Reed boat made in landlocked Bolivia set for trans-Pacific journey to Australia
Final touches are being put on a boat made only of reeds and crafted by indigenous Bolivians, before it sets sail across the Pacific from South America to Australia to prove that ancient mariners were capable of making the journey.
The ship was constructed in the Bolivian capital, La Paz, by indigenous Aymara who live on Lake Titicaca high in the Andes and who have used similar craft for centuries.
Phil Buck, a 51-year-old explorer from the United States, already has led two similar expeditions and will captain the Viracocha III set to depart from northern Chile in February.
“Behind me is Viracocha III. It’s an 18-metre boat we are going to bring to Arica, Chile,” said Buck.
In a bid to show that it was possible for Aymara or other native South Americans to have made the trip in pre-Columbian times, Buck said the international crew will use bamboo water containers and eat quinoa, potatoes and fish from the ocean.
“It’s a six-month trip,” said Buck. “The idea is to stop at four islands along the way including Tahiti, Fiji and New Caledonia and the eventual destination is Sydney, Australia.”
Their first stop is scheduled to be the remote Polynesian island of Mangareva, after around 60 days at sea.
After Mangareva, the Viracocha III will make its way to Sydney, a journey of some 10,000 nautical miles.
Unlike the sailors of the past, they will send daily updates to social media. Maritime law stipulates that they will also have to carry modern GPS and navigation systems.
Buck’s expeditions are inspired by the 1947 trip of Norwegian explorer and writer Thor Heyerdahl, who crossed the Pacific in the Kon-Tiki balsa-reed raft.
© 2016 Reuters