The story - short.
That is not every day we hear about a square-off raft driven by sail, but the Norwegians designed and builded two - and they paid a hard price for that experience.
They came rushing down to our coast, builded two new models of Kon-tiki rafts, sailed out on the wide Ocean without previous test of their new design, and discovered on their way, that they with no combination of sail and Guaras were able to beat against the wind.
Nevertheless they continued their sailing and drifted with the trade wind, as brought them out of route. After some months drifting around in the South Pacific, they found themselves without possibilities to sail back to South America, and decided to abandon their rafts in open sea and call for pick-up - and with that they gave up every chance to recover their costs and regain investment.
- 12 of the 20 wooden rafts sailing out on the Pacific Ocean, never reached where they should
Why tell this sad story?
Nobody think that this was a happy experience for the crew - although unforgettable. Drifting far out of planned route, turning south to catch the cold roaring forties, where the western wind destroyed their rafts and washed through both crew and equipment. Such months on sea are not fun, but we have to admit, that hard and bad experience too is experience, as could be fruitful next time, as they - or sombody else - want to try again.
This is a sad account, but we need to tell the story to extract learning for common use.
Rule for Guara-steered rafts:
If a raft can't beat to wind it is NOT a Guara-problem - the problem is either the sail or missing seamanship (knowledge) -
What went wrong for the Norwegians ?
They had made changes to the classic inca-raft bodies - the hulls, but they had carefully tested their theories by tank-tests.
They had mounted a typical Norwegian mono-masted square sail, and that rig is the most Norwegian rigging, as is possible to imagine. They have used that rigging the last 1000 years - and they master it to excellence.
That should neither be their crews.
The rafts had all experienced captains and around the half of their crew were full-bodied sailors trained on square sails - the other half less.
They came with the experience from a successfull raft-raid - Tangaroa-2 - as 10 years earlier drifted west over the Pacific; so they knew that ocean - and they knew the use of Guaras.
They knew from the old Spanish chroniclers, that the chosen months would be the worst to sail to Easter Island. Impossible in Inca-time.
Too they knew, that the year was expected to be a bad 'El Niño' year, as affect the global climate with atypical and unpredictable weather
- and they felt themselves strong and prepared for such conditions at sea - and they were!
Their fault was NOT to make an erroneous design - that they could have mended
Their bad result was basicly due to rash recklessness
- and the irresponsible was, that they sailed out without previous test of their new creation -
Pre-analysis to choose square-off hull shape
The first suspected for their bad sail result is the new hull of their rafts.
The testimonies from early explorers all have told us, that the South American rafts without visible difficulty could beat against the wind steered by their Guara system.
The common shape was reported as a long trunk in the middle and some smaller along the sides - as the shape of an outstretched hand.
That the norsemen changed. The rafters wanted to build "a fast sailing balsa raft".
Transcript from www.kontiki2.com 2015-09-03: "Building and testing raft models - How should one best build a balsa raft? Pointy front? Shaped logs? Does it make a difference? Crew member Ola Borgfjord has built several models along with his father, Einar Borgfjord.
The results indicated, that a curved front and tapered logs in the back will be a good choice for the rafts."
Tank test at Technical University of Norway pure traction straight forward and no sidewards forces
The group carried therefor out comparative hydraulic tests in a water tank, measuring water resistance in relation to sail-speed for different raft models. Subsequent both rafts were remodeled and constructed in accordance with the scientific result, as the tank test had indicated. They amputated the prow from the classic balsa raft and build a pair of tween rafts for their raid with square-off bow: 'stub-nosed and sloped'. They maybe could reach up to the double speed with this new hull shape, they expected.
Such a tank test probably is fine for motor powered sailing, but we are not informed if they had carried out any test of their models for things as 'influence of wind abeam', 'directional stability' etc.
The tank test
As we afterwards evaluate the case, the performed tank-tests demonstrated, that a rectangular hull could be pushed or towed rather well ahead in flat calm waters as announced - but more tank tests, as for example sailing along the diagonal with a front corner as prow would probably have shown nearly same low forward resistance.
A throughout investigation for sail directions all around the compass could have shown something like this sketched oval vector field, where the diameters hold nearly same relation as the l/w = 3:1.
We don't know, but are nearly sure, that the test rig of the tank didn't register nothing about any torque from a one-sided bow wave as showed up as fatal for the rafts. They registered probably only draw on their rolling test-bridge, because that was what they were asked for, and that is okay for any motorpowered ship, as we build today.
The test result means, that to obtain a LOW FORWARD RESISTANCE - independant of any grade of leeway - the centerline of raft has to point clean along her course through the water. No sidewarts sailing - please.
