67-Year-Old Transatlantic Kayaker’s Goal Achieved, Expedition Continues
Aleksander “Olek” Doba has made the first crossing of the Atlantic by its widest points. The ultimate goal of the expedition, however, is to be achieved in another 60 kilometers. Piotr Chmielinski, coordinator of the final stage of the transatlantic expedition, writes about this journey that will soon be accomplished.
After more than five months since leaving Lisbon, Aleksander “Olek” Doba has been kayaking alone in the Atlantic and has reached the coast of Florida in Cape Canaveral, implementing the goal of his mission: to overcome the route between the most distant points located in Europe and North America. However, his journey is not over yet . Olek’s final destination will be the mainland at New Smyrna Beach.
After leaving Bermuda, where the kayaker had to stop to repair his damaged rudder, the journey tempo increased a lot. Olek paddled about 60 miles per day. SPOT signals indicated that he was heading to New Smyrna Beach, and so it was, until Thursday morning. Already on Wednesday afternoon SPOT location of OLO (the name of the kayak ) began to show movement towards the west, instead of north. On Thursday, it was clear that OLO was pushed by a strong wind straight to Cape Canaveral. Olek confirmed in text message: “Piotr, I have two choices : an emergency landing in areas prohibited or yacht harbor in Cape Canaveral. Opt for a port . I have it on the map.” Trying to defy the forces of nature would make up a huge threat to the kayaker’s safety, he already coped so well under conditions that became a reason for the prohibition of departure for all vessels staying in port.
Still it remained to be resolved an important issue: whether in Cape Canaveral expedition will be completed, or Olek will continue to New Smyrna Beach to realize the original intention of this undertaking. When we sailed to meet the kayaker, he informed us that he chose—what actually was to be expected—the second solution. Despite the fatigue caused primarily by the fight against the Gulf Stream, which he compared to the riding of a wild mustang, he is determined to carry his expedition out to the end, to New Smyrna Beach, where he is expected by almost all inhabitants, as well as Poles living nearby and … the local orchestra.
Doba, while entering the port of Cape Canaveral, was greeted with shouts of joy, waving red and white flags and also white and red caps tossed up. The Polish community, that learned about the modifying of the route in the journey’s last stage, came to meet “67 -years-young” hero. This turmoil caused, in turn, an interest in the U.S. Coast Guard and the local police, which, despite earlier arrangements, began an immigration control procedure. Officials initially found it difficult to understand why the kayaker couldn’t show them his passport staying on the land, which would interfere with the idea of his expedition. But they soon realized how unusual this project is and offered an honorary escort to the port, where Olek was to spend night in the kayak. Today early morning time Olek has set off on a further journey to New Smyrna Beach following the route designated by internal channels that will lead him straight to his goal.
- Nat Geo Expeditions