The third time might not have been exactly a charm for expedition sea kayaker Alexander “Olek” Doba, but more than 4,000 miles later it still got him in the record books. On Sept. 3, Doba paddled into Le Conquet, Frnace, capping his epic journey crossing the Atlantic for the third time, this time from west to east.
Ironically, he landed at 12: 45 p.m., the exact same time he departed from Barnegat, New Jersey, on May 16.
The journey wasn’t without its pitfalls, especially toward the end when winds, carrying him north to Great Britain, forced him to change his original termination site from Lisbon, Portugal, to Le Havre, France. He changed them again after winds and currents wreaked havoc on his plans to cross the English Channel. As the crow flies his journey crossed 3,000 nautical miles, but in actuality it measured 4,150, with him paddling every stroke of the way.
But he persevered, it true Doba fashion, becoming the only person in his right mind to ever attempt, let alone finish, the feat three times.
“I’m thrilled to reach the world’s most difficult-to-navigate waters, the English Channel, as the finishing point of my third transatlantic kayak expedition,” he texted partner and supporter Piotr Chmielinski when he approached the English Channel on Aug. 21. “The Channel contains big tides and strong currents in addition to very large ship’s traffic, which I feel already.”
His course brought him within miles of the Isles of Scilly, a small archipelago off the southwestern tip of England, where he tied up in the harbor at Hugh Town to wait out the winds and seas.
He made good time across the central Atlantic, though winds pushed him north of his planned course. Earlier in his trip he also had to be rescued by a passing military ship to repair a broken rudder.
“It’s a pretty Herculean effort, what he did, not just once, but three times,” says Joe Carberry, a former editor at Paddler and Canoe & Kayak magazines, who now is an editor at TheInertia.com. “Not too many people on the planet would ever even attempt such a thing.
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