A kayaker on an epic seventy-day voyage across the Pacific Ocean from California to Hawaii had to be rescued six days in, just seventy miles off the coast.
Frenchman Cyril Derreumaux, 44, who set off from Sausalito in his 23-foot ocean kayak on May 31, was rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter after he called for help Saturday night. He made the difficult decision to call for help after rough seas, high winds, and problems with his sea anchor made it impossible to eat, drink, sleep, or communicate easily with his support team on land, a Facebook post explained.
“It showed that I wasn’t ready for the conditions. But I don’t think it’s a lack of preparation. It’s a lack of experience. In general, nobody knows about crossing the ocean in a kayak.”
– Cyril Derreumaux
In the Facebook post, he thanked the Coast Guard for their “professionalism and efficiency.” He said his GPS had stopped functioning properly and his sea anchor was either lost or damaged, causing him to be “violently tossed from side to side, along with all the equipment that was stored in the cabin.”
Derremaux had spent three years preparing for the trip and says he could set off again within three weeks.
Yesterday’s day had started well …
Immobilized under the sea anchor for 3 days to let pass safely a period of strong winds accompanied by a deterioration of the sea state, the conditions aboard my ocean kayak were uncomfortable but within the limits that we had anticipated.
As predicted by my weather router, the conditions deteriorated progressively to reach winds of 30-35 knots, gusts to 45 knots, for a sea increasingly formed with troughs of 4.5 meters, the waves breaking on the cabin of my kayak with an impressive noise. However, my sea anchor was playing its stabilizing role well and the situation remained manageable.
This changed unfavorably yesterday at 9 p.m. when my ground crew told me that they had lost the AIS signal for 3 hours. I then notice that my navigation system has lost the GPS signal and couldn’t recover it. As we were working with my team on a solution to this electronic problem, the general behavior of my kayak suddenly changed, which I immediately attributed to a sea anchor damage. In a few moments my kayak was positioned almost parallel to the axis of the waves, and I found myself violently tossed from side to side, along with all the equipment that was stored in the cabin.
Attempts to get out to more accurately assess the condition of the sea anchor and to resolve the issue were unsuccessful and resulted in water entering my cabin. I didn’t know if I had lost the anchor or if it had collapsed on itself, but it was sure that the recovery line had once again become caught in the rudder. In the weather conditions at the time, and even attached to my lifeline, it was out of the question to take the risk of getting into the water as I had done 2 days before.
As night had just fallen, it was clear that the situation was not sustainable: Inability to eat, drink, sleep, communicate easily with my team ashore. With my land support crew, we then reported the situation I was in to the US Coast Guard to jointly explore all possible options.
Being still quite close to land (60nm) and considering the deteriorating weather conditions which could have made a rescue operation more complex and dangerous for all in the days to come, I made the very difficult decision to request an evacuation.
The Search & Rescue operation was then set up very quickly and I was hoisted up that night around midnight by the US Coast Guard, whom I thank very much for their professionalism and efficiency.
I am therefore now safe, on land, and we are studying with my support team, on the one hand the solutions for recovering my kayak which is adrift, and on the other hand all the scenarios for the future.
I would like to thank all those who are passionate about and follow this crossing day by day. I knew from the start that it would be a difficult thing, and I am sure that it was also this commitment that attracted you to my project. All the preparation for this expedition was made under the sign of risk control and safety, and it is also this control that guided my choices last night.
Great joys arise from our challenges and the ambition we put into them, and when there are great difficulties, it is because the challenge is great!
Morale is good, I still have my passion for this adventure intact, and I am still determined to make it happen… I won’t give up!!!
#Life is an adventure