View from the Crew
occasional comments from crew members
Contributions from Three Crew Members who sailed
from Mexico to Guatamala, Fall 2005
I. A Poem by Rachel Dubsky
It was called Absolute Absolution.
Is it a boat? No, no, it's a raft.
I was ready for an adventure.
Friends and family thought I was daft.
I sent them a little email
'Cos Ed and June were looking for crew.
This moment would change me forever,
The instant I met them I knew.
So I joined the other crew members,
There was Mika and Lisa and Thor.
And I can't forget Brendan the cat,
As he was our navigator.
With no time to change my mind,
(I still had my doubts, of course),
I made home my little bow cabin
And decided to use the force.
"What are your fears?" asked June.
"That we'll sink!" I said with a chuckle.
"This raft's made of foam and it's tough.
There's no way that it will buckle!"
So we left on a balmy Tuesday,
All spirits high with hope.
Thinking positively of what lay ahead,
Not questioning how we would cope.
We sailed past hotels and resorts,
Wondering how people could live that way.
"Say goodbye to that capitalist civilisation!
We're free! Quick, let's sail away!"
Ed taught us how to put up a jib,
And June showed us the way round the galley.
Take a deep breath before entering the "head,"
Or you will be ill to your belly!
Day and night we tried to sail south,
But the winds were not in our favour.
Helm watches all through the night,
Only to get stuck in Punta Herrera.
Provisions started to run low.
Living on rice, beans and TVP.
A cold beer we could only dream,
But coconuts are always free!
The time came when we had to change course,
Which turned out to be a blessing.
Through Belize we jumped Cay to Cay.
Where to next we just kept guessing.
The snorkelling blew all of our minds.
A whole universe under the sea!
All colours and shapes and sizes,
So amazing, just how could it be?!
But it's a journey of mind, not just body.
I have challenged a lot of my fears.
I have questioned the way I've been programmed,
And looked back over all of my years.
I'm excited about the future.
The freedom of what I can do.
Confident to create my own happiness.
And so can any of you!
A big thank you to Edward and June.
You truly are a huge inspiration.
Just follow your three deepest desires,
And we can all reach this elation!
II. A Drawing of
George Ivanovich Gurdieff
by Mika Eronen
click on the drawing
to see it bigger
III. Impressions by Lisa Lindstrom
When I first got invited to come and crew on your raft, Absolute
Absolution, I didn't know what to expect. And during the month
we sailed from Isla Mujeres, Mexico, to Livingston, Guatemala, it
turned out to be the opportunity of a lifetime.
Besides everything you taught me about sailing, you've shown me the valuable
knowledge of how to work for fulfilling my deepest desires. And you made
me realize that the opportunities are endless. It made me remember the
important lesson be grateful and appreciate things in life, even as simple
things as enjoying a cold beer or a flushing toilet. And alongside all
that I've learnt I got to spend time, and got to know these great human
beings. And together we shared this adventure, including several interesting
discussions, laughter and maybe one or two arguments, which I want to
thank you for.
And not only have I taken a step, but a jump, towards who I want to be.
I wish you all the luck with your coming adventures. And with spreading
the Neutrino love around the world.
Cuba - July-August 2003 - Galen Maloney
End of June, my '79 Volare and myself are on the road, heading west to California. I've
stopped in New Orleans to visit my aunt, uncle and baby cousin when I get word that some
people I know, including my grandfather, whom I havent seen in 20 some odd years,
are departing on a raft to Cuba. Cant pass up this opportunity to meet my
grandfather, learn about boats and sailing, travel with a group, and see a place free of
American pop culture. So I find a cheap flight to Cancun, and become part of the crew of a
Yellow Catamaran they call the ABSOLUTE ABSOLUTION. With the luxury of modern travel, I
soon arrive in Cancun, jump on a public bus, then a passenger ferry and land on the island
of Isla Mujeres, where the big beautiful raft rests at anchorage. I spend a week helping
prep the boat, and my grandfather and another family soon join us. We are 9 adults, 2
babies, and two dogs. Very crowded and difficult but I ease my mind with the knowledge
that this trip will be short. (ha, ha) Only 3-5 days to Cuba. A mere 100 miles or so. Such
a trip to finally meet my grandfather. Like me, grew up in Frisco but 40 years before. One
of the most interesting people I have ever met. After many conversations and shared
stories, I think of him as a grown up Dean Moriarty. He lives what some call the Beatnik
lifestyle. But never having sold out and yet sculpting that ball of intensity, madness and
freedom into something more. And at 70, he still does his thing.
