By Laura Stabbert
CALLICOON This was not a run-of-the-mill raft cruising the Delaware River.
“My raft is really different,” said David Smith of Merrick, LI, after finishing a journey on his “Raft ofDuckS” (named after the term for thousands of ducks gathered on a body of water and with Dave’s initials).
Smith ventured onto raft plans.com after his wife Joan mentioned the idea, since she had seen some interesting homemade rafts on the Delaware River last summer.
Joan Kaufmann Smith has local connections; her siblings the Kaufmanns and Joyals live on the Damascus side of the river, brother Tom is a longtime Callicoon FD member and the “Delaware Depot” eatery on Callicoon’s Main St. is a family firm.
Smith went to work on the raft in basement in November 2010, but put many personal touches on his 16-by-8-foot craft. Built atop 16 barrels, it can hold 6,400 lbs., has everything from a swimming ladder to a fireplace, solar lights, a propane stove, 10 foot handcrafted oars, a hammock and of course life jackets for all occupants.
The raft was brought upstate on a utility trailer earlier this month.
David, his son Michael and friends Jack Frayler and Aaron Pratesi assembled the raft on shore and set sail from Buckingham Access near Lordsville and took the raft on an overnight adventure down the Delaware River to Callicoon. The final destination was Hickory Lane which is quarter-mile mile downstream of Callicoon on the Pa side.
Everybody could agree that Hankins Rapids were the most challenging, yet enjoyable part of the trip.
The “castaways” were prepared; they spent the time relaxing, fishing and cooking, making BBQ spare ribs for one meal over the fire, and the morning feast featured omelets, toast and bacon.
The “floating man cave” got a lot of looks even before it hit the river.
The Smiths hail from Merrick Long Island and after loading the raft at home it stood 8 feet high behind their car.
“We got a lot of funny looks on the Throngs Neck Bridge. You could tell they were wondering, ‘what is that?’” said Joan.
If you want to see the adventure for yourself, Michael took videos during the excursion and plans on putting the completed work on YouTube. Enter “The Raft ofDuckS” to watch live footage of the quartet floating on the river.
The raft, according to Joan, will be back on the Delaware this weekend.