Theoretic vector field showing the size of water resistance all the way around a rectangular body
A wind powered sailship is characteristic by her LOW forward hydraulic resistance + in combination with a HIGH lateral ditto.
The prow of a kontiki2 raft the day of launch
The tank test indicated that the raft with the chosen bow should have a LOW forward resistance, if she is sailed clean ahead through the water - without sidewaerts movements; and to point a Guara raft for that, should be no greater probelm, as demonstrated earlier.
The common rule for a Guara raft:
You can control the pointing of your raft all the Compass around - with your Guaras alone as the Center of Wind will blow to lee of the Center of Water Resistance
- if the sail is adjusted for the now pointed course, you are sailing -
As told, they build and sailed directly off without test nor trial of their new hull shape, and a month into their sailing, we received the message
Cite: "We can't sail closer than 100 degrees from wind, 90 degrees is not possible, no matter how we position Guaras and sail"
We have still not received any final report from the expedition, but 100 degrees to wind is in no way against the wind.
Photo of Kontiki2 raft Tupac Yupanki south west of Easter Island - taken 25.Febr.2016 by a toy-drone
The first view
The raft shown on their air-photo make an extreme broadside motion. She holds a rather rectangular shape, with a l/w ratio around 3:1 and a transom bow - she seems to use her starboard (lee) corner as prow. The position of the Norwegian flag indicate apparent wind directly into port side = beam reach. The lifted front-end of port trunk together with the dipped starboard trunk-head indicate a good wind. The wake drawn from port side bow and too after the raft both indicate a leeway - a deviation from pointed course (centerline) of around 20 degrees - and that is much.
The yard is brased 60° to centerline = 80° to sailed course. The sail seems adjusted fair - but not good - not even if sailing along the centerline with wind abeam. In this case the raft is NOT sailing along any CENTERLINE, she is sailing along a diagonal
This photo gave us impulse to investigate the general theories around raft sailing, hull shapes and sails, as described at anterior web-pages
We don't have much experience with transom stems, but it seems as such square vessel has no clear saildirection, because all the zone between the two diagonals will give nearly same low hydraulic resistance, and it furthermore seems, as this Norwegian raft has chosen to sail along the diagonal passing through lee front-corner. The photo show, that she is sailing around 110 degrees to the wind, even if 100˚ acording to their message should be possible.
It looks like the norsemen have created a flat bottom vessel with twin-prow. As the vector diagram indicate, that sailing forward in any direction between the centerline and a diagonal - or rather: forward between both diagonals - doesn't offer much difference to stabilize anything. Bistable we could call the craft, because the wind will decide to which side the raft shall flip-over.
The Message from Rapa Nui raft of Kontiki2 together with the later air-photo gave the impulse to make this research, remembering the rule for Guara-steered rafts:
If a raft can't beat to the wind, it is NOT a Guara-problem - the problem is either the Sail or Seamanship (knowledge)
The Hull - and the tricky transom bow
Square-off rafts are not unknown in our heritage of drawings, even if the verbal descriptions say: shaped like a hand with the biggest trunk in center.
A main difference between a pointed and a square-off raft is that the later need some more Guaras plunged down aft to compensate the unidirectional deviation of bow-flow - or alternatively to position the mast more ahead (as the Humber Keel)
In all the cases: - with wind abeam skipper still has to forsee certain leeway
the pointed raft will sail-on, as pointing along centerline + with a few degrees of leeway
the pointed bow will split the bow-flow to both sides
the square-off raft will sail-on along the diagonal + added the same few degrees of leeway
The one-sided bow-flow will go in balance with the side-press
With sketches of water streaming against the bows of two comparable flat-bottom rafts, we try to explain, that a raft with pointed bow, immediately will try to correct a deviation to the pointed course by applying more water-press on lee bow and side
- whereas a square-off bow first will find the balance, when the raft has passed the diagonal, where the press from streaming water on lee side is in balance with the press on the square-off bow .
The three counteraction cases for Kontiki2
Any Guara-raft you can point as you want
and if our sail is adjusted for that pointing - you will sail
Notes about counteract options
We can't totally eliminate the "square-off problem", because the "flipflop-effect" - when the bow-wave change side - that will happen within few degrees, even mostly when sailing downwind.
1): They could have eliminated their wry diagonal pointing by moving backwards their Guaras. A Guara-steered raft you can point where you want, and therefore too along a centerline as explained at page #5.
The pointing of a Guara-raft depend only of the hold in water against the centred windpress on sail. The helmsman should therefor plunge down a surplus of guaras aft, as can move backward the CLR. And that means too: lift up all fore Guaras.
