Thor Heyerdahl - Sea Routes To Polynesia

Feasible Ocean Routes in Pre-Columbian Times

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During the last decades it has been an accepted premise among the New World anthropologist that North and South America have been successfully isolated from the rest of the world, but for a leakage across the Bering Straits. An ocean has pathways as alive as a river. The Japan Current loop through the North Pacific past Hawaii, travels down the coast of California and then back towards the Philippines above the equator. A portion of this current continues down the west coast Panama to Ecuador and Peru before travelling back towards Polynesia.
Currents in the Pacific
Currents in the Pacific
Thor Heyerdahl sea routes to Polynesia
Route used by the Incas
The great explorer and anthropologist Thor Heyerdahl used this southern current to sail the Kon Tiki raft on his 1947 epic voyage from Peru to the Tuamotu Islands. The dead distance between the point of departure and the point of arrival is approximately 4000 miles, and yet the raft only crossed 1000 miles of surface water. If another primitive craft had been able to travel with the same speed in an equally straight line, but in the opposite direction, it would have traversed about 7000 miles of surface water to reach Peru.

The reason is that the ocean surface itself was displaced about 3000 miles, or about 50 degrees of the Earth's circumference, during the time needed for the Kon Tiki crossing. Put another way it means that the Islands are located only about 1000 miles from Peru, whereas Peru is located 7000 miles from the Islands. The current travels at about 40 miles per 24 hours, and if the craft is sailing at 60 miles per 24 hours, it means that it would have travelled a 100 miles in one day, and the duration of the voyage would be 40 days. Travelling the opposite way at the same speed against the current it will only travel 20 miles per 24 hours and thus need 200 days to make the voyage. If the craft was only travelling 40 miles per 24 hours it would sail from Peru to the islands in 50 days, but at that speed going in the opposite direction it would never leave the islands.
The Statues of Easter Island
Coconuts on Cocos Island
Balsa Raft in Aboriginal Navigation of Peru & Ecuador
Feasible Ocean Routes in Pre-Columbian Times
The Kon-Tiki
The Kon-Tiki Film
Scandinavian Rock Art Index
Easter Island Section
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