SANTIAGO – The crewmembers of Norway’s “Kon-Tiki 2” scientific expedition, who had to be rescued by the Chilean navy after sailing 1,600 kilometers (about 1,000 miles) from the Chilean coast, set foot on Chilean soil on Monday.
“There were stressful situations. For example, when there were big waves and cold, but we never felt that our lives were in danger. One of our best achievements was having stayed healthy during the entire expedition and with excellent spirits,” the expedition’s second-in-command, Peruvian Roberto Salas Rey, said on Monday.
The members of the expedition requested rescue last Thursday after one of their unpowered rafts lost the ability to sail.
The expedition, inspired by the great 1947 feat by Norwegian scientist Thor Heyerdahl, who managed to sail between Peru and French Polynesia on a wooden raft, is comprised of 14 people from Norway, Sweden, Peru, Mexico, New Zealand and Russia.
The aim of Kon-Tiki 2 was to sail between the Peruvian port of Callao and the Chilean city of Valparaiso via Easter Island.
During their trip, expedition members performed research on pollution in the Pacific Ocean and climate change.
The two rafts set sail from Callao last Nov. 1 and arrived at Easter Island on Dec. 15.
On Jan. 1, they set sail again for Valparaiso but they were unable to complete the journey.
“This rescue was made within the ... rescue area that is the responsibility of the Chilean navy, using the institution’s capabilities for this type of activity,” said Rear Adm. William Corthorn in a navy communique.
The crewmembers sailing on the wooden rafts Rhiti Tane and Tupac Yupanqui initially were aided by the Japanese merchant vessel Hokuetsu Ushaka and, on the high seas, they were transferred to the Chilean navy vessel Piloto Pardo, which finally returned them to dry land.