As reason for the calamity, our investigation indicate, an "overkilled" Guara-steering.
With too many Guaras plunged down to work as fin-keels, they couldn't move backwards their CLR as they should, to correct their diagonal sailing to a centerline sailing.
2): They could have chosen to sail on - what they really did.
If they really couldn't find out to adjust their pointing, skipper of course could accept the state of the raft and chosen to sail along the diagonal. As the rule says "if the sail is adjusted for that course, he will sail". The sailing depend only of his sail and rig, and in the diagonal case, he has to adjust all the rigging in relation to diagonal, and not the centerline: turn the yard, move fastning of both tack and sheet. And this seems as the main-omission for both Kontiki2 rafts, as is verified later by our desktop exercise.
3): They could have eliminated both problems by sharpening their bow Take a saw and cut the wooden trunks in pointed shape or mount a "snow-plough" as Thor Heyerdahl used, as can divide the incomming bow-wave in two equal streams.
Don't forget that the tank-test was based on a straight forward sailing to obtain the promised 'LOW forward hydraulic resistance' - therefore the tank-test could justify the first solution.
Square sail rigging on square-off raft
If the sail is adjusted - - - exclaim the raft-rule
The square sail.
A lonely square sail has not many options to move around with the wind-center. With push or lift in sail the CE-center is principally the center of the canvas, and the canvas transfer the wind-forces to the boat by 3 fix-points: the tack, the sheet and the parrel. The parrel does, that we can swing the sail around the mast, and the wind centre will therefor allways stay somewhere on a half-circle. And with that knowledge the rest of pointing must be done by our Guaras. To thrust the raft ahead, the pointing of craft and the adjustment of sail has to correspond - and that is the art of skipper to make that.
Rule to beat higher to the wind
a raft skipper has two options:
1): move the CLR ahead (the Guaras)
- - - or - - -
2): move the CE (the sail-center) backwards
- or both -
the semicircle of CE = Center of Effort for a lonely square sail
A little mathematic exercise.
A square-rigged boat has a rather large 'no-go' zone, but we know that a normal square-rigged craft at least will be able to go 80 degrees to the wind. In this norse case the diagonal hold 20 degrees to the centerline of the hull, so if we subtract or add 20 degrees to the 80 degrees, we get respectively 60 degrees and 100 degrees. 60 degrees is difficult for a square-rigger to approach, but 100 degrees was what we got - and that is what we can read from the photo.
100˚ to the wind is in contrast to what the old chroniclers told us: the Inca Rafts could sail out and come back to same place on the coast; but we don't know if any of the post-Heyerdahl replica-rafts was able to do that.
And here is where the Norwegian raft sail adjustment went wrong 2015
the true course is the steered course and the leeway together
the wake or a log-line indicate the TRUE course
apparent wind is the geographical wind and headway together
the flag or a wind-vane in top of mast indicate the APPARENT wind
the MAIN-RULE for a square sail is that it (the yard) has to divide the angel between the apparent wind and the true sailed course.
Even if a raft is sailing diagonal, the square sail has to divide the same angel between apparent wind as indicated by the windvane in top of mast - and the sailed course as is indicated by the wake of vessel.
ERROR 2 - They didn't realize that it was a sailing along a diagonal they did, and therefor they didn't adjust their sail.
The continued study of the air-photo.
The photo show the yard braced 60˚ to centerline = 80˚ to sailed course - The sail seems adjusted fair for a wind abeam and for sailing along the centerline of the craft.
In this case the raft is NOT sailing along any centerline, she is sailing along a diagonal - and consequently the sail has to be adjusted for the diagonal.
The center of wind is for all practical purpose the center of sail in sailing position, and there is not considered any important lift in the actual position more than compensated by wind on hut. The center of this sail is the letter "R" in 'Heye-r-dahl'. That center is placed over the starboard gunwale of raft, as indicated at foto by a red 4-star - and that can only be moved swinging in a circle around the mast.
The sailed course is along the diagonal, and therefor the hydraulic center of resistance must be placed somewhere on the same blue diagonal.
The flag indicate a wind directly abeam, and therefor the actual hydraulic center need to be directly upwind of the Center of Wind - and must therefor be where indicated with a blue 5-star.
The mast is raised on crossbeam #5, as indicated by crossing black lines - and the fulcrum of the center of sail, must be in between the blach cross as indicate the foot of mast and its parrel of the yard. The parrel is the pivot, as the yard is swinging around.
