Eighty-five year old British sailor Anthony Smith and three crewmembers made landfall on April 6 on the Caribbean Island of St. Martin after a 66-day, 2,800-nm Atlantic crossing from the Canary Islands aboard their raft An-Tiki.
The crew of friends ranging in age from 56 to 85 embarked on the historic voyage with four goals in mind: 1. to raise awareness of the importance of clean drinking water to world populations; 2. to bring attention to the impact of global warming on our planet and the importance of healthy oceans; 3. to show that older persons are capable of undertaking such an expedition; 4. to pay homage to M/V Anglo Saxon, a British merchant ship sunk by a German raider near the Canary Islands 70 years ago.
Smith, a retired author, journalist, explorer, documentary film maker, and TV presenter held the dream of one day crossing the Atlantic by raft in the style of Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon-Tiki expedition. The dream became a reality thanks to its sponsors and a hardworking team of volunteers. Smith also funded some of the project himself with compensation money received after his hip was broken when he was struck by a van.
Simply constructed, An-Tiki is basically a wood deck built on a hull of 39-foot heavy-duty polyethylene water supply pipes donated by GPS PE Pipe Systems in the U.K. The cabin is stainless steel Quonset hut style affair typically used to house farm animals. Seven of the pipes and a watermaker supplied the fresh water. Steering was accomplished with two large rudders, dagger boards and a 400-square-foot main sail.
The 2,800-nm crossing hoped to raise about $81,500 for the charity WaterAid. The crew of “ancient mariners” had originally planned to make landfall in the Bahamas, but due to time constraints and delays, landed in St. Martin, happy and healthy, at 0400 on April 6, 2011.