Reza Baluchi, an adventure runner who aimed to traverse the Bermuda Triangle in a homemade bubble like a hamster in a wheel, was rescued by a peeved Coast Guard after a two-day journey.
Baluchi had intended for his trip to last five months and to raise money for a children’s charity, but the Coast Guard had warned the runner not to take to the seas in his bubble, CNN reported.
The runner ignored the warnings and an order that he wasn’t “authorized to depart,” under threat of a serious fine and seven years in jail. On Friday, he set off from Pompano Beach anyway, The Washington Post added.
The motivation behind stymieing Reza’s journey was the sour memory of his attempt a couple of years ago, when he had to be rescued at a cost of $144,000 — a cost shouldered by taxpayers. In a letter warning the bubble runner not to attempt another journey, Capt. A.J. Gould noted that his actions put “Coast Guard personnel at risk.”
The bubble runner evidently debated whether or not to risk a second attempt and didn’t want anyone to help him.
“I don’t know what to do; I don’t want to fight with the Coast Guard. I want peace. I’m a lover, not a fighter. I know it’s dangerous inside the ocean, I don’t want to risk other people. It’s my choice, my life.”
After being rescued a second time, he’s already mulling over a third attempt, his publicist Candace Rojas told The Sun Sentinel.
Baluchi’s intentions were honorable, and he was apparently prepared physically. An Iranian exile and now American citizen, the bubble runner has run around America’s perimeter and spent seven years riding his bike across 55 countries.
With those extensive journeys already under his belt, running to Bermuda seems like the logical next step. His plan was to run, via his handmade “hydropod” floating bubble, to Jacksonville, then on to the Bermuda Triangle, then Bermuda, Haiti, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Key West, and finally Pompano. It would have been a journey of more than 1,000 miles.
This time around, he’d initially made preparations to avoid the need to be rescued again, readying a safety boat to follow in his wake. Rojas said he decided to travel alone, however, to avoid risking the boat operator’s life. He was outfitted with a GPS unit and satellite phone, planned to catch fish and eat protein bars, and sleep in a hammock inside the bubble.
The runner’s motivation for taking the trip was to raise “money for children in need and to inspire those that have lost hope for a better future.” Before his trip, he was already upset at the possibility of it being cut short.
“I wanted to do something unique — show children that anything is possible if you want it. Why are they doing this to me? This is the freedom I have?”
But according to Captain Gould, the runner doesn’t have the freedom to put the lives of Coast Guard personnel — who already rescued Reza once — at risk, as well as other people on the water who could run into him.
So after his departure Friday, they followed him to ensure his safety and by Sunday, a crew snatched him from the ocean near Fort Pierce, leaving his bubble dragging behind the boat as he returned to Florida. He went with them voluntarily.
The agency explained their decision by saying they’re “obligated to ensure taxpayer money and resources are used efficiently and appropriately.”
In the incident two years ago, the runner had to be rescued via airplane and helicopter after someone spotted him disoriented in his bubble near Miami asking for directions to Bermuda.
[Photo By liseykina / Shutterstock]