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Frenchman Floats Across Atlantic in Giant Barrel

72-year-old's journey took 128 days
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 8, 2019 4:03 AM CDT
In this photograph taken Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018, Frenchman Jean-Jacques Savin stands on top of resin-coated plywood capsule, which will use ocean currents alone to propel him across the sea.   (Courtesy of Jean-Jacques Savin via AP)
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(Newser) – French adventurer Jean-Jacques Savin has made it across the Atlantic Ocean—128 days after he set off from the Canary Islands in a giant orange barrel. The 72-year-old, whose capsule was built by French barrel makers, finished his 2,930-mile journey across the Atlantic last week when he arrived unannounced on the Dutch Caribbean island of St. Eustatius, CNN reports. He traveled across the ocean at an average speed of around two miles an hour with no engine or sails, relying solely on winds and ocean currents. He says he passed the time inside the barrel, which is 10 feet long and seven feet wide, by watching fish through the portholes.

Savin brought foie gras and white wine for New Year's Eve, though he mainly fed himself with fish caught from the ocean. A diving center on St. Eustatius says it welcomed him to the island, where he was offered a free hotel room for his first night on land after months in the resin-coated plywood barrel. Savin—a former military paratrooper and private pilot—dropped markers in the ocean to help researchers study ocean currents. He described the journey as a "crossing during which man isn't captain of his ship, but a passenger of the ocean," Voice of America reports. On his Facebook page, Savin said Tuesday that he was on board a cargo ship and will arrive at the French Caribbean island of Martinique on Thursday, concluding his "magnificent journey." (Read more Atlantic Ocean stories.)

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