check your map and get one (if needed) from one of the states that covers the longest shoreline.

What are the rules for drinking alcohol?

(fact) – As sailors crossed the Atlantic Ocean hundreds of years ago they drank Rum not because they were a rambunctious bunch but because the water onboard (which was carried in wooden kegs) was warm and stale – (they just became rambunctious because they drank the rum), so in giving this long standing nautical tradition proper regard – and in preparation for less than ‘spring-water,’ alcohol was acceptable on board (plus its good for amputations and doctoring bullet wounds). For this trip, rum/coke (“cuba-libra”) and cranberry/tequila (“waggit adder”) were readily available.

Drinking alcohol; by law, one may not operate a vessel while intoxicated – this was not an issue for us even though our consumption was surprising (and fun).  ‘Happy-hour’ was just a ‘notion away.

How does a person minimize the effects of alcohol?

(fact) they don’t drink it…

What will you do with your trash?

(fact) – Our trash (trash bag) was maintained in a five gallon plastic bucket and then disposed of properly at the Marina, fuel point, or the cities along the way.

We did not litter – we left footprints and only took pictures.

What will you do with all that time?

(fact) – Max on bigrivershow trek said, “A whole lot of nothing, or a whole lot of something.”  I will certainly hope to stop and visit localities, read, and update this blog with the events of the previous day.  Where it didn’t always work that way, I was never bored – to the contrary I was captivated each day, all day (usually standing) watching the comings and going of the river – it was new, awesome, and completely entertaining.

We had a 20′ floating platform to move around on – we talked, fished, or found something more entertaining than water to sip on… I expected boring or ‘old’ but that never happened…. studying the towns and river history along the way beforehand added depth to the experience (and conversation) – I really hated to go to sleep each night and wanted the trip to last forever.

How much did this adventure cost?

From preparation to the end of this adventure (home) was a span of  about seven months; during the entire period I spent @3500 bucks on the trek.


boats to build

This figure included everything; the wood, the hardware, getting it 1000 miles riverside and back, fuel (shuttle and boat), ice, rubber chicken, food, beverage, more ice,  – everything!

This amount does not include the vessel which I had prior to the trip – plus it runs better now than ever (even after ‘swallowing a catfish on day 25).

Why did you name the boat ‘Freebird?’

Because I was unsure, and didn’t really care – if the vessel returned home or not.  For nautical blessings; naming your vessel will require a ceremony; do it right!

Was it worth it?

absolutely!; the ‘river-rat’ experience will be something that you will think about, talk about, and relate to the rest of your life……….

New Orleans, Day 30

In closing; We were told to expect very dangerous and isolated conditions with the emphasis to discourage our adventure.  What I learned was that these ‘opinions’ were simply products from the individual (usually with no adventure experience).  The trip will be what you make of it – expect only the personal luxuries that you create.


Out along the Gulf, at Biloxy

Have a river chart; use it and give the tow-boat pilots and their vessels a wide berth; you will be rewarded ten-fold.


– it is your adventure; DO IT YOUR WAY!

Thomas Gray (Tom) Haynie 


60 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. hd transport
    May 27, 2009 @ 21:23:45

    Hey man
    How’s it going ?
    Are you in the water or still trying to get to your launch site ?
    Best of luck Howard & Denise

    P.S. Had a great time at the lake. Thank’s for having us

  2. Patrick & Gray
    May 31, 2009 @ 20:41:24

    Hey Uncle Tom, I’m sitting here in San Diego with your son watching your video. Nice chicken. Gray says he hopes the racks are comfortable. Welcome to Gray’s life.
    Hope you don’t get eaten by moccasins.

  3. David
    May 31, 2009 @ 22:08:38

    Glad to see ya’ll are off to a good start. Great comments on the river experience. you really put some good words to what you’re seeing and doing. Thanks for the inspiration to explore. Don’t worry about the truck. I’ll get it back to the lake probably next week.
    Have a great time. Rock on my friend!

