March 5, 2021

The challenge of a French pensioner: Cross the Atlantic from the Canary Islands in a barrel – The Province

The challenge of a French pensioner: Cross the Atlantic from the Canary Islands in a barrel - The Province


Pensioner. 71 years old French. The adventurer Jean-Jacques Savin has a goal: conquer the Atlantic Ocean. To be drifting in the ocean in a sailboat at the mercy of the winds and the currents would be a nightmare for many, but not for the Gaul who does not limit himself to sail the seas in a sailboat, but in a boat that neither his compatriot Julio Verne would have imagined for his multitude of books: a barrel.

It started on December 26, El Hierro and will try to get to Caribbean only with the help of the ocean currents and the trade winds that will propel your capsule, according to a Facebook page created to document your project, where you publish daily updates that include GPS coordinates that follow the trail of your route.

"The weather is excellent, I have a swell of one meter and I move at two or three kilometers per hour," he said. Jean-Jacques Savin by phone after leaving Canary Islands.

"At the moment my capsule is behaving very, very well and I have a favorable wind forecast," he added.

Savin spent months working on his original ship in the small shipyard of Ares, on the southwest coast of France. With three meters long and 2.10 meters wide, is made of plywood covered with plastic, strongly reinforced to withstand the waves and possible attacks of killer whales.

Inside of capsule, which includes air bags and weighs 450 kilograms when empty, there is a space of six square meters that includes a kitchen, a bunk to sleep and a warehouse. A hatch on the ground will allow Savin to look at the passing fish.

Former military paratrooper who served in Africa, Savin also He has worked as a pilot and national park rangers. It has a block of foie gras and a good bottle of white wine Sauternes saved for New Year's Eve, as well as a bottle of red Saint-Emilion ready for his 72nd birthday on January 14.

The adventurer expects the currents to take him naturally to the Caribbean without the need of a sail or oars – "maybe Barbados, although I really wish it were a French island like Martinique or Guadalupe," he said. "That would be easier for paperwork and to bring the barrel back."

On the way, Savin will drop markers for the international marine observatory of JCOMMOPS in order to help his oceanographers to study the currents. And he himself will be the object of a study on the effects of loneliness in confinement. Wine will even be studied on board: it carries a Bordeaux that will then be compared to one stored on land to determine the effects of the months spent on the waves.

It has a budget of 60,000 euros ($ 68,000) for its expedition, helped by the sponsorship of the barrels manufacturers along with a collective financing campaign.

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