He crossed the Ocean in a barrel. Crazy? Big sailor? Both?


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Savin's barrel, without engine or other propulsion
Of people crossing the Atlantic Ocean there are many now. But those who have done it in absurd ways can be counted on the fingers of one hand: some have done it with a small Star, some with uninhabitable catamarans, some aboard old cars stuffed with Styrofoam, and some with “sailing eggs.” Jean-Jacques Savin certainly joins this prestigious “elite” since he has just completed his ocean crossing in a 10-square-meter orange wooden barrel, with no engine or other propulsion except the currents and trade winds (the Ocean winds).

Here is the feat of the modern Diogenes

Diogenes, who lived in the fourth century B.C. and is also known as the “Mad Socrates,” is also known for living part of his life in a…barrel. Instead, our modern Diogenes is named Jean-Jacques Savin, is 72 years old and French. He is a so-called “dynamic retiree”: he is a former Triathlon level athlete, served as a paratrooper in the military and was an airplane pilot. The leave of absence did not stop him since he climbed Mont Blanc to celebrate his 70th birthday. Later, in order not to miss training, he crossed the Ocean starting from the Canary Islands in December , with a destination…somewhere in the Caribbean.

Savin's barrel, without engine or other propulsion

Gone with the Wind

As the
“king of superyachts,” Dan Lenard
, fresh from the ocean with no instruments, “everything that starts from our half of the Atlantic, sooner or later comes to the Caribbean.”

And it took Savin to show us this in a practical way by taking 122 days to make this crossing. The former soldier took to the sea Dec. 26 from the island of El Hierro in the Canary Islands to cross the Atlantic cradled only by the wind and currents. What drove him? Simply a taste for adventure and a love for the “feeling of freedom,” represented by his orange barrel-boat.

How did he do it?

On a boat made to barrel a maximum of 2.10 meters high and 1.70 meters wide, which can carry 300 kg of weight (including Savin). The hull was made in a small shipyard in Arès. As for the live work, the barrel is equipped with two stabilizing fins and also a drift so that the barrel does not roll on the sea surface. At the top it has a domed hatch similar to that of submarines, while the barrel has numerous portholes that allowed Savin to look around.

His journey is not yet over, however. Savin is currently drifting toward Florida in the Caribbean Sea, waiting to finally touch land or to be boarded by some ship.

Savin's barrel, without engine or other propulsion

His model

Despite the barrel, our dear Jean-Jacques is not inspired by the cynical Diogenes. Instead, his model is Alain Bombard, the French biologist who in 1952 launched himself on an Atlantic crossing with a 4 1/2-meter Zodiac sailing dinghy, theHérétique, without supplies. He wanted to prove that shipwrecked people die from psychological causes and not from lack of food and water.He succeeded, landing in Barbados (from Tangier) after 65 days adrift, during which he fed on plankton and drank seawater, calculated not to risk dying.


Image source: TESA



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