Why are you rafting 1,800 miles down the Mississippi? Is it for a cause or awareness?
This trip gives us a great opportunity to build something we are proud of and build it well. The satisfaction of seeing the finished product of something you’ve built with your own two hands is something not many people our age are feeling these days. Most things we need or want can be delivered or obtained with the press of a button or swipe of a card, where the sense of working for reward is just not there. We intend to gather our own supplies, design and build our vessel, navigate the river and survive by ourselves with only the bare essentials and our own two hands. But don’t get us wrong, the main goal of this trip (successful or not) is to have fun! Hopefully we will inspire others to think beyond their comfort zone and do something they can tell their grandkids about!
What do you float on?
55 gallon polyurethane barrels that we acquired for $5 a barrel. Each barrel displaces 55 gallons of water, as each gallon of water weighs roughly 9 pounds, a single barrel can displace 450 pounds, fully submerging it. The raft is configured with two pontoons of 7 barrels on each side, with an extra 2 in the rear to lift the motor, gasoline and rear half of the vessel. With a total of 16 barrels at 2/3 barrel displacement, the floatation can support up to 4,800 pounds.
How much do you weigh?
The decking frame weighs approximately 2,000 pounds by calculating the amount of raw lumber. The shelter constructed on top of the decking weighs just over 1,300 leaving us 1,500 pounds for gear, food, gasoline, garden boxes, 2 people and a large dog. Not to mention the solar panel, solar setup, bicycles, dog food and drinking water.
How large is your raft?
21.5 long by 10 feet wide.
What do your guys get given while floating down the river?
Monetary donations, gasoline, summer sausage, beer, pulled pork and corresponding hot sauce, reserve gas tank, river anchors, advice to NOT go past St. Louis, goose-bacon wraps, a catfish, fried fish, dog treats, and tons of advice.
What are you going to do once you’ve made it to the Gulf of Mexico?
Depending on how attached we become, it will likely be Uhauled back to Minnesota after being taken apart. Another likely scenario would be to sell it with the motor and take only the solar panel back home. One thought was to light here on fire and send her out into the Gulf.
Animals and natural wildlife we’ve seen on the Mississippi River.
Deer, muskrat, beaver, squirrels,
Fish and Aquatic Life
white bass, asian carp, large mouth bass, northern pike, sun fish, turtles, river snake (unknown species), river clams, snails, two foot lilly-pads
great blue heron, bald eagle, hawks, gulls, swallows, storks, pelicans, mallards
Bugs, Spiders, Pests
mayflies, moths, biting flies, black flies, horse flies, ticks, mosquitos, super mosquitos, fleas
How often do you actually float?
A quarter of the time the raft is in “float-mode” where it drifts in the current and blows sideways with any wind. The Evinrude 9.9 horsepower outboard is required to turn us through the navigation channel, through the locks, up to shores and marina, adjust position on windy days and especially turn us for boat wakes. The pontoon hull and top heavy shelter rock back and forth to hard to take side wakes; a quick turn to ride the wake from front to rear and on we go. The navigation channel is our preferred route because of water depth, avoiding thousands of wind-dams (underwater rock walls) and not getting lost as its miles are marked the entire way. Locks are challenging due to water turbulence before and after the dammed up water; the dams create pools of water above them, slowing and even changing the current significantly. “We got a slow one” hollers the lockmaster over the radio to an impatient barge as we chugged into a lock. The turbanlence after leaving the lock creates an entirely different and very difficult at times wake; the closest comparison would be rapids, but they sure aren’t ever going in the same directions. Pulling up to shores and into marinas require the motor as well, finer touches are necessary..on windy days you must know how to parallel park. Wind can be friendly, but only if a few conditions are met; ideally a northern, mild and constant conditions.
What do we sleep on?
We made custom bench beds from 3 inch foam, two foot wide osb and fabric.
What do you eat?
We don’t refrigerate or keep anything on ice, our main sources of food are canned food, pasta, bread, beans, rice, packaged tuna and potatoes. Vegetables and fruit are acquired in towns, but they are consumed fast. Read more on the post: Day in the Life