A man banned from sea after trying to cross ocean in 'human-powered hamster wheel' has more than just a wild adventure in mind. Reza Ray Baluchi plans to use his journeys to show people's lives around the world, aiming to capture human stories and diverse cultures for future generations.
Florida resident Reza Ray Baluchi, is the man banned from sea after trying to cross ocean in 'human-powered hamster wheel'. He is an Iranian athlete and activist, has been banned from entering the ocean after his most recent arrest for attempting to cross the Atlantic in a self-propelled hamster wheel. On September 1, he was found by the U.S. Coast Guard 70 nautical miles off Tybee Island, Georgia, while apparently en route to London.
Baluchi has a history of attempting such maritime adventures, making this incident far from his first brush with the law in such a context. This recent episode involved a dramatic three-day standoff between Baluchi and the police. According to official documents, the Coast Guard informed him that he didn't have permission to operate his peculiar vessel, labeling the endeavor as "manifestly unsafe."
The U.S. Coast Guard was actually making preparations for Hurricane Franklin last month when they stumbled upon Baluchi, adding another layer of risk to the whole saga.
What escalated the situation further was the claims made by Baluchi. He threatened authorities by stating he was "armed with a 12-inch knife and would attempt to commit suicide should the USCG officers attempt to remove him," according to an affidavit. Furthermore, Baluchi claimed that he would detonate a bomb if removed from the wheel, a threat later proven false.
Due to these actions, Baluchi now faces charges including "obstruction of boarding and violation of a Captain of the Port Order."
Additional to these criminal charges, Baluchi may face severe civil penalties. These charges can result in hefty fines or further restrictions on his maritime activities.
Human-powered hamster wheel in the shore.
This isn't Reza Ray Baluchi's first run-in with the authorities. Over the years, he's made several attempts to cross the Atlantic in unconventional ways, each time facing obstacles that brought his journey to an early end.
Baluchi's fascination with crossing large bodies of water in unconventional ways is not new. In 2021, he set off from St. Augustine, Florida, in another human-powered 'hydro pod', aiming for New York City.
His hydro pod is a 10' x 6' wheel made of 3-mm thick plastic around an aluminum frame with buoys and flotation devices all around the outer rings. He even mentioned that he could make 6 knots in this watercraft, which is registered in Florida as a boat.
His ambitions were foiled when he realized he had forgotten essential items like GPS and charging cables, forcing him to cut short his journey and climb ashore in Flagler County, Florida.
In April 2016, Baluchi took another shot at the seas despite having been denied permission by the Coast Guard in the previous year.
During these attempts, he even faced mental health challenges, being committed to a psychiatric hospital after threatening self-harm during an interaction with the U.S. Coast Guard.
He had ambitious plans to travel through various destinations such as Jacksonville, Bermuda, Haiti, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Key West in a new 'hydro pod' costing $22,000 (£17,500).
However, just two days into the planned five-month adventure, he was brought ashore by the Coast Guard off the coast of Jupiter, Florida.
In the same year, Baluchi made a third attempt to fulfill his maritime dreams. Once again, the Coast Guard escorted him back to shore. Similar to his latest attempt, Baluchi reportedly threatened to harm himself if authorities intervened.
Baluchi's first recorded attempt at crossing the Atlantic was back in 2014. Using a handmade 'hydro pod' costing him $4,500 (£3,500), he planned to go from Pompano Beach to Bermuda, Puerto Rico, and then back to Miami.
The Coast Guard intercepted him 70 miles off the coast of St Augustine. The rescue operation to bring him back cost around $140,000 (£111,000) and involved multiple resources including a helicopter and an airplane.
The coastguard rescuing Reza Ray Baluchi, the man banned from sea
This endeavor was also notable because the Coast Guard received a report that Baluchi was "reportedly disoriented and asking for directions to Bermuda." They monitored him for three days until he activated a locator beacon.
Before moving to the U.S., Baluchi had a colorful and challenging life in Iran. He was sentenced to two years in prison for offenses against Islam and was a member of the national cycling team.
After his release from prison, he defected to Germany and began a cycling journey through 55 countries on six continents, promoting peace and opposing authoritarianism. He also once promised to run across America to benefit victims of 9/11, which he fulfilled in 2003.