So we leave Isla Mujeres. I regret not having experienced
much of Mexico, but promise to return. First night at sea is tough. I use all my energy to
avoid being seasick. I take the helm for a midnight shift and all settles. Alone with the
sea all around me. Just my thoughts and the ocean. I gaze up at the most amazing sky. See
what I think are Galaxy clusters. My midnight watch will become my saving grace during
this voyage. We change plans to lessen the risk of getting caught in a hurricane and head
to the north of Cuba, but get caught up in a nasty current. 3-5 days all pass, and we move
farther away from Cuba. I struggle during this time to maintain some privacy. Very
difficult. Sleep is interrupted by crew duties, helm watches, and baby cries. But I am not
too bothered, just thrilled to learn about sailing and boats, and to be experiencing all
of this. And the beautiful cobalt blue of the Caribbean sea is always present.. The
weather stays nice and hot but a few stormy squalls provide some quick excitement. We have
good cooks aboard and we eat well. Cool off by jumping in the water behind the boat during
calm seas. I usually converse with my grandfather during his late afternoon watch and then
watch the sun set below the horizon. Many times, it leaves behind beautiful shades of
orange and purple. Chess is played to pass the time. Some music played as well. Lots of
books. Get to know everyone aboard. Intelligent and caring souls. We talk about our
deepest desires, the meaning of life, and other light-hearted topics. People express their
feelings well and I am amazed that there are no major problems or bickering. Day 5, a
cargo ship drops some fresh water off for us and its an adventure locating it and motoring
to pick it up. Our concern over drinking water is abated for the moment. Day 6, I see
Dolphins during my daytime watch. In awe of their beauty. They come so close to the boat.
But not for long. We move too slow for them. Day 7, we break free of the current and head
for Cuba again. 2 more days of slow progress. We begin water rationing. The ration is more
than enough but its exciting to lose my rationing virginity.
On the evening of our 9th day at sea, I sit on the helm with
my grandpa David. Hes telling a story about him and my grandma. They were living a
poor lifestyle in Marin. My grandma just had her first child, my aunt Mandy. She has a $27
welfare check to cash the next day. While she sleeps, David wakes up and feels his
intuition telling him something. So he takes the check and sneaks off into the night to
cash it, walking 2 miles and hitching into San Rafael, where he stumbles across a poker
game. Of course, he cleans house and returns with $600, and puts it into my grandmas
purse. Shes flabbergasted the next day when she finds it, not worrying about where
it came from. They go on a shopping spree buying things for the baby and taking friends
out to dinner. The next night, my restless grandpa wakes up again and goes into my
grandmas purse, taking the left over $300 minus the original $27 and sneaks off
again into the night. Finds the same poker game and is quickly loses everything. Of
course, my grandma was livid, upset at what might have been. But thats how my
grandpa lived. Still does for the most part. Things come and go, especially money.
So a few minutes later, we see a long line of grey across
the sky. And at that moment everything is incredibly calm. Too calm. 10 minutes later, I
am on the bowpoint in a bit of a panic helping take down the sails. And 5 minutes later,
the storm collides with our boat. Crazy 40 knot winds howl through sails and the rigging
and rolling 8 foot seas rock us side to side. Waves crash against the boat and the rain
pelts us. I hold on tight to the helm, thrilled the whole time thinking THIS is why I am
doing this. This experience is why I made this journey. Talking to the storm and seas and
taking in its powerful energy, I feel ALIVE. We ride it out but the rough weather
continues through the night and part of the next day. Exciting stuff. Turns out it was the
edge of Tropical Storm Claudette, that later became a hurricane.
Days 10 and 11 we make slow progress because there is no
wind. People are getting land anxious, including myself. Day 12 starts out somber. Only a
few days of water left and 3 days of rice and beans. We contemplate aborting Cuba and
going north to Florida. Hoping we do not have to call Coast Guard for help. But a
beautiful rainstorm blesses us in the afternoon and we collect rain water for an hour.
