84-year old Anthony Smith is preparing to complete a life long dream by crossing the Atlantic Ocean on a simple raft made out of plastic gas pipes. The octogenarian, along with a crew of three other men, will set sail in January, aboard the raft that they have dubbed the An-tiki in a nod to Thor Heyerdahl’s famous raft the Kon-tiki.
Smith will be joined on the voyage by Robin Batchelor, age 61, 57-year old David Hildred, and Andy Bainbridge, 56. Each of the men have a history of adventure, with Hildred and Bainbridge both experienced sailors, and Batchelor and Smith balloonists. Smith found the rest of his crew by running an advertisement in the U.K.’s Telegraph
that simply said: “Fancy rafting across the Atlantic? Famous traveller requires 3 crew. Must be OAP. Serious adventurers only.”
The voyage is expected to take approximately two months to complete, covering more than 2800 miles beginning in the Canary Islands and ending in the Bahamas. The crew hopes to take advantage of the active trade winds that begin early in the year and hope to arrive well before the start of the Atlantic storm season.
The raft will be constructed out of sections of plastic pipes, which will be sealed at one end, trapping the air inside to give the craft buoyancy. There will also be two simple shelters, made from pig huts, and a short fence will mark the border around the outside of the raft. That will be in place to help prevent the men from falling overboard, although they’ll also employ harnesses to help keep them in place as well.
Smith first came up with the idea of making this crossing while he was an RAF pilot back in 1952. It has been on his mind ever since, even as he pursued other adventures such as crossing the Alps in a hot air balloon. After years of planning and dreaming, he’s finally getting underway in a few months time.
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