April 7, 2011

UK: Grandad, 85, fulfils pipe dream

LONDON, England / The Sun Daily / News / April 7, 2011

Adventurers ... (l-r) David Hildred, Anthony Smith, Andrew Bainbridge, and John Russell

AN 85-year-old pensioner has sailed into the history books after crossing the Atlantic on a raft made of PIPES.

Brit Anthony Smith completed the 2,800-mile voyage yesterday after 66 days at sea sailing between the Canary Islands and the Caribbean, after dreaming of making the journey as a boy.

Grandad Anthony, a former BBC Tomorrow's World presenter, had been joined aboard the An-Tiki by a motley crew of three he recruited with a newspaper advert.

They made the treacherous trip in the one-of-a-kind vessel — made from 12-metre lengths of water and gas pipes and powered by only a 40ft mast and 400 sq/ft sail.

After reaching dry land Anthony said it was his age that prompted him to attempt the crossing.

He said: "Some people say it was mad.

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

The jovial crew — including David Hildred, Andrew Bainbridge, and John Russell — wanted to raise awareness about the environment and prove the elderly are capable of embarking on adventures some consider dangerous.

They also raised cash for water charity WaterAid.

An-Tiki, made up of four water supply pipes and 14 cross pipes, seven of which stored the crew's fresh water supply, survived the voyage unscathed but for damage to two rudders.

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

But Anthony still considered the trip a success.

He added: "How many people do you know who have rafted across the Atlantic? The word mutiny was only spoken about two or three times a day."

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