Outside magazine, September 1996
In the last message he sent to the world after leaving Russia, expedition rower Peter Bird exclaimed, "Hooray! Hooray!" After weeks of struggle in the Sea of Japan, the easterlies he'd been praying for had finally kicked in, setting him on course for the northern California coast, some 3,000 miles away. Just two days later, the 49-year-old Englishman, who in 1983 became the
first to row solo across the Pacific, was missing and presumed dead after his 29-foot craft capsized approximately 1,300 miles east of Japan. The boat, retrieved by a passing freighter and inspected by expedition organizers in Seattle, appears to have been badly damaged in a collision with an unknown object. Bird left Vostochny, Russia, in March on his fifth attempt to become the
first person to row from Russia to the United States, a 4,450-mile voyage he expected to take 200-plus days. "Peter was the only man who never asked me why I crossed an ocean," said the world's preeminent distance rower, Frenchman Gerard d'Aboville, after hearing of his friend's death. "And I never posed the question to him."