Attempt to Recover Angela Madsen’s Rowboat Begins as Another Rower Begins Pacific Crossing

Yesterday, the tightly-knit community of ocean rowers was shocked by the news that Angela Madsen had passed away while attempting her solo crossing of the Pacific Ocean. Madsen’s body was found still tethered to her boat on Monday after she failed to check in with her home team. Now, an effort is underway to recover some items from her boat, which continues to drift on the Pacific, just as another rower is embarking on her attempt to cross the Pacific too.

Following the heartbreaking news of Madsen’s death, her wife Debra, along with Soraya Simi, posted a message to the ocean rower’s website. In it, they expressed not only their profound sadness, but the impact that Angela had on their lives. Those sentiments were expressed further on the Row of Life Instagram account, which also belonged to Madsen. There, Simi, who had been working with Madsen to produce a documentary about her Pacific row, has announced that she is leaving for Hawaii tomorrow in th hopes of getting passage aboard a research ship that is headed to the North Pacific Gyre. Madsen’s rowboat is still drifting out there with all of the video footage, photos, and cameras that she used to document the journey. Her hope is to complete the film that they started together as a tribute to Angela and her spirit. If Simi is unable to catch that ship—she may have to quarantine for 14 days due to the virus—she’ll begin looking for alternate ways to get out to the boat, which was left behind when Madsen’s body was recovered a few days back.

Meanwhile, Madsen’s wife Debra is looking for ways to transport her body back home to the U.S. It was recovered by a passing German cargo vessel and is now en route to Tahiti. Once there, it will be brought ashore and given over to authorities, allowing Angela’s friends and family to start the process of getting her home. That won’t be an inexpensive project, so to help offset the costs, a GoFundMe page has been launched to help pay for the expenses. The goal is to raise $50,000 and as of this morning  the page has already pulled in more than $16,000. Hopefully we can get them to their goal.

Just as one Pacific Ocean expedition comes to an end in tragedy, another begins. Last week, Lia Dittion lunched her attempt to row the same route that Madsen had undertaken. Ditton’s goal is to travel from San Francisco to Hawaii, and she’s hoping to do it in record time. That means covering the 4000 km (2485 miles) in just 52 days. Sadly, Lia learned of Angela’s death yesterday along with the rest of us, which has no doubt left a dark cloud over her own proceedings. As I said, the ocean rowing community is a closely knit one.

We’ll keep an eye on Lia’s progress as well and bring updates in the days ahead. Something tells me she’ll be rowing with a little more purpose and inspiration moving forward.

Kraig Becker