Rest in Peace: Antiki Sailor, Author and Adventurer Anthony Smith Dies at 88
by Owen James Burke
A bestselling author of over 30 books, a borderless adventurer and broadcaster, Anthony Smith built a raft and ran an ad in the Telegraph: “Fancy rafting across the Atlantic? Famous traveller requires 3 crew. Must be OAP. Serious adventurers only.”
After recruiting three other intrepid men to join him (none under the age of 55), Smith spent his 85th birthday crossing the Atlantic in 2011 à la Thor Hyerdahl’s Kon-Tiki.
The raft, 40′ by 18′, was built with PVC piping, a small cabin, a head “with a view”, and a sail draped from a telephone pole. It was also equipped with a foot pump-powered computer for communication with the outside world.
They left the coast of Spain on January 30th, 2011 for Eleuthera. “It’s always good to have a destination in mind,” Smith told the Telegraph, “even on a country walk.”
Averaging a speed of 2.1 knots, they lost two rudders within the first three days and ran out of food after three weeks, but successfully crossed the Atlantic in 66 days. The only issue (according to Smith) was that they landed on St. Marteen. He was set on reaching Eleuthera, so he selected another crew, which this time included women. The fare was much more choice, he noted, and the conversations much more casual. They succeeded in reaching Eleuthera after being washed ashore at night during a violent storm.
As he grew “long in the tooth” Smith had a harder time confronting the sedentary life that many of his contemporaries fell into, and found it best to live by the words of a T.S. Eliot line from Four Quartets: “Old men ought to be explorers.” That he was to the very end.
The Old Man & the Sea, Smith’s account of his last great adventure, is due for publishing in February of 2015.
Anthony Smith is survived by two sons (one of whom he rode with on a motorcycle trip around Africa) and three daughters. He is, no doubt, a voice and presence that will be missed.