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What is Kon-Tiki?

Kon-tiki is a competition based on the exploits of Thor Heyerdahl, the Norwegian anthropologist who sailed a raft of balsa from South America to the Polynesian Islands to prove that it was possible that the Polynesians were descended from ancient inhabitants of South America. Kon Tiki was an old name for the Sun God and Heyerdahl named the raft after Kon-Tiki.

Each year scouts hold a competition at the Sea Scout base at Zandvlei. Scouts are required to construct a raft along strict guidelines and a team of 6 scouts spends 24 hours on the raft. The competition is a test of pioneering skills and is the most fun competition in the scout calendar for 1st Claremont.

How do I get on the team?

The team is selected by the Court of Honour but there are requirements before you will be considered. It is a requirement of the competition that you have your Swimmers Badge and no scout who does not have it will be considered for the team. At 1st Claremont, those who contribute to the building and dismantling of the raft get first preference on the team in the subsequent year. Kon-Tiki is a resouce demanding competition as a lot of equipment must be loaded, transported and the raft assembled. When the competition is over the raft must be disassembled, transported and packed away at the scout hall. So, if you want to be on Kon-Tiki you need to commit to working on the raft for at least one year before you will be considered as a raft member.

What do I need to know?

Primarily what you need to know is how to tie a square lashing. Raft construction uses a series of square lashings which must be very tight. But more important that that is a willing spirit and a positive attitude.

What time does it start and end?

We usually start at around 3pm on a Friday afternoon to start packing the equipment onto whatever transport we have managed to secure to get everything to Zandvlei. So the first point at which we need scouts is at the hall. From there, equipment is transported to Zandvlei where we build the raft. Construction ceases at 11pm at night by which time the base of the raft is usually complete and floorboards are being tied down. Many scouts sleep under or next to the raft overnight and constructions commences again at 6 in the morning.

The competition usually ends around 3 or 4pm on Sunday, after which the raft has to dismanted, hauled out of the water, packed onto transport and the equipment stored (ropes have to be hung out to dry). This is an equally important part of Kon-Tiki and one which most people ignore. It is hardly fair to your fellow scouts to leave a few of them to do all the cleaning up at the end.

What is the Fringe?

Because of the limited number of people on the raft there are fringe activities for a shore based group of scouts. This is primarily a fun thing and includes activities such as volleyball, cross country, etc. The Fringe team sleeps at the Sea Scout base.

Can parents help?

We are always keen to have help from parents. As most parents do not know how to tie a square lashing  they usually do not help in the building of the raft. But they can help by:

  • helping paint the theme of the raft (this changes from year to year);
  • cooking food (this is always hugely appreciated by the scouts);
  • providing food and drink at the end which can be eaten on the run while the raft is being dismantled (this is also hugely appreciated by scouts);
  • helping transport and pack away.


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