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The Ancient Mariners: An Aging Crew Makes an Age-Old Crossing

Captain Anthony Smith recently celebrated his 85th birthday while drifting on a raft in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. And apparently there’s no place he’d rather be.

Smith and his crew­—Sailing Master David Hildred, 57, John Russell, 61, and Andrew Bainbridge, 56—are sailing a self-made, 39-foot raft from the Canary Islands to the Caribbean. They left January 30th and are nearing Antigua.

Exactly when and where they’ll land they don’t know. “We don’t know which bit of land we’re going to, but there’s plenty of West Indies out there to choose from,” says Smith.”

The raft (seen right in a photo by Robin Batchelor) is called An-Tiki, a reference both to the famed Kon-Tiki voyage made by Thor Heyerdahl, and the crew’s advanced age. According to the An-Tiki website, one of the reasons for the crossing is to show “older persons are capable of undertaking …adventurous projects that are normally left to younger persons to fulfill.”

The trip also aims to heighten awareness of global water issues by raising funds for WaterAid, a UK non-profit. The An-Tiki crew are floating on salt water, says Smith, but they would like to remind people that freshwater is what keeps us alive.

Pool, Party

The trip has been quite comfortable so far, says Smith. “I liken it to being rather like a pool table on the top of a bouncy car… the whole vessel goes up and down and it’s been going up and down now for the last 6-7 weeks.”

For his birthday, crewmates treated Smith to breakfast in-bunk, relieved him of washing-up duty and even baked him a chocolate cake (photo at left by the crew). “I have never had such a terrific 85th birthday,” wrote Smith on the An-Tiki blog.

Listen to Anthony Smith speaking with Boyd Matson by satellite phone for an interview on “NG Weekend”.

“NG Weekend” is a radio program produced by author Ben Shaw, and presented Saturdays and Sundays nationwide on AM, FM, and SiriusXM Satellite Radio.

(Updated 4/2/2011)

 

Comments

  1. Ellen
    U.S.
    April 2, 2011, 9:45 pm

    You bet, Heather – spot on idea!!

  2. Heather
    UK
    April 2, 2011, 3:17 pm

    @Andrew. I’m sure a suitable oblation to WaterAid would would assuage Neptune’s wrath 🙂

  3. Andrew Howley
    April 2, 2011, 8:43 am

    This post has been updated to correct the oversight of Sailing Master David Hildred’s name having been missing from the original list of crewmembers.

    Our apologies, David! And thank you Trish and Ellen for calling it quickly to our attention.

  4. Ellen
    U.S.
    April 1, 2011, 9:39 pm

    This is a great article but wondering how you could have left out one-fourth of the crew? This is a FOUR man crew. You omitted David Hildred, 54, who is the sailing master!!! Sort of hard to do it without him. As a matter of fact it was David who posted on their blog about Anthony’s 85th birthday.

    At any rate, hope this article will inspire others to donate to WaterAid which is the point of their making this long journey. Thanks for the article!

  5. Trish Baily
    April 1, 2011, 8:20 pm

    To either Andrew Howley who posted th articl OR Ben Shaw who wrote it;Trish Baily
    Andrew Or Ben . Thanks for the article – Get your facts right – there are 4 crew on Antiki. You missed David Hildred out who is the sailing master and the one crew member who has been most involved in the design, & construction of Antiki. Without his input in the raft it is unlikely that it would ever have sailed. He has been working on the raft issues since this time last year. I find it a HUGE insult that you dont mention the key person in this expedition in your article. Please correct your errors & make an appropriate apology to Mr. Hildred. Thank you – Trish Baily.

    Trish Baily

    British Virgin Islands
    April 1, 8:11 pm
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Andrew. Thanks for the article – Get your facts right – there are 4 crew on Antiki. You missed David Hildred out who is the sailing master and the one crew member who has been most involved in the design, & construction of Antiki. Without his input in the raft it is unlikely that it would ever have sailed. He has been working on the raft issues since this time last year. I find it a HUGE insult that you dont mention one the key people in this expedition in your article. Please correct your errors & make an appropriate apology to Mr. Hildred. Thank you – Trish Baily.