Nevertheless the sail seems rather baggy, and it is uncertain how high to the wind this shape will permit - my guess is arround 80 degrees, and not much more.
First try of change - move CLR forward - negative.
We are actually sailing 110 degrees to the wind, and to change the pointing to 80˚ we need to luff 30˚ up against wind.
That we can do easy. To correct the pointing we simply can move the Hydraulic Center (CLR) more forward, by pushing down more Guaras in front end or lift some up aft in stern, and subsequently the wind will blow its old sail-center leeward to the this new CLR.
"and if the sail is adjusted for the pointed course, you are sailing", the rule says - but we don't sail - we have got out of range of the sail! We will not sail forward, at least!
In this case the sail will loose the wind on backside as fill the canvas and blow up the cambered profile. We will get backwind, the sail will collapse and the Center of Wind will move in some way, as probobly will turn up the bow directly against the wind.
Sketches used for the desktop exercise: adjusting the sail and rigging alone
(A play with adjustment of the sail alone, while keeping the Guaras where they are. With all reservation for the point of view and angel of perspective).
Only step on a drawing is to brace the sail with its Center of Wind 40˚ more around the mast (too move tack with cleat and fastenings)
- then let the Northern wind blow the new Center of Wind to lee of the old Center of Water Resistance - and the raft will still sail on along the diagonal - but closer to wind
Yard 60° to centerline = 80° to sailed diagonal course
CE is center of sail
Wind abeam 90° to centerline = 110° to diagonal
STEP-1 FINDING CLR:
From CE = Center of sail, we search CLR upwind, in the crossing with sailed diagonal course
Note: the mast is assumed in the crossing between centerline and diagonal
STEP-2 MOVE CE:
Brace yard 40° more
now 20° to centerline = 40° to diagonal
(move too tack and sheet)
RESULT: CE moved aft
STEP-3Let the wind blow
the new CE leeward of old CLR
the raft beat 40° higher = 70° to wind - and is still sailing diagonal
If the baggy sail can take this 70° to the wind, then congratulations.
A secondary Result:
The yard (colored olive) seems now to divide more correct the angel between apparent wind and sailed course - yielding more propulsion. - but the cost is, that the crew has to move or change the forestay.
Second try - move backward CE - better. (the desktop excercise)
Otherwise, if instead of manipulate the Guaras we brace the yard 40˚ nearer to centerline what means move tack and sheet to new positions, then the wind-centre will swing around the mast to a position more against aft (on the photo the fulcrum of the sail is a point between mast foot and parrel).
Subsequently the wind will blow this new Center of Wind to lee of the old hydraulic centre, as we haven't tuched, and as result her pointing is corrected around the 40° - just as we wanted. With that the raft will go on sailing along her diagonal, but this time hopefully 70˚ to the wind, which is much better and at least against the wind.
40˚ luff up could create a conflict between the canvas and the forestay. If so, you then have to accept the deformation of the aerodynamic profile and reduction of lift - or you have to change something on the forestay. As I remember the raft Tupac Amaru, she had two forestays, so something could be done - too at sea.
Try even harder and better.
If the actual sail with this rather blunt edge profile, can do even more, then try it. Perhaps with 10 degrees more pointing = 60 degrees to wind. That is rather ambitious for a square sailer, but depend mostly of the shape of sail. The sail unfortunately have got shrinked its boltrope and therefor lost its sharp cutting leading edge, but to correct that, is a larger operation = more days with needles and yarn. But OK - the sail was bought in Poland for "a good price". Nevertheless, too the old sail from Tangaroa-2 - 2006 was on board as reserve, and it could have been tried out, even if some known old photos not indicate much better shape.
The awkward sailing along a diagonal is OK, as a mend for a faulty hull design, but that only make it more complicated, when you have to go-about and change over to sail along the other diagonal. But neither this is important, beeing a manouvre you don't need so often on open ocean. The important is to be able to beat against the wind.
even with bow-line set, the boltrope has shrinked and crimpled the cutting edge - furthermore the camber is deformed by the stay, which is difficulting lift from a sweeping wind over upper part of the sail
example of a correct shaped sail: - no deformation of canvas nor leech - bowline tight - wind-cutting leech sharp - rather flat camber
Result: 58˚ to wind
Conclusion of sails.
With this analysis it seems as the Norwegians had imported a pure Nordlandsrig with tack, cleat and fastenings, where they in hundreds of years had been placed on a classic Nordlands boat or 'jekta' - without to take in account, that in this case they had changed drastic the hull shape of their vessels, and actually sailed along a diagonal - and such diagonal sailing demand a serious adjustment of rigging.
