Recycled raft crosses the Atlantic

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A MAKESHIFT raft constructed of recycled plywood and barrels completed a two-month Atlantic crossing today - with a crew of four and three pet dogs on board.

And as they landed in the Irish Republic, the skipper announced: "I am going to have a shower and a pint and meet the beautiful people of Ireland."

Irish-American Edward Garry was speaking after his 55ft vessel sailed into the Bantry Bay fishing port of Castletownbere, Co Cork, 63 days after putting out from Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Mr Garry, 37, said his sail- and engine-powered craft, named The Son of Town Hall, which floats just eight feet above the water, was constructed from materials "taken from the rivers, floats on foam and looks like a long box".

"It's a composite of recycled materials, and we have put it together to make our dreams come true."

The all-artist crew of three men and one woman - including a married couple in their 60s, a Canadian and an American - plan to stay in Ireland for two weeks, before heading on to France.

But the two Rotweilers, Siegfried and Thor, and a "Mexican terrier-type" dog called Willie that also made the trip, will not be padding on to Irish soil - to avoid the chances of being slapped into quarantine for a statutory six months.

Mr Garry described the 3,000-mile voyage as eventful. "We ran into some weather, we had a little bit of damage and had to carry out some repairs.

"But it was exciting, and I did not feel we were in danger at any time. The raft could not sink - only break up.

"I never had a doubt that we would make it. We are all a little bit crazy in our own way - I just demonstrate it a little more pointedly," he said.

Mr Garry admitted that locals watching them come ashore after their journey were saying: "These are the maddest people we have ever seen."

Fellow crewman Poppino Neutrino, 65, from San Francisco, who is there with his 63-year-old wife Aurelia, said: "We enjoyed the crossing, even though we encountered icebergs and 25-feet seas.

At Castletownbere, bystanders rubbed their eyes in near disbelief as the raft reached its destination.

One spectator commented: "It looks like two sails on top of a garden shed."