Smiling, hooting and hollering, we all help collect water and replenish our water
supplies. Spirits are up and good winds come our way so we push towards Habana. Day 13 is
awesome! A Carnival cruise ship crosses our path and provides us with yummy supplies.
Fresh fruit, salad, vegetables, bottled water, and meat. All their passengers line the
decks to look down at this strange little boat that they think they are rescuing. My
grandpa hooks up his speaker and explains our story. They just stare. I wonder if we
infringed on their comfortable vacation too much. The food puts everyone in good spirits.
Ironic that a boat full of vegetarians receive chicken and veal. Some of us have to suck
it up and put aside our dietary ideals. I am one of them. hmmmm mmmm good.
Day 14. Land hooooo! We finally approach Cuba, but it is
only an emergency stop to drop off the family. The mother has been seasick the whole time
and is more than ready to touch land. We anchor inside a reef near Santa Lucia right off a
beautiful little beach. But none of us go ashore because the official legal entry port is
Habana. The next day, the local Cubans come out to take the family to shore, and buy
provisions for us. Mangoes, green beans, rice, corn flour, and water. Enough to make it to
Habana. Its our first interactions with Cuban people and the two that come aboard, are
amazingly nice. After conversing for a while and exchanging gifts, we set sail for Habana
in good spirits but minus two adults and two babies. An uneventful and mellow 3 days to
Habana and after 20 days, we finally dock at Marina Hemingway. Land feels soooo good!
Last week in July, and now I have been in Habana for over a
week. Its been an amazing, eye opening, and humbling experience. Nothing I write can do
justice to what I have experienced here.
Immediately, I departed the artificial world of the Marina
to get into Habana. A free air conditioned bus takes you right into the heart of touristy
old Habana Vieja. Although its great not seeing the usual signs of American pop culture
(no McDonalds or Cokes), I still felt choked amongst all the tourists. And as I wandered
around Habana I made a wish; to know someone who lives here, and who can help me
understand this beautiful place. Fifteen minutes later, I met Ramses, who gave me exactly
what I needed. He has been a most gracious host and an amazing friend. Weve had some
great conversations about freedom, about Cuba, about the US and he has shared some
heartbreaking stories. Stories that bring tears to your eyes. Two nights ago, we went to a
Santeria ceremony at his friend Maria's house, where a Babalao (a kind of Santeria
priest) sang in the Yoruba language with the most incredible voice backed by three
tumbadores players. People danced and sweated in a little apartment overlooking the sea
for about 4 hours. All the while sipping on rum, smoking cigarettes or cigars, and tasting
the overly sweet goodies that are made in offering to the Santerias. I got my groove
on a little bit as well, and resisted their invitations to train to become a Brujo. But I
do admit to a strong connection to Yemalla, the virgin goddess of the Sea. And last night,
I had an amazing home-cooked authentic Cuban meal with Ramses and his friends. A real
treat especially since many of the items we ate are very difficult to come by. So I just
feel really blessed to be here and to be able to kick it with real people and see a side
of Cuba that most visitors cannot or choose not to see. Its such a unique place,
incredibly poor materially but with amazing people and amazing culture. And while I do not
understand the system here, its clear that people are not starving and have access to
education and healthcare. Crime is minimal. Gangs are non existent (probably because the
state employs so many police and pays them more than doctors). Theres a strong sense
of community complete with fiestas, ron and music. And the old school cars are phenomenal!
So in comparison to other 3rd world countries, Cuba is doing quite well. But still, people
struggle and in the minds of most Cubans, they compare their lives to those of the
tourists that visit or family members living in the US. Dollars go a long way and wherever
tourists are, theres Cubans on the hustle. Prostitution is rampant in the touristy
areas of Habana and the black market thrives. It seems that most ordinary Cubans use the
Mercado Negro to supplement the minimal amount of food and other items that the State
rations out. Government officials and friends obviously enjoy many more luxuries than the
ordinary folks. Freedom of speech, human rights are not much of a factor here and people
have a look of hardness in their eyes that say much about the lifestyle here. But those
are just my uneducated impressions, and just of Habana at that. Ive been told life
is much different in the country, away from the cities and tourists. Maybe one day, I will
get to see some of that. But for now, I just try to take in what I see and feel and give
back as much positive energy as possible.
