French Adventurer Disappears During Transatlantic Rowboat Crossing

jean-jacques savin
Jean-Jacques Savin at the outset of his voyage (Jean-Jacques Savin / Facebook)

Published Jan 24, 2022 1:10 PM by The Maritime Executive

French adventurer Jean-Jacques Savin has disappeared and is presumed dead, three weeks after he launched an attempt to row across the Atlantic. 

In the early hours of Friday morning, Savin activated two distress beacons at a position near the Azores. Portuguese SAR authorities organized a response, enlisting the help of eleven good samaritan merchant vessels and a Portuguese Navy warship. Savin's rowboat was discovered, its hull upturned, and one of the merchant vessels recovered a go-bag with his identification documents. 

Savin was not found, and the search was suspended on Saturday evening.

"Unfortunately, this time the ocean was stronger than our friend, who loved sailing and the sea so much," wrote his family in a status update on Savin's expedition Facebook page. 

In his last post before activating his distress beacons, Savin wrote that winds had strengthened, and that his solar power system had gone out. However, he said that he was not in danger and his morale was good, and he was planning to put into port in the Azores for repairs. 

Savin, who turned 75 during the voyage, had made the crossing many times in other vessel classes. If he had succeeded this time, he would have been the oldest person to row across the Atlantic.

For his previous Atlantic crossing, in 2018-19, Savin built an oversize barrel out of wood and fiberglass and floated all the way from the Canary Islands to St. Eustatius. The voyage took 122 days.