Expedition readies to cross Pacific

LA PAZ – An expedition in a boat made only of reeds crafted by indigenous Bolivians is getting ready to cross the Pacific from South America to Australia, in a fresh attempt to prove that ancient mariners were capable of making the journey.

Phil Buck, a 51-year-old explorer from the US, already has led two similar expeditions and will captain the Viracocha III set to depart from northern Chile in February on an expected six-month journey.

The final touches are being put to the balsa boat in Bolivian capital La Paz, where it is being constructed by indigenous Aymara who live on Lake Titicaca high in the Andes and have used similar craft for centuries.

In a bid to show that it was possible for Aymara or other South Americans to have made the trip in pre-Columbian times, Mr Buck said the international crew would use bamboo water containers and eat quinoa, potatoes and fish from the ocean.

Unlike the sailors of the past, though, they will send daily updates to social media. Maritime law stipulates that they will also have to carry modern GPS and navigation systems.

Their first stop-off is scheduled to be the remote Polynesian island of Mangareva, after around 60 days at sea.

After Mangareva, the 18-meter (59 ft) long Viracocha III will head to Tahiti, Fiji, and then Sydney, a journey of some 10,000 nautical miles.

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