Crossing the Pond: A. Doba attempts solo transatlantic kayak crossing

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Nobody ever said that crossing the Atlantic by boat was easy. It took the Mayflower just over 66 days to complete that historic voyage, and her passengers had the benefit of sails, supplies, and storage. So when Aleksansder Doba set off October 21 to try and paddle 3,300-km across the Atlantic, from Dakar, Senegal, on Africa’s west coast, to Fortaleza, Brazil he estimated the solo voyage would take him three months to complete.

Now, according to the latest blog entry dated January 10th, Doba has just now reached the mid-point of the trip. Since his departure in late October, Doba has faced numerous setbacks. From direction altering storm systems to equipment failure to equatorial counter currents, nothing has been easy for Doba. Through it all, Doba’s blog has provided a glimpse into the hardships, but the tone of his words remain uncompromisingly positive.

Doba always points out the wonderfully beautiful and unexpected sights he has witnessed along the way. Flying fish leap into his boat offering themselves as dinner. Tortoises swim alongside almost as if providing an official escort. Barracuda pester him, though sometimes they become dinner as well. Even when fighting the current and invoking the plight of Sisyphus he looks for the bright side. “During the 73rd night of my expedition I crossed half way,” writes Doba. “Now it’s closer to Fortaleza than Dakar.”

Aleksansder Doba is hardly breaking any new ground with this solo voyage, but he’s certainly on the cusp of entering a very elite group upon completion. The following are brief synopsis of previous Transatlantic kayak attempts:

Franz Romer and Hannes Lindemann’s Atlantic Crossings, 1928, 1956

The Germans set the bar high, with these two crossings still reigning supreme in sea kayaking lore. In 1928, Franz Romer paddled from Portugal to Puerto Rico in the first sea kayak crossing of the Atlantic. The 29-year-old paddled 4,000 miles in 58 days in a modified 21’6″ Klepper, sleeping beneath a homemade spray skirt with a breathing tube and navigating by compass and sextant. He was lost at sea while trying to continue on to New York.

In 1956, Hannes Lindemann took 72 days to paddle a 17’1″ Klepper from the Canary Islands to the Bahamas. Subsisting on evaporated milk, rainwater, sea life and, believe it or not, beer, he had to eat his way through his supplies before he could sleep prone. At one point, he spent a day and a half clinging to his capsized boat.

Peter Bray’s North Atlantic Crossing, 2000

It’s a good thing England’s Peter Bray is a former British Special Forces soldier. He needed those skills on both attempts crossing the North Atlantic. Paddling a self-righting kayak with sleeping compartment, satellite phone, tracking system, desalinization units and bilge pump – all powered by solar – his cockpit flooded after launching from St. John’s, Newfoundland, in 1999. Then his emergency raft punctured, leaving him swimming for 32 hours in 36-degree seas. Spending the next four months re-learning how to walk, he tried again a year later. While storms pushed him off course and he broke his boat’s rudder and hatch, after 76 days he landed at Beldereg, Ireland, for a hard-earned Guinness.

PL will continue to monitor Doba’s attempt, so check back for updates and a complete wrap up once he reaches Brazil. In the mean time check out Doba’s blog:

TransatlanticKayakVoyage

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