TODAY   |  April 26, 2013

‘Kon-Tiki’ recounts Pacific crossing on a raft

A new movie out today, “Kon-Tiki” is based on the true story of six men who crossed the Pacific ocean on a wooden raft. NBC’s Keir Simmons reports.

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>>> we're back at 7:44 with a legendary adventure to cross the pacific ocean on a wooden raft. the true story is told in a new movie that's out today in select cities, nbc's keir simmons is at the contiki museum in oslo, norway, on the boat that inspired the film. keir, good morning.

>> reporter: good morning, lester. this was home for six men during three months on the pacific risking their lives in the years after world war ii . look at this basic sail, because their leader believed that early south americans had journeyed on a raft like this to the south pacific islands. it was balsa wood and rope. they clung on for dear life and put their faith in an ancient legend, contaki, a king from peru. he sailed across the pacific to polynesia, populating the islands. in 1947 a norwegian defied warnings to make the more than 4,000 mile voyagvoyage.

>> in order to prove it was possible to cross the pacific on a balsa wood raft.

>> his grandson gave me a tour of the tiny courses.

>> this was the shelter from the sun and rough weather.

>> reporter: wow. it is so cramped, just try and stand up. you're taller than me.

>> it's quite low.

>> there were six men on board and a parrot, so this bit of decking is the kitchen.

>> yes, right here.

>> what did they cook?

>> a lot of flying fishes were landing on deck every single day so they picked them up and fried them in the frying pan .

>> reporter: they were alone on the ocean. under threat from nature. above and below. so sharks, the raft was so low in the water down here they were literally here.

>> when the sharks were floating by, they'd pull them by the tail and take them aboard.

>> reporter: and the previous fact is about the expedition leader. he couldn't swim.

>> he was a terrible swimmer all his life.

>> they made it to land and their legend lives on in this movie. thor's grandson repeated the journey in a replica raft down to the very ropes. this story, lester, continues to inspire generations.

>> small raft in a big ocean. keir simmons thanks very