85-year-old Anthony Smith Crosses Atlantic on Custom Raft, “An-Tiki”

by Owen James Burke

“Some people say it was mad…but it wasn’t mad…What else do you do when you get on in years?”

For his 85th birthday, Anthony Smith was looking for an adventure, and with a little compensation from a recent car accident on hand, it was now or never.  He wanted to prove that the elderly are capable of taking on an adventure some, or most, might consider dangerous, but he was also interested in bringing awareness of and support to WaterAid, a British Nonprofit that brings drinking water to impoverished communities.

Mr. Smith selected a small accompaniment of other experienced adventurers, which he did not choose lightly.  He placed an advertisement in the classified section of The Telegraph, requesting responses from only “mature and intrepid gentlemen.”  Two other retired men replied, including his own personal physician, and on the third day when a rudder broke, a civil engineer (also retired) was brought aboard.  When embarking upon a sailing voyage, you could hardly ask for a more fit crew than one consisting of a doctor and a civil engineer.

An-Tiki was constructed of four forty-foot long water supply pipes, 14 smaller cross pieces, a 40-foot mast, a 400-square-foot sail and double rudders.  Along with his crew of three other retirees, Smith was joined by pods of whales and and schools of mahi-mahi.  An-Tiki set sail in January from the Canary Islands off of West Africa, and after 2,800 miles of open ocean crossing, landed on St. Maarten in the Caribbean this past Wednesday, April 6, 2011.

For sustenance, the raft was supplied with some fresh fruit and vegetables, but mainly canned foods.  “We haven’t had fresh food for a long time…We’ve been living out of tins. Our fresh fruit and vegetables ran out a long time ago,” said crewman John Russell as the men struck land and, in good health otherwise, made for the societal comforts all sailors long for when far away at sea: shower and a fresh meal.

So if you feel your age creeping up and your time running out, or you’re simply just young and bored, there are no excuses; there’s always time for an adventure.

*via time and thetideofbattle*

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