We have incredibly sad news to share today as it has been confirmed that Pacific Ocean rower Angela Madsen has passed away at sea. The paraplegic rower was declared dead on Monday evening when her body was found floating in the water next to her boat. At the time, she was 60 days into an attempt to row from California to Hawaii and was nearing the midway point of that journey, which hadn’t been an easy one up until that point.
The first indication that something was wrong came on Monday, when Madison’s wife Debra checked her communications system and saw that Angela hadn’t replied to any of the messages sent her way. That was very unusual, but due to her remote location, it was possible that she was having trouble connecting to the satellite network. Still, alarmed by the lack of contact, Debra continued to watch Angela’s tracking system closely and came to the conclusion that it appeared that she wasn’t rowing the boat or making any progress.
This prompted her to call for a search and rescue operation, with an aircraft dispatched by the coast guard to spot the row boat from the air. Upon flying over the boat, the pilot was able to spot Madsen floating in the water, still tethered to her craft. By that point, a German cargo vessel was already en route, and arrived on the scene on Monday night, confirming the worst fears of everyone involved. Her remains are now being transported to Tahiti.
While what exactly happened will likely never be known, during her last satellite phone conversation with Debra, Angela indicated that she would need to enter the water to make some repairs to her sea anchor. That contact came on the morning of June 21, which was this past Sunday. It seems likely that she passed away later that day while attempting those repairs.
An experienced ocean rower who has completed four previous ocean crossings, Madsen was passionate about her pursuit of adventure. All of her previous ocean crossings came as part of a team, and this was her first major solo undertaking. She was hoping to become the first paraplegic woman to row solo across the Pacific and the oldest to do so as well.
Our condolences go out to Debra and the rest of Angela’s friends and family. We’ve been following the progress of this rowing expedition for weeks, and are heartbroken by this news as well.