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Neptune's friend Diogenes: a French yachtsman intends to ride the currents and cross the Atlantic in «barrel»

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A cloud crosses the sky, a barrel sails on the sea, and in the barrel... No, not Prince Guidon, but rather«Diogenes»: 71-year-old Frenchman Jean-Jacques Savin . A former military airborne paratrooper and pilot has crossed the Atlantic 4 times under sail and decided to celebrate the fifth, «anniversary» time unusually: to go on«voyage, during which one will not be the captain of a ship, but a passenger of the ocean». To do so, he has built an orange capsule out of epoxy-coated plywood to be chased across the Atlantic by ocean currents.

Savin's 4,500km journey began on 26 December off the coast of El Hierro in the CanaryIslands.He expects to arrive inthe Caribbean in three months.

«Maybe Barbados, although I would really like to be on some French island, Martinique or Guadeloupe . That way there will be less paperwork, especially when it comes to bringing the barrel back»," says the Frenchman about the final destination of his journey.

«His boat», built in a small shipyard in the coastal town of Ares , west of Bordeaux,is 3 m long and 2.10 m wide. On 6 square meters of living space (smaller than a pickup truck), it has a kitchen, a bunk to sleep in with straps to prevent waves from tossing the traveler across the cabin, and space for storage. A porthole is made in the bottom of the barrel, so that the man can watch the fish during the voyage. Two more small portholes are located «on the sides».

The capsule is designed to withstand the impact of waves and possible attacks of orcas. The bottom is poured with concrete for stability. French will use solar panels to recharge communication devices and GPS positioning system.

Two French cooperage companies partly financed this voyage and some part of the means (approx. € 10k at the current exchange rate) was collected via crowdfunding . Most of the money (18 and 16 thousand) went to the construction of «barrel» and the purchase of equipment.

This adventure Savin inspired by the book «Voluntary exile» («Naufragé volontaire») French doctor Alain Bombard (Alain Bombard), who in 1952, alone crossed the Atlantic on an inflatable boat with little water and no food. He survived by catching fish and collecting plankton.

Unlike Bombard, Savin took plenty of provisions with him.

What's more, there's a supply of foie gras and an amphora of white Sauternes wine on board, which the Frenchman will indulge in for the New Year, as well as an amphora of red Saint-Emilion for his birthday on January 14. So at least for the holidays Savin intends to enjoy life.

Finally, a third amphora, from Bordeaux, came on board for the sake of the «experiment». At the finish the taste of wine from it will be compared with similar, which has not been on a voyage.


Savin won't be limited to wine experiments. During the voyage, he will drop «tags», which will help oceanographers from JCOMMOPS International Marine Observatory study the Atlantic currents. The «barrel itself» also contains equipment that will collect additional data for scientists.

The Frenchman will also observe himself closely, studying the effects of being alone in a confined space for long periods of time. After completing the journey, he will be examined by doctors, who will make conclusions about the state of not only his body, but also his psyche.

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