For nearly three months we’ve been following Lia Ditton’s attempt to row solo across the Pacific Ocean from California to Hawaii. During that time, she has faced heavy storms and massive waves. Her boat has been rolled over on more than one occasion and has drawn the attention of hungry sharks. Lia herself has endured long, waterlogged days and nights, a shortage of food, and a grueling race against time. But now, at long last, we can report that she has arrived at the finish line, completing the journey in record time.
Lia arrived in Hawaii over the weekend, although much like the rest of the journey, her final hours were not easy ones. With 37 miles to go to her endpoint, Ditton reached the Molokai Channel, just as the wind and waves were starting to pick up. She knew that this would be a difficult and vitally important part of the journey, so in order to complete the final run into Maui, she stayed at the oars for 18 hours straight. In the end, that dedication and perseverance kept her from drifting off course and away from the islands to the south, allowing her to each dry land after nearly three months out on the open ocean.
When she originally set out on this journey back in June, Lia’s intention was to set a new speed record for rowing from California to Hawaii. The record she had in mind was set by rower Rob Eustace, who made the same crossing in 52 days. The ocean currents, winds, and waves weren’t very cooperative however, quickly putting that record out of reach. On her 52nd day on the water, Lia still had about halfway to go, although she ended up making much better time not long after. In the end, she did manage to set a new record however, recording the fastest female row between the two American states. When she reached shore on Saturday, she logged a final time of 86 days, 10 hours, 5 minutes, and 54 seconds.
Because her initial plan was to break the overall record, Lia only brought enough food for 52 days, plus an additional 10 days or so. But when it became clear that her voyage would take substantially longer than expected, she had to go on rations. Over the past few weeks, she’s been rowing on fewer calories than you would typically off for on such a journey and by the time she arrived in Hawaii, her pantry was almost complete bare. I’m sure one of her first priorities was finding a good meal to eat on dry land.
At a time when big, active expeditions and outdoor adventures are few and far between, Lia’s ocean row has been a good source of inspiration. Congratulations to her for completing this very difficult challenge and setting a new record too. It may not be the easiest way to get to Hawaii, but it was probably extremely rewarding.