Jean-Jacques Savin, a former paratrooper, 71, works on the construction of a ship made from a barrel at the shipyard in Ares, southwestern France, Nov. 15, 2018.
Jean-Jacques Savin, a former paratrooper, 71, works on the construction of a ship made from a barrel at the shipyard in Ares, southwestern France, Nov. 15, 2018.

French adventurer Jean-Jacques Savin is several days into his attempt to cross the Atlantic in a specially-built orange barrel.

With no engine, sails or paddles, the unusual craft relies on trade winds and currents to push him 4,800 kilometers from the Canary Islands to Caribbean in about three months.

Shortly after casting off, he reported good weather and a speed of 2-3 kilometers an hour.

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

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 (kitchen) area, and a mattress with straps to keep him from being tossed out of his bunk by rough seas.

Jean-Jacques Savin, a former paratrooper, 71, work
Jean-Jacques Savin works on the construction of a ship made from a barrel on Nov. 15, 2018 at the shipyard in Ares, southwestern France.

He is also carrying some wine and other treats for New Year's Eve and his birthday in January.

Portholes (sturdy, water-tight windows) 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 drifts along, Savin will drop markers in the ocean to help oceanographers study ocean currents. Savin himself will be studied by doctors for effects of solitude in close confinement.

He will also post daily updates including GPS coordinates tracking the journey on a Facebook page

Savin's adventure, which will cost a little more than $65,000, was funded by French barrel makers and crowdfunding.

At the end, Savin hopes 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.