At one point, the Coast Guard must be like “This guy again?”, But a French-born kayaker with a tailor-made vessel and an indomitable desire to endanger himself tries a solo trip across the Pacific for a second.
You may remember the story of Cyril Derreumaux whose attempt in June 2021 to row to Hawaii was thwarted after he spent several miserable days in choppy surfing, unable to move (or eat or drink, apparently) about 50 miles off the coast of Santa Cruz. He called in an emergency rescue from the Coast Guard on day 6, and then took smiling photos with his rescuers.
Now, a year later, the 45-year-old adventurer is off again this morning, trying to make the 60- to 70-day journey, without help, in a 23-foot vessel equipped with a sleeping cabin, navigation equipment, a mini desalination machine for water, and a sea anchor, in the hope that he will not be hindered by nature again.
He still seems to have the longtime girlfriend he mentioned in the press coverage of last year’s journey, interior designer Ashley Redmond – although he acknowledged that one reason he did not immediately embark on a new attempt last year was the stress that this project put on her .
Derreumaux told the Chronicle, regarding last year’s interrupted trip, “I had to admit, that, yes, I guess I was not prepared.”
Since June last year, he has apparently trained more off the coast of California, and spent time “sharpening the logistics”. And as of Tuesday, he is paddling off the coast of Monterey, having launched from there this time, instead of his home port of Sausalito.
You can follow his progress in real time on this website. And below he shows his “watermaker” yesterday before leaving.
This remains an insane undertaking by someone with a peculiar death wish, and as Derreumaux said last year: “The question arises, what if I die? Was it worth losing 40 years of your potential life for a two-month adventure? For me, “It’s worth it. But I can not really explain why.”
The solo voyage from the California coast to Hawaii has been carried out by a few other half-crazy people in recent years, albeit in boats that were much larger and more cordial than the narrow vessel Derreumaux uses.
In the middle of the pandemic two years ago, the British rower Lia Dutton completed the journey after 86 days and two caps. Last year, one of the world’s foremost sea rowers, Turkish-born Erden Eruç from Crescent City, launched and arrived in Hawaii in 80 days, and continued on to Guam and the Philippines.
Australian Heather Taylor recovered for 40 days on a trip from Monterey to Hawaii, but in the same way that Derreumaux had to be rescued in the middle of a choppy surf.
The pandemic really fired up these extreme adventurers, with a total of 19 people attempting to row across the Pacific last summer, including a group that participated in the Great Pacific Race – which Derreumaux participated in back in 2016 and completed a row from SF to Hawaii with a crew of four in 39 days.
Before Eruc arrived in Hawaii, only one man had completed a row from California-to-Hawaii, and that was El Gillet in 1987 – in a store-bought kayak using a propulsion kite. He took the trip in 63 days.
The Pacific Ocean is notoriously rougher and more unpredictable than the Atlantic Ocean, which has seen many more of these solo series over the years. But because it is “the less rowdy sea,” as one rower put it, trying to get to Hawaii has become an attractive feat.
We will see if this summer gets a similarly high number of attempts as last year.
Previously: A resident of Marin calls a kayak trip alone to Hawaii, asking for rescue outside Santa Cruz