Thursday, May 17, 2007

Thanks to Thor

In this edition of Fair Use Free For All, I quote a entry in its entirety.

(Image from Jaks View from Vancouver)

May 17, 1970: The Boat Is Seaworthy and, Yes, We Can All Get Along
Tony Long

1970: Thor Heyerdahl sets sail with his crew from Morocco aboard Ra II.

He will attempt to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a boat built of reeds and succeed where the previous expedition aboard Ra I had failed.

Heyerdahl, a Norwegian zoologist, gained international fame for his Kon-Tiki expedition in 1947, where he sailed Kon-Tiki, a boat constructed of native woods from the coast of Peru on a 101-day, 4,300-mile voyage to Polynesia. The success of Kon-Tiki supported the claims of Spanish Conquistadors that similarly constructed Incan rafts made the same voyage.

More than a scientist, perhaps, Heyerdahl was humanist. In assembling the crew for the Ra II passage, he took great care to select seafarers of different nationalities, races and religions. If the stated purpose of this voyage was to demonstrate the seaworthiness of buoyant reeds, an equally important goal was to show that a diverse crew could work together and flourish in a confined space.

The voyage of Ra II ended successfully.

Heyerdahl had another reed boat, the Tigris, constructed for a 1978 voyage hoping to prove that trade and migration was possible between Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley. Five months into that voyage, with the Tigris still seaworthy, he burned his boat in protest at the entrance to the Red Sea, where his progress was blocked by warring nations in the region.

Heyerdahl, who spent his later years working for peace and the environment, died in 2002.

(Source: Wikipedia)


Pandabonium said...

What a nice surprise. K and I just watched our DVD of his Kon-Tiki documentary a few nights ago.

He was a great scientist whose work encompassed multiple disciplines and who had the courage to test his ideas on the open seas.

I highly recommend his 1978 book "Early Man and the Oceans" to anyone interested in his work.

Swinebread said...

Renaissance man come to mind

The Moody Minstrel said...

Either that or an activist who actually put his money where his mouth was and thus made a difference.

John Haslett said...

I was wondering if I could induce to read my new book. It's called Voyage of the ManteƱo, and it is the true story of how my colleagues and I built and sailed a series of balsa rafts very similar to Heyerdahl's Kon-Tiki. We made many important discoveries about the ancient culture that invented these rafts, and along the way we lived and survived many harrowing adventures. People have really enjoyed reading it, and I have received quite a warm outpouring of praise; nevertheless, I could sure use some online reviews from interested Bloggers. If you email me at I’ll be happy to send you a sample chapter and some killer photos. If you find the time, I hope you'll check it out.