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

In one of his tales, the great Russian poet Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin wrote: “A cloud is in the sky, a barrel is sailing in the sea …”. And it seems that traveling on 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 have suggested that after two centuries, one brave Frenchman will be able to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a barrel in almost half a year.

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

It was the example of Alain Bombard that inspired his fellow countryman Jean-Jacques Saven. The life of a brave Frenchman was full of adventure and extreme. In his youth, the future traveler served as a military paratrooper, after retiring, he was a pilot in Africa, then he worked there in the reserve. Today, Jean-Jacques is already 72 years old, but old age did not become an obstacle to the realization of a bold idea – to cross the Atlantic in a barrel.

Swimming began on December 26, 2018. The starting point of the trip was the island of Hierro, Canary Islands. Saven’s watercraft is a cylindrical orange container 3 meters long and 2.10 meters wide. Surprisingly, the barrel ship does not have an engine, or even a sail: the fact is that Jean-Jacques decided to use only the direction of the current and wind flows to move. In fact, in these conditions, the Frenchman is simply drifting across the Atlantic Ocean.

The ship itself was created at one of the shipyards of the Gironde department in southwestern France. The material for the construction was thick plywood. Inside the barrel with a volume of 6 cubic meters contains a bed, a kitchen, a small table for viewing sea charts and navigation equipment. Saven also asked to equip his cabin with a porthole so that he could “admire while traveling with fish.”

An interesting fact: since the New Year was celebrated during the voyage across the Atlantic, Jean-Jacques Saunet, in order to treat himself to delicacies on the night of December 31 to January 1, decided to take a bottle of Sauternes wine and a piece of foie gras on a trip, which amounted to its holiday menu.

The crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by Jean-Jacques Savenes also carries scientific value: during the voyage, the traveler studied the sea currents, launching the beacons of the Joint Technical Commission for Oceanography and Marine Meteorology (JCOMM) into the water. In addition, he was engaged in the study of his own reactions: he regularly underwent psychological tests for human tolerance of loneliness.
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Jean-Jacques Saven himself noted that his emotional state was satisfactory throughout the entire voyage, and only trembled at the end of the journey, when he realized that he had not calculated the amount of food somewhat: according to the man, in recent days he had exhausted fishing equipment flying fish. In addition, he had to spend reserves of canned food rather economically. Also, Saven sometimes had concerns that the current might take him away from the intended route.

However, despite some difficulties, a large risky trip almost six months long ended successfully. On April 27, 2019, a barrel of Jean-Jacques reached the Caribbean and crossed the conditional finish line. The traveler himself said: “After 122 days and nine hours of sailing, I crossed the meridian, indicating that I am in the Caribbean. The journey is completed. Thanks to all!”.
However, despite some difficulties, a large risky trip almost six months long ended successfully. On April 27, 2019, a barrel of Jean-Jacques reached the Caribbean and crossed the conditional finish line. The traveler himself said: “After 122 days and nine hours of sailing, I crossed the meridian, indicating that I am in the Caribbean. The journey is completed. Thanks to all!”.

The adventure left a mark in the soul of a brave Frenchman: Jean-Jacques plans to write a book based on this voyage. But he does not stop on one trip and does not think: Saven’s new goal is to cross the English Channel independently, without any auxiliary means. However, this will be in the future, but for now the man plans to relax and, probably, to attend several sea competitions, where he already invited as an honored guest.

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