On Nov. 7, 2015, Norwegian historian Torgeir Higraff and a crew of 13 people left the Peruvian port of Callao aboard two balsa rafts similar to those used by explorer Thor Heyerdahl in his legenday Kon-Tiki expedition to Easter Island. Higraff’s Kon-Tiki II expedition calls for a round-trip voyage of 6,200 nm to prove such a voyage is possible.
Higraff’s expedition will be traveling aboard two identical rafts measuring 56 by 23 feet with a draft of just 16 inches.
They will most likely follow Heyerdahl’s route, but face heavy seas on the return leg. In 2006 Higraff led an expedition to the island aboard another raft, Tangaroa and broke Heyerdahl’s 1947 record by 30 days.
To build the rafts for the current expedition, Higraff chose 44 balsa trees in Ecuador and shipped them to Callao where a team of 30 assembled them in three weeks. The rafts will each carry 550 gallons of fresh water, 220 pounds of oranges, 440 pounds of rice and about 175 pounds of dried lentils.
Higraff believes that the Inca visited Easter Island in the 15th century and that regular ties between South America and Polynesia existed hundreds of years before the arrival of Europeans. If the expedition is successful it will be the first time in modern history that a round-trip voyage has been made.
The crews will be composed of 14 people between the ages of 19 and 64 and includes oceanographer Dr. Cecilie Mauritzen who will conduct research related to global warming.
In the event of an emergency, there is a doctor aboard and the crews will maintain contact with both the Chilean and Peruvian navies and will be tracked via satellite.