Arne Næss climbed unassisted onto the deck of the raft and tried to crack a coconut on the hard spruce wood. The 92-year-old succeeded on his second attempt and the raft was christened "Lille Tangaroa" (“Little Tangaroa”).
For those of us working on the Tangaroa project, it was more than the sun that warmed us in Larvik. The mayor, Øyvind Rise Jenssen, appealed to the entire municipality to help realise an expedition that not only continues the heritage of Heyerdahl as a scientific experiment, but also inspires a desire to learn and ask questions among all age groups, from small children to active 90-year-olds.
– I am sure that the Tangaroa will be successful, said the mayor, who is well informed about the plans for the expedition. Several hundred people came to see the raft being christened, an occasion that had to compete for attention with a marching band meet as well as several big sporting events.
Tangaroa would like to thank Thor Heyerdahl Videregående Skole (sixth form college) and The Heyerdahl Institute for a successful event. A special thank you goes to Anne Thorenfeldt, the teacher who was juggling a multitude of commitments in the weeks leading up to the christening (including the end of the school term and her own university exams). She ensured that everything was in place for the event, including invitations, sponsors, marketing, accommodation, refreshments, trial trips on the raft, and not least the motivated helpers. – Everything will be fine, she said laughing, when the external motor was stolen, the keys were lost and dark clouds appeared threateningly on the horizon. She was right.
An important assistant on the day was the builder of both the actual Tangaroa and the “Lille Tangaroa” pilot project. The spirited Øyvin Lauten had to live with the fact that his eager pupils had to prepare for oral examinations just when he needed them most. But he managed to maintain his calm and persuaded several of them to join in an extra week of work on the raft. The ramp survived the day and fulfilled its purpose perfectly. The raft was set afloat to the background music of a marching band and an inspiring speech by the head teacher of the school. It stayed afloat, and sailed.
During the course of this Saturday NOK 14 000 was collected for orphanages and schools in Peru, under the direction of Project Peru. The Heyerdahl Institute strengthened its vision of establishing a Heyerdahl Centre in Larvik, and the Tangaroa expedition tested the steering capacity of a wooden raft with a steering yoke and raw sail.
A very lively Arne Næss was given the opportunity to act as test pilot. Tangaroa’s captain, Bjarne Krekvik, explained to the professor how the steering worked, while a fresh breeze blew the raft towards land. – You will have to come back from the Pacific and tell me how it went, said Næss while they were out on the raft. We have promised to do just that.