Kon Tiki 2 expedition is now over. It has been a tough one, and until
the very final day, we were hoping for a different ending. Well, we
feel compelled to thank all those who followed and supported us
throughout the journey. It would have been much more difficult without
your support. Your kind thoughts and warm feelings have been carrying
us through the ocean along with the wind for the past 115 days.
Unfortunately, the El Niño effect has been particularly strong this
year, and we failed to bring our rafts to the shore. The ocean chose to
not let us complete the mission. We are too small to stand up against
the elements... Not this time.
But still, there is no reason to fall into despair. This Journey has
opened a brave new world to us all, providing a totally new perspective
of things around us and of ourselves too. I am convinced each and every
one of us has experienced happiness. In spite of all the difficulties,
the food shortage, the permanently wet clothing and sleeping bags, the
fact that we missed our homes and families, and the unpredictable
weather, we have so many happy memories of our lives on the rafts. I
can tell with confidence: we did our best. And even more. Could anyone
perform better? There's only one way to check. Give it a try, but be
prepared for a really tough journey.
To conclude, I would like to thank the Ocean itself and our rafts.
Memories of Tupac, our home for the past half-year, will remain in my
heart forever. It has been damn difficult to dismantle the rafts. Every
blow of the hammer against the chiesel would cut yet another rope, and
drive a rusty nail right into my heart. Especially after Boris and I
braided those ropes in Callao. But we had to dismantle the rafts in
order to prevent damage to other vessels out there.
Well, enough of the sad stuff! We did deliver on many objectives of the
mission. And, as I already said, we all were a bunch of happy people.
And personally, I still am one. We are alive and safe and about to come
home. It's been quite a while now.
(2016-03-20) Lisa loves food and making food. The Rahit Tane team has been so lucky having her making food as well as portion out our rations for 11 weeks. On the raft Lisa learned knitting and that seems to be her obsession for the moment. She has been knitting a pair of socks and has just started to knit a hat with a pattern.
And the cast in the picture? When evacuating from Rahiti, she got her foot between the rescue ship's ladder and the raft! I was already on the deck and could hear her scream far under me, but then she started to climb as nothing had happend until she was halfway up when I understood something was wrong and called to our Dr. Sergey Orlovs attention. Lisa was probably in shock with the pain and the adrenaline made her manage the climb.
As the pictures tell, Lisa takes most things with a positive attitude and a smile. How she has taken the accident and her possibly broken foot have impressed us all. Maori power!
(2016-03-16) A couple of days ago we got Pedro back on Rahiti. It was nice to see him again, but little did we know that he also brought gifts from the crew of Tupac. Although Pedro's beard does not quite have the Santa Claus touch of Roberto, it was almost like christmas eve when Pedro brought out a sack full of gifts. Evgeniy got a sleeping bag, as he has been a bit cold the last weeks. Signe and Lisa got a bun each of the Tupacian breakfast bread, baked in the depressurised pressure cooker. Rasmus got two pieces of chocolate that some body had managed not to eat for 8 weeks (all the chocolate on Tupac was distributed among the crew on the second week at sea). Liv got a book that she actually had not read before, Pedro himself got to keep his raft made bamboo bowl, with inscriptions from all of the people of Tupac, together with a small wooden "moai" (easter island statue) made by Andrej. But the most spectacular gift was the last one.
When Sergej was visiting Tupac earlier on the trip he shared some tobacco with captain Ola, who had finished his own. Ola had not forgotten the generosity of his Russian fellow pipe smoker, and great was the excitement when Pedro brought out a wooden master piece by the hands of the boat builder captain. A raft made wooden pipe that would have made JRR Tolkien's Gandalf the Grey raise his eyebrows (and maybe hiss something along "my precious"? No, thats another, less bearded, character). The long stem is at least three times as long as the longest drill onboard Tupac. It did not take long until the evening breeze surrounding Rahiti got a pleasant scent of Russian tobacco.
In picture 1, Liv "The Barber" Arnesen is mowing the lawn in the aft of the Rahiti Tane. Preventing us from sliding around on the slippery sea weed.
In picture 2, unfortunate barnacles falling in the battle over territory against the seaweed.
(2016-03-12) As the faithful reader will already know, we have sailed into more biologically active waters since we left Easter Island. Pedro has made all kinds of observations with his high-tech fancy schmancy electronical instruments (oh, thats true, together with a good old-fashioned plankton trawler that would make Alain Bombard* hungry). Lacking the skills and know-how to maneuver the gadgets of Pedro, the rest of the crew has been forced to rely on the oldest trick in the book of biology - naked eye observations.
