The writing on (and off) the wall: An ocean kayak, or an Airbnb listing?

Tom Hoffarth /

One sure-fire way to get from San Francisco to Hawaii:

Cannon-ball onto, winnow it down to an agreeable direct flight (keeping in mind few exist with a change of planes on some pontoon out on the open Pacific), decide if you want the cheapest/best/quickest trip, get a COVID test, then buckle in for a five-and-a-half hour nap/ride in a reverse time machine.

Or, pile into the rumble seat of Cyril Derreumaux’s maxed-out supersonic kayak

Derreumaux just took the 2,400-mile distance with many layovers — 91 days and nine hours in fact. All in all, the San Francisco Chronicle declared him to be “the first kayaker ever to travel alone from California to the islands under his own power.” He clarified and amplified on his website: “This is a solo, unsupported, and 100% human-powered expedition, the first of its kind crossing this ocean!”

The 46-year-old was obviously having a mid-oceanic midlife crisis. Yet, he called it a “spiritual experience” of a lifetime.

When we first read about it, we prayed, too – that this wasn’t someone who fell asleep in McCovey Cove trying to snag a home-run ball and woke up in the mouth of a whale near Waikiki.

Not only did Citizen Cyril do it all intentionally, but he apparently completed his own nautical home run without the aid of BALCO labs.

Or, when you really look at it, was this actually performance enhanced?


Not to split oars over all this, but before we call the record-keepers at Guinness and raise an foggy Anchor Steam in his honor, read the details about Derreumaux’s kayak. This wasn’t something he pulled off the discount shelf at Big 5 and strapped onto the top of the Karmann Ghia.

It may have been just two feet wide, but from the travelogue photos, it looked more like something he airlifted out of the Disneyland pond from the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage ride.

It measured 23-feet long. It included a sleeping cabin, state-of-the-art GPS, a mini-desalinization machine to provide drinking water, and a sea anchor, reports SFist. Derreumaux also had the capability, and presence of mind, and technology, to compile a daily online journal about the whole thing.

Spell kayak forwards or backwards, but if it’s all the same to you, most Airbnb listings aren’t this accommodating. Derreumaux’s vessel is as much a modest kayak as a top-of-the-line Toyota SUV hybrid is really the same as a used Prius.

Wait, there’s more to this than just another weight-loss late-night commercial fad.

He also outfitted the hull with foot-pedal flippers, so he could ride it like one of those duck boats in Echo Park when he was tired of paddling.

That makes it 100-percent human powered, for those who need closure on how this will be forever listed in the captain’s log.

It reminds us of what the Kiwis did in the 1986 America’s Cup, with its double-hulled catamaran going up against ancient spinnakers. Ted Turner wasn’t courageous, just not forward thinking enough.

It’s like when Evel Knievel sold ABC on his threat to jump over the Snake River Canyon in Idaho in 1974. On the old Harley? Try a steam-powered rocket ship called a Skycyle, set up on a launching pad. Right after the parachute deployed prematurely, and Wide World of Sports’ Jim McKay had to kill about an hour of time because Knievel failed to kill himself before millions of blood-thirsty viewers.

Practically no one was aware of how or why Derreumaux was about to jump his own shark and try to avoid any agony of defeat. Maybe only those who tried it before and were concerned someone was going to out-do them.

The last so-called kayaker on this mission only needed 63 days, back in 1987. The catch: He hooked up his store-bought kayak with a cool kite to generate wind power. Another guy, big-wave surfer Chris Bertish, once sailed on a wind-powered hydrofoil from the Bay Area to Oahu in 48 days.

Right before Derreumaux, his friend, Carlo Facchino, did the trip in a row boat from San Francisco to Hilo in 72 days. That was a bit quicker than a British women who, in 2020, rowed the distance in 86 days.

A Free Swimming Baby Inflatable Float Toy via Buy new for $19.70.

“What sets Derreumaux’s adventure apart from others is his means of travel,” the Chronicle’s lifestyle and outdoor editor points out, is that his floation device is “much smaller, less stable and slower than burlier, oar-powered ocean rowboats. Because he needed to be within arm’s reach of the water to use his paddle, Derreumaux’s boat also left him more exposed to the slightest variations in surface conditions.”

So, why not just flap his arms in giant circles through the water and make it more authentic?

“I want people to know that I’m just an ordinary guy,” he said afterward. “I hope people follow their dreams the same way. … Life is all about experience, not material possessions.”

Some day, all the materials from his super kayak will be stripped apart for scrap medal value. That’s maybe when his ancestors finally experience their dream conclusion.

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