Is he the Forrest Gump of the high seas?
A Florida man is facing federal charges after an attempt to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a nautical “hamster wheel,” The Associated Press reported Thursday.
Reza “Ray” Baluchi, 51, was charged Tuesday with obstruction of boarding and a violation of a captain of the port order, according to a criminal complaint filed in Miami.
It wasn’t the first time Baluchi has navigated the ocean in the contraption, using a system of buoys and wires to keep his hamster wheel afloat.
Reza Ray Baluchi has, on two separate occasions in 2014 and 2016, tried to “run” 3,000 miles from Florida to Bermuda in a self-built hamster ball-like watercraft. In 2021, he attempted to “run” from Florida to New York. He had to be rescued on each of these expeditions. pic.twitter.com/0bdutYFcD8
— Possum Reviews (@ReviewsPossum) December 10, 2021
U.S. Coast Guard personnel spotted him in the bizarre contraption off the coast of Tybee Island, Georgia, on Aug. 26, the AP reported.
He told the authorities he was going to London.
Baluchi posted a $250,000 bond, according to WPEC-TV in West Palm Beach. His arraignment is scheduled for Sept. 15.
His latest stunt? Attempting to run in a floating bubble, hamster wheel-like vessel from Florida to England. https://t.co/KtMshJon6l
— WPEC CBS12 News (@CBS12) September 6, 2023
Baluchi allegedly refused to comply with directives that he disembark the hamster vessel and board a Coast Guard boat for rescue.
The Coast Guard personnel cited the dangers of the incoming Hurricane Idalia — pointing out that a craft such as Baluchi’s was in no position to weather the stormy conditions he was likely to face.
Baluchi wielded a knife in interactions with the Coast Guard and at one point threatened to use wires within his craft to blow it up, Coast Guard Special Agent Michael Perez said in the complaint, according to the AP.
Authorities eventually succeeded in retrieving him from the bubble on Aug. 29, returning him to a Coast Guard base in Miami Beach on Sept. 1.
Baluchi’s bizarre quests — including one in which he sought to navigate the hamster wheel from Florida to Bermuda — were profiled in a Vice News documentary three years ago.
The Coast Guard has stopped him in the wheel three times before the latest incident, according to NPR.
Baluchi “has attempted voyages in a similar homemade vessel in 2014, 2016, and 2021, all of which resulted in USCG intervention,” Perez wrote.
This morning, the #FCSO responded to a call about a vessel washing ashore in the Hammock area.
— Flagler County Sheriff’s Office (@FlaglerSheriff) July 24, 2021
He rejects the idea he needs any assistance from the government.
“I’ve been five years, like, do this thing,” Baluchi told the Coast Guard in 2016, according to NPR. “They stop me every time, they save my life. I don’t no need it, save my life. I don’t no need it.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.
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