Confinement tips from French barrel sailor

BORDEAUX (AFP) – Frenchman Jean-Jacques Savin, 73, made a splash last year by crossing the Atlantic alone in a custom-built barrel, a 127-day trip that was followed by thousands via his regular Facebook posts.

In an interview with AFP, the former paratrooper revealed his tactics for fending off cabin fever after France issued strict stay-at-home orders this week to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

Savin spent four months in a barrel with just six square metres of cramped living space.

So any advice for people confined to their homes?

“Everyone needs to embrace their passion. This time of isolation can be an opportunity for discovery – start drawing, learn to play the harmonica, if it doesn’t bother the neighbours,” he said. “You need to tire yourself out physically, not mentally, and walk as much as you can. Above all, don’t zone out in front of the television at night and then sleep until noon.”

Savin managed almost half a year of solitude during a trip on which he was just carried along by the currents.

“When you decide to take on a challenge, no matter what difficulties come up – except for health problems – you know at one point it will be over. The solitude never bothered me, I actually appreciated it, because I chose it.

“I wrote my journal, I read a lot, I exercised… I adapted to the solitude, the weather, I emptied my head and accepted that it would be long. I also knew that it was just for a while.”

Jean-Jacques Savin, 71, a former paratrooper, poses aboard his ship made from a barrel at the shipyard in Ares, southwestern France. PHOTO: AFP