WaterAid remembers writer and adventurer Anthony Smith

Following his death this month aged 88, we look back on the life of Anthony Smith and remember his incredible journey across the Atlantic for WaterAid on the raft An-Tiki.


31 Jul 2014 | UK

Anthony Smith made headlines in 2011 when, aged 85, he sailed 2,800 miles across the Atlantic on a raft made of water pipes – and raised £10,823 for WaterAid.

A writer of over 30 books, Anthony was one of the first presenters of BBC series Tomorrow’s World and a science correspondent for The Telegraph, where in 2005 he placed an advert to find his crew:

‘Fancy rafting across the Atlantic? Famous traveller requires 3 crew. Must be OAP. Serious adventurers only.'

The applicants were not pensioners but ‘mature’ adventure seekers Andrew Bainbridge, David Hildred and John Russell, aged between 56 and 61.

The An-tiki sets sail
Anthony Smith and his 2011 An-Tiki crew.
Credit: WaterAid

66 days at sea

Anthony named the raft they would be travelling on 'An-Tiki', in a playful reference to his age and the famous Kon-Tiki vessel, which was sailed across the Pacific by Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl.

The four-man crew spent 66 days at sea, baked fresh bread every day, studied plankton and celebrated Anthony’s 85th birthday with a chocolate cake and a tin of pineapple chunks.

They experienced a few setbacks along the way, including broken rudders, strong winds and giant waves, and arrived at the Caribbean Island of St Maarten on 7 April 2011, 700 miles off course.

The An-tiki crew
An-Tiki sets sail across the Atlantic.
Credit: WaterAid

Return to the raft

Determined to complete his intended journey, Anthony returned to An-Tiki in 2012 with four new crew members, and set off for the Island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas.

The voyage was a tribute to a World War II story of survival he had read about as a teenager involving two British sailors; after their ship was sunk, they drifted across the Atlantic for 70 days in a lifeboat before landing on the island, close to death from thirst and hunger.

After another three weeks at sea, An-Tiki's voyage concluded in the midst of a violent storm that saw the raft washed ashore in the middle of the night. Shaken but safe, they had landed on the same beach as the British sailors.

Showing support for WaterAid on the An-Tiki
The 2012 An-Tiki crew show their support for WaterAid.
Credit: WaterAid

An inspiration to all

Anthony first discovered WaterAid in 2010 at the Thames Water Raft Race. As well as raising thousands of pounds for our work, he raised a huge amount of awareness about water issues around the world.

“Anthony was a wonderful supporter and will be greatly missed,” says Barbara Frost, Chief Executive of WaterAid.

“We were enthralled by his stories and delighted by the support he gave us. He was an inspiration to all, proving it’s never too late to have an adventure or support a cause.”

Anthony was born on 30 March 1926. He died on 7 July 2014, aged 88.