Man overboard! - On this day with Kon-Tiki 21.07.1947. Read Thor Heyerdahl`s log

Today 21. July 1947 was one of the most dramatic day on the 101 days across the Pacific with Kon-Tiki. Read Thor Heyerdahl`s own words from his logbook.

At: 10.15 Torstein was eastern steering and Herman and Thor working on foredeck, the others inside hut, when the strongly increasing wind almost caused an accident. While Herman and Thor were filling petrol on lamps, Herman suddenly yelled:”There it went overboard!”

Then he rushed after Herman. On port side astern he saw head of Herman in big seas waving desperately with one hand and calling for help as he crawled of all his force keep up with Kon-Tiki which moved rapidly over heavy seas to the west. Herman yelled for life rope to be thrown out, and Torstein astern started pull in same which right then happened to get stuck, while Thor rushed to dingy, untied it and got it in the sea. All this happened in one second while Torstein and Thor called ‘help’ of all their power to turn all men out.

The noise of the sea around us is so strong that the three men inside only heard Torstein and Thor but not the yells from Herman, and they thought we only saw something like an extra funny fish etc. Yet they rushed out and soon realized what happened. Bengt grabbed life belt which we have inflated and placed with rope on starboard stern corner of hut, while Torstein was desperately trying to untie rope from bamboo-wind sail on port side stern. Torstein got rope loose and out but it came back with seas and only twisted around blade of steering-oar. When Bengt and Knut got big life belt thrown out it only came back to edge of raft with heavy seas and whirls astern and although only seconds had passed Herman was now already way behind blade of steering-oar crawling of all his power. Knut pushed life-belt away from raft with feet, while Bengt gave up and rushed forward to help Thor with dingy.

While Bengt and Thor floated dingy to edge astern to get out in the sea, they hoped that when the others took all sails down it would be possible to catch up with Kon-Tiki again, as rope in dingy has proven in such wind to impede all maneuvering eastwards entirely. As they reached stern they saw two men head above sea now about 50 feet behind end of steering oar. Knut had grasped Life-west (which he could not get thrown out against wind and back-whirls) and jumped into the sea with it, swimming towards Herman who crawled with all his power to keep up with pace of Kon-Tiki in very rough seas. Knut’s brilliant maneuver saved all further dangers for all of us, as Herman finally got hold of life-west too and they were both pulled safely onboard.


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