Revisiting Kon-Tiki

For some reason, book club choices have been reading books I have read before, mostly many years ago. It’s been interesting that some book I really loved in the past seem to have lost their charm, and others I struggled with before now reveal depths I hadn’t previously appreciated.. It’s made me inclined to reread more old favourites – how about this one? This is a blog I wrote  in April a couple of years ago:

Kon-Tiki was one of the first adult books I ever read, probably when I was about seven or eight; I was such an adventurous child, in my imagination and I was always reading books about real life adventures and wishing, wishing with every wish-bone, four-leafed clover, shooting star, that I would have an adventure.

Kon-Tiki was written by Thor Heyerdahl, and as it is the centenary of his birth today, Google have its doodle of the day honouring him; the doodle is blue and white and shows some figures on a raft with a little hut on it and the mask from a Pacific island. The doodle was instantly recognisable to someone who knows of Heyerdahl’s expeditions.

Thor Heyerdahl was born a hundred years ago today, and as you may guess from his name he was Norwegian. He was a brilliant man, and although his first interest from being a child was zoology, he was renowned in many other areas too. During the war when Norway fell to the Germans, he fought in the Resistance. He had become fascinated by the Polynesian islands and people who he had studied himself while doing other course at university.

He became renowned for many things, but Kon-Tiki is maybe the one which most people would know. It was the name given to a raft he made to sail from Peru to the Easter Islands as he was convinced that in olden times people would have been able to and indeed often did sail across the ocean. He filmed his 1947 adventure, which started on the 28th April – it was actually towed away from Peruvian coastal waters because of the danger of other shipping, but after that the balsa wood raft sailed alone.  Although they came near other islands, they eventually beached on the Raroia atoll in the Tuamotu group. Kon-Tiki had travelled about 3,770 nautical miles (4,340 land mi)les) and had taken 101 days; their average speed was 1.5 knots.

It was an amazing feat, and Heyerdahl went on to make other voyages on other craft which I also followed and read about. However, it is Kon-Tiki, which most excited me as a child!

 

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