Seamanship - means the skill, techniques, or practice of handling a ship, a boat or any floating item at sea
That is not the primary purpose for a sail manual to judge crew and seamanship. Our task is to analyze what happened, point out solutions, explain and in that way teach next skipper how to combat such problems. We have only to say, that their month long sailing on the South Pacific Ocean they had more choices for counteract - but they chosed wrong and lost their rafts.
That was perhaps an ill-considered idea and a silly fault to change a well-proved hull shape, but the fatal and decisive arised in the moment they in their eager to start their Heyerdahl-adventure, against all their Norwegian traditions pushed aside every final test and trial of their new ship-construction before sailing out on a monthlong raid. The well established "prøveseglingsprosdyre" = 'procedure of test sailing' described by Jon Godal, they left out.
The antique rule is still valid for seamen:
If provoking the Gods, then they make their Nemesis follow your Hubris
They escaped the test sailing, but furthermore the seamen (skipper and crew) made two faults:
Without evidence we have the shrewed idea that they considered their diagonal sailing as a 20 degrees leeway - and a classic counteraction for leeway is: more keel. Therefor we suppose they plunged down a maximum of Guaras - and with that they overkilled their steering.
They didn't realize that they ware sailing along a diagonal, and therefore they didn't adjust their sail for that.
The unexpected result:
The archaeological purpose was beforehand rather vague. We had felt much doubt around the scientific value this Kontiki2-raid, but here the great surprise showed up: they verified - certainly unintended and by a self-sacrificial action - that the rafts in South America by the many hundred of years development had been so well optimized, that they have given us a useful hull shape for oceangoing balsa rafts, as not easily can be done better: The pointed prow, the long slab sideline - and a steering controlled by Guaras /daggerboards.
An other paradox they poited out was, if Tupac Yupanki as native governor from the mountains realy sailed out on the sea with 20.000 men and soldiers on lets say 100 or 1000 rafts, he at least should have one experienced sailor on board each raft. And from where could he get so many experiences skippers ? ??
What could they have done to escape the sad ending ?
Nevertheless - perhaps NEXT Norse raid will show more loyalty to the authentic South American culture - and less freebooter -
The occurrence of 'el Niño' they couldn't change; but they could have chosen another time of the year, knowing from Inca-time, that sailing to Easter Island was impossible or at least difficult from November to March.
They knew it, calculated the risk and took the chance.
But on their way to Easter Island they learned the fatal tacking capacity of their rafts and send the message:
Cite: "We can't sail closer than 100 degrees from wind, 90 degrees is not possible, no matter how we position Guaras and sail"
If it against all theories really was the case that it wasn't posible - or if they couldn't find out to balance their side-sliding by plunging more Guaras down aft - and lift all the Guars up in front, they still had 3 options to go through with their raid
#1): They could have waited in Hangaroa for better wind, waited patiently just as the oldtimer sailors often did.
#2): They could have recognized that their crafts of some reasons prefered to sail along a diagonal, and accepted the consequence of that. Knowing that a sail has to be adjusted in relation to how the craft meet the elements of water and of wind: the sail has to split up the vind by dividing the angel between apparent wind and sailed course and not pointed course. Therefor it could be an idea if the skipper changed the rigging to follow that. 20 degrees out of center line seems to be an operation as could be possible to carry out on the sea by change the fixation points for tack and for sheet and perhaps move a forestay out of touch with the yard.
#3): Alternatively they in Hangaroa could have changed the shape of the bow of their rafts (and tested the changes) before sailing out on last leg - and in that way eliminate the tendency to flip over to diagonal sailing, and escape the main reason for the missing ability to beat against wind.
What they would have needed for the operation, was only a good saw, for cutting off the timbers and reshape a prow.
Perhaps they too could have moved their mast more ahead (as the Humber keel) - to counteract the effect of a transom stem.
A real seaman is expected to navigate any body as can float ?
None of these three above mentioned proposals are now possible to re-examine and verify. The rafts have vanished and no report is published. That is as making a posthumous forensic diagnosis, where the carcass had disappeared.
Nevertheless. After analysing and explaining the technical virtues of Guara-steering remain the impress of an overkilled steering for both Kontiki2 rafts. The suspected guilty for this missing steering ability is a surplus of Guaras plunged down - and if that is the case, we are talking poor seamanship!
Kontiki2 tugged out of CallaoA surprise because they escaped a start-check
Øyvin adjusting Guara at Tangaroa-2The Tupac Yupanki skipper was too on board Tangaroa-2-2006
The sad Kontiki2 case leave the impression, that Tangaroa-2 on her west-going raid never sailed broad reach
The distribuition of Guara-slots on both Kontiki2 rafts seems to give sufficient options to make any ponting all the compass around.
