On This Day In History: Adventurer Thor Heyerdahl And His Kon-Tiki Reached French Polynesia – On August 7, 1947

AncientPages.com - On August 7, 1947, Thor Heyerdahl's raft, the Kon –Tiki, reached Polynesia.

Heyerdahl and his five adventurers sailed from Peru to the Tuamotus, French Polynesia, in a pae-pae raft they had constructed from balsa wood and other native materials.

They named it the Kon-Tiki.

Expedition Kon-Tiki 1947. Across the Pacific.

Expedition Kon-Tiki 1947. Across the Pacific. 1947; Photographer: unknown - National Library of Norway - CC BY 2.0

Old reports and drawings inspired the Kon-Tiki expedition by the Spanish Conquistadors of Inca rafts and by native legends and archaeological evidence suggesting contact between South America and Polynesia.

On this day, after a 101-day, 4,300 nautical miles (4,948 miles or 7,964 km)  journey across the Pacific Ocean, the Kon-Tiki smashed into the reef at Raroia in the Tuamotu Islands.

Heyerdahl, who had nearly drowned at least twice in childhood and did not take easily to water, said later that there were times in each of his raft voyages when he feared for his life.

Kon-Tiki showed that a primitive raft could sail the Pacific with relative ease and safety, especially to the west (with the trade winds).

The raft proved highly maneuverable, and fish congregated between the nine balsa logs in such numbers that ancient sailors could have possibly relied on fish for hydration without other freshwater sources.