Frenchman completes Atlantic crossing in ‘wine’ barrel

A Frenchman has succeeded in a gruelling crossing of the Atlantic in a completely unpowered three-metre long ‘wine barrel’, sustained in part by the occasional tot of Sauternes.

Jean-Jacques Savin during the initial sea trials of his barrel before setting off late last year

The 72 year-old former-paratrooper turned adventurer and endurance athlete Jean-Jacques Savin spent 127 days adrift on the ocean’s currents in his craft ‘Le Vagabond‘ – he was entirely without propulsion by sail, motor or human means – slightly longer than expected before he crossed into the Caribbean after a 2,930-mile voyage late last month.

Savin set off from the Canary Islands on 26 December 2018, but after crossing the western meridian into the Caribbean he was blown back east by trade winds for a few days. He was later picked up by a passing Dutch oil tanker which took him to the island of St Eustatius last Sunday, and the end of his journey.

As reported by The Times, Savin said he had become very attached to his vessel, which was modelled on a large wine barrel, and in no particular rush to return to civilisation.

Followed by fish and ocean-going birds, he passed the calm days reading, swimming, playing the mandolin and fishing – as well as updating his Facebook page via a solar-powered link.

He also spent days at a time lashed to his bunk as giant waves and fierce winds crashed down on his three-by-two-metre craft.

As well as the fish he caught, he largely lived off desalinated water and tinned and freeze-dried food but, as only a Frenchman could, he did lift his spirits with an occasional glass of Sauternes. He celebrated his 72nd birthday in January with foie gras and a bottle of St Emilion.

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