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Explorer has his 85th birthday at sea as he crossed Atlantic on a homemade raft

Anthony with a flying fish

Anthony with a flying fish

An 88-year-old man who crossed the Atlantic on a raft says ‘just because you’re old, it doesn’t mean you’re confined to pruning roses’.

Adventurous Anthony Smith, who moved to Thame in November, set off from the Canary Islands in January 2011 after he and his crew of three spent six weeks building the raft out of water pipes.

The vessel, christened Antiki, sailed for 66 days at a rate of 2.1 knots and arrived safely in the harbour at on the Carribbean island of Sint Maarten.

From there, the crew negotiated dangerous reefs and terrific storms off the coast of the West Indies before they reached their final destination – the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas, where the Antiki is still moored today.

Anthony, who moved from West London, said: “I don’t know why people call it ‘the pond’ – it’s a great, big, dirty slab of water!”

The father-of-five recalls how he came up with the idea of crossing the Atlantic one day after suffering an accident.

He said: “I was run over by a van, which was reversing along the pavement. The first thing I knew about it was when I was underneath it.

“So with the compensation money I got, I thought ‘let’s build a raft, that’s a good idea’.”

“I don’t know why people call the Atlantic ‘the pond’ - it’s a great, big, dirty slab of water!”

Anthony celebrated his 85th birthday during the trip, but declined his crew members’ offer of breakfast in bed.

He said: “We were on a boat which was wobbling about on the sea, so I didn’t want my cornflakes lying in bed with me.”

The pensioner, of Parliament Road, recently shared his inspirational tale at Thame Library, and has now invited back for another talk on Saturday, May 31 at 11am.

Anthony has had 31 books published in his lifetime, detailing his travels. His latest one – the account of his incredible trip – is due to come out next year and is titled The Old Man and the Sea, in a nod to Ernest Hemingway.

You can read more about Anthony’s trip on the Antiki blog here.

 

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