This Guy Is Sailing the Atlantic — In a Barrel

Jean-Jacques Savin ready to depart in his homemade barrel vessel
Jean-Jacques Savin set out in his super-strong barrel on Dec. 26, 2019.

Global News YouTube video screencapture

If all goes well, 71-year-old Jean-Jacques Savin will raise a glass of white wine to the fish on New Year's Eve. The native of France will set sail—or we should say set afloat—from Spain's Canary Islands this week.

His vessel? It's a 10-foot long reinforced barrel, according to Savin's website. With a small porthole, of course, where Savin can commune with the passing fish. The former military paratrooper hopes to cross the Atlantic in three months, washing up on the shores of some Caribbean island.

He would, naturally, prefer that island to be under French control.

"That would be easier for the paperwork and for bringing the barrel back," he reportedly told AFP news agency in a phone interview.

Along the way, Savin's bright orange capsule will leave a trail of markers behind, as a way to help scientists learn more about ocean currents.

And if Savin is going to accomplish his mission, he's going to have to rely entirely on those currents. According to his calculations, they should bear his resin-coated capsule all 2,800 miles across the sea.

"The weather is great," he told AFP. "I've got a swell of one meter (about 3 feet) and I'm moving at 2 to 3 kilometers per hour; I've got favorable winds forecast until Sunday."

His Facebook account will follow the journey — the orca-proof barrel cost around $68,000 — was mostly financed through crowdsourcing. That may seem like a lot for a precariously simple vessel. But this is no ordinary barrel. Its 20 square feet of living space is crammed with enough food, including a block of foie gras and a bottle of wine, to last him months at sea.

There's also a battery of solar panels to keep his communications equipment running, as well as the capsule's vital GPS marker — lest Savin finds himself caught in some infinite bobble in the middle of the ocean.

The barrel's plywood exterior is also sturdy enough to stave off attacks from predators and even the most powerful waves. But how do you stave off the loneliness of spending the new year in a tiny capsule on the great blue sea?

Well, that's where the bottle of wine may come in handy. And that porthole gazing into the depths. Just an old man and the sea.