East Hawaii News

Update: Coast Guard Called to Help Solo Rower Stalled by Weather

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The Wailoa boat harbor in Hilo, the location where Carlo Facchino will end his 2,400-mile solo row across the Pacific, is draped in rain Wednesday night. The weather delayed Facchino’s arrival. (Photo by Nathan Christophel/Big Island Now)

Update: The last few miles of a California man’s 2,400-mile solo row from San Francisco to the Big Island have proved to be some of the most difficult.

The Hawai‘i Fire Department confirmed that Carlo Facchino of Fremont, Calif., called the U.S. Coast Guard for assistance.

“He’s out of food and gassed,” Eric Moller, Hawai’i Fire Department deputy fire chief, told Big Island Now on Thursday morning.

Otherwise, Moller said, the rower appears to be in good condition.

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On Wednesday night, Facchino was 3 to 4 miles from Hilo shores. However, the rain and winds pushed the rower out and he now is about 7 miles outside Pepe‘ekeo. Wind and current conditions continued to worsen overnight Wednesday, according to Facchino’s partner and land support Betsy Everett.

“To prevent a full on potential rescue situation, he is needing a tow,” Everett reported to Big Island Now via text at 7:52 a.m. Thursday. “They will tow him to the breakwater and then he will have to row in from there.”

Original story: With the lights of the Hilo breakwater in his sights Wednesday night, Carlo Facchino was oh so close to finishing his 70-plus-day, 2,400-mile solo row across the Pacific Ocean.

Carlo Facchino of Fremont, Calif., is rowing solo across the Pacific Ocean to the Big Island. (Photo from Facebook)

But he was stuck and didn’t know when he would make it to the Wailoa boat harbor.

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At about 7:15 p.m., his land support and partner Betsy Everett reported to Big Island Now that Facchino was only about 3 to 4 miles offshore, but the foul weather was making it difficult to row.

It wasn’t the rain that stopped the California man; he has no issues rowing in rain. It was the wind, which was blowing him backward. According to the National Weather Service’s Hilo International Airport weather station, winds were blowing at 6 mph from the southwest.

The current wasn’t helping either.

Before the rain and wind moved in, Facchino was rowing at about 2 miles an hour. If conditions were ideal, he could probably have made it to Hilo in about 60 to 90 minutes. But once the weather socked him in, his forward movement decreased to just 0.3 miles an hour.

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So he was in a holding pattern, feeling the storm out and considering his options. Everett wasn’t sure what Facchino would do if the weather cleared. He hadn’t decided if he would row to the shore or wait until the morning.

Everett called the circumstances surrounding the end of her partner’s trip “classic Carlo style. It’s always an adventure.”

Big Island Now will meet Facchino after he arrives, and tell the story about his epic journey.

Nathan Christophel
Nathan Christophel has more than 20 years of experience in journalism, starting out as a reporter and working his way up to become a copy editor and page designer, most recently at the Hawaii Tribune-Herald in Hilo.
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