French Adventurer Dies Attempting to Row Solo Across the Atlantic


Mr. Savin, who turned 75 during this voyage, hailed from the oyster farming town of Arès, in southwestern France. He was a former military parachutist, pilot and park ranger in Africa who did not settle quietly into his golden years.

By the time he was 71, Mr. Savin had already sailed solo across the Atlantic four times.

In 2018, he crossed the Atlantic again, this time in an orange barrel-shaped capsule that he said he had built himself. A New York Times report described the capsule, which was about 10 feet long and 6 feet 8 inches wide, as “smaller than a pickup and held upright by a concrete ballast.”

He completed the journey in 127 days. In an interview afterward, Mr. Savin described his time at sea as “complete freedom.”

“It’s hard to convey,” he said. “No one tells you what to do. There are no rules. It’s freedom.”

Though he was skilled, and was equipped with sophisticated navigation and communication tools, that voyage was not without its challenges, he conceded. “Twice, I almost collided with large ships,” he said.

But still, Mr. Savin found plenty of time to luxuriate in the opportunities the sea afforded him. He passed the time, he said, by reading, writing in his journal, swimming and diving beneath the barrel to catch fish.

“I had a lot of time to write my book,” he said. “I played a lot of bluegrass on my mandolin.”

William Lamb contributed reporting.