  4. Gray
    May 31, 2009 @ 23:43:12

    Argg… May the winds be swift and fairr and Poseidon be merciful to thee… Keep thy blade sharp and rum safe. Congrats on the beginning, and welcome to the life… at least you have no bosses out there!

  5. Herman
    Jun 01, 2009 @ 08:49:40

    Hey Tom and Carl;

    Sitting here at work reading your trip log. Sounds like fun so far. Have you been in the water yet? Is it cold or warm, clean or dirty? How goes the daily progress. Are you making your expected milage a day? Sounds like you have met some fun people so far. That will be the best part of the trip. Have fun and have one for me today.

  6. Duck
    Jun 01, 2009 @ 12:31:29

    glad to have met you guys. Good luck. Dubuque will miss you. I didnt see a picture of the parakeet hanging on board.

  7. Tom Haynie
    Jun 01, 2009 @ 15:40:34

    Our parrot named “Duck,’ found his place of importance – thanks.

    and Herman, water is getting more inviting – not of the quality that we are spoiled to, but it improves from pool area to pool area (near the dam seems better at times) where jumping in could happen with heat – air has been very comfortable, cool at nights – hot during the day in the sun, warming each day – we’ve already done that for you today, now what? (yes)…..

    and Hey Gray and Patrick thanks for checking us out……

  8. Mike from Chestnut Beach
    Jun 01, 2009 @ 20:37:53

    Hey Guys. Was nice talking to you all yesterday. Be safe out there. I think your trip is going to be a blast for you. Will be watching from your web site. Let me know how you like the beach anchor and thanks for the shirt. Mike

  9. Anonymous
    Jun 03, 2009 @ 18:51:07

    I always knew you were crazy, but turkey butt is still ten cents a cup!

  10. Carl Caughorn
    Jun 03, 2009 @ 21:17:59

    Whats up guys? I’ve been keeping up with yall’ through the site and enjoying the pictures. Tom, I want to see that beard get longer and longer through the videos. I hope all is well and I will keep in touch through this.

  11. Gator
    Jun 05, 2009 @ 06:52:05

    waht’s up Tom…are you keeping Carl in line. We already miss you here. Just be safe out there and don’t let Carl drown! Great pics man!

  12. Tom Haynie
    Jun 05, 2009 @ 18:46:05

    Having fun, forgive the lack of comeback on most comments, its just rare to get to the computer – solar panel not living up to expectations, but all is well. I also want to answer comments when I see them, but want to keep my mind on the river too – so I side on the river while it is here – thanks for keeping up, it means alot and we really are having a blast. Hannibal Mo. right now (home of Mark Twain), live band tonight and back on the river late tomorrow….

  13. Tom Lee
    Jun 06, 2009 @ 14:33:23

    Hey Tom, has Carl been crying a lot? He and I took a trip around the United States in the summer of 1972 in an old Dodge van and he cried all the way to San Francisco. If you give him a cookie, he’ll stop. Anyway, love the site and the updates and videos. You guys have fun and be safe!

  14. Gator
    Jun 07, 2009 @ 10:57:23

    Waz up guys!! Sounds like you guys are having a blast! Glad you are safe! Read the one about coming out of WalMart and not remembering what car you drove there…well guys, I do that back here at home and I do not even have to borrow a car…and sometimes I don’t even knnow what store I just came out of…Really enjoying your posts and I think when I retire I’ll do one only on a Bar Crawl from Murphy to Maneto!
    Ya’ll take care…and will be “listening up” for more posts!

  15. Debbie (Riverbend Marina)
    Jun 08, 2009 @ 11:23:44

    Hi guys! I have some pics from yesterday when you were at the marina. Send me your email to debbie@riverbendmarina.com if you want them.

  16. Kevin
    Jun 08, 2009 @ 22:21:29

    Met u in St Louis. Thx for bringing my boys onboard for a look-see..some day they’ll realize how neat your excursion is. Don’t lose your lunch money on the casino boats along the way!
    Good luck!

