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Rowing: Enough's Enough

Outside magazine, June 1994

Rowing: Enough's Enough
By Todd Balf (with Martin Dugard and Eric Hagerman)

In his second bid to row some 5,000 miles west to east across the Pacific, British adventurer Peter Bird called it quits in March after ten stormy months at sea. Since leaving Vladivostok last summer, he'd exhausted his food supply and was headed into another big blow when he radioed his support team and asked them for a lift. Bird was rescued one day later by a Japanese merchant vessel worlds away from San Francisco--2,126 miles, to be exact. Asked why he'd kept rowing even though he wasn't making much progress, Bird told reporters he didn't really know. "If I made a mistake, it was that I didn't stop sooner," said the 47-year-old Londoner, whose 29-foot boat, the Sector Two, capsized 26 times, including three times in a single hour and nine in one week. (Fortunately, he said, the torpedo-shaped boat was self-righting, so he was never submerged for more than a minute.) The trip wasn't a total loss. Bird read 40 books and established the world record for the longest time spent at sea in a rowing craft: 304 days, 14 hours, and 50 minutes.

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