Lonely Planet Writer

Double bubble, toil and trouble! An intrepid sea voyager is brought to land

Aspiring inflatable bubble runner, Reza Baluchi, has had his latest endeavour to “run” from Florida to Bermuda in what looks like a giant hamster wheel scuppered. His dreams came crashing down for the second time in two years over the weekend, when the U.S. Coast Guard towed him back to land for flouting its safety orders.

Reza Baluchiand his hydro pod being towed back to land by the US Coast Guard. Image: USCGSoutheast Twitter
Reza Baluchi and his hydro pod being towed back to land by the US Coast Guard. Image: USCG Southeast Twitter

The 44-year-old Iranian was first rescued by the Coast Guard in November 2014 after rough weather turned his hydro pod bubble craft on its side, rendering him disorientated and unable to navigate the sea near St. Augustine. On that occasion, rescue personnel flew 70 miles offshore in the middle of the night to pluck Baluchi from the ocean at a cost of $140,000 bill, and the Coast Guard pointed out that American taxpayers were forced to bear that expense. When he applied to make the journey from Florida to Bermuda again, they warned Baluchi by letter that he was not authorised to depart, and would face seven years’ imprisonment and a $40,000 fine if he chose to embark on a lengthy trek again without a support boat.

The warming letters sent to Reza Baluchi by the US Coast Guard. Image: USCG Southeast Twitter
The warning letter sent to Reza Baluchi by the US Coast Guard. Image: USCG Southeast Twitter

Baluchi stated on his website that he was embarking on the latest 3,500 mile trip across the Atlantic Ocean to raise “money for children in need and to inspire those that have lost hope for a better future.” He planned to spend five months jogging inside his bubble craft after departing Pompano Beach, and would pass through the Bermuda Triangle and on to Puerto Rico, Haiti and Cuba, before paddling back to Florida. He alleged that he had secured a support boat that would accompany him on his 2016 journey into international waters.

However, there was no sign of a trailing watercraft when a Fort Lauderdale Coast Guard crew spotted him seven miles off the coast of Jupiter at 2 am Sunday, and after he “voluntarily ended his voyage,” a Coast Guard Cutter Gannet towed his pod back to shore. The US Coast Guard was deeply unhappy with this latest turn of events, and posted a series of critical tweets as well as issuing a statement.

The tweets about Reza Baluchi by the US Coast Guard. Image: USCG Southeast Twitter

Baluchi has boasted of past endurance feats for world peace, and claims to have twice run the length of the US and bolted through Death Valley despite intense heat. He revealed on his website that the temperature inside the hydro pod bubble can reach 120 degrees, and his strategy was to catch fish, eat protein bars and sleep on a hammock inside it. He explained that he had purchased motorcycle inner tubes, which he planned to fill with food and attach to the metal structure surrounding the plastic bubble.

At this stage, however, one imagines that the Coast Guard has well and truly burst his bubble in relation to future adventures of this kind!

Reza Baluchi running in the US. Image: Run with Reza
Reza Baluchi running around the world. Image: Run with Reza