A Florida man is facing federal charges after attempting to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a man-made hamster wheel-like vessel called the “hydro-pod.”
On August 26, the U.S. Coast Guard encountered Reza Ray Baluchi, 51, in his odd craft approximately 70 miles off the coast of Tybee Island, Georgia while they were doing hurricane preparations. According to a criminal complaint filed in Miami, Baluchi has been charged with obstruction of boarding and violation of a captain of the port order.
Baluchi claimed that he was trying to ride his vessel to England and that he had a Florida registration on board, although he was unable to produce it. The Coast Guard officers deemed his voyage “manifestly unsafe,” as the vessel appeared to be “afloat as a result of wiring and buoys.”
When the Coast Guard attempted to persuade Baluchi to leave the vessel, he threatened to harm himself and claimed to have a knife. When they tried again, he threatened to blow himself up when officers approached him about leaving the vessel, though he did not have any explosives.
The Coast Guard cutters Campbell and Valiant arrived on the scene on August 28, providing support and delivering food, water, and hurricane predictions to the Florida man. Despite their repeated orders to leave the vessel, Baluchi refused.
Finally, on August 29, the Coast Guard successfully removed Baluchi from the floating hamster wheel and he was brought to the Coast Guard base in Miami Beach on September 1.
This is not the first time Baluchi has attempted such a voyage. He tried a similar journey in 2014 and was served a captain of the port order by the Coast Guard in 2015 that applied to any subsequent voyages. Despite this order, he made additional attempts in 2016 and 2021, with the Coast Guard intervening each time.
Baluchi has posted a $250,000 bond, and his attorney has not yet responded to media inquiries regarding the case. Baluchi’s repeated attempts to undertake dangerous and unconventional ocean voyages are considered a threat to his safety and a navigational hazard.