London, Aug 23 (ANI): An 84-year-old adventurer, who walks with a stick, is preparing to cross the Atlantic on a raft made of plastic gas pipes with a crew of three.
Anthony Smith, who is an adventurer, writer and grandfather, had placed an ad in the Telegraph advertising for a crew.
"Fancy rafting across the Atlantic? Famous traveller requires 3 crew. Must be OAP. Serious adventurers only," the ad read.
Smith, a former RAF pilot, is determined to see the trip through and he does not let the fact that he was run over by a van and needed metal pins in his leg, stop him.
"Most people my age are happy with a trip to Sainsbury's every Tuesday, or maybe helping out fixing the church hall roof," the Telegraph quoted him as saying.
"What I want to show is that you don't have to be satisfied with a trip to the supermarket. You can do other things," he stated.
The ad, placed five years ago, caught the eye of David Hildred, 57, a civil engineer and ocean yacht master, who has explored the Amazon in a dug-out canoe, and sailed the Atlantic.
As a schoolboy he had read Smith's ballooning book 'Throw Out Two Hands' and had become captivated by the adventurer's remarkable life.
"I'd always followed his career, and after seeing the advert I tracked Anthony down. We arranged a meeting and got on incredibly well - so much so he offered me a place on the raft," said Hildred.
"To be doing this with one of my childhood heroes is a dream come true," he said.
Joining them will be experienced seaman Andy Bainbridge, 56, a close friend of Hildred who keeps llamas and is currently studying alternative medicine in the wilds of Canada.
Robin Batchelor, 61, a professional balloonist whose adventures with actor Stephen Tompkinson are currently being screened on ITV, is considering completing the four-man crew.
Whilst he describes himself as "an airman, not a water baby", he admits to being "swept away" by Smith's enthusiasm.
"Anthony's so determined, he's completely dismissed the fact he got run over. Mentally he's as sharp as razor, he's completely occupied with the planning. There's no stopping him," he stated.
The team aims to launch in January, when the trade winds are at their strongest and before the Atlantic storms are most likely to hit.
The raft is being built from 13-yard (12-metre) sections of pipe donated by a manufacturer. Those at either end will be sealed full of air, providing buoyancy.
Those in the middle will contain drinking water and ballast. Crewmembers will live in two small shelters adapted from pig huts.
A fence will prevent the crew falling overboard, while Smith will be constantly attached to a harness.
The men will manoeuvre the craft using small Peruvian-style rudders, known as guaras, which Smith insists will provide greater flexibility than a conventional rudder.
"We're going to put a giant 'elderly crossing' sign on the sail," Smith added. (ANI)