Col. John Blashford-Snell and his band of maritime explorers have completed their first transoceanic passage on their reed boat Kota-Mama

The traditionally built boats of the Kota-Mama expedition completed their historic 83-day voyage of almost 2,700nm (4,300km) from the Andes to the Atlantic, creating a record for river navigation by reed boats.

The 28ft (9m) trimaran, built by Aymara Indians on Lake Titikaka, was powered by a 15hp Mariner outboard, which was originally intended for steering and emergency purposes only. However, contrary wind conditions meant that the Mariner outboard had to work hard in extreme conditions pulling the trimaran for most of the voyage.

Conditions including several enormous cataracts on the Beni and Madeira rivers, Force 5 winds on the Amazon but even cows eating away the boat did not stop the Kota-Mama on its relentless journey. “It has been a remarkable voyage,” commented Colonel John Blashford-Snell, leader of the expedition.

“By the end all our craft were damaged and leaking and the great reed boat was heavily waterlogged. We had some real fears when the Atlantic rollers were encountered near the mouth of the Amazon.”

Future Kota-Mama expeditions are scheduled over the next two years to South America to follow up the archaeological discoveries and community tasks. There are also plans to cross the Atlantic from west to east using a boat of traditional design.