Lia Ditton Endures Capsizing Boat, Lurking Sharks on Pacific Ocean Row

Lurking Sharks: When we last checked in on Lia Ditton a little more than a week ago, she was continuing to struggle to make progress on the Pacific Ocean. In fact, she was so far behind her intended schedule that she had begun rationing her food in the hopes of reaching Hawaii with at least a little something still in the pantry.

At the time, she was hoping to cover roughly 30 miles (48 km) per day so that she could finish her crossing—which started in Hawaii—in about 85 days. That estimate was under the assumption that she would continue to have good weather and could avoid any unusual challenges.

We’re now 56 days into the journey and she has passed the halfway point. In fact, she has whittled down the remaining distance to 1000 miles (1600 km). Unfortunately, she has also experienced some very difficult days out on the sea.

Three days back, conditions on the Pacific took a turn for the worse, with storms generating large waves on the ocean. Those waves managed to roll Lia’s boat, creating all kinds of issues. From the sounds of things, water poured into every nook and cranny on the boat, soaking her gear and living quarters. The small cabin that she sleeps in is suppose to be a place that provides refuge and protection from the elements. At the moment however, it remains wet, musty, and uncomfortable.

That isn’t the only thing on the boat that fits that description. Ditton is also struggling to dry out her clothes and sleeping bag, which has made it incredibly challenging to stay warm and dry while she paddles, as well as get a good night’s sleep when she needs a break.

The conditions are slowly starting to improve, but for now she is enduring what sounds like some miserable days at sea. All of which is made even more trying when you consider the fact that she has been alone on the ocean, rowing a boat for 12 hours a day, for nearly two months straight. Worse yet, the finish line remains a long ways off.

If surviving the fright of being capsized in a giant wave and dealing with wet and uncomfortable conditions weren’t enough, she was also awoken in the middle of the night by an unwanted visitor. Finally getting some rest in her cabin, Lia was startled out of her sleep by the “thump” of something repeatedly hitting the hull of the ship to the rear. When she got up to investigate she discovered a 10 foot (3 meters) long shark circling the boat in the darkness. Fearing that it might damage her rudder, she turned a bright spotlight on the creature, which made several more passes in the darkness before moving on.

With these challenges behind her—at least for now—Lia continues to row forward. Judging from her dispatches, it sounds like she is just focused in on the one thing she can control—rowing towards Hawaii. With her current pace, I’d estimate she has another 35-40 days out on the water, which has to feel a bit disheartening at times. But, Ditton has shown herself to be incredibly tough and resilient throughout her voyage, which will hopefully continue to be the case in the days ahead.

I’ll post another update when there is more news to share.

Kraig Becker