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A lighter, more buoyant Sea Monkey making its way

ATWATER -- After a less than auspicious launch, the Sea Monkey is continuing to chug its way down the Mississippi River, according to a web blog created by its crew, brothers Ben and Josh Monson and friend Matt Folkeldahl, all of Willmar.

They were a few miles downstream of LaCrosse, Wisconsin and approaching the Iowa border on Thursday afternoon, according to a telephone message from the crew.

The three launched the craft on the Mississippi River at its confluence with the Minnesota River last Saturday, and quickly discovered that their handmade raft was over-loaded. The wake of every passing boat sent water sloshing over the plywood deck of the 12-foot by 16-foot raft.

The problem forced them to abandon plans to rely on an electric-powered cruise. They left behind batteries, solar panels, a generator and electric motor to lighten the load.

They've also improved the raft's buoyancy by adding to the 10-barrels that originally comprised the raft's two pontoons. The additional barrels were offered free of charge by the co-owner of a marina in Red Wing.

It was one of many acts of kindness the three young men have enjoyed. At one point the captain of a vessel gave them a fire extinguisher to carry aboard the raft, no questions asked, they report on their blog.

The three men, all in their early 20's, hope to reach New Orleans by summer's end.

To follow their adventure:

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

(320) 214-4335