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Seventh Edition of page #8:
[ img - raftlogo.gif ]
SPROG
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INCA
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Inca's Balsa Log Raft

The case of the Square-off rafts


When things turn wrong, what is the reason ?

- and what can we learn from that ?


two rafts more lost on sea
The story - short.
That is not every day we hear about a square-off raft driven by square 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 and pacific 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 1200 kilometers south of Easter island and without possibilities to sail back to South America, therefore 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 grim account, but we need to tell the story to extract learning for common use.

Allegation around 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 was the hazards 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 calamity came together with introduction of the square-off bow!
[ img - neptun-logo.gif ]
Their fault was NOT to make an erroneous design - that they could have mended
Their bad result was basicly due to their rash reckless start
- and the irresponsible was, that they sailed out without previous test of their new creation -

the preparations before start

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."

[ img - tank_test-rafts-sept.2015.jpg ]
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.

[ img - vector_field.gif ]
Theoretic vector field showing the size of water resistance all the way around a rectangular body

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 the LOW FORWARD RESISTANCE as measured, the centerline of raft has to point clean along her sailed course through the water - without of any grade of leeway. No sidewarts sailing, please - strictly acording to the test result.
[img - Prow-Kontiki2.jpg ]
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 sideward movement, and that only will happen sailing clean downwind.

But the test was fair enough, because toogether with the long side trunk, the rafts met the conditions for being powered by sail:
A wind powered sailship is characteristic by her LOW forward hydraulic resistance
+ in combination with a HIGH lateral ditto.

[ img - Compass_Rose.png ]
The common rule for pointing a Guara rafta is as demonstrated earlier.
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, and will probably never get it, but 100 degrees to wind is in no way against the wind.

RaftOnOcean+.jpg
Photo of Kontiki2 raft Tupac Yupanki south west of Easter Island - taken 25.Febr.2016 by a toy-drone
The Message from raft "Rapa Nui" of Kontiki2-raid together with the later air-photo gave us impulse to this research and investigate the general theories around raft sailing, hull shapes and sails, as described at the anterior web-pages

the scrutiny of that photo
The difficulties for these Guara-steered rafts of the Kontiki2 raid exclude the Guaras for blame:
You can control the pointing of our raft all the compass around - with your Guaras alone
therefore
If a raft can't beat to the wind, it is NOT a Guara-problem
- the problem is either the Sail or Seamanship (knowledge)

- and what was it, we saw on the photo -

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

Detailed drawing

[ img - RaftOnOcean-60.jpg ]
the sail is adjusted fair, if the raft was sailing along the center line, as they do where this Nordland rigging comes from
the semicircle of CE = Center of Effort for a lonely square sail
[ img - squ-raft-60.png ]
Yard 60° to sideline, but sailing along diagonal (+20°)

The rafts with a tricky transom bow

Knowing too, that the calamity came as a consequence of the square-off bow, we can have a look on transom bows.

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.

[ img - Ulloa-raft-1736.jpg ]
Juan & Ulloa - 1793
[ img - sq.raft-unknown-origin.jpg ]
unknown source
[ img - Radeau-Guyaquil-1810.jpg ]
Alexander von Humbolt - 1810

The nature of bows, if no counteractions is done:
Ref: research around bows

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-wave
- or alternatively to position the mast more ahead (as the Humber Keel)

And in a technical language that means: either draw backwards the CLR - or move ahead the CE - to keep their downwind relation in same line.

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
[ img - raft+fish1.png ]
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
[ img - raft+fish1.png ]
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 most timber log rafts are born with transom bow

Three counteractions as the Kontiki2 skippers could do
+ one thing as they NOT should do

[ img - pointing2.png ] [ img - pointing3.png ] [ img - pointing1.png ]

the BASIC rule
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

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 may too mean: lift up all fore Guaras.
When their raft is pointing as they want, they can optimize their sail adjustments.

With other words: set down AFT Guaras to balance sidedrift of AFT-end against that of fore-end.

2): They could choose to sail on "crabbing" along the diagonal - 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.
To turn the rigging to diagonal, probably means too a moving of the forestay to get space.

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. 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.

3): The calamities seems came together with the square-off bow
They could have eliminated the problem by sharpening their bow
Simply 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.

4): Attention: In all the 3 cases plunging too many Guaras down to "create keel" may kill the steering

we are NOT accustomed to mount rigging along a diagonal

Struggeling with 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.

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 floating log-line would indicate the TRUE course

[ img - sail+sea+wind2.gif ]
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 (and nearly all sails) has to divide the same angel between apparent wind as indicated by the windvane in top of mast - and the true sailed course as is indicated by the wake of vessel.

A conceptual error? They probably didn't realize that it was a sailing along a diagonal they performed, and therefor they didn't adjust their sail acording to the sketch above.

pure theory - we have no raft to disposition for demonstration

Sail adjustments for diagonal sailing

The raft is actually sailing 110 degrees to the wind, and to change the pointing to 80° we need to luff 30° up against the wind

Rule:
The Center of winds Effort will blow leeward of the rafts hold in water and thus define the pointing of raft
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 -

First option: move CLR ahead - turned out negative

A Guara raft can point in every direction all the compass around! - so that should be easy to point higher.
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.

