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Frenchman Completes Trans-Atlantic Journey in a Barrel

FILE - Jean-Jacques Savin, a former paratrooper, 71, poses aboard his ship made from a barrel on November 15, 2018 at the shipyard in Ares, southwestern France.

A Frenchman who has spent four months floating across the Atlantic in a custom-made barrel has reached his goal.

"After 122 days and nine hours the meridian positions me in the Caribbean Sea. The crossing is over. Thank you all," Jean-Jacques Savin, 72, posted on his Facebook page early Sunday.

Savin said that he was drifting toward the United States and looking for a vessel that would take him to the nearest port.

With no engine, sails or paddles, the unusual craft has relied on trade winds and currents to push Savin 4,800 kilometers from the Canary Islands to the Caribbean.

Savin spent months building his bright orange, barrel-shaped capsule of resin-coated plywood that is strong enough to withstand battering waves and other stresses.

The barrel is 3 meters long and 2.10 meters across, has a small galley area, and a mattress with straps to keep him from being tossed out of his bunk by rough seas.

Portholes on either side of the barrel and another looking into the water provide sunlight and a bit of entertainment. The unique craft also has a solar panel that generates energy for communications and GPS positioning.

As he drifted along, Savin dropped markers in the ocean to help oceanographers study ocean currents. At the end of the journey, Savin himself will be studied by doctors for effects of solitude in close confinement.

He has also posted regular updates, including GPS coordinates that track his journey, on a Facebook page.

He has described his journey as a "crossing during which man isn't captain of his ship, but a passenger of the ocean."

Savin's adventure, which is estimated to cost about $65,000, was funded by French barrel makers and crowdfunding.

Savin had hoped to end his journey on a French island, like Martinique or Guadeloupe. "That would be easier for the paperwork and for bringing the barrel back," he told AFP when he started.