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71-year-old man is trying to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a barrel


Most people spend the day after Christmas relaxing with their families. But one man began a journey across the Atlantic in a barrel.

Navigator Jean-Jacques Savin, of France, is currently floating somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean in nothing more than a bright orange barrel. He hopes to reach the Caribbean in three months, by the end of March, propelled only by ocean currents.

“The goal? Maybe to prove that I’ve still got it.” Savin told the AFP news agency.

He hopes the currents will transport the barrel from his starting point in the Canary Islands, off the coast of West Africa, to somewhere in the Caribbean. He doesn’t know exactly where he’ll end up, but he’s hoping for a French island such as Martinique or Guadalupe.

“That would be easier for the paperwork and for bringing the barrel back,” he said.

Savin is no stranger to adventure. He’s a former military parachutist who has also worked as a park ranger and a pilot. According to his website, he’s already crossed the Atlantic four times by sailboat. This time, he envisioned “a crossing where the man would not be captain of his boat, but passenger of the Ocean.”

He worked on the vessel for months before beginning his trek. Inside is six square meters — about 65 square feet — of living space. The barrel weighs 990 pounds when empty and includes a sleeping bunk, kitchen, and storage area. Each side contains a porthole, including one on the floor to allow Savin to look at passing fish.

But he hasn’t given up on luxury completely. Stowed away is a block of foie gras and a bottle of Sauternes white wine for New Year’s Eve, along with a bottle of red Saint-Emilion for his 72nd birthday in January.

During the journey, Savin will drop markers for the international marine observatory organization JCOMMOPS to help its oceanographers study the currents. Scientists will also study how solitude and close confinement affect him.

Even his wine will be subject to observation. A Bordeaux onboard will be compared to one kept on land after the trip is over.

Though Savin is traveling solo, the whole world can follow along on the journey. He’s tracking his progress online and posting daily updates and GPS coordinates on his Facebook page.