So what drives a man to repeatedly risk his life, and potentially others', in such bizarre escapades?
According to his website 'Run with Reza,' Baluchi aims to "run thru all 194 recognized countries in the world to inspire us and unite us as a people. His dream is to share the lives of people around the world with complete transparency. He will broadcast the experience with a live camera and create a film. Stories of the human spirit and culture shall be told thru the eyes of our children as students."
My goal is to not only raise money for homeless people, raise money for the Coast Guard, raise money for the police department, raise money for the fire department. They are in public service, they do it for safety, and they help other people.- Reza Ray Baluchi
Baluchi is determined despite the setbacks, asserting:
I’ll never give up my dream. They stop me four or five times, but I never give up.- Reza Ray Baluchi
Additionally, Baluchi stated in an exclusive interview that his attempt was also meant to raise money for various public service entities like the Coast Guard, police, and fire departments, alongside helping the homeless.
Capt. Austin Gould noted in an official statement that Baluchi's maritime endeavor was inherently risky, endangering not just himself but other seafarers as well.
In an interview with the New Times, Baluchi refuted claims that he had threatened his own life. "Why would I want to hurt myself? I am survivor-man," he asserted.
Currently, Baluchi is not allowed to "go to the ocean or board a vessel on the ocean," per court documents. While this might temporarily halt his oceanic exploits, there’s still a possibility that we haven't heard the last of Baluchi’s maritime adventures.
Given his past, it seems that laws, Coast Guards, and even common sense might not be enough to deter this persistent activist from pursuing his high-seas dreams. His legal team is currently exploring options for appeal, and Baluchi himself is considering alternative ways to continue his adventures, possibly on land.
So, will the saga of Reza Ray Baluchi come to an end, or is another chapter yet to be written? Either way, his extraordinary life story serves as an example of human perseverance, ambition, and, arguably, folly.
Reza Ray Baluchi is a Florida resident, originally from Iran, who has gained attention for his unconventional attempts to cross large bodies of water. He's an athlete, activist, and a bit of an adventurer.
Reza Ray Baluchi has been banned from entering the ocean due to multiple attempts to cross the Atlantic in a 'human-powered hamster wheel.' His latest endeavor led to a standoff with the U.S. Coast Guard, and he now faces several charges, including obstruction of boarding and violation of a captain of the port order.
He was found 70 nautical miles off Tybee Island, Georgia, apparently en route to London. Baluchi had also made several false threats, according to official documents, which escalated the situation and led to his ban.
The 'human-powered hamster wheel' is a self-propelled vessel that Baluchi created for his maritime adventures. This contraption is designed to float and move on water, powered solely by the physical exertion of its occupant.
According to Baluchi, he aims to "run thru all 194 recognized countries in the world to inspire us and unite us as a people." He also wants to raise money for public services like the Coast Guard, police, and fire departments, as well as for the homeless.
He has made several attempts, each with varying levels of success but ultimately ending in his return to shore. Over the years, his vessels have varied, as have his planned destinations.
Baluchi denied claims that he had threatened his own life during the incident. In an interview, he stated, "Why would I want to hurt myself? I am survivor-man."
Before moving to the U.S., Baluchi had a life full of challenges and adventures in Iran. He was part of the national cycling team and even went on to defect to Germany. He then cycled through 55 countries on six continents to promote peace and oppose authoritarian regimes.
While current legal restrictions may temporarily halt his sea voyages, Baluchi remains determined. "I'll never give up my dream," he asserts.
Reza Ray Baluchi, the man banned from the sea after trying to cross the ocean in a 'human-powered hamster wheel' embodies a spirit of adventure and ambition that is both awe-inspiring and controversial. His maritime escapades have not only attracted the attention of authorities but also sparked debates about the limits of individual freedom and safety.
While Baluchi's motivations may be noble, aiming to unite people and raise money for various causes, his methods have put him, and potentially others, at risk. It remains to be seen how his dreams will navigate the choppy waters of legal restrictions and public opinion. But one thing is clear: We have not heard the last of this indefatigable dreamer.