A 70-year-old man has embarked on what promises to be quite the summer adventure. Long-distance paddler Aleksander Doba, of Poland, set out from New Jersey last week in an attempt to cross the Atlantic Ocean by kayak. His epic trip is expected to take three months to complete, covering some 3,000 miles in the process. But for Doba, a veteran of such crossings, the most difficult part of the journey may already be behind him.
Doba is no stranger to paddling a kayak across the Atlantic Ocean. He made his first crossing back in 2010, traveling from Senegal to Brazil. He followed that up with a second expedition in 2013, kayaking from Lisbon, Portugal, to New Smyrna Beach in Florida, a journey that took 196 days to complete and covered more than 6,300 miles. But now, Doba is hoping to complete one more journey across the Atlantic, this time, however, going from west to east.
The Polish adventurer set off from Barnegat Inlet in New Jersey on May 16 amid good weather and favorable winds. This helped to propel him out to sea and seems to have given him the push he needs to escape the often treacherous coastal waters. Ahead of him sits thousands of miles of open ocean, with strong winds, challenging currents, and powerful storms all set to test his strength and determination.
This third Atlantic expedition hasn’t been an easy one to get off the ground. Doba first tried to make the west-to-east crossing last May, but saw his 23-foot ocean kayak — dubbed Olo — smashed against the rocks at Sandy Hook, New Jersey, near New York Harbor. That brought an abrupt end to that attempt, as it took quite awhile to repair the damage to the boat. Then, earlier this month, the veteran kayaker once again paddled away from New York City and spent four days battling high winds. Eventually, he was forced back into Barnegat Inlet in New Jersey, where he waited for better conditions. The weather improved last week, sending him on his way at last.
For the next several months, Olo will serve as Doba’s home. The kayak has accompanied him on all of his journeys, keeping him safe through unexpected storms, huge ocean swells, and other hazards. When fully equipped, the boat weighs more than 1,500 pounds, making it difficult to maneuver at times and very ponderous in high winds and heavy surf. Still, it is built to handle the challenges of an open ocean crossing, and is equipped with emergency beacons, radios, and navigational gear to help see the kayaker safely across the sea.
If all goes according to plan, Doba — who will turn 71 while at sea — should arrive in Portugal sometime in the late summer. If successful, he’ll become only the second person, after Brit Peter Bray, to make the journey west to east. For updates on his progress, visit Aleksander’s website.
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