River Raft Madness: Archaeology takes the Mermaid Prize

Conway’s annual Riverfest included a build-your-own raft contest organized by our good friend Adam Emrick of the Horry County Planning Commission (he joined us for ground penetrating radar work in our second week). So when Adam told us about it last week, there was just no question about whether we’d join in.

So after the long, hot week of archaeology all day every day,

The propulsion support system at the launch prep area needed a bit of work.

the field school and another good friend Josey Murphy set up a raft-yard Saturday morning and started scrounging for parts. Meghan and Dr. Ward got some inner tubes (because of Meghan’s hand-painted Egypt shirt, we think), and Josey and Chris built a platform to cover them. A sail adorned with pyramid and hieroglyphs, waterguns, and a pug in effigy, plus four halves of kayak paddles and three boogie boards (for the other propulsion by student kickers) completed the stunning craft.

With seven people aboard, it was a bit slow, until one of the big tubes got stabbed, but our stalwart crew pulled and pushed and

Seven fine souls went out and seven returned. Success.

kicked and paddled and though a good four inches awash, the raft refused to sink, depriving us of the Flying Dutchman prize.

Slow, steady, and nosedown in the water, but unsinkable.

It was a beaut.

The Da Vinci, or Mermaid, prize for the best looking raft will inspire us for next year’s competition…students already are plotting to build a dugout, a reed boat, and a really fast raft of some kind that will do better against the current and the wind.

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