Second option: move CE backwards - turned out positive

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.
As a desktop excercise we demonstrate, that by turning the sail and only the sail on this photo /drawing 40° more around the mast, the raft will go closer to the wind = we move backward CE.

situation BEFORE
[ img - Raft-not-turned.png ]
result AFTER
[ img - raft-turned.png ]
The only step is to brace the yard 40° nearer to centerline, what means move tack and sheet to new positions, then the wind-centre will swing on its half circle 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 the pointing of the whole raft is corrected around the 40° just as we wanted. The raft will still sail on along the diagonal - but closer to wind.
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 move the forestay. As I remember the raft Tupac Amaru, she had two forestays, so something could be done - too at sea.

START:
[ img - 0-step.png ]
Yard 60° to centerline = 80° to sailed diagonal course

CE is center of canvas

Wind abeam 90° to centerline = 110° to diagonal

STEP-1 FINDING CLR:
[ img - 1-step.png ]
From CE = Center of sail, we search CLR upwind, in the crossing with sailed diagonal course

The mast is assumed in the crossing between centerline and diagonal

STEP-2 MOVE CE:
[ img - 2-step.png ]

Brace yard 40° more - now 20° to centerline = 40° to diagonal
(move too tack and sheet)

RESULT: CE moved afterwards

STEP-3 LET WIND BLOW:[ img - 3-step.png ]
Let the wind blow the new CE leeward of old CLR

As RESULT the raft beat now 40° closer = 70° to wind
- and is still sailing diagonal

If the baggy sail can take this 70° to the wind, then congratulations.
As 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.

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.     [ img - tangaroa2_sea.jpg ]       [ img - tangaroa2.jpg ]

The disadvantage
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
[ img - shrinken-boltrope.jpg ] [ img - deformed-camber.png ]
[ img - havhingst3.jpg ]
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.
Seamens ability to handle any floating vessel
A real seaman is expected to navigate any body as can float on the water?
[ img - seamanship.png ]

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:

ERROR 1
They didn't realize that they ware sailing along a diagonal, and therefore they didn't adjust their sail and rig for that.
It seems as they have "forgotten" their learning, that specially a lonely sail has to be adjusted in relation to APPARENT wind and TRUE course.

ERROR 2
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.

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 else could they have done
to escape the sad ending ?

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.

They could have waited in Hangaroa for better wind, waited patiently just as the oldtimer sailors often did. ANd they could have used their stay there to mend the known errors, as that of missing ability to tack.

None of these above mentioned proposals are now possible to re-examine and verify. The rafts have vanished and no report is published.
That would be as making a posthumous forensic diagnosis, where the carcass had disappeared.

Kontiki2 tugged out of Callao
[ img - buttnosed.jpg ]
A surprise because they escaped a start-check
[ img - RahitiTane-slots.jpg ]
Rahiti Tane

GUARA SLOTS

Tupac Yupanki

[ img - TupacYupanki-slots.jpg ]
Øyvin adjusting Guara at Tangaroa-2
[ img - adjusting-Guara.jpg ]
The Tupac Yupanki skipper was too on board Tangaroa-2-2006

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

Overkill warning:
One thing is Guara-holders, but don't fill up your raft-bottom with Guaras!
 

An Overkilled steer-system ?

"We can't sail closer than 100 degrees from wind, 90 degrees is not possible, no matter how we position Guaras and sail" - was the alarming cry from the expedition on their way to Easter Island

They called later at Easter Island, and stayed there for a time, and we thought they would use the stay there to mend the errors - but no - they sailed out on the ocean and lost their rafts.

Around two years after the Kontiki2 raid appeared this photo as could explain what may have happend.

This photo leave the impression, that Tangaroa-2 on her west-going raid never sailed broad reach
Overcrowded? = Overkilled!

10 Guaras or more underneath
- no comments recieved from Tangaroa2 of 2006 -

- but did Tangaroa2 never need to beat against the wind?

[ img - Tangaroa2-guaras.jpg ]

The photo show the underneath of the Tangaroa2 - a raft sailed by the same group of navigators 10 years earlier.

And with the same men on board and with same mind for keel-supplement, we suspect that phenomenon to be the killer of Kontiki2 expedition 2015. They couldn't beat to the wind and steer back to SouthAmerica. They vanished in the South Pacific 1200 kilometers south of Easter Island.
Too many Guaras plunged down will reduce the impact from a lonely steer-Guara (your "tiller-guara"), reducing the influence on the common CLR = Center of Hydraulic Resistance, as together with the CE = center of sail decide and define the pointing. That seems rather logical.
As comparation we have the first Tangaroa as 1965 passed the dangerous Tuamotu Archipelago of French Polynesia by own means - steered by three Guaras only - one in front and two aft.

Nevertheless - around seamanship: such a case not exactly give an impress of high professionalism.

short retrospect of the Kontiki2 raid 2015-16

trefork2.png   Conclusion   trefork2R.png

Rule for Guara-rafts:
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 Tangaroa2 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:
The question is always: Did you make it, did you reach your objective? - or did you not?
the history of balsa rafts

Fate of later oceangoing log Rafts

[ img - THI-logo8.png ]

Science
Pseudoscience
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


Thank you 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"

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Lima - August 2018