84 year old explorer prepares for cross Atlantic rafting expedition

Added 15/09/2010

For 84 year old explorer Anthony Smith, slippers and dressing gowns are the last thing on his mind at the age of 84. He’s preparing for the trip of a lifetime — crossing the Atlantic on a raft made of 12 metre long pipes and pig hut shelters.

When the old explorer came up with the idea, he figured he’d need a crew to help him out on his journey. He placed a simple add in the Telegraph that read: ‘Fancy rafting across the Atlantic? Famous traveller requires 3 crew. Must be OAP. Serious adventurers only.’

The advert attracted three suitable candidates, who are all over 20 years younger than him. There’s David Hildred, a 57 year old yachtsman, Robin Batchelor, a 61 year old hot air balloonist, and Andy Bainbridge, a 56 year old seamen. Together, the four adventures will set sail on their journey in January, departing from the Canary Islands to arrive 2,800 miles away in the Bahamas. The trip should take 60 days to complete.

The trip is unlikely to be plain sailing. Mr Smith never lets his age get in the way of his adventures around the world, but two years ago he was hit by a van which hampered his walking. He underwent an operation to have pins put in his leg, and he now walks with the aid of stick.

Mr Smith has led a full life of adventuring and he’s not about to stop now, in spite of hit injury. The 84 year old explorer used to be an RAF pilot, and he has been on many adventures all over world, including the Sunday Telegraph Balloon Safari over East Africa. He also became the first Briton to balloon over the Alps. He used to be a science correspondent for The Daily Telegraph and he’s written over 30 books and worked on various documentaries.

A film of his cross Atlantic expedition will be made and a support vessel will follow the adventure for part of the way. Mr Smith’s raft has been named An-tiki, inspired by a raft called Kon-Tiki, which sailed from South America to the Polynesian islands in 1947. An-tiki will have an ‘elderly crossing’ sign attached to its sail.