Yesterday evening it became a certainty: Jean-Jacques Savin, known to float readers as Diogenes in the wine barrel, is no longer alive. During his attempt to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a sport rowing boat, which he had started in Portugal on January 1, he died under circumstances that have not yet been clarified. His lifeless body had been discovered yesterday (on January 22) by the Portuguese coast guard off the Azores.
The 75-year-old Frenchman wanted to row solo across the Atlantic. For many, that had gone well: From he female crew Wellenbrecherinnen to Guirec Soudee, the circumnavigator with the chicken, to Aleksander Doba of Poland, who had paddled across the ocean three times in a kayak – most recently at the age of 73. But things went wrong for Jean-Jacques Savin.
Jean-Jacques had activated his two emergency beacons on Thursday night, his support team reported on Facebook. In the subsequent night on Friday, all contact with him broke off. On Freiag, the overturned boat had been located at sea near the Azores. Finally, on Saturday, a Coast Guard diver found Savin’s body in the cabin of the boat, his support team announced.
Celebrated birthday at sea with champagne
On board were 300 kg of equipment, including freeze-dried food, a heater, a harpoon gun for fishing, an electric and a hand-powered watermaker, his mandolin, but also champagne and foie gras to celebrate his birthday. He had celebrated his 75th birthday alone on the boat on January 14.
Due to unfavorable wind conditions, he had had to set a significantly wider course shortly after the start in Sagres: Over 500 nautical miles longer the new route should go. A French newspaper reported that Savin had in the end set course for the port of Ponta Delgada in the Azores in order to carry out repairs there.
Jean-Jacques Savin before his start in Portugal © Facebook / private
He had also reported problems with the solar power system on Facebook, but explained, accourding to news reports: “Don’t worry, I’m not in danger”. He had described the planned Atlantic crossing by rowboat as his way of “laughing off the old age”. His boat was appropriately named “L’Audacieux”, meaning “The Bold One”.
Crossed the Atlantic three years ago
The French sea adventurer had crossed the Atlantic three years ago. He drifted without an engine in a bright orange painted wooden wine barrel. Despite the grueling winter tour, he had always remained in high spirits.
In this barrel the French Diogenes crossed the Atlantic Ocean © Jean-Jacques Savin / Project TESA
After more than a hundred days and a near collision with a freighter, the former paratrooper had arrived in the Caribbean and was picked up by a ship.
His poetic descriptions of the ocean, transmitted to float in French, remain in the most beautiful memory. “I feel a great sense of freedom inside me. And I cherish this chance to be free and just at the mercy of the elements of nature that will carry me wherever. And just so you know, no, I’m still in no hurry to arrive.”