Old Story: Shantyboat Adventure

Riverboat odyssey nearing its end

Local crew headed for Gulf of Mexico

July 2, 2010
By DEAN WELLS dwells@timesobserver.com

A three-year odyssey is about to come to an end. David Whitten and a crew of five others departed Warren County on June 21 to travel to Benton, Tenn., to finish a riverboat journey that started in June 2008 and will conclude some time in early July in the Gulf of Mexico. 532641_1Whitten, a carpenter who lives in Russell, built the homemade riverboat three years ago in his front yard, planning to pilot it to the Gulf of Mexico via the Allegheny, Ohio and Mississippi rivers. Whitten was inspired by Harlan Hubbard, an American artist and author who built a shantyboat in 1944 and traveled down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers from Brent, Ky. Whitten and his crew of family members and friends got as far as Carrollton, Ky., on their initial voyage, then resumed the trip in the summer of 2009, making their way to Benton, Tenn. The captain and crew made the decision to avoid the Mississippi River on the second leg of their journey on the advice of river pilots on the Ohio, who told Whitten there was a strong possibility the 30-foot-long riverboat might be swamped and broken up by giant waves churned up by enormous trains of barges. Instead, the crew decided to make its way for Mobile, Ala. Whitten stored the boat in Benton over the winter. The riverboat includes a 10- by 20-foot cabin with six bunks, a bathroom with a shower and a small kitchen and eating area. The boat is powered by a 90-horsepower motor and four 16-foot long oars. Read More

Originally posted 2015-07-04 09:55:02.

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