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Trans-Pacific Raft Explorers Having Problems Leaving Hong Kong

May 20, 1993

HONG KONG (AP) _ A British explorer trying to sail a bamboo raft to the United States was still in Hong Kong waters Thursday on the fourth day of his voyage.

Tim Severin and his crew of six sailed the 60-foot raft from a Hong Kong boat club Sunday on a voyage to show that Chinese mariners could have reached North America 1,700 years before Christopher Columbus.

They had hoped to sail the 450 miles to Taiwan in the first week. But Peter Tilby of DHL International Group of Companies, which is sponsoring the venture, said the crew reported they had covered only about 70 miles because of unfavorable winds.

″There are easterly winds but they need southwesterly winds,″ Tilby said.

Severin’s raft is a replica of a craft he believes Chinese explorer Xiu Fu sailed to North America in 218 B.C. while searching for immortality drugs for the emperor.

He hopes to cross the 6,500 miles to California in about seven months, with stops in Taiwan and Japan for repairs and supplies.

Severin said the crew would eat rice, dried fruits and other foods that Xiu might have carried. They also have a small paraffin stove for cooking fish and seagulls.

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