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122 days in a barrel: how a 72-year-old Frenchman crossed the Atlantic

In one of his fairy tales, the great Russian poet Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin wrote: “a Cloud in the sky goes, a barrel on the sea floats…”. And it seems that traveling by water in such an unusual way can only be a figment of the imagination of the light of Russian literature. And it is unlikely that Pushkin himself or his contemporaries could assume that in two centuries one brave Frenchman will be able to cross the Atlantic ocean in a barrel in almost six months.

In fairness, it should be clarified that attempts to cross the Atlantic on something that is not quite adapted to such a difficult journey, were previously. So, in 1952, the French physician, biologist and traveler Alain Bombard crossed the ocean in an ordinary inflatable boat. Moreover, this daredevil went to sea without food, and his diet consisted of seafood, which he caught right overboard. Based on his adventures, the traveler wrote the book “Overboard at will”. He also owns the idea of crossing the Atlantic ocean in a barrel.

It was the example of Alain Bombard that inspired his countryman Jean-Jacques Savin. The life path of the brave Frenchman was full of adventures and extreme. In his youth, the future traveler served as a military paratrooper, after retiring was a pilot in Africa, then worked there in the reserve. Today, Jean-Jacques is 72 years old, but old age has not become an obstacle to the implementation of a bold idea – to cross the Atlantic in a barrel.The voyage began on December 26, 2018. The starting point of the trip was the island of Hierro, Canary Islands. The Savena watercraft is a cylindrical container of orange color, 3 meters long and 2.10 meters wide. Surprisingly, the barrel ship has no engine, or even a sail: the fact is that Jean-Jacques decided to use only the direction of the current and wind currents to move. In fact, in these conditions, the Frenchman simply drifts across the Atlantic ocean.

The ship itself was created at one of the shipyards of the Department of the Gironde, in southwestern France. The material for construction was thick plywood. Inside, the 6-cubic-meter barrel accommodates a cot, a kitchen, a small table for viewing nautical charts, and navigation equipment. Savin also asked that his cabin be equipped with a porthole so that he could “admire the fish while traveling.”

Interesting fact: since the period of sailing on the Atlantic had to celebrate the New year, Jean-Jacques Savin, to treat himself to the night of December 31 to January 1 delicacies, decided to take a bottle of Sauternes wine and a piece of foie Gras, which made up his holiday menu.

The crossing of the Atlantic ocean by Jean-Jacques Savin is also of scientific value: during the voyage, the traveler studied the sea currents, launching radio beacons of the Joint technical Commission on Oceanography and marine meteorology (JCOMM). In addition, he was engaged in research of his own reactions: he regularly passed psychological tests on the human tolerance of loneliness.

 

Jean-Jacques Savin himself noted that his emotional state was satisfactory throughout the entire voyage, and faltered only at the end of the journey, when he realized that he had somewhat miscalculated the amount of food: according to the man, in recent days he had run out of equipment for catching flying fish. In addition, he had to spend quite sparingly stocks of canned food. Also in Bologna there were also concerns that the current could carry him away from the planned route.

 

However, despite some difficulties, a large risky journey of almost six months ended successfully. On April 27, 2019, the barrel of Jean-Jacques reached the Caribbean and crossed the conditional finish line. The traveler himself reported: “After 122 days and nine hours of sailing, I crossed the Meridian, which indicates that I am in the waters of the Caribbean sea. The journey is complete. Thank you all!”.

 

The adventure left a mark on the soul of the brave Frenchman: Jean-Jacques plans to write a book based on this voyage. But he does not stop at one journey: Savin’s new goal is to cross the English channel on his own, without any auxiliary means.However, this will be in the future, and in the meantime, the man plans to relax and probably attend several sea competitions, where he has already been invited as an honorary guest.

 

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