Our forced return to Morgan City after losing our rudders was not one that the crew
relished. Our intention to sail out of the USA had been thwarted for the time being, and
even the thrill of having successfully dodged the oil rigs off the Louisiana coast with no
steering wore off as we approached the public docks. Ed, Shawn and I still remembered the
miserable few days spent there on the Vilma B after our journey down the Mississippi to
New Orleans, when the rain fell out of the sky like a waterfall. Even Spike and Brendan,
the two cats we took on board during our previous visit, refused to go on shore after we
had tied up.
Imagine our surprise at the spontaneous Louisiana welcome we received - we had a stream
of enthusiastic visitors who had spotted our bright yellow vessel from the road bridge
above and from the opposite shore. Within a couple of days there was a large article about
us in the local newspaper, we were interviewed for television by the local news station
and had an invitation to speak at the Rotary Club.
Brian Hockaday decided this would be a good time to take to the road for the next phase
of his adventurous year out of college. He wanted to experience the challenge of fending
for himself as he traveled in the USA before joining his mother and sister for Christmas
in Chile. His personal growth during the few months spent with us was incredible, and his
expressions of how much he had learned, made to us during the evening before his
departure, brought us all to tears. The statement I most remember was "I used to
think that there was an inevitable predictability regarding the future course of my life -
now I know different. I can do anything, and anything can happen". We feel privileged
to have known him, and look forward to meeting up again in the future.
A couple of weeks later, with new rudders and a fully refreshed crew including newcomer
Corrie Cole (sister of the photographer on the local newspaper) we made the short hop to
Houma for the welcome return of Poppa Neutrino from his visit to New York. He brought with
him artist Lech Bider, originally from Poland, who was curious to know what life was like
With the help of a strong northerly wind, we shot out into the Gulf of Mexico and into
high seas. As before, the Absolute Absolution handled beautifully, and all the crew came
off their watches feeling exhilarated by their sailing experiences. The following calm
enabled us to relax, swim, watch the dolphins and even a baby shark that followed us for a
while. Our night watches under the millions of stars made us realise how insignificant we
were in the vast universe. Soon another northern front blew up and we were speeding along
again - it was wonderful to be on natures random timing!
The wind blew us south toward Rio Lagarto, so we stopped briefly to take on fuel, fresh
fruit and vegetables. Lech decided to leave the Absolute Absolution to visit friends in
Mexico. The voyage onward to our intended destination took as long as the sail across the
Gulf, but eventually we dropped anchor in the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean at
A day later Ed and I sat in a café, both in tears at the recognition that we had
achieved what we set out to do. We had built an ocean going vessel using recycled and
donated materials, assembled a crew who wanted to participate in our project and
successfully crossed one of the most challenging seas in the world. We remembered our
journey to the North West of the USA in our search for logs to build a multihull vessel,
our trip down the Mississippi on the Vilma B in our quest for crew and materials and the
two years in Texas in the scorching heat as we created the Absolute Absolution. Without
Poppa Neutrino and Captain Betsy, the founding members of the Floating Neutrinos, we would
never have had the practical and intellectual information necessary to even attempt our
project. Their assistance throughout our struggle was invaluable, and we are honored by
their continued participation as we travel around the world. Shawn Kelly, who had proved
her worth as a crew member on the Mississippi, rejoined us at the perfect time to give us
fresh impetus for the completion of the vessel. She has grown to become a first-rate
second-in-command to Ed, as well as providing a powerful force in the psychological
welfare of the crew. Tony Davis, who started out as just "the guy who is helping us
build the boat" (putting in months of voluntary work) - couldnt resist coming
with us when we left Port Isabel, and has become not only a great crew person but also
someone who is making huge efforts with his personal goals.
Our donor page acknowledges the practical help we have
received, and there are others, too numerous to mention, whose kindness helped smooth our
path. To all those we offer our sincere gratitude, and the promise that everything we have
received will be passed on in some form as we continue our journey.
Since launching the second hull back in October we have been building the bridge deck
that will contain three separate common areas as well as the steering station. Two of the
six cabins are now occupied - Ed is installed in the rear of the starboard hull, and I am
in the rear of the port hull.
The bridge deck was started with four huge beams being bolted to each hull, and then 1
˝ inch laminated plywood pieces attached to form the bulkheads. In line with our aim to
use recycled materials wherever possible, the cabins occupied by Ed and myself on the
river trip were demolished to provide material for the bulkheads. (The plywood used to
construct these cabins up in Minneapolis was already recycled, having previously been used
to make concrete forms).
