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Rafters’ bluewater plans are smashed

High wind and waves on Lake Champlain dismantled a homemade raft Wednesday morning and scuttled three Vermont sailors' plans for a round-the-world voyage.

Cliff-defying rescuers plucked the shipwrecked rafters and their three dogs out of the chilly water just 12 miles into a trip that began Sunday in Burlington.

The crew - including maverick open-seas rafter William Pearlman, 77, better known as Poppa Neutrino - emerged from the saga (and a subsequent hospital visit) relatively unscathed. None of the raft's occupants could be reached for comment, but a local resident familiar with the project said they suffered minor bumps and bruises.

Six-foot waves reduced the craft, named "Grace the Dancing Dandelion," to flotsam off Thompson's Point in Charlotte, Coast Guard Petty Officer Frank Benetka said.

Click here for the full report with a dramatic photo of the wave-battered raft's last moments.