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Presenter, 85, crosses Atlantic on raft for WaterAid

  • 7 April 2011
  • From the section London
Anthony Smith, right, captains the An-Tiki, as he and crew complete their transatlantic voyage
Anthony Smith and his crew of the An-Tiki arrive in Philipsburg, St Maarten after 66 days at sea

A grandfather from London and his three-man crew have successfully crossed the Atlantic on a raft made of pipes after 66 days at sea.

Anthony Smith, 85, wanted to complete the 2,800-mile (4,596km) voyage to highlight the fact a billion people worldwide live without clean water.

The former BBC Tomorrow's World presenter hopes to have raised £50,000 for the charity WaterAid.

They set sail from the Canary Islands and reached the Caribbean on Wednesday.

Mr Smith recruited the team of "mature and intrepid gentlemen" - aged between 56 and 61 - by placing an advert in the Daily Telegraph.

Strong winds

It read: "Fancy rafting across the Atlantic? Famous traveller requires 3 crew.

"Must be OAP. Serious adventurers only."

Anthony Smith, David Hildred, Andrew Bainbridge, John Russell
Anthony Smith, David Hildred, Andrew Bainbridge, John Russell on board An-Tiki

The 85-year-old was a science correspondent and presenter on the BBC programme, which was axed in 2003 after 40 years.

Speaking ahead of the trip Mr Smith said: "Water strikes at the very heart of need.

"To voyage almost 3,000 miles upon the salty kind will make us intensely aware of places in the world that are without adequate supplies."

Their vessel, named the An-Tiki, was constructed out of 12m (39ft) lengths of pipe.

It was powered by a 400-square-foot sail and steered using twin rudders and oars, travelling at an average speed of four knots.

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

Crew member John Russell, 61, from Stroud, said he was looking forward to having "a nice shower and washing the salt off me".

"And having a nice steak to eat. We haven't had fresh food for a long time. We've been living out of tins. Our fresh fruit and vegetables ran out a long time ago," he said.

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