  17. Tom
    Jun 10, 2009 @ 09:52:34

    I live in Baton Rouge and consider myself knowledgeable about the river from Natchez to New Orleans. I work shift work and would be willing to help you anyway that I can. Feel free to contact me via email and I will give you my phone number.


  18. Anonymous
    Jun 10, 2009 @ 22:31:01

    Hey Tom & Carl.
    It looks like you are both having a great adventure as well as a lot of fun, if you can in your web log’s tell us what the next stop is for you, before you get to it.
    anyway stay dry. and drink a few for the rest of us back here at the A.F.R.

  19. Ed Wyatt
    Jun 11, 2009 @ 19:08:16

    Hey Tom and Carl,
    Been keeping up with your trip and jealous I’m not there. Tom, I’m trying to catch the slack you left on the comp list. We are awaiting Carl’s return to our shift. Stay safe and see you both back in town. (I got your answer to Herman!!) Party on boys!

  20. H.
    Jun 12, 2009 @ 01:55:41

    a little weather update for you tomorrow 6-12-09…if you are in the Cape Giardeau are you are going to be hit with a storm with moderate to heavy rain fall..it should clear by morning to mid-day.
    for 6-12-09 there is a storm forming over Little Rock, this storm is moving to the east at 15 m.p.h.this front will carry rain fronts with lite to moderate rain fall, it should be over with by mid-day to afternoon, once it clears you will have over cast sky’s until night fall.

    try to stay dry…I will send another weather up date to you for sunday and monday

  21. Rick Emory
    Jun 12, 2009 @ 15:46:37

    Hey guys, been trying to figure out how to communicate with yall. just found this page. hope you get this. been keepin-up on the site. good progress. looks like fun- but I bet yall smell like warm dammit.
    keep paddlin on!
    Rick Emory

  22. Tom Haynie
    Jun 13, 2009 @ 11:27:01

    Thanks all for your notes, had fun reading them (and they were informative (weather))we are having spotty reception with the “net’ – so will catch up in Memphis (Sunday)

    Thanks again, it is all so awesome -best to worst its all just a part of it..

    (Carl became one with the river today – he jumped in it for a bath! – best thing about the water is the temperature…..)

  23. H
    Jun 13, 2009 @ 22:28:04

    I am not sure if this will help you, I noticed you have a weather site on your site, but make sure to cross ref. your weather with Underground Weather.com I think if you use both you will have a higher chance of knowing the actual weather you are hitting or soon will hit.
    I used three weather forecast sites to give you the most up to date weather.
    I hope it was a big help.

    So Tom if you are posing as Tom Sawyer who does that make Carl out to be????
    would it be Huck Finn or Big Jim???LOL…

  24. Tom Haynie
    Jun 15, 2009 @ 08:20:49

    Thanks H, it has been a help – we find ourselves out here with no news, which is actually nice – weather helps when we can get power and internet…

    Not sure who’s profile Carl fits, “Pops” maybe…

  25. Gator
    Jun 17, 2009 @ 06:31:30

    Hey Tom,
    Really cool stuff! Glad you are staying safe and hope you are “meeting your objectives” as you said about Carl. This will really be something great to tell your grandkids about and then in in two more generations just think about them telling THEIR grandkids…”let me tell you what your great great grandfather did once!!” You are “da man” Tom!!!

  26. Mike Riley (378)
    Jun 19, 2009 @ 14:53:31

    Hey Capt. Looks like you are having a blast. I’ll look forward to some first hand stories when you get back. We’ll keep the city safe for you until then. Take care.

  27. Tom
    Jun 25, 2009 @ 21:28:59

    Do you understand why the call BR to NOLA the “War Zone”?

