Frenchman trying to cross Atlantic in barrel capsule

Jean-Jacques Savin shows the inside of the barrel that includes a bunk kitchen and storage

Jean-Jacques Savin shows the inside of the barrel that includes a bunk kitchen and storage

A 71-year-old Frenchman has embarked on an epic journey across the Atlantic on a barrel-shaped capsule heading towards the Caribbean.

Jean-Jacques Savin, a former paratrooper, set off from El Hierro in Spain's Canary Islands on Wednesday and is aiming to complete his 4,500km (2,800 miles) journey to the Caribbean in about three months.

It also has a solar panel that generates energy for communications and GPS positioning and Savin will be dropping markers along his trip to help oceanographers study currents.

Jean-Jacques Savin shows the inside of the barrel that includes a bunk, kitchen and storage.

The capsule boasts a porthole in the floor, through which Mr Savin will be able to watch fish passing beneath him. His voyage will also serve as a way for oceanographers from the JCOMMOPS global marine observatory to study such currents, as he will drop off markers on the way.

The interior of the large barrel that Jean-Jacques Savin, a 71-year-old Frenchman, will use to sail across the Atlantic Ocean is seen here.

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"For the time being, my capsule is behaving very, very well and I've got favourable winds forecast until Sunday", he told Agence-France Presse by phone after departing.

AFP reported that the orange vessel is made from resin-coated plywood and is created to protect him not only from the elements, but also from possible attacks by orca whales. He doesn't know exactly where he'll end up, but he's hoping for a French island such as Martinique or Guadalupe.

"That would be easier for the paperwork and for bringing the barrel back", said Mr Savin. I've got a swell of one meter (3 feet) and I'm moving at 2-3 kilometers an hour...

Savin has also taken on board foie gras and a bottle of Sauternes white wine for New Year's Eve, as well as a bottle of red Saint-Emilion to celebrate his 72nd birthday on January 14.

Savin wants to prove a theory put forward by French doctor and adventurer Alain Bombard in 1952, stating a journey across the Atlantic without any technical help is possible.

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