John Fairfax ocean rower, dead at 74

John Fairfax, ocean rower, adventurer and hard-man, died recently at age 72. He is best known for having rowed across both the Atlantic and Pacific, but the adventures he survived seem endless. He could be as nearly as tough as Shackleton.

His brief Wikipedia bio gives you a sense of his experiences;

Fairfax was born May 21, 1937 in Italy to an English father and Bulgarian mother. As a child he was expelled from the Italian Boy Scouts for opening fire, with arevolver, on a hut containing other Scouts. Soon after, he and his mother moved to Argentina where, aged thirteen, he left home to live in the jungle “like Tarzan”, surviving by hunting and bartering skins with local peasants. Also as a teenager, he read of Frank Samuelsen and George Harbo’s famous row across the Atlantic (then the only ocean to have been rowed) and knew that someday he would row across the Atlantic.

In 1959 he flew to New York and drove across America to San Francisco. 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 gunswhiskey and cigarettes. After a dramatic escape from the pirates and the authorities, he returned to Argentina on horseback.

Read more about Fairfax and his many adventures, including his time as a fisherman on Jamaica, in Panama and amazing entries from the log of his solo ocean crossing here.

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