Lifestyle & Human Interest

10-Foot-Long Orange Barrel Carries 72-Year-Old Man Across the Atlantic Ocean


French adventurer Jean-Jacques Savin spent four months riding the ocean’s current in a 10-foot long orange barrel, completing a mission that is not for the faint of heart or the claustrophobic.

Savin, 72, began his journey at the end of December 2018, starting from El Hierro in the Canary Islands, west of Morocco. He finished on May 2 on the Dutch Caribbean island of St. Eustatius.

Savin has long had an appetite for adventure, completing four solo trips across the Atlantic in a sailboat. He is a former military parachutist, pilot and park ranger in Africa, according to The New York Times.


For this voyage, Savin traveled in a 10-foot-long orange vessel shaped like a barrel. He said that this time, his trip was a completely different experience from his other voyages across the Atlantic.

“It’s not the same,” Savin told The New York Times. “It’s like comparing an outing by car with one by foot. You don’t even see the same landscape.”

Would you sail the ocean in a customized barrel?

Savin’s bright orange barrel was powered only by the wind and ocean current. He had a porthole so he could view marine life, and brought supplies to last approximately three months.

According to Fox, he initially intended to be at sea for three months, but he ended up at sea for over four months, because the wind conditions were not in his favor.

Sixty-two days into his trip, Savin received fresh supplies, including produce, from an American vessel, which he described as one of the happiest moments of the journey.

He sailed for 127 days, alone in the capsule, which was outfitted with a bed, kitchen and storage space.

He relied on a satellite connection and a GPS device to communicate, gaining important information about weather conditions.

“I didn’t have Facebook or Google, or a smartphone. But I was in regular contact with an assistant who relayed comments from the 21,000 people from Australia, Japan, Canada, Poland, the United States and other countries around the world who were following my journey on Facebook and on my blog,” he said.

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Savin told The Times that his trip was a dream he had carried with him since childhood, inspired by a book by French explorer Alain Bombard, who took a similar trip from the Canary Islands to the Caribbean.

“That thrilled me and became a dream. And I lived my dream,” Savin said.

During his four months at sea, Savin carved out a routine for himself, helping the time pass by quickly and purposefully.

“I tried to fill my notebooks and spent three to four hours a day dealing with the messages relayed through the secretary,” Savin said. “If it was nice, I swam, and dove underneath the barrel to catch a fish, sea bream, to supplement my meal.”

“I made a breakfast in the morning, and a nice dinner in the evening. I had a lot of time to write my book. I played a lot of bluegrass on my mandolin.”

He also did loads of reading, including nonfiction adventure books, books about World War I and a condensed version of the Bible.

Savin said that twice, he feared he was going to die, both times from colliding with an oncoming ship. In both cases, the ships narrowly missed the barrel. Those close brushes were probably terrifying at the time, but sure made for a great story.

Savin said he loves solitude, and time alone at sea was good for his soul.

“It’s freedom. Complete freedom. It’s hard to convey. No one tells you what to do. There are no rules. It’s freedom.”

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A graduate of Grand Canyon University, Kim Davis has been writing for The Western Journal since 2015, focusing on lifestyle stories.
Kim Davis began writing for The Western Journal in 2015. Her primary topics cover family, faith, and women. She has experience as a copy editor for the online publication Thoughtful Women. Kim worked as an arts administrator for The Phoenix Symphony, writing music education curriculum and leading community engagement programs throughout the region. She holds a degree in music education from Grand Canyon University with a minor in eating tacos.
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