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French retiree completes voyage across Atlantic Ocean in a barrel

The trip took more than a month longer than expected

GEORGES GOBET/AFP/Getty Images

Seventy-two-year-old Jean-Jacques Savin has completed his trip across the Atlantic Ocean in a modified barrel he built himself.

What's the story?

Savin packed the 10-foot-long, 7-foot-wide barrel with enough food for the trip, and included a way for him to cook on board. He also had a porthole for entertainment, and the ability to fish. What the makeshift submarine did not have was any way for Savin to steer. Instead, he relied solely on ocean currents to push him to his destination.

On Dec. 26, he set out on his voyage. He had already crossed the Atlantic in a sailboat four times, but had never made the trip without any means of propulsion.

He told Agence France-Presse that he expected to move at a speed between 1 and 2 mph, and that he hoped to end up at one of the islands in the Caribbean.

"Maybe Barbados, although I'd really like it to be a French island like Martinique or Guadeloupe," he said.

On May 2, 127 days after his voyage began, he reached the Dutch island of St. Eustatius near St. Kitts & Nevis— 2.930 miles from his starting point.

An oil tanker helped tow Savin the last few miles to shore. Savin initially hoped to cross the ocean in 90 days, but slower than expected winds slowed his crossing. Savin said that his voyage had been calm, with the exception of eight days of rough weather.

"Everything has an end ... finally, here I am at the end of this adventure," he said in a Facebook post on Friday.

What else?

Savin, a a former military paratrooper and pilot, celebrated his 72nd birthday at sea in January.

Savin also brought at least three bottles of wine along with him: A bottle of white Sauternes to celebrate New Year's Eve, and one of red Saint-Emilion for his birthday, and a third bottle, a Bordeaux, which remained unopened. Now that his voyage is over, this wine will be compared to an identical bottle left safely on land.

As he traveled, he also dropped markers to help the international marine observatory JCOMMOPS study ocean currents.

One last thing…
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