One of the two "Kon-Tiki 2" rafts under sail
Like Thor Heyerdahl in 1947, they wanted to prove that the indigenous people of South America might have been able to reach the islands of the South Seas with simple, sailed rafts from the east. The 14 participants of the "Kon-Tiki 2" expedition did not quite succeed in this. On the way back from Easter Island and after a total of 115 days at sea, they were picked up by a freighter in the middle of last week.
The condition of the two rafts with which the adventurers traveled had recently deteriorated so much as a result of the sometimes violent swell to which the boats and crews were exposed during the voyage that it was decided to call for help. This emerges from a report by the expedition participants.
In particular, the knots in the ropes made of plant fibers, with which the trunks of the rafts were held together, were noticeably loosening in the lake water. The damaged areas were repaired to the best of their ability, but in the end they had to give up.
One of the two "Kon-Tiki 2" rafts being taken away by a freighter
However, the adventurers do not want to speak of a failure on their journey. The goal was to sail from the west coast of South America to Easter Island and back. The Easter Islands were successfully reached 46 days after the start in Lima / Peru. The failure on the way back is mainly due to the unusually violent El Niño effect this year. This not only causes a reversal of the conventional wind and current directions. The rafts also had to deal with strong winds and waves up to six meters high. In total, the boats would have covered around 4,500 nautical miles on the Pacific.
From a scientific point of view, one can argue about the request of the "Kon-Tiki 2" initiators. Researchers have long assumed that Polynesia in particular was not settled from South America, as Heyerdahl assumed at the time, but from Asia. Practical proof of this thesis was last provided in 2008 by the recently deceased Klaus Hympendahl with his "Lapita-Voyage". Together with James Wharram he had sailed over 4000 nautical miles against the prevailing wind direction through Polynesia on the two-hulls modeled on the early boats of the South Sea islanders.
The German sailing adventurer Burghard Pieske is currently on a similar expedition. With his Pro "Ana-Varu" he wants to sail thousands of nautical miles through the South Seas, from Taiwan via Guam to Rapanui, sometimes without conventional means of navigation.