Father and son build a raft and sail to Robben Island

By Jaime Uranovsky

Josh Rubin, best known for his photojournalism and short documentaries, such as his recent documenting of Cape Town under lockdown, has just completed a new project.

Josh recently launched a YouTube channel and, at the end of July, uploaded his most exciting video yet: Josh and his father, Tony, constructed a raft and sailed it to Robben Island.

Of his YouTube channel Josh says, “The work I was doing was getting a bit much and I needed to do something more light-hearted. That was the idea behind the YouTube channel. It’s just a place where I can have fun and make fun videos and make people laugh for a change”.

The idea to build a raft was not entirely serious at first, but stayed afloat long enough for the father-son duo to turn it into a reality. Josh explains, “During level four and five I was documenting lockdown and then after that period I had a lot of free time, and my dad was working much less as well, so I thought of starting a YouTube channel and we were thinking of ideas and I threw it out there. I said, ‘Why don’t we make a raft and paddle to Robben Island’, and at the beginning it was a bit of a joke but it slowly became a real idea.”

Tony and Josh spent around three weekends building the raft. They used plumbing pipe, metal bars and wood to construct their vessel. Then they attached tuffy chairs after severing the legs.

The pair did some calculations to determine how much buoyancy they would need and acquired their materials based on this information. Once constructed, they tested the raft’s ability to stay afloat in a swimming pool. Josh recounts, “We built the thing with just the four pipes initially and it was very unstable… So the first attempt we did was successful; it floated but it was a bit of a flop in terms of stability and then we added [extra] pipes and the second attempt was perfect”.

Josh and Tony were then ready to set to embark on their odyssey, which took them around three hours. Josh says, “Getting past the break was very scary. The waves pushed the raft onto us, so we flipped a few times but once we got past the waves it was really awesome. It was my dad’s 59th birthday on the same day which was unintentional. It just happened to be that that was a really good day for the weather. It was extremely special. I’ve never been to Robben Island before. Neither had my dad, so it was a lot of firsts in one go”.

Watch the video here and check out Josh’s other videos on his YouTube channel: Joshwideawake.
To engage with Josh’s photojournalism including his work during lockdown, go to his Instagram page: @joshwideawake.

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