Doba Does It! Madman Completes Solo Transatlantic Kayak Crossing

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Doba set off from Dakar, Senegal, on Africa’s west coast on October 21 to try and paddle 3,300-km across the Atlantic, ending in Fortaleza, Brazil. He estimated the solo voyage would take him three months to complete, but a series of set-backs — hey, that’s to be expected — placed him behind schedule.

But all that’s behind him now — sharks, dehydration, saltwater blisters, hunger and all as he took his first steps in more than three months on dry land at 2:10 p.m. local time in the fishing village of Acarau.

“It took us two hours to load the kayak on the van,” he says in his blog. “Now it’ll go to Fortaleza. We’re sitting in a restaurant called Taverna in Paulo. First beer in three months – Brazilian Bohemia. All is OK!”

Setbacks along the way included direction-altering storm systems, equipment failure, and equatorial counter currents.

While Doba didn’t necessarily break any new ground with his solo voyage, he entered a very elite group. 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