The "Lower" Mississippi River will take you to New Orleans. So your voyage to New Orleans from Cairo is 859 miles
and from Grafton it is 1,078 miles. While it all sounds exciting & romantic, serious considerations need to be
understood and decisions made before taking this route to the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.
Making Sense
about your decision to cruise
the "Lower" Mississippi River
Consider this:
      If Many people in boats, rafts, pontoon boats, canoes, and just about anything that floats, make all are part of this
journey every year. I'm really NOT trying to discourage you. . . I'm simply trying to inform you.
      Indeed, if you are Tom Sawyer traveling with Huck Finn - this voyage is for you! That is assuming. . .
Neither of you
hesitate to jump into the muddy water, or climb up a the river's muddy banks carrying jerry cans to refuel your vessel, or hike out to
distant location to get ice and provisions as needed. If you are young, physically fit and adventurous, and love your solitude, you
will most likely be thrilled boating down the full length of the Lower Mississippi. (Personally, I wouldn't do it in a nice new shinny boat
that didn't have any dings or scratches on it yet.) However:
      If however, you are Captain Clean cruising with Ms Manicure, and both of you are social butterflies; you are likely to be
miserable voyaging down the Lower Mississippi.
Most Loopers (even those that have the fuel range) bid farewell to the
Mississippi in Cairo, and take the Tenn-tom route - and they do so for good reasons. Lack of fuel, lack of facilities, lack of shore
access together with difficult anchorages, bugs, barges and tows. . . This route is almost impossible to recommend for anyone over
the age of 40. (Seems the older we get, our creature comforts are more important.)
Sadly this is NOT the romantic, carefree voyage it once
was. . .
      Your decision to cruise the full length of the Mississippi River to New
Orleans and the Gulf ICW vs taking the Tennessee-Tombigbee to Mobile Bay
and the Gulf ICW should be considered seriously. In addition to the question of
fuel range and capacity, your provisions and lack of facilities along this route are
important considerations.
      Despite what you may think,  boating the Lower Mississippi River together
with what you expect when you arrive in New Orleans
will not be what you
dreamed
. Trust our experience on this one. . . When it comes to boats, boating,
bugs, tugs and barges - the Lower Mississippi and the Mississippi side of New
Orleans will (most likely) turn out to be something you will wish you had avoided
altogether - especially - if it comes as a surprise.  

      What matters most in making the choice of what route to take, is your
vessel's fuel range - as well as your lifestyle and comfort zone.  In order to cruise
the Lower Mississippi, your boat's fuel capacity must provide you with a fuel
range of
352 miles if you use diesel, or 449 miles if you use gasoline. This
difference in fuel distance between gas & diesel is a result of a single optional
trucked in diesel fuel delivery service which is not available for gasoline
users.

      While the Tennessee - Tombigbee route offers dozens of Marinas
between the Ohio river and the Gulf ICW, the Lower Mississippi river
offers only 2 Marinas
between Hoppies Marina at Mile Marker 158.5 on the
Upper Mississippi, and New Orleans.  There are no services or fuel from Hoppies
to Mud Island Marina on the Wolf River Harbor off the Lower Mississippi River
(Memphis) at Mile Marker 737. This is a distance of 376 miles, and there are no
services or fuel from Greenville until you reach the Gulf ICW, and there are no
pleasure boat or dock spaces in New Orleans on the Mississippi River.

      There are also NO Marina Services between the Greenville Yacht Club
at Mile 539 and New Orleans until you pass through the Harvey Lock at Mile
Marker 93 and proceed 3 more miles east on the Gulf ICW to SeaBrook Marine.
This makes your distance from Greenville Yacht Club to Seabrook Marina a total
distance of 449 miles.  
This makes this leg of your voyage the farthest
distance between fuel stops on the entire Great Loop.

Regardless of fuel, in both cases, from Hoppies Marina you have:
    1. Mud Island Marina,
    2. Greenville Yacht Club

       These two marinas are the only shore access points and Marina
services for over  400 miles in either direction.  
So, if you need fuel,
showers, laundry, ice, beverages, provisions, or any kind, you will NOT find them
between Hoppies and Mud RIver, between Mud River and Greenville, or between
Greenville and Seabrook Marina. This distance, on average) takes us 12 to 15
days. Therefore you will be anchoring out in places with no shore access for 12
to 15 days (provided you don't get caught in bad weather).  So plan ahead, and
plan accordingly.

      Now, if you have the fuel range, the Lower Mississippi can be a very
exciting and enjoyable voyage - if anchoring out and spending that amount of
time exclusively on your boat - fits well into your lifestyle. If you can carry the
provisions you want and need, and you enjoy your solitude, it will be a voyage to
remember.
      While I know it sounds as if we are being negative about this, our intention
is not to encourage, or discourage - only to inform.  Fact is, the severe floods
over the years have simply washed out all the riverfront restaurants, marinas,
fish camps, and shore access . Now, all of that has been replace with high levies
on one side and shallow swamps on the other.

      New Orleans:  If visiting New Orleans is your objective, you need to be
aware that
the Mississippi River side of New Orleans offers no services of any
kind to pleasure boaters. There simply are no docks, no anchorages, and no
fuel. To visit New Orleans you will need to head straight to the east side of the
Harvey Lock and find a Marina on or near Lake Pontchartrain.
      
Optional route to New Orleans:  So, if New Orleans is really a big time,
must see stop on your Great Loop voyage. . . I highly recommend taking the
Tenn-Tom route to Mobile Bay, and approaching New Orleans from the east side
where Lake Pontchartrain will greet you with friendly waters, fantastic scenery,
and lots of Marinas & restaurants right on the waterfront.
Cruising the Gulf ICW - click next.
FUEL RANGE:
It requires a 'gasoline' fuel range of 449 miles.
It requires a 'diesel' fuel range
of 352 miles

LACK OF FACILITIES
800 MILES
and ONLY 2 Marinas

No Shore Access

NO RIVERFRONT RESTAURANTS

HEAVY COMMERCIAL TRAFFIC

Visiting
New Orleans
is a wonderful place to visit,
but you will NOT be able to visit it via boat
from the Mississippi River.

To visit New Orleans, you will need to dock
your boat at a Marina on or near Lake
Pontchartrain
or Gulf ICW.

Between the
Bugs & Barges
You will most likely
be thrilled to escape
the Mississippi river side of
New Orleans

SUGGESTION!
If you want to visit New Orleans take the
Tenn-Tom route to Mobile Bay and head west
on the Gulf ICW to New Orleans.
This will make your destination on the Lake
Ponchartrain side of New Orleans where all
the "pleasure boat" facilities are located.
::   The Great Lakes   ::
::   The Atlantic IntraCoastal Waterway   ::
::   The Great Loop Route   ::
BYOB
"Bring Your Own Boat"
and take the voyage of a lifetime
America's Great Loop
Cruising the "Lower" Mississippi River
New Orleans from the Mississippi River
   Twenty-three years and 8 times around, I simply can't encourage
you enough if this is your dream, if this is on your 'bucket list'. . .
Make sure you start planning soon. Do this while you still can. Do it
while you still have your good health.
Capt. John