Polish kayaker in midst of crossing Atlantic…for second time
If at first you succeed, try, try again. That’s the motto being adopted by 67-year-old retired engineer and Polish kayaker Aleksander Doba who is now three-fourths of the way through his second time – yes, second – sea kayaking solo and unsupported.across the Atlantic Ocean.
“You can cross the ocean one time, but to do it a second time is pretty monumental,” says Piotr Chmielinski, the first person to kayak the length of the Amazon who is now helping his Polish compatriot with the endeavor. “He’s not suicidal. He loves life. But he wants to do something difficult.”
He’s doing just that. According to his web site and SPOT locator beacon, Doba is currently about 600 nautical miles from Florida’s coast on his 4,700-nautical-mile journey between Lisbon, Portugal, and New Smyrna Beach, Florida.
Cramped inside a custom-designed, 23-foot-long, 39-inch-wide kayak, Doba departed in October and told Canoe & Kayak magazine via text that his current expedition “is about 50 percent more difficult” than the first time he did the 3,345-mile crossing from Africa to South America in 2011. “On the previous crossing the winds were much lighter,” he said.
He hit the midway point of the crossing on Dec. 18 after encountering about 50 tropical storms, each lasting up to seven hours, with storm-force winds and 22-foot waves. Currents have also been difficult, pulling him off course. “Large waves bring much excitement as the kayak wobbles a lot,” he writes.
Most recently, according to Chmielinski, he encountered yet another storm but was paddling hard to get farther to the south out of its way. “He is trying to escape strong winds and is moving southeast,” he says. “ He lost some distance today (he’s about 40 miles farther from Florida since yesterday), but it looks like Olek knows what to do to find a safer place where he can wait for better weather.”
Battling storms, prolonged saltwater exposure, and multiple equipment failures, Doba, who sleeps in a “small, noisy cabin with poor ventilation,” updates his website CLICK HERE as often as possible en route. Originally, he estimated he’d average about three knots per hour or about 30 miles per day, keeping him on track to make landfall between February 10 and February 20, 2014.
While concern with his latest delay is food, Chmielinski, for one, isn’t worried. “Olek has food yet for four weeks, if he stretches, six weeks maybe,” he says. “If I know him, he will not give up until he has food, so he will not push SOS until his food is gone.”