Sylvia Cook is a British adventurer who became the first woman to row across an ocean. Alongside John Fairfax, she started the journey across the Pacific from San Francisco on 26 April 1971 in a specially designed tandem row boat called Britannia II, eventually making land in Australia just four days shy of a year at sea.
The half-English, half-Bulgarian Fairfax had come to Britain in 1967 with just £300 in his pocket, to raise money for the first solo crossing of the Atlantic by an oarsman. To find a sponsor, he placed a newspaper advertisement. “I’d never even been out of England,” Cook recalls, “So I replied, saying I’ve no money, but can I help?”
In this podcast, Cook recalls the duo encountering all manner of disasters on their journey: surviving shark attacks, a cyclone, a broken rudder and being washed up on a coral reef.