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
He put off his departure until Monday after changing tides delayed his
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
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
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.