The Barrel Raft Boys dedicate this post to how we live, eat and survive. This unique lifestyle proves to be challenging and fun. Stripping down to the core essentials, we’ve had to balance Needs/Wants with Weight ratio. Our floating home is estimated to hold 500 pounds of supplies. About 450 of that is dog food ( jk 🙂
Roughly 95% of the time we travel, we are the only craft on the water that we can see. Everybody notices our raft! Once in a while, boaters slow down to speak with us about our journey, some toss a couple cans of cold beer..even a summer sausage SCORE!
The most peaceful sleeping is on sandbars in the wildlife refuges as they are nice and quiet, away from city noise and give all of us an area to explore. Skully can roam free and perform his ritualistic “perimeter check”. A thorough examination of the area surrounding us, beginning as soon as we hit shore and ending once the camp fire is lit. Its nice to know Skully is looking out for us, but his dedication to go above and beyond his duties as Security Detail can get old when barks at a passing tugboat until it disappears behind a curve, or confusing a navigation buoy for a nuclear bomb.
Campfires are built on most nights, its nice to feel the warmth and keep pests away. Plus campfires are awesome. Its really easy to find wood on shore. As the water levels decrease, drift wood gets left on shore to dry out in the sun making it great fire fuel.
Fishing occurs on a daily basis, but hardly luck so far. When we are in the navigation channel, we’re constantly turning its usually at a pretty good clip, so keeping a line in the water can be tricky. All the advice so far has been to jig off the bottom with a nightcrawler to catch the fish, but that proves to be another problem: keeping live bait. With no refrigeration, a supply of night crawlers can go bad over the course of one day, so we are currently experimenting with keeping them in our garden soil.
We pack and store dry food, canned food, nuts, pasta, rice, peanut butter, ramen noodles, whey and protein bars.
The items with short shelf-life such as vegetables, fruits, bread, meats and cold beverages are consumed quickly since we are not refrigerating anything. We have a cooler, but we rarely buy ice.
A single burner propane stove top boils, cooks and warms anything we need. Sometimes even used to roast a marshmallow or two for a late night snack. The dishes are done after each meal, we use a sponge, biodegradable dish soap and wash them in the river. For simplicity, the cooking dish usually ends up being the same bowl we eat out of.
Life vests are easily accessible.
The mesh netting doors provide a full insect barrier; the back door rolls down and the front door is removable and foldable. After enclosing ourselves, we use fly paper to slowly eliminate them. Insects are not been much of a bother on windy days. Flies seem to be attracted to the cool, moist floor of the shelter. These flies love to bite at your feet and lower legs, lifting our legs above the ground provides the best relief.
Skully receives Extreme Athlete dog food twice a day, because he is, from nose to tail, an extreme dog. Although he must smell everything we eat, Skully never gets people food. Skully also drinks the same water we do, occasionally he drinks from the river.
A new garden box was recently installed on the front. Green beans, spinach, lettuce, snap peas and peppers were planted and are starting to peek through the dirt.
The garden consists of kale, lettuce, basal, collard greens, char and green pepper. These veggies are consumed in small quantities each day, this keeps them growing and gives us a little freshness.
With an output of up to 240 Watts, this solar panel absorbs more than enough energy needed for our devices.
Bicycles are used to get us through the towns we gather supplies in; they fit with the back tires underneath the solar panel.
An iPhone 4 cell phone gives us a life-line to outside world. Internet tethering on AT&T 3G network gives us the ability to connect to the internet.
Backpacks are hung, used to store things off the ground and expand our supplies carrying capacity.
The tool station includes a small cordless drill, screws, nails, hammer, wrench, straps, paint and extra wood leftover from the build.
Laundry is washed in the river with biodegradable laundry soap, then hung on the clotheslines to dry.
Using the river to take baths and shave. Nothing like having the sun beat down on a bare butt!
Large totes hold our clothes and gear underneath the beds; they also help keep our stuff dry.
A basketball net strung above the bed, lets us store things quickly.
Steering the motor from the rear to keep our direction and away from shore. Binoculars are essential to navigate, watch for traffic, scout out beaches for landing and seeing the landscapes around us.
The navigation maps from the Army Corps of Engineers are very accurate and allow us to navigate down this huge water-system. We mark the route in red, circle places we stop at, record the arrival and departure times and write notes of what we did. The dams regulate water levels in each section of the Mississippi. They are in place to keep the navigation channel deep enough for barges to use, but with all the high water, most of the dams are wide open.
Whatever includes fishing, reading, napping, eating, sun bathing, resting, gardening, cleaning, leather making, drawing, lounging, adding to raft and waving to other boaters.
Hope you enjoyed this post and seeing how we live on the river! Right now we’re taking the days slow so we can hit Davenport by Friday. Passed through Clinton, IA yesterday, got groceries and ran Skulls around. Clinton is a beautiful town and have a baseball team “The Lumberkings” which they appear to take great pride in. Floating on, we were advised to try camping on a sandbar not too far downriver from Clinton. Turned out to be a perfect spot and here we are writing you before, whats about to be, our second night on this mile long stretch of sand.