Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Rafter Up for More

Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Rafter Up for More

Article excerpt

Byline: Graham Broadhead

GABRIEL Salas is 69 years old now, but said he would board a balsa-wood raft and sail the Pacific again if he could.

Mr Salas was one of the 12crew members a and one of seven still alive a on the three-raft Las Balsas expedition that arrived in Ballina in November 1973, having crossed the Pacific from Ecuador, following the prevailing winds and ocean currents.

He was the navigator of the raft Aztlan, and had sailed on the 1970 one-raft La Balsa expedition that landed at Mooloolaba on the Sunshine Coast.

Today Mr Salas, a groundwater exploration geologist based at Maitland, travels the world working for the Red Cross and United Nations agencies helping find water for places such as refugee camps.

Currently he is working in Spain, but is in Australia on a short break to visit family and he wanted to return to Ballina to see the raft in the Ballina Naval and Maritime Museum.

He said it was a apitya the Las Balsas raft wasnat promoted more as a tourism attraction for Ballina, particularly with the tourism mecca of Byron Bay just up the road. …

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