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Kayaker who hoped to cross Pacific recalls harrowing days before rescue

Published: Jun. 7, 2021 at 4:38 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 7, 2021 at 5:00 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - On Memorial Day, ocean adventurer Cyril Derreumaux set off from San Francisco to cross the Pacific Ocean in his kayak.

He anticipated being at sea for 70 days.

“I was in the boat. I was in the water, going to Hawaii,” he said.

The first day, he paddled 12 hours and made good time. The second day, too. But on the third he received a weather warning.

“My weather router in France, who’s a professional, said, ‘Cyril, there’s a few days that are coming that are bad. It’s going to be 20 knots, gusting to 30,’” he said.

He wasn’t kidding.

High winds and rough seas tossed Derreumaux’s 23-foot-long kayak, took his sea anchor, and left him drifting at the mercy of nature.

“That means in the cabin, everything is upside down,” he said. “You can’t sleep, you can’t drink.”

He was forced to remain inside his cabin, where he endured days of sea sickness and the violent pitching of his vessel.

“I was going more than 60 degrees off of the center. And then the boat would turn around and go the other way,” he said.

After the anchor line wrapped around the rudder of his kayak, Derreumaux made the smart call to surrender to the elements.

“We decided with my land support to call it off. There’s a lot of people following you. We have to show that safety is first,” he said.

On Saturday night, after six days at sea, a Coast Guard helicopter crew rescued him about 70 miles off the California coast.

“They come out, risking their lives to save you. I felt so thankful,” he said.

Derreumaux is now back on land, planning the retrieval of his kayak that’s adrift in the Pacific.

“It shouldn’t be too hard because there’s a tracker, and I know exactly where it is,” he said.

The 40-year-old entrepreneur prepared and trained three years for the solo voyage. Having it end abruptly after just six days is disappointing, but he’ll try again.

“The dream is here. I’m going to reach Honolulu,” he said.

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