On board the raft were Captain Anthony Smith and a crew of two men and two women, Smith the only person amongst them who had experience of sailing a raft.
The voyage of the An-Tiki is already the stuff of legends. Boy’s Own stuff, ripping yarns with perhaps a touch of Monty Python thrown in.
Smith is 86-years old and as one observer put it “on boarding the raft, he looked ten years younger.”
Many have questioned the sagacity of this voyage, especially by one as advanced in years as Smith. It’s not a question you would ask of him in person for fear of having it shoved where the sun don’t shine, albeit in a gentlemanly way.
I am a sailor and have taken risks at sea while crossing oceans both alone and with crew. A raft voyage is risky and, although Smith, sailing with a different crew, safely crossed the Atlantic last year, I think they will find the final stages of the voyage, from St. Maarten to Eluethera in the Bahamas, more testing.
During the Atlantic crossing, the raft made world headlines, the BBC reported on the voyage along with other major news outlets. Britain’s Daily Telegraph dedicated many column inches to the story and even sent someone to St. Maarten to meet them. Why then has interest in this remarkable story cooled?
It seems the answer lies in the fact that when the raft left the Canary Islands last year it was bound for Eluethera but arrived in St. Maarten (a deliberate decision made at sea). In the eyes of some in the media, that amounts to failure. The idiots are missing the point.
When An-Tiki dropped the tow off St. Maarten and hauled up her square-sail and headed north, they waved two fingers at a society gone soft. They made a statement for individual freedom. For Smith and his eclectic crew, there is no such thing as failure.
We need Smith and people like him to remind us “it's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game.”