A Breakdown of Costs for Our Ohio/Mississippi Expedition

I wanted to explain how we arrived at our funding goal–to explain the cost drivers. It’s probably difficult to imagine how we budgeted for our upcoming adventure, 2,000 miles down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers in a homemade barge pushed by a speedboat.

Construction & Equipment

Here is a picture of the Quartermaster’s List–the items that we have to check off as we load our supplies in New Baltimore before shipping them overland to Pittsburgh. The items in black I have acquired over the years or already bought for this expedition. The items in red we still need to procure. Take a glance to see all the different kinds of things we have to bring to navigate the rivers safely, legally, enjoyably and sustainably.

The costs to complete the boat’s construction, equip it for the three-month expedition, and finish the electrical system, add up to $2623. 

Fuel

While the Ohio and Mississippi are not tidal like the Hudson (and therefore will provide current to push us along), and while we will have a windmill-powered electrical system attached to two electric motors to steer, we nonetheless will have fuel requirements. First, in case something goes wrong with our windmills, we are bringing a small generator to supplement our electrical generating ability. More importantly, the Mississippi is a very sinuous river, like a piece of boiled spaghetti that fell on the floor, which means that while we will float generally south, we will constantly be crossing and re-crossing the shipping channels. In order to avoid being run over by commercial tankers, we will have to use a gas motor to stay as close to shore and to cross the channels as quickly as possible. We want to have at least $1000 budgeted for gas. (Subtotal: $3623)

Transport

In order to get the barge, the supplies, and the speedboat which will function as a tugboat to Pittsburgh, we will have to rent a Uhaul. We’ve built the barge in sections no longer than 8-feet in one dimension, so that all of the pieces can be loaded into a long Uhaul. We will also have to take a pickup truck with the speedboat on a trailer. New Baltimore, NY and Pittsburgh are 444 miles apart by road. Our fuel miles-per-gallon are going to be pretty horrible. If the Uhaul costs around $400 and each vehicle uses $100 in gas, we’re looking at $600 to get the supplies to their starting point just above Pittsburgh on the Allegheny River. (Subtotal: $4223)

Food

If we budget $2,000 for food, for two people, for 90 days, it comes out to $3.70 per meal. We’re going to be doing a lot of fishing and Ramen Noodle eating so that we can afford to have meals in towns sometimes. (Subtotal: $6223)

Docking Fees

The whole point of this trip is to visit as many small towns and big cities as possible. We’re going to try very hard to sleep at anchor or to find people or businesses along the way where we can tie up in a safe place, leave the boat, and explore. But I imagine we will have to pay for dock space in some of the larger cities. Since docking fees can cost $12-$20 per foot, and our barge is 20-feet long, staying at a marina can cost us $240-$400 per night. (Or, the equivalent of 100 of those $3.70 meals.) Were going to avoid it as often as possible, but if we stay at a marina once per month while on this trip, that will cost around $1000. (Subtotal: $7223)

Emergency Repairs

Sam and I are pretty good at making unorthodox repairs to stay afloat, and I have a small backup motor and redundant systems to charge the batteries, but if something goes wrong and we need to buy new batteries (which cost $110 apiece) or have a marine mechanic replace a propellor or service our engine, we would like to have a little reserve cash. $300 seems like a good number. (Subtotal $7523)

Working Backward

Sam and I will each have our personal life savings of about $1,000-$1,500 before we set sail, but we will also have our personal bills to pay such as cell phone bills, health/car insurance, loan payments etc over the three month period. So that knocks necessary fundraising down by about $1000, to $6523. Also, I have a security deposit from my apartment worth $1100, assuming the landlord doesn’t try to take it, so that brings the fundraising down to $5423. My GoFundMe is currently at $1380, so Sam and I have to raise $4,043. 

Along the way, Sam and I are going to do a little busking. We sing and play a couple of instruments and we’ll put out a tip jar. I’m also going to try and sell as many of my books about Coming of Age on the Hudson as possible. I earn $4.83 cents when I sell a volume on Amazon, so if I sell 1,000, the trip will be paid for! But realistically, we hope to raise the money through a combination of book sales, busking, GoFundMe fundraising, doing casual labor down the rivers, and regular old river charity.

Anyhow, I just wanted to explain how I arrived at the GoFundMe goal, so you didn’t think I was pulling it out of thin air.

Here is a picture of the barge, almost completed, in New Baltimore as of July 19th.

“Float of the Phoenix” in Colwell Cove in New Baltimore, NY, about 15 miles south of Albany. (July 19th).

 

I’m Switching to GoFundMe from Kickstarter

Thank you to everyone who pledged to Kickstarter, but I’m not going to make my funding goal, and Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing site. If you pledged to Kickstarter your credit card will not be charged, and if you could donate instead to my GoFundMe I would greatly appreciate it!

Below is a picture of my quartermaster (supplies) list for the three month trip. The funding will help me obtain supplies (although I already have a lot of the equipment like anchors, motors, batteries, etc) and provisions along the way. The fundraiser will also help me cover 1) transporting the boat overland to Pittsburgh on 8/28, which will require renting a Uhaul and the gas for another pickup truck; 2) docking fees which range from $12-20 per foot in some areas; 3) fuel which I need to run an outboard to stay out of the channel to avoid commercial traffic as the Mississippii meanders; 4) food for Sam and I; 5) finalizing the electrical system on the boat; and, 6) an emergency fund for repairs along the way.

Thank you for your donation!

Supplies list as of March.