  28. John
    Aug 19, 2009 @ 16:30:43

    Stumbled upon your site. Ended up playing hooky from work because I couldn’t stop reading your blog.
    Hmmm, now I’m starting to dream of the same adventure. I’d be the same way. I’m not bored anywhere, too much to see.
    One needs a support team to come and fetch the vessel and crew, not to mention the drop off. I’m from Alberta, so farther to drive to New Orleans. I wonder if there are many an abandoned vessel in those parts. Finally, I wonder how much busier it would be in say 3 to 5 years?
    Thanks for sharing.

  29. Tom Haynie
    Aug 20, 2009 @ 07:39:22


    Its not uncommon for a few to buy a boat in Minneapolis and sell it when they get to New Orleans (bigrivershow.com) – saves on logistics. As for me the ‘bird’ is a common pontoon once again and actually runs better now than ever – its fun to have the memories and conversation. Good luck with your adventure, you can be a ‘river-rat’ too………

  30. tuck
    Mar 22, 2010 @ 15:53:57

    We are planning a summer cruise in a 45′ houseboat from Lake Guntersville (M 383) down the Tennessee River,Ohio and then up the Upper Mississippi River to at least as far as Dubuque, IW (m580).
    Would like to hear about where the good/great/safe places are to “drop a hook” for the night .

  31. Tom Haynie
    Mar 24, 2010 @ 08:10:27

    Tuck, – the first ‘leg’ part above Cairo (before 159mm and Hoppies Marina) will likely be a tie-off – we found that our anchor could slip or become entangled leaving us with little power to clear the obstacle (have a knife close to cut the line), so we tied to trees along the bank (on the ‘off-side’) of islands. You may have to go in parallel to the wing-dams to avoid them, your draft will tell you alot. I figure by the time you traverse the Tennessee and Ohio (I envy you), you will have it all figured out. Take more time in the towns along the way (in many you will have dockage). Say Hello to ‘Duck’ at the Dubuque Yacht Club…

  32. David Adams
    Apr 28, 2010 @ 23:04:53

    I happen to be doing a high school research paper on the feasibility of rafting down the Ohio/Mississippi. This website helped a lot, and was very fun to read.

    Thanks for documenting the trip!

  33. Tom Haynie
    Apr 29, 2010 @ 08:42:15

    Thanks David, good luck with the paper (and good choice of subject matter).

  34. michael & beau ross
    Aug 16, 2010 @ 23:54:20

    the site was great, loved it!! I have a question, myself and my ten year son have some interest in making the river trip. Is it feasible that a 52 year man and a ten year could make the proper plans to complete the trip? Both of us are avid outdoors people, love to hunt and fish. Where would we start? You mention that if you made a second trip u would take a different vessel, what were u considering? Would love to hear back from you. I have a very outstanding son and I am looking for something that might make a huge difference in his life. I really need some insight into this river trip. I have thought about all of my life. Thanks for your time!!!!!!!

  35. Tom Haynie
    Aug 17, 2010 @ 08:35:16

    Do it Mike, it will be the best thing ever (the trip of a lifetime) for you two. (Don’t take the wife, but be nice, stress the fact there are no conveniences or shower and ask anyway (she’ll say NO WAY!!))- then you are off the hook. I have emailed you other thoughts, you both prepare then live the adventure – have a great time….

  36. Mike Brown
    Oct 03, 2010 @ 16:27:20

    Tom and Carl,
    I’m reading with great interest! Only on day 11 of the trek, but my Bears/Giants game beckons! About a week ago, my preparations have begun to “live aboard” a houseboat, more than likely a 40′, and in selecting locations it dawned upon me; I have been “land-locked” in the back yard of Mark Twain’s imagination! Your adventure and the story that you have captured is compelling me forward! Thank you for ALL the vast information you’ve collected and shared.
    My goal is to survive the elements for at least two years. I am a musician, artist, and story teller. A proud daddy. A professional bartender. And now regrettably, about to be a stinking statistic of cancer. It’s not there yet, but the tumor is there and effecting my ability to work in a “labor” force, and I lately feel that I have wasted the better parts of my life. I would much rather forgo any operations and just LIVE!
    I am selecting a boat at a great bargain from either Tenn or LA, and then sending it up to St. Paul to a family vacation spot in Northern MN. My target date to begin this journey is the 1st of April. I feel by then, all my research and planning will be in place – and would have read your story about two or three times through!; along with the others you have linked to this adventure.
    Thank you once again for encouraging this old boater to just get out there and experience LIFE for the sake of God’s creation, my children, and of course….Me!
    Maybe we’ll pass a wave down the river when you embark again!

