Rafters get underway from Vicksburg

VICKSBURG, Miss. – Coast Guard marine inspectors from the Marine Safety Detachment here inspected a homemade paddle boat raft at approximately 1 p.m., today and found that the raft had sufficient improvements to the steering and propulsion systems, which lead to the approval to proceed clearance from the Coast Guard.

Rafters: James Burkart, Libby Hendon and Laura Mattingly, traveled more than 1,000-miles on their homemade raft from St. Louis and had their voyage halted after the Coast Guard found the raft to be unsuitable for navigating one of the most dangerous stretches of the Mississippi River.

“Safety of the rafters still is our top priority, as well as our other mariners,” said Chief Petty Officer Mike O’Berry. “We wanted them to be able to continue their voyage down the Mississippi River, but we wanted them to be safe transiting.”

Improvements included replacing the rudder system that controlled the steering of the vessel and also adding oars for propulsion.

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