The increase in number of fish is of course the most apparent one for a hungry raft sailor. And with the fish, also sea birds have become more abundant together with jellyfish. But what is the reason for this change? Well, animals have to have something to eat in order to survive and reproduce, and even though some animals eat other animals, they are all, sooner or later in the food web, dependent on plants. And plants need sun, water and nutrients. (In this aspect they might not be not too different from the average sailor.)
Sun has surely been readily available, especially in the vicinity of Easter Island. But when it comes to nutrients, nitrogen and phosphorous in particular, those were scarce further north as there are no sources in the area. Actually, this part of the Pacific ocean could be considered a kind of desert, where instead of water, the nutrients are the limiting factor. However, the prevailing westerly winds around the 40s serve to drive deep sea water with a lot of dissolved nutrients closer to the surface, where phytoplankton can make use of it. Therefore the winds together with the deep sea water is the ultimate reason why we see this increase in plants and animals. (It also explains why fishing along the coast of south america is negatively affected by the El nino phenomenon, as the western winds and currents become weaker during those conditions, providing less nutrients, resulting in less plankton and less fish.)
But besides the phytoplankton that Pedro catches in his trawl (and dr Bombard would have referred to as salad) we have recently observed a more conspicuous and almost incredible rapid change in the plant community - green seaweed has started to grow in thick layers on the rafts.
As a matter of fact, Rahiti Tanes aft has turned in to a green seaweed garden. Pretty for sure, especially as we have not seen plants - accept for onions and sprouting lentils - for more than nine weeks. But the green mass is slippery enough to make any banana peel embarrassed. And for a while, any guara manoeuvering and sail trimming in the aft threatened to get an involuntary touch of slapstick, especially when the raft is tilting and rocking in the waves. And as with many sorts of comedy, slapstick is more entertaining when you are not the one people laugh at. However, this was not going to last. After a week of rubber boot "ice skating" Liv grew tired of all the fun and turned into a barber, beginning to mow the lawn with our largest carving knife.
Another player onboard that is not quite laughing are the barnacles that joined the expedition early on. Those animals are sessile (meaning that they are stuck where they grow), and get their food from filtering the water that surrounds them. When we were sailing in low productive waters they had a good time, as they could always find some planktons in the water. But as the plants have become more common, the barnacles have started to face competition for space. For a mobile animal, such as humans, it might seem a little odd that you could actually fight with a plant for space to live. Just imagine that your apartment would be taken over by carrots, eventuelly killing you by means of suffocation. You might laugh at the example, but listen ... do you hear any barnacles laughing? This is the grim reality for the crustaceans in the aft that are, as we speak, getting overgrown, slowly starving to death as they are unable to move their filtering arms.
In areas more exposed to waves and currents the seaweed have a hard time to get a grip, and in the shade there is not enough light for them to grow. Here the barnacles are still going strong and slowly the seaweed and the barnacles are dividing the raft between each other, all depending on what small scale conditions that suits either species best. Equipped with the carving knife and enough intelligence to outmanoeuvre both sea weed and barnacles, we, the crew of Rahiti, hope that we will remain supremacy over both animals and plants onboard until we reach Valparaiso
*If you are into stories about ocean crossings with odd craft - since you are reading this text the odds are pretty good that you are - you should definitely check out the story of the french physician who crossed the atlantic without fresh water, in a rubber dingy.
Dear all team members and friends of Kon-Tiki2
After almost nine weeks at sea we are now some 1000 nautical miles from Easter
Island. We are heading for Chile and the port of Valparaiso. Thanks to support
from the Armada of Chile and the logistic company Gearbulk - we feel safe and
secure and we are able to bring equipment and rafts to their home ports.
Distance to Valparaiso is 1380 nm. To make it we need to be more lucky with
winds than during our 60 days of sailing since Easter Island. If you draw a
straight line from the island we have covered only 16 nautical miles per day.
To make it to the continent within 30 days we need to increase speed to 48nm
This does not tell the whole story, for we have in fact sailed 2100 miles! This
is just about the same distance as we sailed in the first leg from Peru to
Easter Island. We have had wind from just about every direction and varying in
strength from completely calm to a strong gale. Not once during these nine
weeks have we seen a weather forecast with favourable wind for more than 3 or 4
days. A historical voyage like this cannot be planned to last for a certain
amount of weeks for it is not up to us to decide.
