December 31st I received a message via my RowLiaRow FB page.

Would you be interested in joining me as I transport scientists to/from the Farallons as part of the Farallon Patrol on 1/20? It’s the only way ‘civilians’ ever get to go ashore on the Farallons.

I slept on it and replied yes.

My hesitation? I wanted to row, not sail there, but the idea of stepping ashore appealed.

Next time I wouldn’t be stepping ashore. I would be approaching under oars.

The plan became this:

  1. Visit by sailboat
  2. Row to the SE Farallon (30 miles) – row or tow back (30 miles)
  3. Golden Gate Bridge > SE Farallon > North Farallon > Golden Gate Bridge (65-70 miles non-stop) – enter for consideration as a new Guinness World Record

My row from SF to Half Moon Bay in December was 16 hours non-stop. The Bridge > Farallon loop would be more like 30 hours.

And the reason I haven’t posted about this until now?


There is no dock on the Farallon Islands. When we arrived by sailboat, we stepped into a metal dinghy and were lifted onto the island by crane. I shouldn’t have looked down. The waves swirling around at the rock beneath us… is a vision hard to forget.

When we walked to the other side of the island, we could see the rocks of Middle and North Farallon Island in the distance. White water crashed around them.

My experience of fighting to stay off Angel Island on a lee shore seems tame in comparison. On the Farallons, there is no beach. There is no backup plan.

This reminds me of Paulo Coelho’s book The Fifth Mountain. In the book, as I recall it, the villagers are afraid of the mountain and what resides at the top. When Elijah climbs the mountain, he stands at the top and laughs. What he realises is that the thing to fear, is fear itself.

This week I am off to climb my mountain.

Leaving Wednesday or Thursday PM.