Thursday, April 2, 2009


Viracocha: According to the myth, Viracocha rose from Lake Titicaca during the time of darkness to bring forth light. He made the sun, moon, and the stars. He made mankind by breathing into stones, but his first creations were brainless giants that displeased him. So he destroyed them with a flood and made new, better ones from smaller stones.

Viracocha eventually disappeared across the Pacific Ocean (by walking on the water), and never returned. Let's hope Phil Buck doesn't end up that way...

You could say that Phil Buck of Rowe Massachusetts is a man possessed, not unlike the god that inspired the name of his insane expedition. Buck is fully engaged in a 5-stage circumnavigation around the globe. Not in modern sailboats. Not on the Queen Elizabeth II. Buck wants to sail around the world in...ancient-styled reedships.

The most recent of his ships was made from 2.5 million totora reeds, harvested on Lake Titicaca in Bolivia and Peru. Buck believes that the reedship is the most reliable and most indestructable ship ever made. His most recent ship, the Viracocha II, came in at 65-feet long and weighing 20-tons.

So far he has successfully sailed from the coast of South America to Easter Island...twice. He's the only modern mariner to do so. And, believe it or not, several have tried. The others were better funded and better crewed. But, none of them came close to reaching Easter Island. In fact, every single mortal on board should have kissed terra firma the moment they were rescued.

Here is a short intro (produced in rough-cut) to Buck's plan, and the beginnings of the Viracocha II Expedition, which sailed from Chile to Easter Island in 2003.

The Viracocha II from Thom Pollard on Vimeo.

FROM BOSTON TO EGYPT (that was not a typo!)

You could say that Buck has paid his dues. And now he's ready to embark upon the third leg of the Viracocha Expeditions. The Viracocha III will set sail from Boston Harbor and head eastward across the Atlantic Ocean, past the Rock of Gibraltar, through the entire length of the Mediterranean Ocean, up the lower 150 miles of the Nile River toward the Great Pyramid in Cairo, Egypt.

The reedship, by nature, slowly absorbs water. Buck's Viracocha III Expedition must stay buoyant long enough to carry the crew across 7,000 miles of ocean, weathering storms and rough seas. How long will the expedition take? Buck surmises up to seven months. Not even Buck, the most experienced reedship captain alive (the others died a thousand years ago), knows how long this expedition will last. His goal is to stay alive, not lose any of his crew, not run out of food...and make it to Egypt, safely.

It all starts with the cutting of the reeds, drying them, stacking them, making the long chorizos (sausages) that will become the hull of the ship:

Totora Reed Cutting for the Viracocha Gods from Thom Pollard on Vimeo.

The expedition is up against many odds. The launch of the Viracocha II, which should have been a straightforward launch, turned out to be a nearly disastrous series of events. The ship survived, but set the stage for an expedition that ended on Easter Island, many thousands of miles short of its intended destination of Australia.

Untitled from Thom Pollard on Vimeo.

Buck is waging all his money, his relationships, his very life to make this happen. His kids might forget who he is by the time he gets back home. He has many of the crew already signed up. But, Buck is hoping to add a woman or two, if they dare, as well as his Viracocha II filmmaker to the team. The bottom line is, funding is critical, and takes precedence over everything. He's willing to consider offers from tv producers and program developers, and would change the stakes and the coordinates of his expedition to keep the expedition alive.

Please enjoy the following compilation clips from The Viracocha II Expedition, as filmed and edited by crew member and documentary producer Thom Pollard. From Toilets to Easter Candy, anything is possible on the Viracocha Expeditions.

You think that a person has to be half-mad to join one of these expeditions. Well, you're right...

Toilet Seats to Easter Candy from Thom Pollard on Vimeo.

The incredible bounty and diversity of the oceans is evident on a floating piece of garbage discovered a thousand miles from land:

Abundant Oceans, Viracocha II Expedition from Thom Pollard on Vimeo.

Please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions or thoughts that you may have. I'd be happy to embed more videos, or communicate with your further about developing Phil's next reedship adventure into a television series.

Thom Pollard


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