Faith Audens and Colin Anderson have been traveling down the Ohio River from Pennsylvania on a shanty boat they made from recycled and salvaged materials. The two docked in  Madison on Thursday. The boat is set to cast off again this morning. They said they were inspired by the story of Harlan Hubbard. (Staff photos by Ken Ritchie)
Faith Audens and Colin Anderson have been traveling down the Ohio River from Pennsylvania on a shanty boat they made from recycled and salvaged materials. The two docked in Madison on Thursday. The boat is set to cast off again this morning. They said they were inspired by the story of Harlan Hubbard. (Staff photos by Ken Ritchie)
A young man and woman inspired partly by Milton author and artist Harlan Hubbard, who lived off the land, are boating down the Ohio River in a small hand-made boat.

Colin Anderson, 24, of Pittsburgh, and Faith Audens, 20, of Philadelphia, met in past travels and decided about a year ago they would pair up to travel from Pennsylvania to Mobile, Ala., using the Ohio River, the Tennessee River and the Tombigbee River in a boat made of donated materials.

"We've traveled by all kinds of other modes of transportation before but never by boat," Anderson said. "We couldn't afford to buy a boat, so we made it."

While preparing for their trip, Anderson read Hubbard's book "Shantyboat: A River Way of Life," which chronicles Harlan and Anna Hubbard's trip in the 1950s when they built a wooden houseboat and traveled down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to New Orleans.

Anderson said Hubbard was an inspiration to go through with their travel plans.

The small boat is made of buoyant plastic barrels, plywood for the deck, and a simple tarp to cover beds, food and a motor.

The pair began their trip about two months ago and stop whenever necessary at towns to sleep, eat or make money. During their travels they've lived off rice, canned food, pasta and lentils. They have pots and a grill in which they make fires from driftwood to cook. They even have two chickens sharing their travels.

"The chickens have become like pets," Anderson said. "But I really like the eggs."

Occasionally, people donate money or offer to share a meal with the pair. Audens said that although they are grateful for people's generosity, they are not the type to be looking for a handout.

"We have everything we need and we can take care of ourselves. We're not shy of work," Audens said.

When money is tight the pair play guitar at the town marina or bars to help support themselves.

The pair has encountered many obstacles including several storms as they made their way down the river; large barge wakes that threatened to sweep over their boat; and the ever-present obstacle of getting along with someone you've spent day and night with for two months.

"I'm the worrier," Anderson said. "There's been times when I thought, 'This boat is going to fall apart, I didn't make it that well!' But we didn't know what we were doing at all and we've made it this far."

As for occasional personality problems, Audens said they've dealt with them well.

"There's been problems, but we get through it," Audens said. "If one is falling behind the other will pick up the slack."

Part of the allure of this trip for Anderson and Audens was that they wanted to break free from their responsibilities.

"We're trying to escape the idea of being tied down to responsibility," Anderson said.

"The only thing tying us down is this manila rope," Audens said with a laugh, pointing to the rope that tied their boat to the dock.

However, the pair did have some responsibilities to fulfill with Pennsylvania government that they were not expecting. They had to pay taxes for the boat, which appraised for $850.

"Someone said, "Oh, that's so cool, you can just go down the river and not pay taxes.' Actually, that's not true, I'm a tax-paying citizen," Audens said with a little laugh.

Because of limited funds, Anderson will be cutting his trip short to go to Cincinnati to find work. Audens' boyfriend, Michael Vorrasi, 28, of Pittsburgh, will be joining Audens this weekend to complete the rest of the trip.

The two have a blog that they use to communicate with friends and family. You can read about their travels at http://wewillnotdrown.blogspot.com.

Anderson and Audens took a note from Hubbard and wanted to experience living in the way of past generations.

"This is the era of convenience and comfort, but this is far from convenient or comfortable," Audens said. "We just wanted to humble ourselves and live simply."