If skipper want some other pointing than his actual, he only has to adjust his Guaras - and then his sail.
- to change a diagonal-sailing to centerline-sailing he probably has to plunge all 4 AFT Guaras down - and the rest up
If a raft can't beat to wind it is NOT a Guara-problem - the problem is either the sail or seamanship -
The Hull: The Inca hull was clearly changed, had got the prow amputated and was now more as a square floating board - but that should be no problem for a Guara-raft. The Sail: The rigging was the renowned Nordland square rig, as was adjusted for centerline sailing, and not for the actual diagonal heading. The Seamanship:
They sailed out without any test of their new craft - and that was bad.
They accepted to sail-on with a raft, as they couldn't make to beat against wind.
They sailed with a baggy sail accepting the poor low yield of their raft, and knowing that a baggy sail will not be able to beat high to the wind
(- and we have not even heard, if they have tried out their reserve sail from their old Tangaroa-2 raft of 2006).
They left last port without having corrected anything of what obvious was faulty - neither on hull nor rigging.
They resigned to their fate, relying on their luck and the cold east-going tradewinds further south, where no South American never have sailed with a wash-through raft.
the two square-off rafts of 2015 sailed along a diagonal - and that was what the crews should have seen and subsequently adjusted either their sail - or they could have corrected the pointing by their Guaras
Hindsight - after the happening
The understanding of what could be the reason for the Kontiki2 calamity came late. Came together with the appearance of the old Tangaroa-2 photo - showing an overcrowded underneath
Being experienced members from Tangaroa-2 as sailed Kontiki2 - they could have brought that overcrowding practice with them.
Note: In all relations in your life that is your RESULT as count - and not your promise nor your intentions. This rule is valid in all case of life - too for rafters: Did you make it, did you reach your objective - or did you not?
Fate of later oceangoing log Rafts
Adventure and turistic experience
or Survival exercise
In the last 70 years 20 rafts inclusive Kon-tiki sailed out on the Pacific Ocean.
The 8 complied and reached their destination, and the reminder 12 rafts ware Lost.
Of these 12 at least 6 ware sunken by Teredo Navalis
Since his raid 70 years ago, Thor Heyerdahl has been used as a reference for any sailing with rafts.
Therefore it is remarkable so little new knowledge about early Southamerican seafaring, as has contribuited the many later expeditions sailing out on the Pacific Ocean in his wake.
The later generation of raft raids leave the impression to be more about to 'do it better, longer, harder' in a Guinness-like competition.
#1 - Kon-Tiki 1947
Thor Heyerdahl with his 5 scandinavian mates made the first adventurous raft voyage in the time after the dark years of the Second World War
Result: Raft raid completed - if the trunks were tarred, we don't know.
Reflective Note: That raft raid had the most surprising effect, not only on the scientific understanding of their way to work - but it too rushed out on
the sea a fleet of buccaneers, freebooters and adventureros sailing the most imaginative types of own-build crafts - in search for a personal adventure.
#2 - Seven Little Sisters 1954
William Willis sailed singlehanded on his raft Seven Little Sisters from Peru to American Samoa, and completed successfully the journey. He sailed 6,700 miles, which was 2,200 miles farther than Kon-Tiki.
Result: Raft raid completed.
1963 in a second great voyage ten years later, William Willis rafted 11,000 miles from South America to Australia with a metal bodied raft ‘Age Unlimited'. The raid was completed but is not counted as a wooden log-raft.
#3 - La Kantuta 1955
The Czech explorer and adventurer Eduard Ingris attempted to recreate the Kon-Tiki expedition on a balsa raft called Kantuta. This first expedition, Kantuta led to failure.
Result: The raft lost how?
#4 - Tahiti-Nui 1956
The famous French seafarer, Eric de Bisschop, committed himself in a project he have had for some years: he built a Polynesian raft in order to cross the eastern Pacific Ocean from Tahiti to Chile (contrary to Thor Heyerdahl's crossing); the Tahiti-Nui left Papeete with a crew of five. When near the Juan Fernández Islands (Chile) 6 months later, the raft was in a very poor state due to an infestation of the clam Teredo Navalis, and they asked the Chilenean Navy for a towing, but the Tahiti-Nui was damaged during the operation and had to be abandoned. They were able to save a part of their equipment on board.
Result: Raft lost due to Teredo Navalis
#5 - Tahiti-Nui II 1958
Eric de Bisschop build a second Tahiti-Nui from Cypres-logs in Constitución, Chile; in April they left towards Callao, then turning towards the Marquesas, but they missed their target, and after four months at sea, too this raft began to sink due to the same Teredo Navalis.
