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Sailor, 85, crosses Atlantic Ocean on raft

April 7, 2011 | 11:11 am

85-year-old sailor Anthony Smith, right, captains the An-Tiki, a 40 foot sail-powered raft, as he and crew complete their roughly two month transatlantic voyage, arriving into Philipsburg, St. Maarten, Wednesday.

An 85-year-old sailor whose lifelong dream was to cross the Atlantic Ocean on a raft saw that dream
come true Wednesday, arriving at the Caribbean island of St. Maarten after roughly two months at sea.

"Some people say it was mad," Anthony Smith told the Associated Press after arriving in Philipsburg. "But it wasn't mad. What else do you do when you get on in years?"

Smith, from London, was joined by three friends and did the crossing in part to prove that the elderly are capable of embarking on adventures some may consider too dangerous.

The 40-foot-long raft, named the An-Tiki, was built with water supply pipes and sported a nearly 40-foot-tall mast and a 400-square-foot sail. Twin rudders provided the steering, along with centerboards and two oars.

Anthony Smith Smith said that the vessel traveled at an average speed of 4 knots and that the journey was generally smooth.

The crew departed from the Canary Islands and had intended to end their trip in the Bahamas, but strong winds and currents forced them to St. Maarten.

Even with the change in course, Smith was still pleased with the voyage and the outcome.

"Yes, of course it's a success," Smith said. "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."

-- Kelly Burgess

Photos, from top: 85-year-old sailor Anthony Smith, right, captains the An-Tiki, a 40-foot sail-powered raft as he and his crew complete their roughly two-month transatlantic voyage, arriving at Philipsburg, St. Maarten on Wednesday; Anthony Smith. (Credit: Judy Fitzpatrick / Associated Press)