Our tactics have worked though and in total the route we have sailed is as
planned. But soon we are running short of food and water. Everyone in the team
is drinking less water and eating less food than desirable. But all of us knows
how to cope with this and some of us have experienced water- and food shortages
On www.kontiki2.com you can track both rafts on continuously updated maps, we
publish news articles to those who monitor our progress, and we highlight the
support we receive. We have published more than 200 stories, 900 pictures, and
we link to 130 newspaper articles about the Expedition. The site is in English,
but is also translated to Russian thanks to volunteers and The Darwin Museum in
Moscow. Content from kontiki2.com is also re-posted to Facebook-site
"kontikiseilasen" and Twitter. For the first time in history, all of mankind is
able to watch a raft expedition digitally, albeit from a distance.
The last few weeks our scientific focus has been the sampling of micro plastic
that we do with NIVA. We also worked a lot on Kongsberg echo sounders on the
raft Tupac Yupanqui, that produce broad band signals that can identify species
and plankton. This, together with the activities performed on the sister vessel
Rahiti Tane, help the scientists build a more complete frame of the pelagic
ecosystem in the middle of the south east Pacific. Later on, these echosounders
will describe biotic diversity in the Humboldt current, near the American
Follow us towards our common goal! And please send feedback on my Iridium
Signe Meling & Ola Borgfjord
Captains on Rahiti and Tupac
(2016-03-08) We are making our way through the roaring forties and have found that it is more like the 'purring forties', and therefore it has been tough to push through the longitudes down here. To keep momentum and spirits up, planning meals and special days has become a real motivating factor as we inch our way forwards east, backtrack, then inch again.
We have finally exhausted our onions, and we had a beautiful spaghetti bolognese send off with these, coupled with our last chickpeas and our last soy meat. Well worth the dinner and whilst it won't be our last pasta Saturday of the trip, it was soo good to have that final perfect concoction of bolognese to signal the start of the push east. We have 5 potatoes left, and the chefs amongst us can't bring ourselves to cook them, will have to invent a special dish to give these a send off as well.
As a crew we are moving the cooking around between myself, Signe and Rasmus, with the addition of an adhoc fish dish from Orlav. Sergey has been a fishing master these last few weeks and we have managed to eat fish at least 3 times a week, it can be one or two small fish but enough for a decent lunch or dinner meal. Any little bit helps as fishing takes pressure off our food quantities on board the raft, and helps our food rations to last a little bit longer. But to date we are still eating well and the last couple of weeks have been no exception. Here is a snapshot:
Sun - Rosti with Rice, and Creamy Lentil Stew
Mon - Mushroom and Lentil Risotto
Tues - Lentil Burgers (Cinnamon Rolls and Sweet Buns)
Wed - Faves aux vin a la mashed potatoes
Thurs - Bean Coconut Curry with Rice
Fri - Mushroom and Caper Risotto
Sat - Spaghetti Bolognese
Sun - Lentil and Quinoa Cakes with Rice and Sweet and Sour Sauce
Mon - Curry Soup
Tues - Mexican Bean Stew
Wed - Spaghetti with Creamy Mushroom Sauce
Thurs - Poached Fish with Lemon, Chilli and Coconut Broth with Rice
Fri - Lentil Burgers
Sat - Spaghetti Bolognese
Sun - Pan Fried Fish with Rice
The next few weeks are rationing again, with all of our stock counted, we are looking at more soups and stews for lunch and dinner bulked out with lentils/beans and a bit of rice. We have enough flour for only a couple more loaves of bread and hopefully enough to keep our cake baking going on Thursdays, fingers crossed! We are not feeling hungry or without and I am confident that we have enough provisions to get us through these tough, low wind moments at sea. We know that times are about to get harder, and we will be tightening our belts but keeping positive and on top of provisions will keep us in a good frame of mind.
(2016-03-04) By now, most of the male crew on both rafts own a not so stylish full beard. With no social pressure for a "civilized" look we are just leaving our facial hair grow wild.
I have found some advantages on having unruly facial hear. The obvious comfort of not needing to put your skin in contact with a sharp knife or shaving machine everyday, but most importantly, the warming effect on my face especially when confronted with days with cold wind that are the norm at this latitudes.
When I am thinking or mulling over some issues, I enjoy stroking my full beard. It is pleasant to gently push the hairs with the back of my hand and feel a bit of a tickle when the tip of the hairs touch the skin of my chin.
However, not everything is rosy with a wild beard, one problem is when I have to bring food to my hairy mouth, especially with my rustic wooden spoon (Yes, I am one of the fortunates to loose my utensils during the first gale), needless to say some of the food will tenaciously stick to my beard or moustache, and there is no napkin to remove the residue, just using my hand wet with seawater from the omnipresent ocean.
Another problem is when slipping into the foul weather gear, the zipper goes all the way to my chin and, obviously, some rouge hairs inadvertently get trap when zipping up, any subsequent move of my head cause an unpredicted and painful uprooting of my trapped hairs... Auchh! .
