Four retired adventurers have set off across the Atlantic on a raft - to some criticism

Elderly crossing – that’s the tongue in cheek title 84-year-old Anthony Smith has given his Atlantic raft adventure.

Balloonist, travel writer and one-time TV presenter Smith set off this weekend from the island of La Gomera in the Canary Islands for the Bahamas on this raft made from recycled items. The hull of An-Tiki consists of four huge PVC water pipes aligned fore and aft.

A regular correspondent of ours, Jill Schinas, interviewed Smith for our next issue (March) and he told her: “Never been on a sailing boat before in my life – except for one little trip in a three-masted brig – so I really haven’t a clue.”

He is sailing with friends Don Russell, 61, David Hildred, 57, and Andrew Bainbridge, 57. Since Smith has no sailing experience he enlisted the help of a project manager who used to work for Sir Chay Blyth’s Challenge Business to help design and supervise the building.

But the strange thing, says Jill, is that they have left without doing any sea trials. “Various people have expressed concerns about the vessel’s ultimate stability,” she says.

“The raft was towed out to sea by a local whale watching boat. She was three miles off Valle Gran Rey [La Gomera] before the wind kicked in, and at this point the warps were cast off and the crew of four had their very first taste of rafting.”

However, she also adds: “The vessel behaved very nicely in a north-easterly Force Four, with her bows just dipping in and out of the one metre high waves.”

Read more about this unusual project in our next issue, due out next week.