Sailing To New York City

Motoring Through New York Harbor (continued)

Looking across the harbor at a Staten Island ferry, with the skyscrapers of Jersey City in the background. (I didn't know Jersey City had skyscrapers!) If you look carefully, just to the left of the ferry you can see a strange-looking vessel. What the heck is it?  

As we motored farther north through the harbor, we could see a strange-looking vessel in the distance. From afar, it was impossible to tell what sort of craft it was, but it definitely looked unusual. As we got closer and could make it out, we were treated to a most improbable sight: a bulky raft composed of lashed-together reeds, looking like the ghost of Kon-Tiki, sailing along the Brooklyn waterfront. Even more remarkable, the craft was flying a German flag! How in the world did it get here? What was its mission? Who in the world would be determined enough, and crazy enough, to pull off a stunt like this?

Well, while we were motoring through the harbor, all these questions remained unanswered. But needless to say, once I returned home and got on the Internet, I found all the answers and more.

The strange vessel's name is Abora 3, named after a divine power of the Canary Islands, and it is the brainchild of Dominique Goerlitz, a botanist and experimental archeologist from Germany. Mr. Goerlitz and his crew and sponsors created Abora 3 to test a hypothesis that ancient Europeans traveled by reed boat between Europe and North America.

Abora 3 had been constructed on the shores of Lake Titicaca, Bolivia, and had been shipped to the States and outfitted locally in Jersey City. When I photographed Abora 3 on June 25, 2007, they were on a local shakedown cruise after having launched the vessel earlier in the month from Jersey City. At the time I wrote this web page in late August, they were actually sailing this reed boat across the Atlantic Ocean and had traveled nearly 2,000 miles. Can you believe that? I have to say, it's got to take a lot of guts to do something like that!

Another view of the strange vessel and ferry, this time with a Manhattan backdrop.  

I kept my eye on the strange vessel as we motored across the harbor, and each time I snapped a picture, I got a different background. This time it's the East River, with the Brooklyn and Williamsburg Bridges in the background. There was a patrol boat accompanying the raft as it slowly made its way across the shipping lanes.  

This is the most detailed view I have of Abora 3, with the Brooklyn waterfront in the background. You can see the vessel flying a U.S. "courtesy flag", but it's also displaying a large German flag at the stern.  

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