February 5, 2000
American set to attempt round-the-world trip in reed boat

                   ARICA, Chile (AP) -- An American adventurer on Saturday completed
                   preparations here to sail off in a 3,500-mile (5,600-kilometer) voyage to
                   Easter Island in a reed boat built by Bolivian Aymara Indians.

                   Phil Buck, 36, from Greenfield, Massachusetts, hopes to sail around the
                   world and prove that ancient peoples from South America could have
                   crossed the Pacific Ocean, explored Eastern Polynesia, and settled on
                   Easter Island.

                   He put off his departure until Monday after changing tides delayed his initial
                   plan to sail Saturday.

                   Buck's inspiration came from Norwegian navigator Thor Heyerdahl, known
                   for his riveting 1947 voyage on Kon Tiki, a balsa wood raft. He and his
                   crew took 101 days to cross from South America to Polynesia.

                   Buck is a mountaineer and tour organizer who raised money for his project
                   -- estimated to cost dlrs 100,000 -- from corporate and private sponsors.

                   His crew includes Buck's Chilean brother-in-law Marco Rodriguez; Jorge
                   Parra, also Chilean; British journalist Nick Thorpe; Frenchman Stephan
                   Guerin; and Erik Katari, a Bolivian whose family built the 17-meter (yard)
                   long, 16 ton-boat.

                   "The expedition's overall objective is to support the theory that it was
                   possible for ancient civilizations to cross huge ocean expanses in reed ships,
                   and that the vessels could have been a key factor in human migration and the
                   spread of civilization," said Buck.

                   He plans to go around the world in five years, departing from this city 2,000
                   kilometers (1,250 miles) north of Santiago, to Easter Island, then on to
                   Australia, Egypt and Florida.

                   The two-masted boat was built from about 1.5 million reeds of totora plant,
                   which grow near the boat's construction site in Huatajata, Bolivia, on Lake

                   It was named Viracocha, the god of sun in Andean cultures.

                   Kitin Munoz, a Spanish adventurer, twice failed in similar attempts in 1998
                   and 1999, when his Mata Rangi and Mata Rangi II fell apart at sea.

                   Buck and his crew will navigate mostly by the stars and currents but will
                   carry electronic equipment as a backup. A doctor will remain on call through
                   e-mail and satellite telephone.

                    Copyright 2000 The Associated Press.