- 2,989.77 Nautical miles
- 2 Waypoints
Lat. 32º 18.93' N / Lon. 9º 15.43' W
The RA Expeditions (1969-70)
Thor Heyerdahl continued his research on ancienct navigation and turned his attention to the ancient reed-boats made of papyrus. These boats were deemed insufficient to cross the Atlantic as the reeds were believed to become water-logged after less than two weeks on open water. Heyerdahl believed that contemporary science underestimated the the ancient vessels and undertook to prove this by experiment. In 1969, he bought 12 tons of papyrus and worked with experts to construct an ancient-style vessel. The result was a 15 m boat which was launched at the old Phoenician port of Safi, Morocco. In the spirit of cooperation, Heyerdahl embarked under the UN flag with a crew of seven men from seven countries. The papyrus craft, Ra, sailed 5000 km (2700 nautical miles) in 56 days until storms and deficiencies in the construction caused the team to abandon their target only one week short of Barbados.
Ten months later, Heyerdahl tried the same voyage with the smaller (12 meter) Ra II. This vessel crossed the widest part of the Atlantic 6100 km (3270 nautical miles) in 57 days, from Safi to Barbados. Once again, this voyage showed that modern science under-estimated long-forgotten aboriginal technologies. The theory that Mediterranean vessels built prior to Columbus could not have crossed the Atlantic was thrown on its head.
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