A 72-Year-Old Just Crossed the Atlantic in an Unpowered Wooden Barrel

He survived the four-month journey on fish and … foie gras?

Jean-Jacques Savin crossed the Atlantic Ocean in a barrel at the age of 72.
Jean-Jacques Savin crossed the Atlantic Ocean in a barrel at the age of 72.
GEORGES GOBET/AFP/Getty
By Alex Lauer / May 8, 2019 4:00 pm

Upon reaching the esteemed age of 71, most people are ready to kick their feet up. Jean-Jacques Savin, a former military paratrooper and private pilot, decided to go the Bilbo route: cross the Atlantic Ocean alone in an unpowered wooden barrel.

After more than four months, Savin has now completed the journey. He set off from the Canary Islands on the northwestern coast of Africa on December 26th of last year and landed on the Caribbean island St. Eustatius on May 3rd.

So how’d he navigate his way to the island in his spartan craft? In short, he didn’t. As CNN writes, Savin was “traveling at about two miles an hour with no engine, and relying entirely on the ocean current to guide his journey.”

That’s not to say he was completely helpless. The resin-coated plywood barrel, coming in at about 10 feet by 6.8 feet, featured a tracker that allowed people to follow his progress online as well as markers provided by JCOMMOPS (an international marine observatory) that Savin deployed to help study ocean currents. And as Popular Mechanics notes, he had a chance encounter with a research ship that gave him provisions.

Apart from that package, Savin “fed himself on fish caught from the ocean” which he cooked in the barrel’s small kitchen, writes CNN. But in true French style, he also packed a bottle of Sauternes white wine and a block of foie gras to ring in New Year’s Eve, and a bottle of Saint-Émilion red for his birthday.

By the time he finished the trip, Savin had turned 72.

Editor’s Note: RealClearLife, a news and lifestyle publisher, is now a part of InsideHook. Together, we’ll be covering current events, pop culture, sports, travel, health and the world.

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