Stormy weather ruins voyage

A Miami-Dade County real estate broker, part of a crew that set off on a ship made of reeds to prove that ancient people could have voyaged across the Atlantic, is on his way home after storms cut the journey short.

Jose Valmana was aboard the Abora III, a 12-ton reed boat, when it left New York on July 11. The 12-person crew, brought together by experimental archaeologist Dominique Goerlitz, planned to take about three months to reach the Canary Islands off the northwest coast of Africa.

In doing so, Goerlitz hoped to prove that trans-Atlantic travel was possible as early as 14,000 years ago, well before the Vikings and Christopher Columbus sailed to the Americas.

However, a stormier than usual August thwarted their plans, Valmana said. A series of storms last month had already damaged the boat, but the crew was able to repair it at sea. On Sept. 3, when another storm hit, the crew did not have the materials to fix a makeshift rudder they had built the last time it was seriously damaged.

The crew abandoned the Abora III and accepted a sailboat ride to the city of Horta on the island of Fajal in the Azores, off the coast of Portugal.

Valmana said he will return to Miami and his real estate business soon.

“In general, it was a great experience,” he said. “I don’t regret it at all. I’m looking forward to Abora IV.”

Madeline Baro Diaz,

South Florida Sun-Sentinel