American sets to cross Pacific in reed boat, reach Australia

2016-10-22 13:15
71-year-old Juan Limachi, who has been building reed boats since the age of 7, using the technology inherited from his Aymara ancestors, works on the Viracocha III  in La Paz, Bolivia. (Juan Karita, AP)

71-year-old Juan Limachi, who has been building reed boats since the age of 7, using the technology inherited from his Aymara ancestors, works on the Viracocha III in La Paz, Bolivia. (Juan Karita, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Video

Find out why this man plans to paddle boat from CT to Rio de Janeiro

2015-12-09 17:10

We are joined in studio by adventurer and activist, Davey du Plessis. Watch him tell us why he is planning to paddle boat from Cape Town to Rio. WATCH

La Paz - In the age of space travel, an American explorer is preparing to cross the Pacific Ocean from South America to Australia using a reed boat built by Bolivian Aymara Indians.

The expedition seeks to prove that ancient mariners could have made such journeys across huge ocean expanses in reed ships, and that such vessels could have been a factor in human migration.

The nearly 18m boat was built in La Paz at more than 3 600m above sea level. It uses techniques developed by the indigenous people of the Andes cordillera to ply the waters of Lake Titicaca.

"This type of technology doesn't exist anymore; it's like an art form. I admire these people and their culture," said 51-year-old adventurer Phil Buck, who leads the project.

The six-month expedition due to start in February seeks to cross more than 10 000 nautical miles from northern Chile to Sidney, Australia.

Buck made a similar trip in 2000 when he used a Bolivian-crafted reed boat to travel 3 500 nautical miles from Chile to Easter Island.

An attempt to reach Australia in 2003 was interrupted by damage to the boat.

Second try

"On this second try, I'm sure we'll reach all the way to Australia," Buck said as he supervised the construction of the vessel known in Spanish as a balsa. "Such a distant journey has never been done before and the goal is to show how far these rustic boats can go."

Buck said his dream of exploring the world began at the age of 11 when he read the best-selling book by Thor Heyerdahl about the famed adventurer's journey aboard the balsa raft Kon-Tiki. In 1947, Heyerdahl and his team sailed their primitive raft 8 000km from Peru to Polynesia in 101 days to support Heyerdahl's theory that the South Sea Islands were settled by ancient mariners from South America.

The Viracocha III was named after the supreme Inca deity who is believed to have created the sun and the moon on Lake Titicaca. The expedition's crew includes up to 10 people of different nationalities.

They will navigate mostly by the stars and currents and will feed themselves with grains, including the Andean quinoa.

The three-masted boat was made from several tons of dried reeds of the totora plant.

It will be transported on a trailer along more than 320km from the Andean highlands to the Chilean desert port of Arica.

Seventy-one-year-old Juan Limachi has been building the reed boats since the age of 7, using the technology inherited from his Aymara ancestors.

He now wants to retire knowing that his final work helped an expedition reach another part of the world.

"This is my dream after building these 25 giant boats," he said.

Read more on:    us  |  bolivia  |  australia

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.