Ed has decided to extend the application of polyurethane foam used to provide
floatation in each hull. He is creating a sandwich in which foam can be poured
by installing two sheets of plywood in the walls of the cabins and the bridge deck. In
this way, the connecting structure between the two hulls will be considerably
strengthened, as well as providing insulation against cold and heat. It also means that
the entire catamaran raft is now foamed for buoyancy.
We now have four of the six cabins fitted out for occupancy and are working on
completing two of the linking main cabins. At the same time we are soliciting necessary
equipment for the Absolute Absolution to leave port and start on her maiden voyage. We
need two motors, one for each of the hulls; a small motor for our shore boat; two masts
approx 30 ft tall; an EPIRB; a radar system (including a radar detector and reflector);
charts; deep cycle batteries; roof hatches, windows and plexiglass; ˝ inch line and a
comprehensive medical kit.
These are very exciting times!
NEUTRINOS LAUNCH THE SECOND HULL OF THEIR CATAMARAN - Oct. 2001
Last Sunday we launched the second hull of the Absolute Absolution, the ocean-going
catamaran raft we have been building here in Port Isabel. The purpose of this
world-sailing raft is to train crews in the techniques of building and sailing rafts, to
empower individuals to live their dreams by teaching simple psychological tools and to
demonstrate creative ingenuity in recycling through local raft building projects in the
various ports we visit.
We started work on the second hull early in July with the assistance of locals Tony
Davis and Dean Kennell who responded to our appeal for volunteers. They had seen our video
presentation in the Port Isabel library of National Geographic Explorers
documentaries of our Atlantic crossing in a scrap raft and our journey down the
Mississippi river. Tony and Dean assisted in the many stages of the building of the hull
the prefabrication of the ribs, the construction of the keel, the mounting of the
ribs on the deck, fixing the plywood skin to form the hull, the fabrication of the deck
and the pouring of the foam into the hull. Jaclyn Howle arrived at the raft in early
September and enjoyed being a part of the construction team. She is now leaving for
Austin, but has expressed a desire to return to the project as soon as possible and to be
a part of the crew when we leave on our around-the-world voyage. We are so grateful to
these people for their tireless efforts in assisting us with the creation of the Absolute
Absolution and invite others to join us as we continue the construction.
As far as we know, we are the first to build a vessel on the water, using a floating
building platform to construct each hull before lowering it into the water. We built the
first hull in Corpus Christi, where our good friend, 85 years young Ed Kelly, designed a
launching track to take the weight of the 3,000 lb 54 hull. Wild horses
wouldnt keep him away from the launch of the second hull and he arrived in Port
Isabel on the day with his friend Archie and a used generator that he donated to our
project. Ed Garry the project leader directed operations, assisted by Tony, Jacklyn, and
Brian and Constance Hockaday. Dean kept a watchful eye on the proceedings and so did I
through the lens of the camcorder we use to film the project as it proceeds. The
launch began at 1 pm and was a slow, careful process but, as the sun went down, the second
hull was in the water. Thank you to all our friends for your help.
The next step is to construct the bridge deck that will connect the two hulls to form
the catamaran. Local people have been wonderful in responding to our call for used wood
for this project, and we would like your continued support. We are particularly looking
for large sheets of half-inch plywood (old hurricane shutters now that the season is
over?), 8 ft plus lengths of 2 x 6 and 2 x 12s.
We would like to thank Billy Kenon for donating a dock space with utilities where we
could tie up our building platform. We are also grateful to Pastor Steven Hyde, his wife
Janie and Pastor Brett for their support and prayers. Local business people who have
responded generously to our requests for help include Gilbert at White Lumber and Supply,
Jackie at Canvas Creations and John at Johns Marine.
The Buoyant Neutrinos Are on
the Move Again! - June 2001
In 1998 the Floating Neutrinos successfully crossed the Atlantic on the Son of Town
Hall, a raft made out of recycled material. They continued their journey from Ireland to
France and into the Mediterranean. In 2000 they traveled 2,000 miles from the head of the
Mississippi to New Orleans. Ed Garry was part of both adventures, I participated in the
second. Calling ourselves the Buoyant Neutrinos, Ed and I are currently building a 54 ft.
raft catamaran to be a sailing training vessel to circumnavigate the world.
