“I don’t think I’m going to meet pirates. But there will certainly be a demonstration of the forces of nature”

The Atlantic Ocean spans ca. 6,000 km

The Atlantic Ocean spans ca. 6,000 km

Sunday, May, 29, Jersey City: Aleksander Doba has just set off on a journey across the Atlantic. Many people do it every day using planes but he decided to take a kayak instead. He is aware that the weather conditions are not going to be easy for him but he will “take the bull by the horns”.

Hundreds of people came to the Hudson River banks to wish him good luck. They even sang him “sto lat” – a traditional Polish birthday song, since he plans to reach the opposite continent on the day of his 70th birthday.

He turned towards the Statue of Liberty and the New York Bay to reach the Atlantic Ocean then. He will be sailing at least 6,000 kilometres, and plans to reach Lisbon on September, 9th – on his birthday. He also takes into consideration a possibility that he will have to land somewhere in Africa because of the currents and probable storms.

Not afraid of storms

Although he set off on a warm sunny day, he is aware that the hurricane season on the Atlantic is just about to begin. He was already updated about the possible storm on his route: “As I said, I will take the bull by the horns,” he said. Doba stresses that if he is afraid of anything, it’s people. He remembers being robbed and almost killed while paddling along the Amazon River.

Everyone is worried that he won’t make it in such extreme conditions on a single kayak, alone against the forces of the ocean. There were only five successful attempts to cross the Atlantic, two of which were Doba’s. The other journeys were carried out by two Germans and a Briton.

The unsinkable Olo

Aleksander is a Polish explorer and kayaker. He was named the Adventurer of the Year 2015 by National Geographic. He was the first person to paddle in a 7-metre sea kayak across the Atlantic Ocean, using only his muscles as an engine. He did it again in 2013.

The explorer remembers that on his previous journey he had to face fierce storms and waves that were rising up to 9 meters. He underlined that his kayak is constructed in such a way that it will never sink. “Even if you open the hatches and make additional unplanned holes in it to make it sink on purpose, it just won’t”. He built it himself and he knows it won’t fail.

The kayak is made of carbon fibre and has a small chamber where Aleksander sleeps. He can store a reasonable amount of supplies and the necessary equipment there as well. When empty, the kayak weighs only 120 kilos (about 265 pounds), equipped almost 600 (1320 pounds).

He uses the marine automatic identification system (AIS) that will enable him to see nearby boats and ships and avoid possible collisions.

Aleksander denies the rumours that he is a mad man who is going to commit a spectacular suicide. He is a pro, he has experience in such expeditions and he is physically well-prepared, although there is no guarantee that he will accomplish his mission. He knows it is rather a matter of good luck, but he believes he will manage, and so do we.

Update from June, 3:

Unfortunately, the expedition had to be cancelled. Storm and high violent waves during the night overturned the kayak and Aleksander Doba found himself trapped underneath. At first, he wanted to continue his journey as soon as the weather improves, but the kayak was damaged seriously enough to put an end to the expedition. However, Aleksander Doba is not giving up his dream and wants to try again next year and celebrate his 71st birthday this way.


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