Heyerdahl's Reed Boat RA II:


The Ship:

Ra II is a papyrus or reed boat, constructed by the famous contemporanean Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl. Sailing from Safi Morocco in 1971, it arrived 57 days afterwards to the Barbados Is., Caribbean Sea, Central America.\par \par Following ancient egyptian models and drawings the craft was ultimately constructed by North Peruvian Aymara indians. Heyerdahl's theory focused on the possibility of cultural links between the egyptians and the aboriginal american civilizations.

Since the Papyrus (reeds) continuously absorbed sea water, during the last stages of the trip the deck was practically at surface level. The super reinforced steering oars broke once. The altive bow and stern reed peaks were cut shortly before arrival, because the main sail once became stuck. Also, ship was so low that the crew rigged special gunwale curtains to prevent waves from rushing over deck and increasing soaking of reeds.

The vessel is now exhibited in the Stockholm Museum.

The Model:

The hull was modeled with a special resin, split in three pieces later re-assembled inside the bottle. Details include two crew members, the poltry cage, jars and other load items. Ra II is depicted sailing westward, with a small topgallant or royal hoisted on top the bipod mast to improve pull, during the beginning stages of the voyage.

A special point is the closing wooden plug of the bottle, with a locking dovel. This interesting trick is taken from the original crucifixes inside bottles or Geduldsflaschen.

Bibliog. T.Heyerdahl- The Ra Expeditions.


Here we see the starboard rear quarter of the ship, all sails set on the long journey to america.. Note the orange lifebelt ready to be thrown overboard, to help any crew member if fallen overboard. Precarious maneuverability rendered rescue of anybody adrift practically impossible.


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(c) 2000 Eduardo Raffaelli. Buenos Aires . Argentina