So much has happened since our last contribution to the "Moon"
local newspaper in Corpus Christi]
First of all, the liquid foam we needed to complete the floatation was donated by Foam
Enterprises, Inc. whose headquarters are in Minneapolis (where we started our Mississippi
trip) and Houston. We had visited their web site and when we saw their heading
"Foam Products Limited Only by Your Imagination" we decided they
might be interested in our project. Bill Bump, from their Texas office, did not hesitate,
and a couple of weeks later we had enough foam delivered to complete the floatation for
With the floatation installed, we were ready for the launch. But how we were going to
get a 54 ft hull weighing nearly 2 tons off the building platform and into the canal? Our
friend Ed Kelly came to the rescue by designing a launch track which would enable us to
lift the hull up from the deck and over into the water between the building platform and
the dock. On the day of the launch we had in attendance Ed Kelly, Bob and Pete who gave
feedback on clearance at either end, and Mark who manned the second come-along (Ed being
in charge of the other one). All sorts of possible disasters were flooding Eds mind
would the launch track bear the weight of the hull? would the hull be strong
enough not to break in two? would anyone get hurt during the operation?
Happily, the launch went smoothly, and the hull sat in the water with only a 13-inch
draught. That makes for a really fast vessel in the water. Our next task was to move the
hull around to the outside of the building platform, and this was achieved with the help
of Ed Kelly and his friend Archie.
By this time we knew that we were fast outgrowing the canal, and would have to move
outside of it to complete the second hull of the Absolute Absolution. We visited our
fellow Floating Neutrinos who had found a location in Billy Kenons Marine Services
premises at the end of the Intracoastal Waterway in Port Isabel. Billy offered us a
mooring next to our friends, so we are off on the 105-mile journey in the next few days.
We are so happy to be re-uniting with our fellow Neutrinos for the next leg of our
venture. Poppa Neutrino, the founder of raft building and designer of the Son of Town Hall
has joined us for our journey to Port Isabel, together with Shawn Kelley who shared our
Equally exciting is the news that the documentary of our voyage down the Mississippi is
at last going to be broadcast. On July 1st at 7pm on cable NBC, National
Geographic Explorer will show The Fantastic Voyage the crossing of the Atlantic by
the Floating Neutrinos in 1998. There will be another documentary about rafting on the
Yukon River, and then our Mississippi adventure will be screened for the first time. This
will be repeated at 10 pm on the same evening, and again at 7pm and 10 pm the following
We would like to thank all our friends in Corpus Christi Diana at the Land and
Sea Marina; Dolly, who gave us a space to build here in the canal, Ed Kelly for his design
input and practical help, Mark who helped with construction and the launch, Bob, Archie,
Art and last but not least Mike from the Moon, who has asked us to continue to write a
column from our new home in Port Isabel.
Youll be hearing from us!
Progress in Corpus
Christi - March 2001
It is now a couple of months since Ed's decision to leave the Vilma B in
order to concentrate on the building of the catamaran, the Absolute Absolution. He took
two sections of the Vilma B, measuring 34 feet total, to provide us with living space and
the framework for a building platform to construct the hulls of the catamaran. My choosing
to join him meant that the Buoyant Neutrinos were once again a separate entity, using the
skills we had acquired on the Mississippi voyage with the Floating Neutrinos to create our
Naturally there was a period of adjustment getting used to being two on a much smaller
vessel (plus Thor, who now lives
with Ed). We had lived through some great experiences with Poppa Neutrino, Betsy and
Shawn, becoming a close-knit 'family' in the process. Our decision to part company was not
without pain, but the Floating Neutrinos' philosophy is to identify your deepest desires
and to move directly towards them. A year and a half ago Ed and I had come to the United
States to create an adventure with a group of people in the form of a catamaran which
would circumnavigate the globe. This is still our vision.
