The Kon-Tiki expedition

I share a birthday with Thor Heyerdahl who, in 1947, sailed a primitive log raft across the Pacific from Peru to the Polynesian islands to demonstrate that South Americans could have settled those islands in pre-Colombian times. The raft was called Kon-Tiki after the Inca sun god.

Thor Heyerdahl, who would have been 100 today, constructed the raft in Peru of balsa logs and other materials that would have been available at the time. He and five others sailed Kon-Tiki over 4,000 miles in 101 days to a crash-landing on a reef at Raroia in the Tuamotu Islands. They all survived and made it ashore much to my, and no doubt their, immense relief.

Anyway, it was Heyerdahl’s book recounting the Kon-Tiki expedition that planted in my young brain the seed of my own adventurous seafaring inclinations.

I wasn’t particularly bothered whether or not South Americans did or didn’t settle Polynesia, and genetic evidence has subsequently shown that they probably didn’t, but I was absolutely fascinated that such a journey was possible on so small and simple a craft. I searched out other books recounting ocean travels in small boats and this nurtured my love of boats and the sea, and led eventually to my own modest odysseys.

So, Happy Birthday Thor!