Working with wood is one of the greatest pleasures in life for some of us. Finding wood to work with in the driest place on earth can be a challenge as so few trees grow here in the Atacama Desert. With wood that I was able to “rescue” from a nearby city park (with permission of course!) I have managed to make three blocks or pulleys to install on the very top of our three masts, critical pieces of equipment as we will need to raise and douse sails quickly through the many storms that we expect to encounter from South America to Australia. I could have installed metal pins and fasteners for added security but that would have compromised my no metal in the raft construction, self-imposed rule. Will they last the whole six month voyage? Only time will tell but I did enjoy the process of making them. I know my Dad would have been proud of my work and he will surely join us in spirit as we glide atop the endless sea, with the ever changing winds propelling us to the other side of the world.
Illuminated by the morning sun in the coastal city of Arica, in Chile’s extreme north, the reed raft Viracocha III features the decoration inspired by the Diaguita Culture on the borders of the central cabin.
The Diaguitas inhabited the territory between the Elqui and Choapa Rivers in what is now northern Chile and Argentina about 1000 years ago. They lived in small villages in which all individuals had specific roles within their social structure.
Their highly developed artistic sense is still well known today. They left traces of their art through the centuries via geometric figures with incredible symmetrical precision, stamped on ceramic vessels and textiles that some how survived the relentless force of nature and the irrational force of the conquering civilizations. Their favorite colors were red, white and black.
Jorge Parra is an experienced seaman from Arica, Chile, in the countries extreme north where we are now building the Viracocha III reed raft. Jorge has worked for many years aboard fishing boats and shellfish launches and has a unique ability to tie knots at lightening speeds. On the Viracocha I and II he was a valuable crew member and was critical in the construction of both those raft’s superstructure. We thank him for his fine craftsmanship and his easy going nature.
For the Viracocha III he has logged thousands of more knots which he talks about here in this video clip. Please take the time to check it out!
The tightening of the natural fiber sisal ropes on the Viracocha III is a necessity for the success of the expedition and requires the cumulative strength of many crew members. On land, the reeds dry and shrink overtime and the fibrous rope stretches as it dries. The opposite occurs at sea, reeds expand with the absorption of water and rope shrinks resulting in an amazingly rigid the hull
We have been working on the hull for two years and we will to continue to do so right up until launch day. It has been a very exhaustive process that is nearly coming to the end….. a long journey from the lofty Andes mountains to the sea.