Man Spends Almost Three Months Kayaking 2,000 Miles From California to Hawaii

by Lauren Boisvert
(Image Credit: Ben Girardi/Getty Images)

A man in California started a more than 2,000-mile journey to Hawaii on June 21, 2022. After 91 days and 9 hours, he made it from Monterey, California to Hilo, Hawaii. He was deeply tanned, with a full beard and muscular arms, because he made the trip solely in a kayak.

French-born American citizen Cyril Derreumaux, who created the website, did just that this year: solo kayaked to Hawaii. After a failed attempt in 2021, in which he had to call the Coast Guard after six days due to electrical problems and sea anchor damage, Derreumaux finally achieved his goal on September 20, 2022. The expedition took three months and covered a total of 2,400 miles, making this the first 100 percent human-powered and unsupported kayak to make that journey, according to a press release. Watch the live video of his return to land below.

Derreumaux outfitted his kayak with pedals and a “cabin” space to sleep in, but he forewent an engine and sails. He was well and truly roughing it on the high seas. A press release from his website documents that he experienced “sea sickness for the first few days, lack of sleep, change of rhythm, physical efforts, [a] new diet.” He also had to push through fatigue and several roadblocks: “a leak at the back of his boat started to flood a compartment that had to be sealed, cabling issues with his battery that had trouble charging, [and] a close encounter with the tropical storm ‘Estelle.'”

Apparently, he faced more serious problems as the journey continued. On day 64, according to the release, his electric water maker and purifier shorted out. He had to manually pump water for an hour at night and 45 minutes in the morning. All that to collect and purify the gallon of water he needed to survive while kayaking.

Man Faces Many Issues While Kayaking from California to Hawaii, But Survives the Incredible Journey

Derreumaux paddled almost 10 hours a day to reach his destination within his timeline. Still, the journey took 21 days longer than he initially planned, and he had to change his initial destination from Honolulu to Hilo. He was running out of food and had to ration for that last part of the journey. He chronicled the expedition on social media, posting his diaries in French and English on Facebook and Instagram.

“It was a magnificent adventure, clearly also a spiritual journey. 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,” Derreumaux said when he reached Hilo. “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. It was so simple and so beautiful.”

Derreumaux follows in the footsteps of Ed Gillet. Gillet made the 2,200-mile crossing from San Diego to Hawaii in an unmodified kayak in 1987. He was the pioneer of the mega kayak crossing, the first to attempt California-to-Hawaii. Gillet planned to complete the crossing in 40 days but didn’t reach land until day 64. When asked how he felt following in Ed Gillet’s paddles, Derreumaux replied, “I am more in awe of Ed Gillet and what he accomplished [than ever].”