A French man by the name of Jean-Jacques Savin successfully traversed the Atlantic Ocean in an unpowered wooden barrel, a journey that took the 72-year-old man four months to complete.
Savin, a former paratrooper and current outdoorsman, had the 6.3-square-meter (68 square-foot) capsule constructed in 2018 out of plywood and polyester, with a weighted keel to keep the craft upright. Launched at the end of December from the Canary Islands, Savin began the 2,390-mile trip across the ocean, propelled only by wind and currents which, according to his website, he expected to take between two and a half to three months.
To sustain himself, Savin brought a water purifier, dried food, and fishing equipment, but he also stowed a few treats away to keep himself sane. AFP reports that Sarin brought along foie gras and Sauterne white wine to celebrate the New Year a few days into his journey, and a bottle of Saint-Emilion red to enjoy his 72nd birthday on Jan. 14.
Further monitoring Savin's mental health were researchers at Wallerstein Medical Center, who studied the effects of the journey's unique environment on Savin. The outdoorsman faced long-term solitude, limited space to move around, and endured the barrel's constant rocking throughout the trip. The third of these is a problem not usually faced to such extremity on seafaring voyages, as long trips tend to be made on larger, less unstable vessels, or across shorter periods.
Progress was slower than expected—Savin predicted he'd arrive in the Caribbean in March—but he safely arrived in the region in late April after 128 days adrift and was craned out of the sea at the island of St. Eustatius earlier this month to an enthusiastic reception.
Savin did as any native French speaker would and celebrated the journey's completion by eating fine cheese. He and his barrel will eventually be shipped back to France, but Savin got to enjoy some time on dry, stable land at a resort before his trip back home.