Frenchman sets off to cross Atlantic in a barrel

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A Frenchman has set off to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a barrel-shaped orange capsule, using ocean currents alone to propel him.

Jean-Jacques Savin, 71, left El Hierro in Spain’s Canary Islands and hopes to reach the Caribbean in as little as three months.

His reinforced capsule contains a sleeping bunk, kitchen and storage.

He will drop markers along the way to help oceanographers study Atlantic currents.

“The weather is great. I’ve got a swell of one metre (3ft) and I’m moving at 2-3km/h,” he told AFP news agency by telephone.

“For the time being my capsule is behaving very, very well and I’ve got favourable winds forecast until Sunday.”

Mr Savin is a former military paratrooper and has also worked as a park ranger and a pilot.

He believes ocean currents alone will carry his resin-coated plywood vessel about 4,500km (2,800 miles) to the Caribbean.

“Maybe Barbados, although I would really like it to be a French island like Martinique or Guadaloupe,” he joked.

“That would be easier for the paperwork and for bringing the barrel back.”

The barrel is 3m long and 2.10m wide with six square metres of living space. There is a porthole in the floor through which Mr Savin can watch passing fish.

His stores include a block of foie gras and a bottle of Sauternes white wine for New Year’s Eve. He also has a bottle of red wine to celebrate his 72nd birthday on 14 January.

The markers he drops along the way will help oceanographers from the JCOMMOPS international marine observatory to study currents.

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