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seattletimes.com Singapore

Japan Coast Guard rescues trans-Pacific rower

Wednesday, May 5, 2004
TOKYO, Japan (Reuters) -- Japan's Coast Guard rescued a Japanese adventurer trying to become the first person to cross the Pacific in a single-oared rowboat after he sent distress signals, Kyodo news agency reported.
Ikuo Tateo, 62, was plucked from the ocean late Tuesday by a Coast Guard vessel that had been sent to find him about 870 miles southeast of the Japanese island of Hokkaido.

Kyodo quoted officials as saying Tateo appeared to have hurt his lower back, but could walk without assistance.

Tateo began sending distress signals Sunday evening, 17 days after he left a port in northern Japan on his 23 foot boat. Its sole source of power was a 16-foot oar.

He had planned to reach San Francisco, a journey of some 5,600 miles, in February.

Earlier Tuesday the lone sailor was spotted by the pilot of a Maritime Self-Defense Force plane sent to search for him.

Tateo became the oldest Japanese to sail solo nonstop around the world in a yacht three years ago, Kyodo news agency said.

Before his departure, he was quoted by Kyodo as saying that while people had crossed the Pacific in rowboats before, his would be the first such attempt in a boat with a single oar in the stern.

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