(2016-03-19) The 14 crew members of the Kon-Tiki2 rafts are now safe and healthy on board the cargo vessel Hokietsu Ushaka after a successful rescue operation Thursday. We decided to ask The Chilean Armada for assistance and to end the scientific expedition Kon-Tiki2 after 115 days of sailing and 4½ months at sea. The two rafts – Tupac Yupanqui and Rahiti Tane – were made of 11 balsa logs and 10 crossbeams held together by 2000 meters of natural fiber ropes – like the ancient South American rafts. Tens of thousands of waves, up to six meter heght, hit the rafts in an extreme El Niño year. This constant stress for 16 weeks weakened the ropes. Some of the 150 or so knots were replaced in tough working conditions, but we could not replace all of them. In particular, the rigging was a major safety concern. To avoid accidents (e.g., a mast collapse in a storm) we decided to perform a controlled disembarking during daylight in good weather.
We are very happy with the help from the Armada. In October last year, a month before the launch of the rafts, I met representatives of the Aramade in their headquarters in Valparaiso. On Easter Isladn, the Armada assisted us in mooring the rafts, and during the voyage we have had weekly contact with the Armada.
Kon-Tiki2 is a unique collaboration. Logs from Ecuador provided by the AirexBaltekBanova comany were turned into rafts in Peru at the shipyard of the The Peruvian Navy, then sailed to Easter Island, and finally rescued by The Chilean Armada in an attempt to reach South America.
(2016-03-19) When our call for assistance was sent out, the Maritime Rescue Coordination Center contacted the closest ship that could come to help. As we were in an area with little ship traffic we were mentally prepared that we could have to wait for several days. However we were lucky that the woodchip cargo vessel Hokuetsu Ushaka under the command of captain Sun Gug Yun was only twenty hours away from Rahiti Tane, on their way from Japan to Calbuco in Chile. After successfully saving the crew of Rahiti Tane, Hokuetsu Ushaka continued south a few hours in order to reach Tupac Yupanqui.
Captain Ola and captain Signe, both needless to say concerned over the situation, were deeply impressed by how perfectly the captain maneuvered the 49 000 tonne and 210 meter long ship so close to the raft that the crew could throw mooring lines down to the rafts. This ship is as long as a skyscraper is high and has only one propeller - maneuvering is not easy. The huge hull of Hokuetsu Ushaka served to dampen the waves as the assisted raft was tied longside. A rope ladder was lowered down along the ship side and the raft crew, each secured with a harness, climbed up the 16 meter high ship side. Equipment was hoisted up in another rope that was manned by the dedicated crew that worked hard to save as much as possible.
All procedures were followed and it was a very successful rescue operation - twice! We would like to commend the captain and crew for the professional and friendly way in which we have been received onboard the ship.
(2016-03-17) The Kon-Tiki2 Expedition has decided to end the expedition after 114 days and 4500 nautical miles in the South-East Pacific. The goal of the expedition has been to show that balsa rafts can sail from South America to Easter Island, and back. The Expedition reached Easter Island after 43 days at sea, but the return voyage has proven more difficult due to atypical winds.
We have shown that balsa rafts can sail to Easter Island. This is a first, in modern times. We have also made good progress on the return journey, but this is an El Niño year and the weather patterns we have encountered have been atypical. We realize that reaching South America will take too long and we prefer to evacuate to ensure safety for all, says Expedition leader Torgeir Higraff.
The Expedition consists of two balsa rafts that left Lima in Peru on Nov 7th, 2015, and arrived on Easter Island just before Christmas. On Jan 6th, 2016, the rafts started the demanding return voyage.
In a normal year, we would have reached South America by now. Instead, we are still 900 nautical miles from land and the weather forecasts are not promising. The crew is at good health and spirit, and there is no emergency situation. These rafts have proven to be exceptional vessels at sea. They have impressed us by their seaworthiness in all sorts of weather, over enormous and remote waters. Needless to say, it is sad to end the expedition without reaching South America, says Higraff.
The Kon-Tiki2 Expedition has done important scientific research on climate change, marine life, plastics, and pollution in the Pacific.
The rafts are rigged as floating research vessels through a unique collaboration between NIVA, NTNU, Kongsberg Maritime, Norwegian Meteorological Institute, Nortek, Sperre, Opera, and the American research organizations NASA and NOAA, says Cecilie Mauritzen, Chief Scientist of the Expedition.
We have gathered large sets of data on climate change and pollution. From a scientific point of view, it has been particularly interesting that the expedition took place in one of the strongest El Niño years recorded, even if El Niño now contributes to the termination of the expedition. As research partners, we look forward to receiving and analyzing these data sets, says Mauritzen.
The Expedition is supported by Thor Heyerdahl Institute, 3A Composites AirexBaltekBanova, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Expedition is discontinued in close collaboration with the Chilean Navy, which have assisted us in a highly professional manner. The Norwegian Embassy has also communicated closely with the Expedition, says Ambassador Hege Araldsen at the Norwegian Embassy in Santiago, Chile.
For further information, contact Håkon Wium Lie, firstname.lastname@example.org or phone +47 90192217