After months of sitting tight and staying close to home it’s fair to say we’re all a bit bursting to bust out. Shortly after 11 p.m. last Wednesday (June 17) former East Pier resident, Lia Ditton, did just that when she quietly set off in a rowboat from the Corinthian Yacht Club in Belvedere, headed for Hawaii. You can follow her progress, mile by nautical mile on Live Track (where you’ll find additional links for her Patreon channel and RowLiaRow site).
Originally from England, Lia chose the Bay Area in particular, and the Pacific Coast in general, as her training ground for the last few years. These areas present notoriously challenging conditions for sailors and rowers alike. This voyage is actually the run-up for next year’s event (2021) when she hopes to be the first person to row unassisted the entire distance (5,500 miles) from Choshi, Japan to San Francisco. Lia writes:
My decision to row the ‘half marathon’ before the full Japan to San Francisco attempt next year was originally a humble training row, but is now a fully-fledged record attempt! Once I leave, all I know is that I am going on an adventure. My plan is to row to Hilo, Hawaii, if the weather gods bless me with favourable conditions, I have a chance of breaking the men’s record. If I go over 52 days, I will row on to O’ahu to challenge the women’s record.
Clearing the Golden Gate Bridge, slipping through the shipping lanes (tankers!), and out past the shark-infested waters by the Farallones (where blue whales have been spotted recently, feasting on krill) makes for exciting posts. As does getting off the continental shelf—a major milestone and a maneuver that has defeated more rowers than those that have made it. Luckily for us armchair adventurers Lia is as engaging when she writes about finding herself surrounded by jellyfish as she is getting sideswiped by a rogue wave. It’s easy to feel like you’re right there, in the moment, while reading her posts. No doubt that rowing is slow going, and she’ll be at it for the next 2-3 months. Here Lia outlines what she’s up against:
The Continental Shelf, which is almost always rough, will be a major milestone. I will also have to row right through ‘Shark Café’, an area where Great White Sharks leaving San Francisco are tracked by conservationists. From anywhere between 250 miles and 750 miles, I will hope to pick up the Trade Winds to nudge me on my way. It is certainly not over, until it’s over, as from mid-July to August, the chances of hurricanes increase, while the Hawaiian islands feature tropical micro-climates, strong winds and currents around their shores.
For more about Lia, read this November 2017 profile—East Pier Adventurer—by Claudia Kelly and Larry Clinton, from when Lia spoke at the Sausalito Yacht Club. Or if you’re itching for your own aquatic adventure, head on over to the Boatload of Books where you’ll find Lia’s book 50 Water Adventures To Do Before You Die, under nonfiction.
Fair Winds and Following Seas, Lia Ditton
(sailor lingo to wish someone good luck and a safe journey)