But by far the worst disadvantage of sporting an unruly beard is that (vanity aside) I look fatter and older...I've been told... particularly due to the, by now ubiquitous, white hairs...
I wonder what will be the fate of my beard when I come back home?....Perhaps the first few days will be the novelty of friends and family, specially for the little ones that will first caress and play with it (...but I am sure there will be some rascal that will be tempted to pull at it hard just to test it is not a fake!)
After few days with my new hairy look, showing it off in get togethers and parties, and when the novelty has worn off, my beard will follows its fate...the daily knife will come back, it will be trimmed or shaved off and I will look young and slim ;)... or perhaps I will play with my looks...I might even get it trimmed "friendly mutton chops" style, like our naval peruvian hero, Miguel Grau, at least I won't get food in my chin and zipping up won't be a problem...who knows?
For now, I've just realized I have been stroking my beard as I am thinking if I wrote enough... I believe so.
(2016-03-03) I have started to get emails from friends and family with the questions: Are you bored? How do you cope with the inactivity? What do you do? What do you miss? As a landlubber, how do you cope out there?
Well, I am used to ski, run, bike - in short be on the move, but I am far from bored on the raft Rahiti. The days and the weeks are passing incredibible fast and we have just started on our week 9. We had a hope to make in within 11 weeks, but that wil not happen.
I read a lot, I lend a helping hand were needed, we have four hours watches days and nights. I try when possible to do some excercises for my back, but the raft is moving all the time, so I believe just standing and moving on the raft is good.
Do I miss anything? I could mention a lot of things, but I have learned that the best to do is to enjoy what you have. Be in the moment, what people these days call "mindfulness".
I feel very privileged to getting to know the ocean and learning to love it on a voyage like this. We have worked hard for years to launch our Access Water expditions (www.yourexpedition.com). I came directly from a two months expedition at the river Ganges where I was sick most of the time and right to the Kontik2 expedition. After eight weeks my batteries are loaded and I am thankful to Torgeir, the expedition leader that invited me on this expedition, and I am thankful to the great team on Rahiti. We all realize that this is a once-in-a-lifetime-experience and enjoy it.
Well, to be honest, I do miss one thing: Being totally dry!
(2016-03-02) Yesterday we wrote about the good near gale from north-west. We held high speed, covering 28 nautical miles in 8 hours - giving an average of 3.5 knots. The wind was strong enough to give good speed but not so strong that we had to take a reef, so we had what we can call perfect conditions (although Rasmus thought that the waves caused the galley to jump around a bit too much). The roaring forties at their best.
About an hour after hitting the "send" button and sending yesterdays blogpost to the satellites the wind died down and turned to the south-west. It continued to ease during the night and in the end we took the sail down. The seas were still quite large and so the sail flapped quite a lot as the raft swung back and forth, in such an annoying way that it is hard to endure for a longer time.
Today, however, we see another side of the roaring forties. Maybe we should call them the purring forties. Light winds from the north and calm seas mean the deck is starting to dry here and there and, when the sun eventually broke through the clouds, we all brought our wet clothes and sleping bags outside to dry.
Plus, it's a chocolate day so smiles all around. There has been a report of yet another crewmember managing to save all three pieces for another day. And It should be mentioned that he who tried this last week ended up eating all three the very next day. Let's see how it goes this time.
The weather forecast says we'll have good winds from the north until wednesday morning, when the wind will turn to south-east and, even worse, east for several days. So no saved chocolate is likely to survive the weekend.
Rasmus' attached pictures illustrate respectively, the roaring and the purring, faces of the forties. The time difference between the photos is only 24 hours, but could have been even shorter. In the second picture you see captain Signe in the evening sun, taking a short break from her duties.
(2016-03-03) On a raft in the middle of the Pacific nowhere, the days can be quite the same. Even though we enjoy the trip, it is always nice to have something to look forward to the day to come. Therefore, almost every day of the week has gotten a certain culinary character aboard the Rahiti Tane. A fact that did not escape our guest from Tupac, Erlend the photographer, who after a week onboard concluded that "you guys have a lot of Days", not having the 7 weeks at sea in mind.
Early on it was decided that we would have chocolate distributed three times a week, Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. This means that Lisa, who's in charge of the food, opens a chocolate bar that is divided equally among the crew, resulting in three pieces each. For those strong in the spirit, it is some times possible to save one piece for later, when the weather or the mood might demand it. There are even rumors that some crew members have managed to save all three pieces from a Monday, resulting in having up to six pieces on the Wednesday. Needless to say, the need of remarkable self-discipline makes it a rare achievement.
