On the morning of May 31, Bay Area kayaker Cyril Derreumaux paddled out the Golden Gate on a solo journey to Honolulu, HI. The 43-year-old father of two expected to paddle 2,400 nm over 70 days, solo and unsupported. However on Saturday, June 5, the US Coast Guard Sector San Francisco watchstanders received a report at 9:42 p.m. “from a kayaker who was making a solo voyage from Sausalito to Honolulu.” Cyril was rescued on Sunday morning approximately 70 miles west of Santa Cruz.
Upon his leaving San Francisco Bay, progress had been steady, and Cyril’s InReach message on ‘Day 1’ indicated all was well. “Great day, seeing lots of whales along the route. Paddled for the entire day only stopping once for a 1/2 hour nap in the cabin. Stopping for the day to use the good conditions to deploy the sea anchor and work on a routine for the nights to come.” By the third day the swell and wind had increased and were forecast to keep increasing over the coming days. Cyril then spent a number of days on the sea anchor waiting for conditions to improve and allow him back into the seat to continue his journey. On the fifth day he wrote, “Still on anchor. Valentine is my cocoon and I feel safe even with the noisy waves crashing on me. I feel rested even if I wake up every one to two hours to check plotter.”
After three days on anchor riding out 30- to 35-knot winds with gusts to 45 knots and rough seas with troughs of 4.5 meters, during which Cyril reported, “the waves breaking on the cabin of my kayak with an impressive noise,” the kayaker’s ground crew told him they had lost his AIS signal for three hours — the GPS signal had been lost and could not be recovered. In a sudden turn of events the sea anchor now also appeared to be damaged and the kayak began behaving erratically. “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,” Cyril reported. It quickly became clear to the solo kayaker that he could not safely enter the water to deal with the problem. “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.”
Throughout this time Cyril was in constant contact with his land-based support crew discussing the circumstances. “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.” They jointly decided to contact the US Coast Guard to explore all their options. “Being still quite close to land (60 nm) 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.”
In the early hours of Sunday, June 6, the USCG hoisted the tired but uninjured adventurer into a helicopter and returned to Air Station San Francisco. Coast Guard spokesperson Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Kroll said, “Recognizing that the situation was beyond his capabilities and calling for assistance allowed our crews to reach him in time for a successful rescue.”
The USCG posted this video of the rescue on their Twitter page:
— USCGPacificSouthwest (@USCGPacificSW) June 7, 2021
Cyril and his team are now working on a plan to recover the kayak and ultimately get Cyril back onto the water and on his way to Hawaii.