Frenchman trying to cross Atlantic in barrel capsule

Jean-Jacques Savin 71 works on the construction of his ship in November

Jean-Jacques Savin 71 works on the construction of his ship in November

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His goal is to ultimately reach the Caribbean - either Barbados or the French islands of Martinique or Guadeloupe.

He said he would like to end up on a French island (the paperwork would be easier, he said), and he intends to take a flight home.

Jean-Jacques Savin has set off on a three month adventure across the Atlantic in just a barrel.

Mr Savin, also a former pilot and national park ranger, had been working on his capsule in a shipyards in Ares, a small commune on France's southwest coast. According to his website, he's already crossed the Atlantic four times by sailboat.

Savin's voyage is reported to have been partly inspired by the trip taken by a French doctor, Alain Bombard, who crossed the Atlantic alone in an inflatable boat in 1952 with nearly no water or food, living only on fish and plankton found on the way.

He worked on the vessel for months before beginning his trek.

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He will drop markers along the way to help oceanographers study Atlantic currents.

Savin stands inside the 3-metre long, 2.1-metre wide capsule. Savin will be studied by doctors for effects of solitude in close confinement.

To entertain himself during his trip, Savin has a porthole so he can watch fish, a mandolin, a few books, and a diary he plans to write in daily.

The vessel, which weighs 450kg (990lb) when empty, comprises of a six-square-metre space complete with a kitchen, sleeping bunk and space for storage. Stowed away is a block of foie gras and a bottle of Sauternes white wine for New Year's Eve, along with a bottle of red Saint-Emilion for his 72nd birthday in January.

Even the wine will be subject to a study comparing bottles kept on board to those back on dry land.

Though Savin is traveling solo, the whole world can follow along on the journey.

The retired military parachutist has been funded by sponsorships and a crowdfunding campaign, and a Facebook page has also been posting updates of his progress.

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