As Ed had decided to stay in Corpus Christi for at least a month - our location at the
Land and Sea Marina giving us power for building and access to materials in the town - we
decided to let local people know where we were and what we were doing. So I contacted the
Corpus Christi "Caller Times," who interviewed and photographed us for the front
page of their local news section. We had a lot of visitors that weekend, most of them
wanting to hear first hand about Ed's part in the Atlantic crossing on the Son of Town
A week later I left Corpus Christi to visit my family in England. Ed was going to
concentrate on adapting the raft to provide a rigid but extendable building platform. By
the time I returned he had joined the two sections, raised the deck by a foot and created
an adaptable structure, which at full stretch would enable each 50-foot hull of the
catamaran to be built on the deck. He had also been signed up as a regular columnist for
the "North Padre Island Moon," the local newspaper for this area, and had given
a lecture to the local Kiwanis club.
Since then we have put on a show for the Bay Yacht Club, drawing an audience of some 80
people instead of the usual 40 at their Friday night meetings. Ed talked about the
Atlantic crossing and our current project; I described our journey down the Mississippi. I
have also written an article for the "Moon."
Corpus Christi is going to be our base for a further month. We have made some great
friends here, particularly Diana at the Land and Sea Marina, and offer our thanks to our
neighbors for their kindness and help with construction, along with donations of wood,
cakes, bags of oranges, freshly caught fish, to name but a few.
We are now concentrating on the building of the first hull, starting with the
prefabrication (Ed's job) and assembly (yours truly) of the ribs. We have already made 5
and reckon that with a bit more practice we should be able to construct one per hour.
Naturally it would be great if we had some help, but we are taking our time and not
physically overloading ourselves. We are determined to live a seven level life.
We would love to hear from you with your comments, suggestions or offers of help. Our
e-mail address is [email protected].
We are recruiting people to help build and/or crew the Absolute Absolution. We
are also looking for donations of navigational equipment, sails and masts - in fact
anything that would be useful for an ocean going vessel.
Take care, June
"I think that one of these days you're going to have to find out where you want to
go. And then you've got to start going there. But immediately. You can't afford to lose a
minute." - Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger
June Donaldson tells of Vilma B's
arrival in New Orleans and the trip from there to Corpus Christi, Texas
February 14, 2001
Hi - this is June here, giving a long overdue report on the Floating Neutrinos adventures.
Over the past few months it has been impossible to keep the logs up to date on our
website, due to a combination of lack of online access and gremlins in our computer.
Apologies to all our friends for the long silence.
On Saturday, October 28th, we arrived in New Orleans. Joining us on the final leg of our
trip were Ingrid and Dwight, Poppa Neutrino's daughter and her husband. They took
possession of the paddlewheeler houseboat acquired for them back in Illinois. We felt
elated to have completed the 2,500 mile journey which had begun at the head of the mighty
Mississippi at the beginning of April. As we neared the French Quarter, people came out of
office buildings, bars, restaurants and shopping malls to view our unusual vessel. Two
huge paddlewheel cruise boats passed, their passengers taking photographs and waving to
A film crew from National Geographic Television was waiting at the Riverwalk to film and
interview us for the forthcoming Explorer program to be broadcast in May. Poppa and Betsy
were hoping to meet up with fellow musicians they had known from their days playing music
on the streets of New Orleans. Ed, Shawn and I were looking forward to our first visit to
the Big Easy.
It felt strange leaving the raft and walking straight into the bustle and noise of the
French Quarter - there were so many people sitting at tables outside the many cafes and
crowding the sidewalks. Music seemed to pour out of every doorway, mixing with that of the
street musicians on every corner of every block.
We had to find a spot to moor our raft, but there was very little to choose from. We ended
up at a levee close to the industrial canal lock (very noisy at night from the barge
traffic passing through) in the St. Claude district. We received very few visitors to this
out-of-the-way location, and felt the lack of exchange that we normally experienced with
communities on our travels.
Nevertheless, we managed to sample the world renowned New Orleans cuisine with Ingrid and
Dwight who had recently moved to the city and who knew the best places to eat. We sat on
the sidewalks, listening to jazz or watching the versatile street performers juggling,
unicycling and tap dancing. I took one of the St. Charles streetcars out to the Garden
district to see the unique architecture of the residential area.
Soon we were anxious to be on the move again. Friday, November 10th saw us heading out on
the next leg of our journey, to the Intracoastal Waterway, taking us through Louisiana and
Texas to our next destination - the Gulf of Mexico. We were now in bayou country - land of
watery groves and swamps, and the inevitable mosquitoes. It felt so much more relaxed than
on the Mississippi, where there was constant danger from currents, huge barges and ships.
