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The Kon-Tiki Adventure: Building The Raft

<<Back to On The Balsa Logs  Mira & Teyus on Kon Tiki.  Pith of a tree“Heyerdahl you are using wrong logs! You need dried ones so they will float on the ocean! These ones are useless, they are full of pith.” Shouted a man.

Thor quipped, “But the dried ones will just absorb the water and sink!  We need the pith, it’s how the ancient Incas built their rafts.”

“The ancient Incas are no more! Maybe this is why?!” the man replied,  knowing it was useless to argue with Thor Heyerdahl.  Mira & Teyus on Kon Tiki.  Distance from Peru to Polynesia.Heyerdahl explained his theory to the kids about the ancient Incas and how they built rafts, travelling all the way to Polynesia. He told them  that no one really believed his theory, so he had decided to build a raft like the Incas and sail across the Pacific to prove them all wrong. He showed them the map, there was 5000 miles (8000 kilometers) of water between Peru and Polynesia. That’s about the same distance as San Francisco to Iceland! 

“You are going to float on some logs all the way across the Pacific?” exclaimed Mira, wondering if everyone was pulling her leg!

“Precisely!” said Heyerdahl showing them the drawings of his raft that he hoped to build. He took the travellers back to the building site where they saw the same 9 huge logs they had crashed on, each one was about 1 foot in diameter and 18 feet long.  Mira & Teyus on Kon Tiki. Balsa Logs 

As they surveyed the work site, a group of men started tying some rope around a few logs to bind them together. The raft was starting to take its form. 

Mira thought about it for a minute and shouted at the men, “Won’t the rope just slip off? You need to find a way to wedge it inside the logs.”

The workers looked back at her and thought about it. She had a point.  They would be at sea a long time and the waves would be enormous. If even one of the ropes came loose, it would be a calamity.  Mira & Teyus on Kon Tiki.  Teyus makes a groove.Taking hold of the rope, Teyus noticed how strong it was. “It’s built to the same strength as that of the ancient Incas” informed Heyerdahl.

Teyus took out his multi-purpose knife and started to saw a groove into the wood, just deep enough to hold the rope. This way, even if the ocean was rough and unforgiving, the rope would stay in the grooves. Teyus looked over the length of the logs and suggested the grooves be made at 3 foot intervals. This would allow the rope to go over the logs about 6 times and strengthen the structure considerably.

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