  37. Tom Haynie
    Nov 02, 2010 @ 17:37:28

    My Favorite Uncle laid in the bed after 9 months of radiation and said he’d rather live normally for six than live miserably for six more – it would a difficult choice for any of us ‘at that time’.. All’s I can say is go ahead and “Skin it back” Mike, put some dependable power on that 40-footer and let me know how it all turn’s out – two years is achievable.

  38. Summit Sojourner
    May 16, 2011 @ 08:55:40

    I was looking for a map of the Mississippi River and stumbled upon your blog (Am I allowed to say Stumbled Upon or is that a Trademark hahaha) Anyhow, awesome! Love the adventure and information. I would love to repost your story on my blog. We talk about our Colorado Mountain Towns and of course we are all rafting fanatics here, our rafts just look a little different ; )
    Our hearts are going out to all effected by the flooding, my email is summitsojourner@yahoo.com – would love to chat more!

  39. Tom Haynie
    May 16, 2011 @ 12:15:39

    Your links would be welcomed, I hope others find the trip as interesting (or entertaining) as I did – I’m ready to go again.

  40. Matt
    Dec 29, 2011 @ 14:42:59

    Just wondering if I can pick a photo or two of yours to include into the header of my outdoor website? thanks!

  41. Tom Haynie
    Dec 29, 2011 @ 19:26:49

    Help yourself buddy, if there is anyway you could put a ‘bacshortly.com’ plug in that would be nice, if not – still good.

  42. wembley hotels
    Dec 29, 2011 @ 20:46:24

    Yes, thats exactly what I wanted to hear! Fantastic stuff here. The info and the detail were just ideal. I think that your perspective is deep, its just properly thought out and really fantastic to see a person who knows how you can put these thoughts down so well. Great job on this.

  43. Dan
    Dec 29, 2011 @ 23:53:34

    I’m in the infant stages of planning a trip for (hopefully) late this spring… I just noticed your Asheville Fire Fighters logo in the top corner of the page… I’m in Asheville too. I was originally hoping to do more of a trash-raft kind of thing out of recycled materials, but the more I read the more it seems I need to do more of a pontoon thing that you have. Were you able to get those locally?

  44. Tom Haynie
    Dec 30, 2011 @ 09:23:32

    Whatever you decide, do it your way Dan, it’s your trip. I retired from Asheville last year after 31 years FD, am enjoying paddling lakes and rivers now – (backshortly.wordpress.com).

    The trash type of rig is a great idea in bringing awareness to the issue, personally a pink save the ta-ta’s vessel is just above it on my list in ranking. This questions area above should answer most of your questions – take your time in constructing, ours came from selectively light material gathered at Lowes.

    just holler if you need further, I’m ready to go again.

  45. Anonymous
    Jan 02, 2012 @ 21:57:18

    Im interested in a trip departing from Memphis Tn and going to Home Port. How long will it take us to get there just at idle speed? Thank you!

  46. Tom Haynie
    Jan 30, 2012 @ 22:32:33

    The way I figure it, set your Garmin – it’s always right (and if not it will continually adjust until arrival) – wish I would have known before our trip.

    Your idea of idle-speed will assure accuracy, have a good one.

