First goal reached

13.02.2006 @ 11:10
Phase one of the Tangaroa Expedition is now completed. The balsa logs are warehoused in Guayaquil after five days of rafting in fresh water and a dramatic home leg when meeting the tide currents. To cope with the tide, Tangaroa chose to ask the Coast Guard for assistance the last couple of miles down the river. At first, we tried to hire some of the slender river boats to push us, but they soon gave in and left us sheltered behind a peninsula as a welcome meal for the mosquitoes. The tide carried large amounts vegetation from the river banks, and the thought of spending the night in this place made us make use of our good contacts in the Ecuadorian Navy. In short notice three boats arrived, two from the Coast Guard and a 50 feet tugboat from the city of Duran. After having persuaded the Coast Guard into letting us continue the towing by means of the tugboat at our own risk, the floating ended happily, arriving Guayaquil in a long row; the tugboat, the two balsa rafts and the two vessels from The Coast Guard.

Plask

The rafting started last week in Vinces, about 100 kilometres north east of Guayaquil. We made two temporary rafts of the 12 huge balsa logs, and after having made sure that the rafts would withstand both collisions with sand banks and towing, we let go of the mooring. Due to heavy rains the river was now big enough to carry us safely at a speed of about 3 km/h. From the rafts we watched people on the river banks living their lives the same way people did of hundreds of years ago. Only the corrugated roofs told us this was the present. Some of the houses belong to the plantations stretching miles and miles south of Vinces. In the morning hours we met people in their canoes collecting the fishing nets from last night. We saw the river people picking fruit, bringing home breakfast directly form the trees. At daytime, we felt sorry to see how the locals threw all their waste directly into the river. For each mile down the river the contamination seemed to grow worse.

Alle mann må stake i svingene

The crew of the two rafts was 12 men strong. Beside the three Tangaroa members, we had three officers of the Ecuadorian Navy, two local volunteers and four well equipped representatives of the Vinces’ Civil Defence. They even brought a boat, meant for shopping and possible towing, that came in very handy for our film photographer Anders. The river is winding in curves of 90º, making the rafting a longer trip than if we had been strolling along the road. We spent the nights sleeping onshore, unable to continue in the dark due to the threat of the high-voltage cables hanging low across the river.

Taues

We were in no need to hurry. For each day the logs soaked up several ten litres of fresh water, making them more capable of resistance against the attack from the ship worm Teredo Navalis that they risk in three months when the raft is launched in Callao.

After the arrival in Guayaquil the logs were transported to our warehouse, where the material for the mast, guara boards and cross beams and the bamboo was already waiting for them.

The floating taught us a lot about how the coast people used to live in these areas, and how the environment has changed during the last 60 years. The journey down the river also revealed that two of our 12 balsa logs were not fit for taking us across the Pacific, and will have to be replaced before the building of the raft starts.

Guayaquil Ecuador, February 2006
Torgeir Sæverud Higraff, Expedition leader

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