On April 28, 1947, a handmade raft constructed of balsa trunks, hemp rope and bamboo, departed from Callao, Peru and headed west into the Pacific via the Humboldt current. The raft was destined for the Polynesian Islands in hopes to show that a vessel made of similar materials and technologies could have allowed the people at that time to do so. It was a journey that will forever be noted in the history books.
Aboard the vessel were six men: Thor Heyerdahl, leader of the expedition; Herman Watzinger, in charge of meteorological and technical research; Knut Haugland and Torstein Raaby, both wireless operators, who maintained contact with radio amateurs; Erik Hesselberg, navigator, who plotted the drift of the raft; and the Swedish sociologist Bengt Danielson, who acted as steward. There was also a parrot named Lorita.
The raft was a success and eminently sea-worthy. Each day the raft pushed westward away from South America carrying over 275 gallons of water, sweet potatoes, coconuts, fruit, nuts, and roots. The crew managed to catch an assortment of fish including shark, bonitos, tuna, and pilot fish.
No adventure goes smoothly. Along the way the crew was visited by whales, whale-sharks, and two large storms which did no damage to the raft. Two specimens of the Gempylus or snack-mackerel, a fish which never previously been seen alive by man, jumped aboard from out of the deep. 101 days and over 4,300 miles later, the Kon-Tiki smashed into a reef at Raroia in the Tuamotu Islands on August 7, 1947. The journey was a success.