    “leave early, enjoy the ride”

  47. John
    Mar 17, 2012 @ 01:19:35

    I was just reading up on your trip and I am about to do a very similar trip down to New Orleans. I was wondering how you were at using the laptop on the boat? I see the picture of him with the laptop and I have also asked some other boaters ”what is the best and least expensive way to get wifi or an internet connection while on the boat???” I’m doing my homework now to get ready to go from Minnesota to Nawlins !!!!!

  48. Tom Haynie
    Mar 17, 2012 @ 07:30:27

    Verizon Wireless for the laptop – overall worked great but there were a few areas along the state of Mississippi where there was little to no signal (communication), I didn’t mind – left me more time to ‘enjoy.’

    Have a great trip

  49. Anonymous
    May 27, 2012 @ 18:22:38

    05/27/2012 I am Kayaking from Mile Zero out along the coast back into the ICW back into the Mississippi and then back the my vehicle in Venice. Any tips or adivce you can offer. I have not been able to make contact with anyone who has done this in a kayak.

  50. Tom Haynie
    May 28, 2012 @ 12:35:56

    That could be a very interesting paddle, beautiful marshland – I would imagine having a thought or two on a place to spend the night (in case) would be a priority. Keep me posted with your progress, that’s a neat route..

  51. Glenn Greer
    Sep 14, 2012 @ 18:06:17

    Great site Tom! This summer I did a couple motorcycle trips – MA to AK and back and then MA to NS/PEI and back. About 15 minutes after I was done, I knew I wasn’t really done and started thinking about my next “adventure”. I googled rafting the mississippi, and your site came up. My original thought, before seeing your boat, was to do a plastic barrell type raft (motorized). My reasoning was purely economical and ease of getting the raft to and from the river as I am coming from the Boston area. After seeing your boat, it just looks so much sturdier and safer using a pontoon boat paltform. Did you see any other types of rafts other than yours and if so, how did it look like they were making out? I really do keep flip-flopping on the design choice. Thanks for any light you can shed ….

  52. Tom Haynie
    Sep 14, 2012 @ 20:50:35

    Thanks Glen, It was well worth the adventure – pontoon seemed the safest. There is a link on the right column, a couple of guys are going down next spring, Its an awesome way to ‘unplug,’ read up…..

    and do it your way….

    Tom Haynie Leave early, enjoy the ride…… backshortly.com


  53. TJ smith
    Jan 22, 2013 @ 19:12:27

    It was very nice meeting you at our beef’s the other day. Thanks for stoping in. Also, I love the website.

  54. Tom Haynie (bacshortly)
    Jan 23, 2013 @ 06:44:38

    Hey TJ, Just finished those wings in SC. Thanks for the hospitality – and the ‘snake-bite’ tasting – will be back through…. Beef-o-Brady’s is a favorite

    Apr 17, 2015 @ 14:11:29

    your not giving me no imfo thanxs alot on school project and its going horrible !!!!!!!!!!!!!

  56. Tom Haynie (bacshortly)
    Apr 17, 2015 @ 18:00:06

    A number of my school projects went that way too – I felt good to be ‘average.’ When I finally read Mark Twain’ book ‘Life on The Mississippi’ I found ‘INTEREST’!

    Mark Twain quote, “To succeed in life, you need two things: ignorance and confidence.”


  57. Blake Koch
    Mar 07, 2017 @ 11:32:31

    I have been wanting to do this for years and after reading about your adventure, I will make it happen. My question: where do yo find a stripped down pontoon so you can build it custom like yours? Or, how did you go about building your craft?

  58. Tom Haynie (bacshortly)
    Mar 09, 2017 @ 06:36:34

    Blake, There are many different ways to make it happen, just keep your eye out for something and don’t rush it. A dependable motor is the most important part, 4-stroke preferred – take your time, prepare it months in advance… as for everything else, its your trip – do it your way…

  59. Anonymous
    Aug 13, 2019 @ 08:40:51

    Where is the best website for river miles? Is there an actual site you can click on points or add cities?

  60. Tom Haynie (bacshortly)
    Aug 13, 2019 @ 13:36:47

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