Result: Raft lost due to teredo Navalis.
#6 - Tahiti-Nui III
The raft was build out in the ocean by the more buoyant parts of Tahiti Nui II and this new and smaller raft were swept along towards Cook Islands, but went aground and was wrecked at Rakahanga atoll on August 30.
Eric de Bisschop was the only person who died in this accident. A death as this great sailor probably self would have taken, if he have had the choice. Ref. Book: From Raft to Raft, by Bengt Danielsson.
Result: Raft lost due to Shipwreck.
#7 - La Kantuta II 1959
Eduard Ingris built a new balsa raft, Kantuta II, and tried to repeat his previous expedition. This second expedition was a success. Ingris was able to cross the Pacific Ocean on the balsa raft from Peru to Polynesia.
Result: The Raft raid completed - no more information given
#8 - Tangaroa 1965
Inspired of Heyerdahl Carlos Caravedo build his raft in Callao; but as Peruvian citizen Carlos Caravedo Arca was a natural victim to be trapped by latin bureaucracy. Of incomprehensible reasons the authorities wouldn't give leave for departure.
At last a permision to sail-off was promised against taking on board a special friend of the port authorities - a pilot and his assistant. With 4 months spent on waiting, while his balsa raft got more and more waterlogged, Carlos Caravedo was submited this latin idiosyncrasia, and had to accept or lose his raft. Of course he accepted; and he send his own crew ashore and took those two strangers onboard paying them their salary and costs - and they sailed off from Callao.
With such composed team the cooperation wasn't without difficulties, but the three men were forced to sail together, and they crossed the Pacific Ocean in 115 days, of which the 18 last days were used to pass the dangerous Tuamotu Archipelago of French Polynesia by own means.
Tangaroa ended her Pacific crossing on the Fakarava Island, and there the team stopped further cooperation. The raft was donated to the local community - and the men parted.
The sad circumstances around this raid had discouraged Carlos Caravedo and neither it had animated his family to publish anything about this Tangaroa raid. Carlos Caravedo died as a bitter man; but 50 years after this raid he at last got a posthumous acknowledgement from the peruvian society.
Result: The raft raid completed - no official documentation published.
Please note, that the raft was steered by three Guaras only - one in front and two aft.
The trunks had been submerged in used oil spiced with poison - got therefor only limited attack by Teredo Navalis.
#9 - La Pacifica 1966
The Spaniard Vital Alsar boarded a simple raft, La Pacífica, intended to cover the route between Ecuador and Australia. This journey was cut short by a severe Teredo Navalis attack in the wood of his raft. The raft sank after 143 days of navigation, and the lonely captain was rescued by a German ship.
Result: Raft lost due to Teredo Navalis.
#10 - La Balsa 1970
'La Balsa' was the second raft of Vital Alzar. La Balsa was build by trunks of balsa wood tied together with hemp rope. Upon this was mounted two masts joined in 'A' to support a lonly square sail. In contrast to the oar used for steering on Kon-Tiki, the La Balsa was equipped with hardwood daggerboards, known in Ecuador as guaras, which allowed the raft to be actively sailed toward currents and winds, rather than drifting.
The La Balsa expedition lasted 160 days, starting in Ecuador on May 1970, and ended at Mooloolaba in Australia on November same year.
Alzar had recruited a Frenchman and a Canadian to participate as crew, and later, with the work advanced, they were joined by a Chilean student - only three companions. The crossing was successful. The 8,600 miles voyage was, at the time, the longest known in post colonial history.
We have not found any report neither around their sailing nor their possible experimental archaeological results.
Result: The raid completed - raft partial tarred, and no attack of Teredo Navalis is published
Reference: La Balsa
#11, #12 + #13 - Guayaquil, Mooloolaba and Aztlan = Expedition 'Las Tres Balsas' 1973
Las Balsas expedition was the first multiple-raft crossing of the Pacific Ocean in recent history. This expedition too was led by the Spaniard Vital Alsar, who in 1970 had led the ‘La Balsa' expedition - and 1966 La Pacifica.
The three rafts was 14 metres classic Ecuadorian design and each with a crew of 4. The purpose of this 1973 expedition was three-fold: 1): to prove that the success of 1970 was no accident, 2): to test different currents in the sea, which Alsar maintained that ancient mariners knew in same way as modern humans know a road maps, and 3): to show that the original expeditions, directed toward trade or colonisation, may have consisted of small fleets of balsa rafts.
