A retired computer programmer from British Columbia living out a childhood dream by retracing Thor Heyerdahl’s westward route from South America to Polynesia aboard Kon-Tiki met a similar fate when his sailing vessel slammed into a Fijian reef in early June.
The vessel was torn open and filled immediately with water. David Seaton, 62, quickly gathered his belongings into his Walker Bay dinghy and paddled for shore – a miniscule sandy islet off the coast of Fiji. He managed to deploy his EPIRB, however, and within a few hours a New Zealand rescue plane was circling overhead. Seaton was rescued the following day by a Fijian naval vessel.
Seaton said he departed Peru without the proper charts. He had only a large-scale chart of the South Pacific, he told rescuers. Yet he had successfully voyaged some 2,300 miles and had only 150 to go to reach the east side of Fiji.
Representatives from Walker Bay reported that they were offering to replace his dinghy free of charge – if they could manage to find him. News reports said his resources were depleted (he had only a change of clothes and a British and Canadian passport when he was picked up), and he planned to spend the year in Fiji. He credited Heyerdahl’s book Kon-Tiki as his inspiration, which he read when he was 11 years old. “You have to be careful what you give your kids to read,” he quipped to Vancouver newspaper The Province.