Alain Bombard


1924 – 2005

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Who was Alain Bombard?

Alain Bombard was a French biologist, physician and politician famous for sailing across the Atlantic Ocean in a small boat.

Alain Bombard was born in Paris. He theorized that a human being could very well survive the trip across the ocean without provisions and decided to test his theory himself in order to save thousands of lives of people lost at sea.

On October 19, 1952 Bombard began his solitary trip, after visiting his newborn daughter in France, across the Atlantic for the West Indies. He had sailed in the Atlantic Ocean solo before, from Tangier to Casablanca, and from Casablanca to Las Palmas, however the original plan was to sail across the Atlantic with a friend, English yachtsman Jack Palmer, with whom he sailed just before from Monaco to Minorca, but Jack abandoned Alain in Tanger. Bombard sailed in a Zodiac inflatable boat called l'Hérétique, which was only 4.5 metres long, taking only a sextant and almost no provisions.

Bombard reports he survived by fishing with a self-made harpoon and hooks and harvesting the surface plankton with a small net. He also drank a limited amount of seawater for a long period on his trip. On the October 23, 4th day of the journey Bombard had to mend a torn old sail, while the backup sail was blown away. He also made a major navigation mistake which made him believe that he is sailing much faster than he actually did. On the 53rd day of the journey he encountered a ship. The crew told him that he was still over a thousand kilometers short of his goal. However, after the ship's crew offered him a meal, Bombard decided to go on. Bombard reached Barbados December 23, 1952 after 4,400 km of travel. Bombard had lost 25 kg and was briefly hospitalized. He published a book about his trip entitled "Naufragé Volontaire" in 1953.

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Oct 27, 1924
Also known as
  • Dr. Alain Bombard
  • France
Jul 19, 2005

on July 23, 2013


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