After five months at sea, Thomas R. Davis, student-to-be at the School of Public Health, docked last night at the Charles River Basin.
In a stubby 45-foot ketch, the Miru, Davis, his wife, two sons, and two crewmen sailed 10,000 miles from Wellington, New Zealand, to Peru, through the Panama Canal, and along the eastern seaboard to Boston.
The Miru's trip refuted or at least raised serious doubt as to the validity of the Kon-Tiki theory--that the Polynesians came originally from Peru.
Davis contends that the reverse is true: the Polynesians sailed to Peru. To prove it, the Miru journeyed engineless 6,750 miles from New Zealand to Peru via a current that flowed in exactly the opposite direction to the one used by the raft Kon-Tiki. This part of the voyage took 67 storm-tossed days.
The trip originated with a suggestion by Harold J. Coolidge '27, associate in Mammalogy, that Davis, a surgeon and Chief Public Health Officer in the Cook Islands, study at the School of Public Health, during a medical conference at Tahiti.
According to Coolidge, Davis immediately accepted, and Coolidge set about getting him a fellowship. A pharmaceutical company obliged with $3,000, but Davis had left even before he knew he won the fellowship. Davis put his life savings into the boat and provisions. The New Zealand government gave him $30 for expenses.
Davis said that he was hit by four severe storms; the two worst were off New Zealand. The second storm swept everything off the Miru's deck--including loose lines and the ketch's compass. This storm lasted five days, and several 65-foot waves managed to crash over the mainmast.
Several times off the Atlantic coast, he was reported missing, but the reports were merely the result of over-eager radio hams who periodically lost contact with the Miru's weak short-wave radio.
Last night, after 149 days of violent storm and placid calm, the Miru motored to its berth in the lower Charles River. Brigadier General James S. Simmons, dean of the School of Public Health, welcomed his student to Boston. Another person who shook Davis' hand was an old longshoreman, who left his job last night just to meet the New Zealander. He said he once sailed the South Pacific in mid-winter and knows "the courage it takes."