- Historical event:
- 28 April 1947
- Thor Heyerdahl wanted to prove that it is possible that the inhabitants of South America (who had lived before Christopher Columbus) settled islands in the Pacific.
One of the most famous and most unusual maritime expeditions during the 20th century began on this day in 1947.
The Norwegian Thor Heyerdahl began his journey from South America to Polynesia. He crossed the Pacific Ocean in a wooden raft named Kon-Tiki.
Thor Heyerdahl wanted to prove that it is possible that the inhabitants of South America (who had lived before Christopher Columbus) settled islands in the Pacific. The raft Kon-Tiki was made out of balsa wood and pine, and wooden elements were connected by hemp ropes. Of course, he wanted to imitate the technique which had been used in South America before the arrival of the Europeans.
Heyerdahl’s expedition carried some modern equipment – radios, maps, sextant, watches and knives, but Heyerdahl claimed that these were secondary elements. There were six members of the expedition (Heyerdahl, four of his Norwegian compatriots, and one Swede).
A parrot also travelled with them. They carried 200 coconuts and considerable stocks of other foods, as well as drinking water, and sailed from the port of Callao in Peru on this day (Callao is located west of the Peruvian capital of Lima).
During the 97th day of sailing, the raft Kon-Tiki reached the first Polynesian atoll (Puka-Puka). They continued further and successfully completed the expedition during the 101st day after the departure. Their ultimate destination was the atoll Raroia. They crossed about 6,980 kilometers, and their average speed was about 1.5 knots.