As a young man, Spaniard Vital Alsar was captivated by Thor Heyerdahl’s epic voyage half way across the Pacific in the balsa raft Kon-Tiki. Heyerdahl believed that South American Indians used these rafts to colonise remote Pacific islands. Many thought a single, experimental voyage did not prove this theory, but not Alsar. He believed, and wanted to sail a balsa raft of his own – not just to the Polynesian islands, but right across the Pacific.
Like the Kon-Tiki, Alsar’s raft followed the design of rafts seen cruising the South American coast by the first Spanish explorers in the Pacific. The raft was 14m long and 5.5m wide, comprising seven large balsa logs lashed together by sisal rope and wooden pegs. The logs were specially harvested when sap content was high to maximise their resistance to seepage and maintain buoyancy. No modern materials, such as nails or screws, were used in construction. More..