Two of the three rafts reached Australia - the ‘Guayaquil' raft was lost in a storm. The expedition is the longest-known raft voyage in recent history. With 9,000 miles (14,000 km) and 179 days of duration this expedition eclipsed the earlier of ‘La Balsa'.
Result: Two raft raids completed and one raft was lost
- the rafts were partly tarred and all partly eaten by Teredo Navalis (ref: John Haslett's book The Lost Rafts p. 286)
Reference: Las Tres Balsas
- - - 20 years pause - then a new generation - - -
#14 - 1995 Illa Tiki 1995
John Haslett build a copy of Kon-tiki and sailed it to Panama - here the raft was abandoned destroyed by the ship-worm Teredo Navalis. The raft could have been saved by modern chemicals, but then it would not any more be a worthy archaeological experiment.
Result: Raft lost due to Teredo Navalis.
#15, #16 + #17 - Manteña Huancavilca + Manteña Huancavilca II + La Endurancia 1998
John Haslett tried again, and as continuation of Illa-Tiki he build a rather big raft (20 metres) equipped with two masts and lateen sails and set off from Ecuador bound for Mexico - and with aim to go further on. This raft too was attacked by the Shipworm Teredo Navalis and was losing buoyancy and sailed to Colombia to be repaired with new logs
- 1998 this second raft was caught by circular currents in the doldrums where it circled around in ring more than two months, but again infested by Shipworms she was abandoned on sea.
A third raft La Endurancia was in 1999 build in Costa Rica to replace the lost ones, but under a storm in the beginning of their raid it was thrown on the rocks and destroyed.
Book: The lost Raft, by John Haslett and Cameron Smith
Result: two rafts lost to Teredo Navalis + one lost by shipwreck - the rafts were partly tarred
#18 - Tangaroa-II 2006
The raid was a review of Kon-Tiki experience using a newly built raft with the name Tangaroa - the name of a Maori sea-good. The six-man crew was led by Norwegian Torgeir Higraff and perhaps most important for the prestige it included a grandson of Thor Heyerdahl - Olav Heyerdahl + the renown circumnavigator the norwegian Bjarne Krekvik as captain.
Tangaroa-II was launched on the same day as Kon-Tiki had been 59 years earlier - 28 of April - and it reached its destination in July, which was 30 days faster than Heyerdahl's result, where Kon-Tiki had taken 101 days for the voyage. The speed of Tangaroa they credited to the proper use of Guaras (daggerboards), but with wind mainly from aft, the higher speed probably was more due to a bigger hull and the 3 times bigger square sail.
Tangaroa-2 have not left any evidence nor report around Guara-navigating neither nothing around other archaeological matter. It looks more like pure adventure or propaganda-trip.
Result: The raft raid completed - the rafts was partly tarred - and no information of any Terredo navalis attack.
Reference to: Tangaroa-2
Afterwards the Tangaroa-2 raft was brought to Norway and later recycled as raw material for a Kon-tiki replica, as entered in the scenery for a new film around the Kon-tiki voyage of Thor Heyerdahl.
#19 + #20 - Rapa Nui + Tupac Yupanki = Kontiki-2 expedition 2015
Torgeir Higraff build two new rafts as departed from Callao navy shipyard with intentions to sail to Easter Island - turn around the island and go back to their starting point Callao. They reached Eater Island without greater problems blown by wind mainly from behind. On their return they were drifted west and south and after 10 weeks on sea they abandoned their rafts still far away from South America. The cause for this disaster is described earlier on this web-site.
Archaeological Lesson: A hull shape developed on base of hundreds of years experience is not easily transformed to other shape without reprisals from sea deities: Ægir, Njord, Poseidon or Neptunus.
No report is still not published around Kontiki-2 expedition - nor any archaeological result.
Result: Both rafts were abandonned in open sea by their crews
Both rafts was partly tarred - no evidence about attack of Teredo Navalis
Reference to the raid: Kontiki-2
Thankyou for your deed!
We want here to express our deep gratefulness to the two authors and raft-skippers: Thor Heyerdahl on his Kon-tiki-1947 and John Haslett with his Illa Tiki + Manteño Huancavilca rafts 1994-98
Thanks for their carefully written accounts of their raft-raids in the Pacific.
- even if we still are waiting for the rest of the twenty raft-sailings, we have to recognize, that a great part of those accounts probably never will be written -
And too a special thankyou to Loren McIntyre for drawing our attention to "the reverse side of the medal" - As he declaires in year 2000: Cite: "Nearly all the 16 rafts I know about, their captains had to deal with confinement psychosis"