Once was not enough for Heyerdahl clan

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Norwegian adventurer Thor Heyerdahl died two years ago at the age of 87, but his legacy of derring-do lives on in the form of his two grandsons, who, with a group of similarly inspired friends, will put to sea next year in a replica of their grandfather’s Kon-Tiki.

The crew, which now includes four Norwegians and a Swede (and a parrot), hopes to add one more Norwegian to match the nationality chemistry of the original voyage. Kon-Tiki II, actually dubbed Tangaroa in honor of the Polynesian god of the ocean, will also be built of balsa and will sail as a publicity stunt to draw attention to environmental causes, according to the group, which is sponsored by the Norwegian Environment Ministry and the Kon-Tiki Museum in Oslo.

The vessel will also be built in Peru and then sail directly for Tahiti, a voyage of nearly 5,000 miles. Unlike Heyerdahl’s voyage — which was directed largely by currents and the whims of the trade winds, since Kon-Tiki could be barely steered — the replica will feature a revised steering system. The original Kon-Tiki, which Heyerdahl and his crew sailed for 101 days across the Pacific in 1947, was destroyed on a reef in the Tuamotus, its crew swimming ashore with a palm flag to plant on the deserted beach. The modern version will be rigged with electronics for navigation and communications, and solar panels for power. The crew will post daily progress online.

Environmental changes also have altered this expedition. This crew has had to look farther afield for raw materials, since the forest that the senior Heyerdahl harvested for balsa logs is gone, and the river that was used to float the raft to sea is reportedly nearly dry and no longer navigable, even for a shallow-draft vessel. Harvest of the wood and construction of the boat will commence in early 2005, according to the crew. The voyage is expected to begin in late April 2005.

By Ocean Navigator