Many months ago, J started talking about traveling down a major river…by a hand-made raft; the child in him wanted to be a pirate. Although I loved the idea, I didn’t take it too seriously. For the next few months, I would occasionally hear him whistling the Pirates of the Caribbean theme song and looking up raft designs and expeditions completed by other sailors. What started as an idea casually talked about from time to time has turned into a reality. After we finished cycling through Western Europe, we arrived in Slovakia and began searching for free recyclable materials to build this thing. Due to the generosity of our friend’s uncle (who owns and runs a billboard business) and a whole lot of luck, we managed to get eight metal barrels, three wooden billboards, a bunch of planks, nails, access to tools, and a fishing hut to build and store our supplies for free. We were joined by our Danish friend, making a crew of four- the Pirates of the Danube (minus the thievery and pillaging).
For a little under two weeks, we (a Brit, a Slovakian, a Dane, and an American) set to work designing and building a raft that would allow us to float down the Danube River, a major shipping route that goes through Central and Southeastern Europe. After some arguments, blood, sweat, and copious amounts of wine, here is what we managed to create: a 6.5 x 20 foot wooden frame, supported by six crossbeams and six long beams, with eight barrels fitted perfectly between these beams and tied down.
Putting the Raft Into the Water
Word got around about these crazy foreigners and their bizarre idea, and we ended up getting interviewed by Slovakia International Radio.
Despite numerous warnings of danger, including a Slovakian damn worker who called this a “suicide mission”, and voices of logic and concern from family members, we decided to go ahead with the adventure, just to prove it is possible. This journey began on 1 September 2013. Our aim is to reach the Black Sea in Romania, traversing several dams and multiple borders on a strict budget, sometimes permitting beer and pirate rum as our only luxuries. We will cook on our beer can stove and over fires that we make in the wild. We will sleep on our raft or on beaches and flat areas that we find along the way. We’ll depend on locals without a common language for help along the way. And, above all, we’ll hope like hell that we don’t get arrested again.
The adventure has only begun. Check back for details!