On September 20, 2022, Cyril Derreumaux paddled into the town of Hilo, on the island of Hawaii. After 91 days and nine hours at sea and paddling 2,544 nautical miles, Derreumaux completed his attempt to paddle the Pacific from California to Hawaii, becoming just the second solo kayaker to accomplish the feat.
Cyril Derreumaux’s quest to paddle the Pacific from California to Hawaii
Derreumaux began the Pacific voyage on June 21 from Monterey, California. The 2022 expedition was his second attempt, following a 2021 expedition ending within a week due to deteriorating ocean conditions. This did not deter Derreumaux from making another go at the lonely and grueling endeavor.
The original goal for completing the paddle was around 70 days. However, Derreumaux once again faced adversities early on, including brutal winds and gear malfunctions.
“A west wind comes from the west and blows toward the east. When this happens I am blown back towards the land. This is what has been happening for last two days so I have been doing 10 hours each day to make progress towards south west (Hawaii),” Derreumaux wrote via his Garmin inReach on day 16.
“But most frustrating is the loss that occurs at night. As soon as I stop paddling the wind blows me off course. If I lose 15 miles during the night I have to make them back up the next day.”
On day 18, Derreumaux had to create a port to drain a flooded compartment within his kayak. He did so by glueing the screw top of an apple sauce packet to the side of the boat, then drilling a hole through it.
Then on day 46, Derreumaux lost his electric water desalination system, which meant he would have to produce drinking water manually.
“It had been making weird noises for a couple of weeks now, and I could hear some of these were not sounding ‘right.’ On the day it started to make new noises that were a bit alarming to me, until the power went off from one second to another.”
Derreumaux understood the timeline, and eventually, the destination, would need to be adjusted because of the challenges he had been facing. On day 66, Derreumaux and his support team made the call to change his destination from Waikiki to Hilo. This effectively cut six days from a trip that would already be stretching his body and rations thin due to an unscheduled extra month at sea.
Entering Hilo and joining a daring few
At midday on September 20, 2022, Cyril Derreumaux paddled up the mouth of the Wailoa River in Hilo. When he reached shore, his hands were taken by family and supporters on the dock, who helped the paddler out of his craft and onto land—his first time on solid ground in three months.
Derreumaux is just the third solo paddler to complete the Pacific voyage from California to Hawaii. His inspiration for the trip largely came from the historic 1987 journey of Ed Gillet, who impressively reached Maui in 63 days, using an off-the-shelf touring kayak and without the communication devices available today. Gillet’s trip was a tale shared among paddlers for years and was eventually chronicled in depth in the 2018 book, The Pacific Alone.
Gillet stood alone as the only paddler to have completed the endeavor for over 30 years until the Spanish standup paddleboarder Antonio de la Rosa did so in 2019. Now, 46-year-old Derreumaux joins the short list of solo expedition paddlers to have successfully reached Hawaii.