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Man who crossed oceans, dead at 74

Feb. 19, 2012 at 12:32 PM

HENDERSON, Nev., Feb. 19 (UPI) -- John Fairfax, the man who traversed the Atlantic and Pacific oceans by rowboat, has died at the age of 74 in his Henderson, Nev., home.

Fairfax died Feb. 8 of an apparent heart attack, The New York Times reported. Only his wife Tiffany survives him.

Fairfax is best known for his two journeys by rowboat: he crossed the Atlantic after six months at sea in 1969, becoming the first man in history to achieve such a feat. In 1972, he crossed the Pacific in the same manner, this time with his girlfriend and later wife Sylvia Cook, over the course of a year.

His life up until then could have been something out of an adventure novel. He was born in Rome on May 21, 1937, to an English father and a Bulgarian mother.

At the age of nine, Fairfax used a pistol to settle a score with another boy. No one was hurt. At 13, while living in Buenos Aires with his mother, he ran away to live in the jungle, and became a fur trapper. At 20, heartbroken, he tried to commit suicide by letting a jaguar attack him. In Panama, he became a pirate's apprentice. When he met Cook, he was a professional gambler.

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