AnTiki video interview
Smith, an explorer and writer, set out from the Canary Islands on his raft constructed of water pipes. The raft, known as the An-Tiki, travelled 2,600 miles in 66 days. He ended up in St. Maarten in the Caribbean then continued for another 24 days until to reach Eleuthera, a place he dreamed of visiting since his early years.
The voyage was inspired by the historic tale of the 1940’s Jolly Boat, a small lifeboat that landed in Eleuthera after sailing for 70 days across the Atlantic Ocean. The boat was launched after its British merchant vessel, the SS Anglo Saxon, was sunk by a German ship.
“That whole story fascinated me, got under my skin, as they say,” Mr. Smith said shortly after his arrival on Eleuthera. “When I was young, I thought of doing it but I had no money. When I was older, I was doing other things, working for a living for example. Then when I got very much older, then it suddenly seemed a raft was an ideal form of transport. You can’t walk very far. You don’t have to do much. The wind and the current take you.”
The result of Mr. Smith’s voyage was much better than the sailors aboard the Jolly Boat. By the time the boat arrived on land only two of the seven survivors were alive. Their fate did not discourage Mr. Smith however. Many sailors told him not to do it due to the danger of the open ocean. Although they discouraged him, he felt vindicated by the end of his journey.
“I am so delighted that we were successful. We pulled it off. And all those Jeremiahs, as I call them, were wrong,” said Mr. Smith.
Good friends opted not to go with Mr. Smith. He got four random people to join. The crew consisted of two men and two women from ages 50 to 62: Husband and wife Leigh and Nigel Gallagher, from Boston; Ali Porteous from Uganda and Bruno Sellmer from Brazil. His five children were also not “totally cooperative”.
“Other people use that, word, mad all the time,” he said. “This is bonkers. But I was determined. They are going to say that whatever I do. So I just went ahead and did it.”
Mr. Smith and his crew landed in beautiful Eleuthera on April 29, 2012, concluding the adventure of a lifetime.
When asked what adventure was next for him, he simply replied, “I have no idea. The question is, after you climb up a mountain, what do you do? You come down. But I don’t want to come down just yet. I am on a high.”