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VILMA B: The Orphanage Raft Project

vb crosses galveston bay.jpg (56019 bytes)

To read about the beginnings of this project, and the ideas behind it, click here: Log of the Mississippi Trip

Photos:  Mississippi Trip;   Reconstruction at Arroyo City

FAQ: answers to some frequently asked questions about the rafts and our projects

LOG OF THE VILMA B , 2001

July 24, 2001, Port Isabel TX

National Geographic Explorer broadcast their segment about our Mississippi River trip on July 1 and again on July 7, and we had an enormous amount of response - over 4000 hits on our website, and many emails of encouragement and enthusiasm for our project. The most exciting of all was the offer of the donation of a 72' motor vessel, Sunbeam, which was in fact formerly a mission boat for the Islanders off the Coast of Maine. We are extremely grateful for the generosity of the family who are making this donation, and feel excited and proud to be offered the opportunity to continue this historic vessel's missionary work by putting it to use in the Orphanage Project.   Poppa Neutrino is now on the East Coast preparing to bring the vessel over to Texas by way of Florida.
     This past weekend we presented a showing of the National Geographic piece, and a talk about our projects, at the local library to a very interested and responsive group of locals, some of whom have followed through with visits to the rafts, where work is slowly progressing despite the heat.
     We have been rejoined by the Buoyant Neutrinos, who are continuing their raft building project here in Port Isabel. Also in the last month, we moved to a new location in Port Isabel, out Port Rd., on Billy Kenon's shrimp boat docks, where there is much less boat traffic, making work easier. Our thanks go out once again to Mr. Kenon for his generosity and continual encouragement. 

June 10, 2001, Port Isabel, Texas

     We have received, through the Lighthouse Assembly of God, the donation of a sailboat with a one cylinder diesel motor. We will be removing the motor and installing it on June's Barn. This will be the fruition of a long awaited hope for this raft.
     Another development is that Billy Kenon has designated an area of his boatyard for our use to store materials and equipment as they begin to flow in for the Orphanage Raft project. We have moved the sailboat here and begun the work on it, as well as beginning to store lumber.

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May 12, 2001, Port Isabel, Texas

We are at the dock of Billy Kenon, who has graciously offered us docking space and much assistance with materials, etc., as we continue to prepare for the coastal portion of our voyage. We are doing more reconstruction and preparing to install a diesel motor. We have also reduced the size of the Vilma B once more,  removing the center, 14' section, so that now we are down to just the four pontoons that were rebuilt at Arroyo City.  We are also working on June's Barn.

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Extraordinary Happenings in Port Isabel, Texas, May 2001

by Poppa Neutrino

Ever since making the Atlantic crossing with the Son of Town Hall, thus proving the safety of an ocean-going scrap raft, we have been searching for the right place to build our Orphanage Raft. Those of you who have followed this website since its inception will remember that for a while it looked as though we would have a building site in Sete, France. But this never came to fruition. The Mississsippi trip with the Vilma B was another attempt to put together the elements needed to bring about the Orphanage Raft, which once again fell short of accomplishing what we had hoped. As we proceeded westward through the intracoastal waterway, preparing to continue along the coast of Mexico, we arrived at the very endpoint of the American intracoastal waterway in southern Texas, just a few miles above the mouth of the Rio Grande River and the Mexican border. Here, in Port Isabel, two extraordinary things happened.

The first was meeting Billy Kenon. He has maybe the largest marine salvage operation in this part of the world www.marinesalvagepi.com. After hearing about our plans for the Orphanage Raft Project, he has donated us docking space for the Vilma B and June's Barn rafts, and is donating space, resources, and his vast knowledge and experience to the Orphanage Raft Project.

Second was meeting Pastor Steven Hyde of the Lighthouse Assembly of God of Port Isabel. Pastor Hyde and his wife Janey feel a special mission to all the peoples of the world, Christians and non-Christians alike, and have prayed that individuals and groups from all parts of the world be sent to cross their path. They have also had a special mission to water-borne groups, from stranded and broken down freighters, to gambling ships, to a group who were putting together a floating mission to Haiti in order to teach new fishing techniques. On these ships have been people of all nations and all religions, and all are welcomed and received equally in Pastor Hyde's church. Their church has  many missionaries in the field, to Mexico and South America, and they are also supporting an orphanage in Pueblo, Mexico. They are truly my kind of missionary spirits, people who refuse to leave the world the way it is. Their ministry and giving has re-ignited my hope to reach every man, woman, and child on the face of this earth with health-giving information and strength on all three fronts: spiritual, psychological, and physical.

For over 30 years I have been involved with Gurdjieff and his great psychological teaching. As we concentrated so severely on the psychological and physical sides, I had nearly lost all contact with the pure spiritual aspect. Pastor Hyde, his wife and congregation have re-ignited my spiritual side, and merged in me the human triad of mind, body and spirit. Listening to Pastor Hyde's sermons, I have found a situation that truly reaches out to every race, every color and every creed.

As I spoke with them about my dream for the Orphanage Raft which would salvage abandoned street children from all over the world and give them a chance for a full life, they in turn became ignited by our hopes. We have brought the Orphanage Raft Project under the wing of the Port Isabel Lighthouse Assembly of God.

We are now beginning, right here in Port Isabel, Texas, the many step process of building the Orphanage Raft that will eventually go to South America, Africa, and India as a travelling home and school for street orphans of these third world countries. We need your help, whether it be in the form of materials and equipment, volunteer labor, monetary assistance, or, perhaps most of all, your prayers.

- Poppa Neutrino

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May 1, 2001, South Padre Island, Texas

After 16 weeks of reconstruction efforts at Arroyo City, we finally got underway again on April 27. At present the Vilma B is about 70 feet long and 12 feet wide. June's Barn is with us as well. Even though we have only gone about 25 miles further south, it has given us a big morale boost. We are now looking for a small diesel motor to power us more efficiently on the next leg of our journey. The open Gulf will be our next challenge, although only along the coast. We are preparing in every way possible, just as we did for our Atlantic crossing, although this is quite different, being nearly tropical, and at this point primarily a motoring voyage. Click here for photos and details about the reconstruction.

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February 1, 2001, Arroyo City, Texas

We have been here almost a month now, working on rebuilding the raft to be ready for the open gulf waters of the coast of Mexico. Shawn, Poppa, and Aurelia are doing this work, while Ed and June have stayed in Corpus Christi with two sections of the raft, starting their own project.

click here to go to the Buoyant Neutrinos' (Ed and June's) page;    click here to read June's "View From the Crew"

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December 10, 2000, Port Aransas, Texas

Our stay in New Orleans was cut short (we left a month ago today), and since leaving there, we have been in almost constant motion, and have had basically NO access to the internet whatsoever. Even at this moment, I can only put the shortest of updates on here, just to let you know that all the crew onboard are doing well - Poppa, Aurelia, Ed, June, and Shawn, as well as the dogs, the two cats, and two new cats who came aboard in Morgan City,  in the midst of a three day rain storm. Everything is progressing, though slowly.

Thanks to all for your continued interest in our progress!

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Click here for the log of the Mississippi trip


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Last revised: May 30, 2006