A 57-year-old kayaker left Monterrey, California, on May 30, determined to paddle his way to Hawaii, according to a Reutersreport. His vessel was equipped with a solar panel, which was used to power his electronic equipment – equipment the kayaker needed to accurately navigate his kayak over the nearly 2,400 mile journey to Hawaii.
The kayaker was eight days into his journey to Hawaii when the solar panel failed. Having lost his ability to recharge his electronic equipment, the 57-year-old kayaker – who has not yet been publicly identified – found himself in a precarious position with an important decision to make. He decided to head back the way he came, hoping to reach California. While his reasons for choosing to turn back rather than press on have not been disclosed, his reasoning probably included the facts that California was still closer, and that the West Coast of the United States and Mexico would be an easier target to navigate to successfully than Hawaii without modern navigational equipment.
According to the Reuters report, the man was disoriented by the time he sent a distress signal on June 10, three days after his solar panel failed.
An AP report quotes Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Timothy Hall saying this about the kayaker’s attempt to reach Hawaii:
“A voyage from California to Hawaii is a long and treacherous journey for any vessel and exponentially more dangerous for a kayaker. His preparedness allowed him to call for help but he is very lucky to be alive.”
Coast Guard officials have encouraged anyone who plans on taking a vessel – whether a kayak or any other kind of vessel – to file a float plan with a friend, detailing where they intend to go, and the route they plan on taking in order to improve their chances of survival should they find themselves in a hazardous situation like the Hawaii kayaker did.
The Coast Guard sent an MH-65 helicopter, which spotted the kayaker who attempted the trip to Hawaii 63 miles to the southwest of Point Conception. Point Conception is 163 miles to the northwest of LA. It is unclear whether the kayaker was headed in the right direction or had turned back towards Hawaii. The helicopter in turn directed a Coast Guard cutter to the unidentified man’s location.
The kayaker is reportedly in good health with no injuries. While he didn’t reach Hawaii this time, the kayaker has lived to try another day. Here’s hoping if he makes another run for Hawaii, the unidentified kayaker will at least file a float plan as the Coast Guard suggests.