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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.

Mexico and 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 haven’t seen in 20 some odd years, are departing on a raft to Cuba. Can’t 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. He’s 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 grandma’s purse. She’s 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 grandma’s 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 that’s 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. We’ve 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). There’s 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, there’s 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. I’ve 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.

Sailing across the Gulf of Mexico - June Donaldson

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 at sea.

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 nature’s 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 Isla Mujeres.

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) - couldn’t 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.

Building the Bridge Deck

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!


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 Explorer’s 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 wouldn’t 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 John’s Marine.

The Buoyant Neutrinos Are on the Move Again! - June 2001

A recap….

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"…….[a 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 both hulls.

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 Ed’s 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 Kenon’s 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 Mississippi adventure.

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 Saturday.

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.

You’ll 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 own adventure.

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 Hall.

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 us.
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 journey.
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 recruits.
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.

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Last revised: February 9, 2009