Vermont Raft of Dream Crashes On Rocks

Vermont’s Burlington Free Press newspaper is following a bizarre story today about some people who were rescued from Lake Champlain after their home made raft crashed into some rocks in Charlotte, Vermont.

Poppa Neutrino, from a photo taken by the Burlington Free Press in 2008.

The raft expedition, led by a guy who calls himself Poppa Neutrino, was on its way to Panama, so says Poppa Neutrino himself.

Well, that’s certainly one example of following your dreams. To an extent, I always love it when somebody pursues a crazy dream.  I might gently suggest that there is such a thing as too crazy a dream.

 I mean, think about it. They were heading to Panama, or around the world. On little more than a bunch of planks nailed and tied together. With something that looks like shacks attached to the top of it.

The occupants weren’t dressed for storms. Temperatures were in the 30s as six-foot Lake Champlain waves dashed the raft onto some shoreline cliffs, breaking it to smithereens. The three people from the raft, including Poppa Neutrino, and three dogs, took shelter in a cave and were eventually rescued, hyperthermic, but alive.

Imagine if they’d made it all the way to the Atlantic Ocean, and then sailed into the teeth of a viscious nor’easter.

I’d love to know if Poppa Neutrino thought this whole plan out.  Apparently, he’s tried things like this before. I work at the Freeps, and I can overhear reporters trying to get more information on this, so I’m sure we’ll have more information on this.

Nobody likes dreaming up a bright idea and being told the idea is impossible. Some people have been told their ideas are impossible, but proved their critics wrong.

But Poppa Neutrino: Your idea is impossible. Is there some other, more realistic, but still adventurous way to get to Panama? And although this was not your intention, was this scheme worth the risk to your life, and the people who worked so hard to rescue you?

 When I first heard the news about the raft crash in Charlotte, my first response was “Those idiots!”

But although this raft idea was ridiculous, we need people like Poppa Neutrino. According to his Web site,…… and his other web site, he and his family have lived an itinerant life with few possessions, no home, just a video camera almost constantly rolling, recording his unusual schemes.

That lifestyle isn’t for me, or most people. I would never copy Poppa Neutrino, but he might serve to nudge us, just a little, to take slightly crazy chances. Maybe Poppa Neutrino’s only mistake is not letting just a little element of practicality into his ideas.

Sometimes, the sanest thing we can do is something crazy.

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4 Responses to “Vermont Raft of Dream Crashes On Rocks”

  1. Buzz Says:

    We absolutely don’t need people like this wing nut actually executing his hare brained schemes. Think of all the people who had to go out there last night in that same weather, dangerously if they were on the water or in the air or near those rocks, the ambulances, the police, the COST. Poppa needs to stay home and write books about what he would like to do and don’t burden dozens of volunteers and professionals with cleaning up after him.

  2. christienne Says:

    No, you don’t have the whole story. Nor does it seem that any reporters want to get the whole story. They seem content to allow misinformed judgements to be made and ridicule to build in the community as a result of less than professional journalistic research. There was a process to the whole trip. The departure date out of Champlain was delayed by circumstances beyond their control. Getting through the lock to the Hudson and down into the intercoastal waters was their primary goal with this minimal raft. Once they reached a warmer climate, they would continue to build, add sails, and finish it to be ocean worthy. But getting off to a late departure put them at a great risk that they were willing to take, not foreseeing the freak circumstances that evolved– who could?

    No one, no matter what vessel they are in, could ever predict the circumstances they faced with the combined failure of a boat motor and snapped anchor line.
    No vessel, no matter how sound, could ever stand up to those conditions of being pushed into a 30 ft. rock wall in 20+ knots.

    Oh how unfortunate that our envy turns to resentment for those who have the kind of courage to actually takes risks that most of us only dream about. I’m tired of hearing that Poppa is responsible for putting the lives of the rescuers at risk. That’s just poor logic. The rescuers first and foremost put themselves at risk by choosing to do this kind of work. And I as I recall, some of them stated that this was the most challenging rescue they’ve ever done. I bet anything, if asked, some would also say that it was also the most exhilarating and exciting experiences of their life or career — the very reason they do this kind of work…

  3. Buzz Says:

    Easy to see from this how there were more people than just Poppa on board; guess you can twist logic any way you want if you just shut your eyes and ears.

    Who could forsee the problems? Anyone with any experience on the lake could tell him what he was up against this time of year with winds, water temps and waves and the procession of fronts that come through regularly. Just because you can see the other side of this lake, it is a weather maker and anyone with any time on it in the fall will tell you to be prepared for anything, and don’t go unless you are. The Coast Guard regularly warns boaters to travel with extreme caution and full preparation for elements after mid October.

    Envy? Preposterous. Just concern not only for the dozens of people who had to help them out of that mess, but for him and his “crew” and those poor dogs, don’t think they dream much of that kind of “adventure”. Sure the rescuers sign on knowing the risks and that people like that will do dumb things that they will have to clean up, as “exciting” as it might seem in retrospect. But if one of them had gotten hurt badly, all that “excitement” goes away pretty quickly when Poppa hears about how their families felt about losing a breadwinner/father/sister for a period of time….or longer.

    If it was too late to leave, stay home and wait until spring and calm weather, build your “craft” up in the intervening time, and be fully ready for the trip when the time is right. That is logic.

  4. julie Says:

    This article was written by someone very misinformed. First off, we were at no point hypothermic. Cold yes, hypothermic no. All of us were prepared for such an event as is evident in the fact that all aboard survived and were uninjured. Nor were we destined for Panama. Please contact someone involved with the project before regurgitating incomplete and irreverent information.

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