Inspired by Thor Heyerdahl's Kon-Tiki expedition, 12 men set off in three balsa wood rafts from Equador last May, bound for Australia, 8,000 miles (12,875 km) away.
Inspired by Thor Heyerdahl's Kon-Tiki expedition, 12 men set off in three balsa wood rafts from Equador last May, bound for Australia, 8,000 miles (12,875 km) away. Besides the men on board, a small menagerie of animals, pet monkeys, parrots and kittens have braved the ocean voyage.
It is the third raft expedition for Vital Alsar, the 40-year-old Spaniard who is leading "Las Balsas Expedition". In 1966, his first attempt to cross the Pacific ended when his raft sank after 143 days at sea. Undaunted by his early failure, Vital successfully crossed to Australia in 1970, making the journey in 185 days.
After the successful journey in 1970, Vital decided to repeat the crossing, taking three balsa rafts, in order to provide supporting evidence to the theory that accident American civilisations could have crossed the Pacific in large numbers.
The rafts are 46 feet (14 meters) long and 18 feet (5.4 meters) wide. Each raft is constructed from seven balsa logs, cut from "female" balsa trees. The "female" balsa trees. The "female" tree is cut because it contains more sap than the "male" trees. For a similar reason, the trees are felled during a full moon, when they have a higher sap content.
When the three rafts neared the Australian coast, off Queensland, a group of newsmen chartered a motor boat to go out and welcome the twelve men, to find out how they felt as they neared the end of their six-month voyage.
SYNOPSIS: It was a little more than three men in a boat. To be precise, twelve men, in three balsa wood rafts, with two parrots two monkeys, and two kittens - at sea for six months. The men, and their pets, are in the final stages of a trans-Pacific crossing, a journey of eight thousand miles, from Equador in South America to Queensland in Australia. In the first week of November, they were sited four hundred miles off the Queensland coast.
The men, from North and South America, and Europe, were led by a forty-year-old Spaniard, Vital Halsar, who first made the crossing in 1970. Halsar led this expedition to prove, or at least add evidence to, the theory that ancient Americans were able to cross the Pacific in large numbers.
To survive, they have had to catch most of their food from the sea. A group of Australian news reporters chartered a boat to welcome the expedition as it neared the Australian coast. A reporter spoke to Vital Halsar.