Azerbaijan International

Winter 2006 (14.4)

Pacific Voyage
Kon-Tiki Raft
All photos: Heyerdahl collection: Stenersens


7. Preparing the balsa logs for the Kon-Tiki raft (1947). According to Thor Heyerdahl the Expedition Leader, 12 enormous balsa trees were chopped down in the jungle in the foothills of the Andes mountains in Ecuador. They were floated down the river where the raft was constructed in Peru. According to Heyerdahl, each tree was christened and given the name of a god before it was felled, in accord with Polynesian custom.

8. Kon-Tiki used nine sizeable balsa logs as the base for the raft; Tangaroa was larger with 11 logs. In both vessels, hemp rope was used to tie all the pieces together. Not a single nail, bolt or wire was used.

9. Calm seas for the Kon-Tiki (1947). Photos from a rubber dinghy. Heyerdahl noted that "when the balsa logs disappeared behind the waves, the raft looked like a crooked hayloft floating on the sea."

10. A Kon-Tiki crew member (1947) struggling to steady the steering oar in rough seas. Because Heyerdahl didn't know how to use guara centerboards that ancient seaman had used with such craft, keeping the course became even more difficult for the Kon-Tiki.

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