85-year old Brit crosses Atlantic on a raft

An 85-year-old grandfather from London has successfully crossed the Atlantic on a raft made of pipes after 66 days at sea.

Anthony Smith said he had dreamed of making the journey as a boy, and decided to complete the 2,800-mile (4,596km) voyage to highlight the fact a billion people worldwide live without clean water.

He hopes to have raised £50,000 for the charity WaterAid.

Mr Smith, a former TV presenter for BBC programme Tomorrow's World, set sail with his three-man crew, all of whom were over 55, from the Canary Islands and reached the Caribbean on Wednesday.

He recruited the team of 'mature and intrepid gentlemen' - aged between 56 and 61 - by placing an advert in the Daily Telegraph.

The ad read: 'Fancy rafting across the Atlantic? Famous traveller requires 3 crew.

'Must be OAP. Serious adventurers only.'

Speaking ahead of the trip Mr Smith said: 'Water strikes at the very heart of need.

'To voyage almost 3,000 miles upon the salty kind will make us intensely aware of places in the world that are without adequate supplies.'

Their sail-powered vessel, named the An-Tiki, was constructed by themselves out of 12m (39ft) lengths of pipe.

It was powered by a 400-square-foot sail and steered using twin rudders and oars, travelling at an average speed of four knots.

The crew had intended to end their voyage in the Bahamas, but strong winds and currents forced them to the Dutch Caribbean island of St Maarten.

Speaking to the BBC, crew member John Russell, 61, from Stroud, said he was looking forward to having 'a nice shower and washing the salt off.'

He also said he wanted to eat 'a nice steak'

'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,' he said.

Mr Russell also described how a whale played alongside the raft one day, and how a school of mahi-mahi followed the raft for the entire journey.

'The wildlife was fantastic,' he told the Associated Press. 'There was nothing to be scared of. We were all old men.'

Halfway across the Atlantic, Mr Smith celebrated his birthday with a chocolate cake that his doctor and fellow crew member Andrew Bainbridge cooked on board.

After reaching dry land, Mr Smith said: ' Some people said it was mad.

'But it wasn't mad. What else do you do when you get on in years?'

Related articles
Ten of the best alternative cruise holidays

All aboard the fantasy cruise
Read Full Story