Florida man arrested for trying to cross Atlantic in human-powered hamster wheel

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By Kim Novak

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A man from Florida has been arrested after attempting to cross the Atlantic in a human-powered hamster wheel, heading to the UK.

Reza Baluchi was arrested following a three-day standoff at sea with the US Coast Guard after being found around 70 miles off the coast of Georgia in his homemade Hydro Pod.

His vessel had been spotted by the US Coast Guard cutter Valiant as Hurricane Franklin threatened the eastern seaboard, according to The Daily Beast.

Baluchi was questioned after being intercepted on August 26 and revealed that he had been heading for London in his vessel.

Baluchi reportedly threatened to take his own life with a 12-inch knife if anyone tried to arrest him and told USCG officers that he had a bomb on board his vessel.

After days of negotiation with the coast guard, he eventually admitted that he did not have a bomb on board, and officers were able to get him to disembark on August 28.

He was eventually brought ashore on September 1 at the USCG base in Miami Beach, Florida.

A criminal complaint was filed in the US District court in Florida, stating: "Based on the condition of the vessel – which was afloat as a result of wiring and buoys – USCG officers determined Baluchi was conducting a manifestly unsafe voyage."

The crossing is reportedly not the first time Baluchi, an Iranian athlete living in the US, has attempted to make a lengthy trip using his homemade method of transport.

Court documents stated that Baluchi previously attempted similar voyages in 2014, 2016, and 2021, which all ended with him being intercepted by the coast guard.

He built his first Hydro Pod using $4,500 in savings from various jobs including as a mechanic, and built the aluminum-framed vessel, which is propelled by paddled powered by running inside the craft, similar to a hamster wheel.

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Iranian athlete Reza Baluchi has made numerous attempts at voyages in his homemade vessel. Credit: David Livingston/WireImage

In 2014, after two years of training, Baluchi set out with the aim of tracing the Bermuda Triangle by reaching Bermuda and Puerto Rico, before coming back to Miami, but was stopped by the coast guard approximately 185 miles north of his starting point after being deemed to be in danger.

Coast guards stated that he appeared "fatigued" and had activated distress beacons, which he claimed that he had done by accident while retrieving a pack of water bottles thrown to him from a crabbing boat.

He made national news in 2021 after attempting to travel from Florida to New York in a similar craft but washed ashore after just 25 miles.

Baluchi is facing charges of obstruction of boarding, and violation of a Captain of the Port order.

Featured image credit: Getty Images

Florida man arrested for trying to cross Atlantic in human-powered hamster wheel

vt-author-image

By Kim Novak

Article saved!Article saved!

A man from Florida has been arrested after attempting to cross the Atlantic in a human-powered hamster wheel, heading to the UK.

Reza Baluchi was arrested following a three-day standoff at sea with the US Coast Guard after being found around 70 miles off the coast of Georgia in his homemade Hydro Pod.

His vessel had been spotted by the US Coast Guard cutter Valiant as Hurricane Franklin threatened the eastern seaboard, according to The Daily Beast.

Baluchi was questioned after being intercepted on August 26 and revealed that he had been heading for London in his vessel.

Baluchi reportedly threatened to take his own life with a 12-inch knife if anyone tried to arrest him and told USCG officers that he had a bomb on board his vessel.

After days of negotiation with the coast guard, he eventually admitted that he did not have a bomb on board, and officers were able to get him to disembark on August 28.

He was eventually brought ashore on September 1 at the USCG base in Miami Beach, Florida.

A criminal complaint was filed in the US District court in Florida, stating: "Based on the condition of the vessel – which was afloat as a result of wiring and buoys – USCG officers determined Baluchi was conducting a manifestly unsafe voyage."

The crossing is reportedly not the first time Baluchi, an Iranian athlete living in the US, has attempted to make a lengthy trip using his homemade method of transport.

Court documents stated that Baluchi previously attempted similar voyages in 2014, 2016, and 2021, which all ended with him being intercepted by the coast guard.

He built his first Hydro Pod using $4,500 in savings from various jobs including as a mechanic, and built the aluminum-framed vessel, which is propelled by paddled powered by running inside the craft, similar to a hamster wheel.

wp-image-1263227211 size-full
Iranian athlete Reza Baluchi has made numerous attempts at voyages in his homemade vessel. Credit: David Livingston/WireImage

In 2014, after two years of training, Baluchi set out with the aim of tracing the Bermuda Triangle by reaching Bermuda and Puerto Rico, before coming back to Miami, but was stopped by the coast guard approximately 185 miles north of his starting point after being deemed to be in danger.

Coast guards stated that he appeared "fatigued" and had activated distress beacons, which he claimed that he had done by accident while retrieving a pack of water bottles thrown to him from a crabbing boat.

He made national news in 2021 after attempting to travel from Florida to New York in a similar craft but washed ashore after just 25 miles.

Baluchi is facing charges of obstruction of boarding, and violation of a Captain of the Port order.

Featured image credit: Getty Images