Skip to comments.John Fairfax, Who Rowed Across Oceans, Dies at 74
Posted on 02/19/2012 3:19:52 AM PST by Daffynition
He crossed the Atlantic because it was there, and the Pacific because it was also there.
Mr. Fairfax and Sylvia Cook in 1972, after their Pacific trek.
He made both crossings in a rowboat because it, too, was there, and because the lure of sea, spray and sinew, and the history-making chance to traverse two oceans without steam or sail, proved irresistible.
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
If I tried something like this, I probably would have ended up going in circles, once I got far out enough that I could only see ocean.
IMHO, “because it was there” is not a legitimate excuse...the guy probably had a nagging wife.
Did he get permission from his community organizer?
Did he get permission from his community organizer?
Could not do it today. The EPA would say he is going to pee in the ocean.
That's why a properly calibrated gimbaled compass comes in handy ... don't go offshore without one.
He was, he admits, a horrible kid, an only child spoiled rotten by his mother and nanny. "We had money," he says, "and I got everything I wanted. What I lacked was a father for an authority figure. It made me an opinionated little brat. To this day, I don't like children because they remind me of myself as a kid."
His early dislike for school made him a poor student. To "straighten" him out, his mother pulled some strings and got him an early admittance to the Italian Boy Scouts, where he began to mix it up with nature. The Italian Scouts in 1944 offered a rigorous test of a boy's ability to master survival skills. He learned to cook, to build fires, to track and trap game. "Because I was the youngest, the pressure was on me to prove myself," he says. "And I did. I found out I had a taste for outdoor adventure."
He excelled, earning dozens of merit badges and usually finishing first in his troop. His emotional development lagged behind his physical prowess, however, and his Scout career was abruptly terminated three years later, at age nine. "We were on a snow camping trip," he recalls, "but the first night we stayed in a hut. After an argument I had with another boy, I went and got the pistol I knew our leader kept in his gear. I stood outside and started firing at the hut, where all the boys were sleeping. Those military bullets penetrated the wooden hut like it was made of paper." He laughs dryly. "It was a miracle I didn't kill someone."
After Fairfax emptied the gun, the troop leader rushed out and grabbed it from him. Livid, he slapped John, who responded by kneeing him in the groin. "That really made him mad, and he proceeded to kick the shit out of me."
The next day, the Scouts held a special ceremony dedicated to drumming Fairfax out of the corps. They stripped him of his merit badges and sent him home in disgrace. It was a catalyst, he believes, for his development as a loner. His mother chalked it all up to his being incorrigible.
>>When he ran out of money, Fairfax decided to return to his mother in Argentina by bike. He got as far as Guatemala and then hitchhiked on to Panama. After a brief spell as a sailor on a Colombian boat he returned to Panama where he fell in with pirates and ended up spending three years smuggling guns, whiskey and cigarettes. After a dramatic escape from the pirates and the authorities, he returned to Argentina on horseback.<<
Ernest Hemingway, Ian Fleming and Chuck Bronson, The Nuge, weep.
**He finally decided the only way to forget the girl was to leave the country. Having inherited $10,000, a modest fortune in 1959, he took a ship to New York, bought a new Chevrolet, and drove across the country to San Francisco, where he sold the car.
He met a Chinese call girl there, and after three months she had managed to make all his money disappear.**
On April 26, 1971, they boarded a 30-foot, Fox-designed vessel christened Britannia II. Over the next 361 days, they were blown down to Mexico by a storm and survived a cyclone by strapping themselves in leather harnesses. There were shark attacks, and Mr. Fairfax suffered a gash in his upper right arm from a shark bite. It was not really the sharks fault it was mine, he told a reporter. I had speared a fish, and the shark took it off my spear. So I speared him and he did not like it, so he had a go at me.
Crutchlow added that he was in Florida when the Britannia landed in 1969 and witnessed a Miami Herald reporter sharply questioning Mr. Fairfaxs ability to kill sharks. He said Mr. Fairfax rented a boat, poured fish blood in the water and killed a decent-sized shark, which he then dumped on the front door of the newspaper office.
That is ... incredible.
The Italian Scouts in 1944 offered a rigorous test of a boy’s ability to master survival skills
Italy in 1944....I do think being a Boy Scout in the middle of a war would hone one’s survival skills.
IIRC, his achievement in July ‘69 was practically lost in the glare of 3 astronauts and an aquanaut: the men on Apollo 11, and the senator from Chappaquiddick.
The man had style.
Lots of comments on Mr. Fairfax’s obituary on Twitter:
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