Since we left Easter Island on a Wednesday, the week onboard starts with Wednesday. Beside being a chocolate day, it is also the day of the week when Lisa restocks jam for the breakfast porridge, and refills our "snack packs" - small bags of nuts and raisins that keeps you going on night watches and when cooking takes more time than planned. We call it shopping day.
Thursdays became cake days quite early on. It usually means that Lisa bakes a cake with the fruits available (bananas in the beginning, now replaced by lemons), or that I bake the now famous mud-cake of Dr Wikström.
Having eaten unhealthy treats for two days in a row (unless you managed not to eat all the Wednesday chocolate, which I doubt), it is time for fruit Friday as we are having fresh fruit straight from the can. Until now we have munched sliced pineapples but rumors has it that we eventually might have to put up with peaches as we make our way through the cans. Lets hope that we are close enough to Valparaiso by that time to keep the mood good anyhow.
We all look forward to Saturdays. Not only because it is the end of the longest chocolate fasting. (Or did you actually manage to keep a piece from last Wednesday? Quite impressive indeed.) But also because Saturdays are the days when our skipper Signe shows off her skills with spaghetti bolognese. A hit already from the start, the recipe has evolved a bit during the trip. How ever we ran out of onions, chick peas and minced soy "meat" the last time, and how the future incarnations of this dish will stand in the competition remains to be seen. We all rest assured that she will pull it off. If the weather allows we might also have half a glass of red chilean wine to the Italian dish.
Sundays are the latest day to get its own speciality as the intended popcorns has only been served quite infrequently. It was not until last week that we declared Sundays to be the official liquorice day, celebrating by eating Scandinavian liquorice boats (we are always keen about the maritime atmosphere onboard). It is with happy smiles that we go to bed every Sunday night, reminding each other that "tomorrow is a chocolate day". Not that anyone ever manages to forget, but in order to make the joy last even longer. So far it is only Tuesdays that remains a "normal" week day. Lets see what we can turn it into.
However, when the wind is coming from the wrong direction we sometimes have to bring down the sail in order to minimize the setback. The same when the wind is too weak to fill the sail, and the constant rocking by the waves only turns it into a annoying flapping oversized piece of swab. Those depressing days call for something extra too keep people in a good mood. As we do not have to focus on the sail and the course, we can turn to more advanced cooking and we usually go for burgers or other dishes that take more time and attention. And maybe an extra mud-cake. When not approaching Valparaiso, we can at least surrender to some comfort eating, no matter what day of the week it is. A would-be depressing day quickly becomes a happy day when we're stuffing ourselves with cinnamon rolls and lentil burgers, cakes and extra chocolate.
After almost eight weeks at sea we are now some 950 nautical miles from Easter Island. This does not tell the whole story, for we have in fact sailed 2000 miles! This is just about the same distance as we sailed in the first leg from Peru to Easter Island. We have had wind from just about every direction and varying in strength from completely calm to a strong gale. We have sailed forwards and backwards and sideways, in circles and in figures-of-eight, mostly in the right direction but unfortunately also sometimes in the wrong direction. This is why we have sailed double the distance that now lie between us and Easter Island.
Not once during these eight weeks have I seen a weather forecast with favourable wind for more than 3 or 4 days. We can choose to complain about this but we can also choose to see the beauty of it. We cannot control the weather, we can only accept what we get and make the most out of it. A voyage like this cannot be planned to last for a certain amount of weeks for it is not up to us to decide.
To get to where we are now we had to first sail west. To sail directly towards South America from Easter Island isn't possible as a large high pressure system blocks the way - there is very little wind over a large area. When you can't go through the mountain and you can't go over it - you must go around it. West of Easter Island we found the winds that would take us south. The miles between 30 and 40 degrees south were so far the hardest to cover. A look at the pilot chart for the area tells us that although northerly winds are prevailing there is also a large percentage of southerly and south-easterly winds. This is exactly what we experienced and so we were blown back north several times. Our tactics have worked though and in total the route we have sailed is more or less exactly what we planned for.
After fighting our way south towards the 40s we are now no longer counting degrees of latitude and hugging each other for each one - we are now counting degrees of longitude (and hugging each other for each one). Within the next day we will be in the 90s, and our next big milestone is to get into the 80s.
We're enjoying a good near gale this happy sunday as we passed the 2000-mile-mark. Rasmus made quinoa balls for dinner and now we're in our only slightly wet sleeping bags eating licorice - after all it is the official Rahiti licorice day. Lisa even issued extra chocolate for everyone. We're racing east and hoping to get into the 99th degree of western longitude before the winds turn against us again. All in all a good day to be a raft sailor.