Solo Transatlantic Expedition: Kayaker Declines Rescue

Aleksander Doba, a 67-year-old retired engineer and Polish kayaker, is about 900 miles from Florida’s coast—steadily paddling on a solo, unsupported expedition across the Atlantic Ocean. He has been making his way across the 4,700 nautical miles of ocean between Lisbon, Portugal and New Smyrna Beach, Florida since October 6, 2013. Learn more about the expedition.

On December 23, 2013 the U.S. Coast Guard received the message “HELP” from Doba’s kayak in the middle of the Atlantic. They asked a ship they knew was in the area to see if the Polish kayaker needed help.

Doba, completely taken by surprised by the large tanker’s arrival at his small kayak, seemed to have pressed the alarm button by accident. He politely waved them on, telling them that he was doing fine, and wanted to keep the integrity of his solo, unaided expedition intact. He added that despite his satellite phone not working, he still continues to go on.

Doba’s battling strong winds on his final leg to Florida. It does seem after being pushed north and east, that now he is back on track to arrive in Florida.

Doba lost momentum these last few weeks due to strong winds from a huge hurricane. Trying to escape those strong winds he’s been moving northeast for the past week. He lost some distance, but it looks like Doba knows what to do to find a safe haven to wait for better weather.

He turned around a couple of days ago, and seems to be back on track, which makes those planning his welcoming reception party in Florida very happy.

Since he is unable to communicate with the world, and has encountered all some rough weather, those close to Doba worry about his mental state but Andrzej Arminski, kayak designer and builder, the organizer and sponsor of both of Olek’s transatlantic expeditions says, “I have met dozens of tough sailors in my sailing and yacht building career, but Olek is way tougher than all of them.”


Doba in the middle of Atlantic Ocean on December 23, 2013. Photograph courtesy Piotr Chmielinski

Just in case Doba does runs into any more trouble, Global Rescue has been hired to assist in case of emergency.


Doba in the middle of Atlantic Ocean on December 23, 2013. Photograph courtesy Piotr Chmielinski


Meet the Author
Amy Bucci is a web producer for National Geographic. Her projects mainly cover National Geographic explorers, grantees and initiatives.