Four men and a cat have completed an epic voyage across the Pacific from South America to Australia aboard a raft.
MV Raft at sear(4 shots)
CU Crew member with cat
LV Crew member climbs mast
SV Crew members seated
RV Raft with land in background
CU PAN Night shot, raft at berth
SV Customs man takes cat in basket
SV&CU Crew members seated, with Pressmen (4 shots)
Initials JMR/MR/MH/1631 JMR/MR/MH/1655
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Four men and a cat have completed an epic voyage across the Pacific from South America to Australia aboard a raft. After five months at sea and 8,500 miles, and raft - named La Balsa - landed on Thursday (5 November) at the beach resort of Mooloolaba, on Australia's East Coast.
The raft's skipper, a 37-year-old Spaniard, Vital Alsar, said the purpose of the trip was to prove that South Americans could have reached Australasia centuries ago.
The youngest of the crew, Normal Tetreault, a Canadian, said he believed the crossing from Ecuador was more hazardous than the famous voyage of the Kon Tiki. In 1947 the Norwegian Thor Heyerdahl drifted across the Pacific in the Kon Tiki from South America to Polynesia.
Alsar said reaching Australia was "the conclusion of the ambition of my life". He made a previous attempt to cross the Pacific in 1968 but it had to be abandoned after 88 days when the logs of the raft became water-logged.
The other two members of the crew were Marc Modena, born in France but now living in Montreal, and Gabriel Salas of Santiago, Chile. All four looked tanned and fit, despite having encountered several dangerous storms on their route.
A crowd of 2,000 people gave a rousing welcome to the fragile raft - with an Aztec Sun symbol painted on its sail by the artist Salvador Sali - when it landed 60 miles (95 km) north of Brisbane.
The voyage had a happy ending too for the ship's cat, Minet. Instead of being destroyed, as normal regulations require, it has been given special quarters on a ship and will accompany the four adventures when they leave Australia.