Florida man Reza Baluchi trying to jog across the Caribbean Sea in an inflatable bubble boat was rescued early Sunday morning by the U.S. Coast Guard. According to Coast Guard Petty Officer Mark Barney, the reckless long-distance runner was picked up voluntarily and his “hydro pod” was towed back to land.
Despite receiving a warning letter from the Coast Guard earlier this month, 44-year-old Baluchi put his bubble watercraft into the water near Pompano Beach, got inside, and started running towards Bermuda. The letter from the USCG stated Baluchi’s journey to Bermuda would be unsafe and advised him not to depart.
The letter threatened the daredevil with seven years imprisonment and a $40,000 fine should he attempt his 3,500-mile journey without a support boat. Even though Baluchi stated that a boat would accompany him, there was no sign of another watercraft in the area when the Coast Guard caught up with him seven miles off the coast of Jupiter, Florida.
“This was an inherently unsafe voyage attempt that put the lives of Mr. Baluchi and other mariners in danger,” Captain Austin Gould wrote in a statement.
As reported by CBS News, the aquatic stuntman’s plan was to run inside the hydro pod for 5 months after departing Pompano Beach. The ocean trek would have taken him through the Bermuda Triangle, passing Puerto Rico, Haiti, and Cuba, and then eventually back to Florida.
Baluchi spent years trying to get the bubble boat just right for the voyage. There are 36 buoyancy balls equipped on each side, a life jacket with a built-in water filter, a GPS device, as well as shark repellent. Inside the craft, the endurance athlete put backpacks filled with energy bars and motion sickness gum, plus numerous bottles of Gatorade throughout.
The goal behind the long-distance water run was to raise money for needy children. Baluchi hopes one day to run through every country in the world.
“I try to do the best thing from my heart. Giving help to children,” Baluchi said.
This is the second time Baluchi had to be rescued by the USCG. As previously reported by the Inquisitr, he was saved about 70 nautical miles east of St. Augustine, Florida, during a previous attempt to run across the Caribbean in 2014.
With only protein bars and bottled water, Baluchi was spotted by the Coast Guard two days into the journey. Several fishermen and boaters said he seemed disoriented and did not know how to get to Bermuda.
The Coast Guard captain stopped him and warned that ocean conditions would make the trip difficult to complete.
“I think you’re going to have a very hard time punching through the Gulf Stream and heading east to make Bermuda,” the captain told Baluchi.
Baluchi told the captain that he had spent the previous two years training for the voyage and was not ready to give up.
“So you are declining to stop your voyage at this time and embark the Coast Guard cutter?” the captain asked.
“I am continuing to go,” Baluchi said.
However, Baluchi had turned on an emergency locator, so the Coast Guard initiated a rescue operation. He was pulled from the hydro pod and taken to shore, where he received medical treatment.
Despite the plastic craft being turned on its side, Baluchi said the beacon was activated by accident and did not need a rescue.
“I see some helicopter coming,” Baluchi said. “Some person come in front of my bubble and kick my bubble. ‘You ok? You need emergency doctor?’ I say, ‘no.’ ”
Reza Baluchi came to the United States and was granted asylum after being exiled from Iran for anti-Islamic activities in 2003. In a previous athletic feat, the hydro pod daredevil set an endurance record for running the length of the United States twice.
[Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]