At 67 Aleksander Doba is National People’s Choice Adventurer of the year.
Aleksander received 521,000 votes toward the People’s Choice Adventurer of the Year Award. This was a record setting number of voes.
The Polish adventurer, a retired engineer, at age 67 completed the longest open-water kayak crossing of the Atlantic ocean in history. It took 6 months to paddle the 7700 miles from Lisbon to Florida.
During his journey he faced 30 foot waves and even got caught up in the Bermuda Triangle where winds and currents kept him entangled in circular progress for 40 days. In addition he faced challenges with electronic tracking devices as well as mechanical failures such as a snapped rudder.
Read on for a detailed account of his transatlantic voyage.
Doba traveled an average of 30 miles a day, often paddling at night, when the temperatures dropped. He slept no more than six hours a day in multiple installments, crammed into his cockpit on his side among five months’ worth of food and equipment. Once he got far enough out from the shore, he spent most of the trip naked, deciding it was more comfortable.
When he was too far from shore to see any birds, Doba was surrounded instead by marine wildlife, from fish and dolphins to turtles, whales, and sharks.
“Dozens of sharks checked on me, but one was ready to attack me, and I had to whack his head with the paddle really hard to make him leave,” Doba remembers. “On the warmer part of the Atlantic Ocean, flying fish were a big, unexpected attraction. When a few landed on my kayak, I didn’t have to eat my lyophilized food for dinner that night.”
Doba didn’t begin kayaking until the age of 34 and didn’t train physically for the journey.
“I consider myself to be a tourist,” he explains. “I even do oceanic expeditions as a tourist. And a tourist does not prepare himself too much. I am generally physically active, ride a bike, work in my garden, and enjoy walking.”
Physically, Doba did not seem to experience any difficulty beyond some uncomfortable and persistent skin rashes caused by prolonged exposure to saltwater. But two months into the voyage, almost dead center in the North Atlantic, Doba’s satellite phone stopped working, rendering him unable to communicate for 47 days. Then the AA batteries for his SPOT personal tracking device failed