A Florida man faces multiple charges after the U.S. Coast Guard stopped him from crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a floating bubble resembling a hamster wheel.
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According to court documents, the Coast Guard spotted 44-year-old Reza Ray Baluchi about 70 miles from Tybee Island, Georgia, in his “hydropod.” The Coast Guard was preparing for Hurricane Franklin when they spotted Baluchi in his homemade contraption.
When the Coast Guard stopped him, Baluchi told the crew he was running to London. The Coast Guard determined Baluchi’s mission was a “manifestly unsafe voyage” after examining his vessel held together with wires and buoys . . . meaning officials believed there was no way he was going to make it.
When they asked Baluchi to get out of his craft, the Coast Guard says he became combative, resulting in his charges of Obstruction of a Boarding and Violation of a Captain of the Port Order.
Baluchi’s History of Attempts and Arrests
Court documents show that Baluchi attempted similar voyages in 2014, 2016, and 2021. Each one ended with U.S. Coast Guard intervention.
In 2015, the Coast Guard served him the Captain of the Port Order that essentially said he could not try that again. If he did, he first needed to contact the Coast Guard to inform them of his intentions. However, he has yet to follow through with these orders.
Florida’s Flagler County Sheriff’s Office arrested him in 2021 when his latest hydropod washed ashore on a beach. He attempted to travel from Florida to New York on that trip.
According to media reports, Baluchi was granted asylum in the U.S. in 2003. He is originally from Iran but was exiled for pro-Western sympathies. He has set records for running the perimeter of the United States since moving to the country.