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    Proof of voyaging from Polynesia to South America
    From: Peter Fogg
    Date: 2007 Jun 7, 14:05 +1000

    Earlier I wrote, while at work trying to do a few other things at the same time:
    "If Ipomoea batatas did come from South America and spread across the
    Pacific it may be evidence of westerly movement; the Thor Heyerdahl
    proposition."
    
    What Heyerdahl (and others) have shown is that if you can launch some
    floating artefact, such as a raft, from the appropriate latitude on
    the Pacific coast then, so long as the thing stays afloat long enough,
    there is a reasonable chance you will end up somewhere in the
    Polynesian world. No great sailing, and even less navigational prowess
    is required, although a high boredom threshold could be useful, I
    imagine.
    
    To make the return trip is another matter. Even today sailing upwind
    for thousands of miles is a hard ask, and enjoyed only be masochists
    who have craft capable of this punishment. Could the Polynesians do
    this in their vessels? No.
    
    In any case we know they had more sense. Sailing directions that have
    survived to the present for the run between the Polynesian heartland
    and Hawaii involve making a great dog's leg to take advantage of
    prevailing winds and currents.
    
    However, the idea that the Polynesians were skilled and resourceful
    sailors and navigators has been pooh-poohed, both here (rather the old
    list) and elsewhere. No, no, no, we are told, they were just poor
    primitive creatures who were washed out to sea while fishing offshore
    and ended up in New Zealand, for example, months later. Just as well
    then that they had the foresight to include their women and pigs and
    yams and coconuts and all the rest on that fateful day outing,
    together with the other ships and men that accompanied them on that
    accidental migration. As if.
    
    As Fred puts it:
    "That the Polynesians reached as far as Hawaii and Easter Islands also
    suggests that they would have little difficulty reaching South
    America."
    
    Yep. And if they could sail to New Zealand they could have made
    landfall on the Australian coast as well.
    
    But where is the proof of such skill, knowledge, intention and
    experience? ask the Doubting Thomases. The proof, newly discovered,
    may lie within the bones of this Chilean chicken.
    
    The Polynesian route to the east that is feasible, albeit challenging
    enough, that accords with common sense and is not contradicted by what
    we know of their navigational capacities, involves sailing south
    towards a vast region where there is no land at all, before running to
    the east long enough - although not too far - to be able to turn again
    to the north, taking advantage of the north setting current that runs
    up the Pacific coast of South America.
    
    To ask all that of a storm is a bit much.
    
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