He crossed the Atlantic because it was there, and the Pacific because it was also there.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.
In 1969, after six months alone on the Atlantic battling storms, sharks and encroaching madness, John Fairfax, who died this month at 74, became the first lone oarsman in recorded history to traverse any ocean.In 1972, he and his girlfriend, Sylvia Cook, sharing a boat, became the first people to row across the Pacific, a yearlong ordeal during which their craft was thought lost.Both journeys were the subject of fevered coverage by the news media. They inspired two memoirs by Fairfax, “Britannia: Rowing Alone Across the Atlantic” and, with Cook, “Oars Across the Pacific,” both published in the early 1970s.
Fairfax died Feb. 8 at his home in Henderson, Nev., near Las Vegas. The apparent cause was a heart attack, said his wife, Tiffany, his only immediate survivor.