On June 22, Angela Madsen, phenomenal, fearless woman, Paralympian, marine vet, died at sea, attempting to row the Pacific from California to Hawaii alone.
She knew the risk, she wanted to go, she went.
The documentarian and her crew who were recording Angela’s efforts – and have since announced that, per the wishes of Angela and her partner, will be finishing her journey – posted this to Instagram:
View this post on Instagram
This is extremely hard to read and harder to write so please prepare yourself: As of 11pm last night, Angela was declared deceased at sea. Two nights ago Deb, Angela’s partner, texted me that she was worried something had happened to Angela. The last update we received from her was that she was going in the water to fix the anchor on her bow. She was prepping it for a storm due to hit by the end of this week. She’d been texting me jokes and seemed to be in her usual high spirits as she was so close to the halfway point and we had a celebration planned. I checked the GPS and noticed it was weird that her speed was so slow and consistently so. Angela also hadn’t responded to any of our messages for a whole day which was highly unusual. I felt uneasy and told Deb I was calling the Coast Guard. They said they would dispatch a ship in the morning. Angela was over 1,000 miles from land in any direction, so it would take a while to get to her. I told them she might be injured. They dispatched an aircraft. It still took all day. We waited as each excruciating hour passed until 11pm, 25 hours after my first call, to learn the news that Angela was, in fact, deceased. Her body was floating next to her boat, still tethered. This is the single heaviest moment of my life. I am so sorry and so sad to write this. I know so many of you were cheering her on and wanted her to succeed. We are devastated. This was a clear risk going in since day one, and Angela was aware of that more than anyone else. She was willing to die at sea doing the thing she loved most. She was a hell of a woman and one of the most influential and inspiring people in my life. I hope to live with a fraction of the fierceness of spirit Angela had. I can’t believe she’s gone. Life is so brief and fragile. We must fill it with love. Both Deb and I ask that you respect our space while we process this and navigate moving forward. Please be patient and kind as we compile information to share all at once. Thank you, Soraya
Her passing has weighed heavily on my heart.
Angela was left paraplegic after a botched surgery in 1993, was homeless and suicidal for some time thereafter, recovered to become a paralympic medalist and repeat competitor, and rowed multiple oceans.
She was a force.
Please take a moment to read this article about her life and the journey she was on when she died:
Her life inspires me to be strong – especially when I don’t feel it, when the waves keep coming. I suppose I should have anticipated my current “wave” – but I just hadn’t gotten to thinking about it, honestly.
I’ve been so (rightly) focused on dealing with this hip and infection that I really wasn’t on the lookout for issues with the original source of trouble – my rheumatoid arthritis. Of course, because of the infection and complications, we’ve had to strip my RA therapy down to bare bones in every attempt to boost my immune system – so the RA had plenty of room to run amok.
Well, last week I noticed a significant increase in pain in my right wrist. Then burning in my knees. Then more pain in my ankles.
My eyes are ridiculously dry and sore and blurry at times.
Oh, and I. Am. Exhausted.
My sleep requirements rival any toddler’s – but at least I have some fabulous napping buddies.
I’ve added every supplement and PRN med I can that won’t knock my immune system for a loop to bring this to a halt.
I also learned that my RA inflammation markers increased five times within a week. That sounds about right.
Labs will be redrawn in the morning.
For now, as always, I’ll take all my meds and nap and read and write and pray through this one too.
One thing that I keep thinking about since I read it?
The documentarian that is going to finish telling Angela’s story, Soraya, posted a story today of how they are going to continue on.
She said she had once asked Angela how she pushed through hard days.
View this post on Instagram
Day 2. The count resets. Now we navigate moving forward without Angela. She brought us halfway. Time for us to pick up where she left off. Deb and I are overwhelmed by the number of messages of people sharing our grief. We had no idea so many were following this journey. As of yesterday, this is no longer a solo row— it’s a team sport. We are going to help finish what Angela started. Friday morning I am flying to Hawaii to help recuperate RowOfLife and retrieve the cameras and footage on board. Deb is busy arranging how Angela’s body will be transported to Los Angeles from Tahiti once the cargo vessel POLYNESIA arrives in a week. There is a GoFundMe to help offset these costs— link in bio. I remember once I asked Angela what she does on bad days. She said row harder. That has stuck with me since. It is Deb’s and Angela’s wish that I complete this film. Carrying someone’s story is a heavy responsibility, one my crew and I signed up for, and one we will see through. Thank you for all the love. We’re feeling it. ❤️ #rowharder
This flare sucks (as they all do) – so I’ll just row harder.
Be well, everybody. Take care of yourselves and each other.
Grace and Blessings.