BRAVE Frenchman Jean-Jacques Savin, 72, who spent four months floating across the Atlantic in his home-made barrel from El Hierro, reached his goal last Sunday.
Yet he had been drifting at one stage towards the US, and was looking for a vessel to take him to the nearest port.
With no engine, sails or paddles, the pensioner relied on trade winds and currents to push him 4,800km, from the Canary Island to the Caribbean, in his unusual craft.
Savin spent months building his bright orange, barrel-shaped capsule, of resin-coated plywood, which had to be strong enough to withstand battering waves and other stresses.
The barrel is three metres long and 2.1m across, with a small galley area, and a mattress, complete with straps, to keep him from being tossed out of his bunk by rough seas.
Portholes on either side of the barrel, and another looking into the water, provide sunlight and a bit of entertainment for him.
The unique craft also has a solar panel, which generates energy for communications and GPS positioning.
As he drifted along, Savin dropped markers in the ocean to help oceanographers study the currents. And at the end of the journey, Savin was studied by doctors for the effects of solitude in close confinement.
He described his journey as a “crossing during which man isn’t captain of his ship, but a passenger of the ocean”.
Savin’s adventure, estimated to have cost around 58,000 euros, was funded by French barrel-makers and crowdfunding.
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