After three months at sea, rationed meals and a brush with a tropical storm, a San Francisco Bay Area man became the second person to successfully kayak from California to Hawaii.
Cyril Derreumaux reached Hilo early Tuesday morning on his second attempt to complete the 2,400-mile journey, which he documented on social media.
“It was a magnificent adventure, clearly also a spiritual journey,” Derreumaux said in a statement. “Before leaving I couldn’t really explain why I wanted to take on this challenge, but I finally found all the answers to my questions on the water. I loved sharing my trip with all those who followed me on the map or the social networks.”
The 46-year-old has been working on the project for four years. He first intended to embark in 2020, but cancelled those plans due to Covid. Last year, rough seas and a damaged anchor derailed his first attempt after less than a week. A US Coast Guard helicopter rescued him outside Santa Cruz.
Derreumaux began this year’s trip in Monterey in June in a 23ft long kayak outfitted with a water desalination system and an interior cabin. The voyage, which required at least nine hours of rowing a day, brought no shortage of challenges.
His kayak developed a leak that flooded a compartment, and he was forced to shelter inside the vessel for two days as he crossed paths with tropical storm Estelle. Derreumaux, who is originally from France, had to manually pump water for nearly two hours a day after a machine broke down.
He was at sea three weeks longer than initial estimates indicated and had to ration food for the last leg of the 91-day-and-nine-hour trip, and disembark in Hilo rather than Honolulu as planned.
“I encountered all possible weather conditions during these three months. Very rough seas in which I had to stay locked inside my cabin, without even being able to sleep, it was so moving, but also an ocean that can be so calm that it transforms you deeply so much it fills you with tranquility,” Derreumaux said. “I experienced moments of pure magic when all the elements came together: calm of the sea, calm of the currents, calm of the winds, and the visit in the middle of nowhere of a bird.”
Ed Gillet was the first person to successfully complete the journey from California to Hawaii using a kayak in 1987, aided by a kite. In 2020, Lia Ditton journeyed from San Francisco to Honolulu in 86 days, in a rowboat rather than a kayak.
Dozens more have attempted the trip. Last summer, 19 people tried to cross the Pacific in small boats, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. At least two people have died in the effort since 2019, the newspaper reported.