Extreme athlete Ray “Reza” Baluchi planned to spend the next three or four weeks on the Atlantic Ocean “walking” from Florida to New York in a hamster wheel-like vessel he calls his bubble.
Equipment issues forced him to abandon the effort after less than a day and he came ashore in Palm Coast, Florida, to the surprise and alarm of beachgoers.
The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office on Saturday posted pictures of Baluchi’s unconventional craft on Facebook and said it received calls about a grounded vessel that morning.
An incident report described the boat as a “metal frame with enclosed buoys, manually powered by running.”
Baluchi told CNN that he set out from St. Augustine on Friday and planned to make his way out to the Gulf Stream, which would help propel him up the East Coast to New York.
He said he was making the trek because he wanted to raise money for first responder charities.
Baluchi decided he had to turn back because he was having problems with his tracking system and his backup device was missing.
He ended up on the Palm Coast beach about 22 miles south of where he started, saying he could get new equipment in that location.
Baluchi said his team was going to purchase a replacement device, so he could resume his journey, but the Coast Guard wouldn’t let him.
A US Coast Guard spokesman told CNN that it had issued a captain of the port order requiring Baluchi to have specific safety and navigation equipment, have an escort boat and file a voyage plan before he sets off again.
“My team is working to get me a boat,” he said. “They’re working on that, to get some fishing company, they’re wanting to sponsor me.”
He said he’d rather make the trip on his own with support from his team on land.
“I don’t want it, [it’s] more exciting if nobody follows you,” Baluchi said. “I don’t want to spend money on a boat, I want to raise money for organizations.”
Baluchi has had other unsuccessful voyages.
He tried to run from Florida to Bermuda twice in an inflatable bubble. The Coast Guard had to rescue him in 2014 and towed his bubble back to land in 2016, saying he violated their order not to embark.
CNN ran a story about him in 2012. Baluchi had told CNN that he fled Iran to escape persecution and came to the United States. Baluchi said he had run across the United States twice and around its perimeter once.
“One thing is I want show people, you know, is if sometimes you fail, never give up your dream,” he said.
Baluchi’s bubble boat is still on the beach, and he’s planning to pick it up on Saturday to make the needed repairs and some upgrades so he can try again in the future.