71-year-old man starts voyage across Atlantic in a barrel

A septuagenarian navigator from France has set off across the Atlantic Ocean in a large orange capsule, above, from Canary Islands off the coast of Africa.

Jean-Jacques Savin, 71, hopes the ocean currents will carry his three-metre long barrel to the Caribbean shores in three months.

Savin spent several months in a small boatyard in south-western France to build the barrel from reinforced plywood. From outside, it looks like a space capsule. In the small living space inside is a kitchen, sleeping bunk, storage and chart table.

The lone traveller keeps himself engaged by playing mandolin, reading books, making notes in a diary and posting journey updates on a Facebook page. When reports last came in, his barrel was moving at two or three kilometres an hour.

He also drops markers along the way to help oceanographers study the currents.

When he has nothing to do, Savin watches passing fish through a porthole on each side of the capsule.

Waves and whales are his only concern. But he believes the heavily reinforced plywood can resist them.

While embarking on his epic voyage, Savin did not forget to take a bottle each of Sauternes white wine and Saint-Emilion red wine to celebrate New Year’s Eve and his birthday in January.

Savin’s $68,720 expedition is financed partly by a French barrel-making company and a crowd-funding campaign.