Man Who Keeps Trying to 'Run' Across the Ocean Is Arrested

Is there nothing a Florida man won't do?
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 6, 2023 1:00 PM CDT
He Tried to Run Across the Atlantic in a Hamster Wheel
The contraption.   (Flagler County Sheriff's Office)

The US Coast Guard has arrested a Florida man who was attempting to "run" across the Atlantic Ocean in a large hamster wheel. Marathon runner Reza Baluchi was found about 70 nautical miles east of Georgia's Tybee Island on Aug. 26 in what officials described as a "manifestly unsafe vessel" constructed from a metal drum with two waterwheel-like devices on either side, each one fitted with paddles and inflatable buoys, per Fox News and WOFL. Baluchi told Coast Guard officers that he was planning to "run" to London in the human-sized hamster wheel. As WOFL reports, it was Baluchi's fourth venture into the Atlantic in his homemade "hydro pod." Voyages in 2014, 2016, and 2021 all ended in Coast Guard intervention, per Fox.

This voyage ended the same way. "Based on the condition of the vessel—which was afloat as a result of wiring and buoys—USCG officers determined Baluchi was conducting a manifestly unsafe voyage," according to a criminal complaint filed in US District Court in Florida, which adds Baluchi didn't have registration papers for the vessel. But Baluchi wouldn't go easily or quietly, officials said. The 44-year-old threatened to kill himself with a 12-inch knife if officers tried to apprehend him, and also claimed to have a bomb, per the complaint. "Officers believed his threat was valid because Baluchi was reportedly holding wires in his hand," per WOFL. A "three-day standoff" resulted before Baluchi finally agreed to leave his contraption, per the Independent. He also admitted there was no bomb, per the complaint.

Baluchi was taken to the USCG Base in Miami Beach, Florida, on Friday. He's now facing federal charges of obstruction of a boarding and violation of a captain of the port order. It's unclear what became of his vessel. In 2021, after Baluchi's failed attempt to make it from Florida to New York, Florida's Flagler County Sheriff's Office reported that it had washed ashore near Hammock. Baluchi had previously written on his website about a 2016 attempt to reach the Bermuda Triangle in his "handmade hydro pod bubble" while surviving on "protein bars, tuna, sea water purified through a filter, Gatorade, and chewing gum for sea sickness," per CNET. He had to be rescued off the coast of Jupiter, Florida, per WOFL. Two years earlier, he was rescued near St. Augustine, per the outlet. (More Coast Guard stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.