Here we had time to enjoy the beautiful fall colors, the heron, pelicans and even the
occasional group of buzzards. We were only a little disappointed that the alligators kept
out of sight!
We passed through Larose and Houma, arriving in Morgan City in a heavy downpour. Seven
inches of rain fell in 36 hours and by the time we left we had two new furry crew - cats,
soon named Saint Brendan after the Irish monk who sailed from Ireland to Newfoundland in a
leather boat during the middle ages, and Saffron - who had stowed away. Our animal friends
now outnumber the human crew!
A few days later we had an interesting passage through one of the locks on the
Intracoastal. We had been asked to wait by the lockkeeper as there was a very fast
westbound current making it difficult for the tugboats pushing barges going east.
Eventually we were given the go-ahead to pass through on the fast running current. Two
thirds of the way through the front section dove under the water - but immediately
resurfaced due to the buoyancy of the foam, flipping vertically into the air, and landing
on top of the section behind it, where our skiff was sitting. But Poppa Neutrino at the
helm steered us safely on through the lock, then guided the raft into shore so that we
could make repairs. We lost an assortment of wood and a spare steering unit but,
miraculously, the rib of Ed's raft-to-be, the Absolute Absolution, was neither lost nor
damaged. A couple of hours later we were continuing our voyage, having repaired the front
section and moved it to the rear of the raft. Poppa reckoned the new configuration would
give us better speed, so it had been a happy accident.
Our voyage continued from Louisiana into Texas, calling at Orange and Port Arthur - both
highly industrial ports containing huge ships and plenty of pollution!?! We were left in
no doubt that we had arrived in the oil state.
We crossed Galveston Bay and arrived in Galveston, where our first stop was to take on gas
and water at the fuel dock. Our raft attracted the attention of the crew of a Coast Guard
vessel, who seemed, initially, more interested in photographing us than acting in their
official capacity. However, they later requested to come on board to check our vessel,
expressing surprise that this was our first inspection since we had left the head of the
Mississippi. They looked at our papers, our navigation lights, our life jackets and fire
extinguishers, also the general construction of the raft and passed us safe for our onward
The next two days were spent in Galveston, provisioning and sitting out the cold, windy
weather before tackling Matagorda Bay. On our way out, we topped off our gas supply in
Freeport, stopping at the same marina Poppa Neutrino and Betsy had visited way back in
1985 with one of their earlier rafts, the Stone Soup. Happy memories!
Our arrival in Aransas Pass attracted the attention of the local newspaper, who published
a photograph and article the following day. We get a lot of visitors to the raft in this
way, although our call for crew to accompany us on our adventures has not yet produced new
The next leg of our journey was pretty eventful. As we approached Corpus Christi, the bay
was extremely shallow and, despite taking soundings, we went aground twice before arriving
at the Land and Sea Marina. The water level continued to drop and the Vilma B settled
firmly onto the muddy bottom. We had to take the raft apart, section by section, winching
each part out of the shallows and into pockets of deeper water, which involved a lot of
hauling on lines and levering with poles, then relashing all the individual sections back
into their travelling configuration. All of this took several days.
By the time we were finally free to continue on, Ed decided that it was time for him to
concentrate on his own project, the Absolute Absolution. He wanted to stay in Corpus
Christi for a while, adapting a 30 ft section of the raft to form a building platform for
the hulls of his trimaran. I had a very difficult decision to make - whether to stay with
him or to head towards Mexico with Poppa Neutrino, Betsy and Shawn on the Vilma B.
Of course, being a Floating Neutrino, I am free to move between our projects. There is
also the possibility of the Vilma B and the Absolute Absolution travelling together in the
future. I decided for now to stay with Ed and assist him with the creation of the Absolute
Absolution. The Buoyant Neutrinos page on our website will continue to be a source of
information about our progress.
[Home] [ Up ] [ Absolute Absolution crew invitation ] [ View from the Crew ] [ Photo Gallery Page Twelve ] [ Photo Gallery Page 13 ] [ Buoyant Neutrinos Photo Gallery Page 14 ] [ Buoyant Neutrinos Photo Gallery Page 15 ] [ Buoyant Neutrinos Photo Gallery Page 16 ] [ Key West to Mexico ] [ Lago Izabal ] [ Jungle Medic ] [ Absolute Absolution Boat Building School ] [ Background ]