The U.S. Coast Guard plans to inspect a
homemade raft on Monday that has carried three adventurers more
than 1,000 miles down the Missouri and Mississippi rivers.
James Burkart, Libby Hendon and Laura Mattingly have been
floating on the raft since July 21, when they embarked on the
journey from Missouri as part of an art project.
Their goal was to go from Kansas City to New Orleans, but their
trip was cut short about a month ago in Vicksburg when they were
ordered off the raft.
Coast Guard inspectors said it was unsuitable for navigating one
of the most dangerous stretches of the Mississippi River.
"Safety of the rafters is our first priority," said Chief
Petty Officer Mike O'Berry. "The Coast Guard's responsibility is
to balance the use of the waterways between recreational and
commercial use and act in the interest of safety based upon our
knowledge of the waterway and it's dangers."
The group has been making inprovements and hope they'll be able
to continue down the river.
The craft, which is made from recycled goods, has been somewhat
of a hit in this Mississippi River city. It was even blessed by a
But the Coast Guard inspectors say the problems that must be
addressed are steering, propulsion and a sagging bow.
Chief Warrant Officer Doug Chapman said the raft, as is, can't
safely navigate the busy lower Mississippi, which is filled with
The group wants to continue their trip and agreed late Saturday
to install an outboard motor that would allow them to change course
more quickly. The only power the craft had was a paddle turned by
two stationery bicycles.
Burkart, Hendon and Mattingly met while students at the
University of California-Santa Cruz.
Their journey started July 21 from Kansas City.
Burkhart said the project is about more than reaching any