(VitalNews.org) – A Florida man attempting to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a homemade flotation device has been arrested and charged with obstruction of boarding. Reza Baluchi, 44, was taken into custody on August 28 after the Coast Guard spent several days trying to halt his voyage, which they described as unsafe.
The amateur seaman had created a cylindrical vessel resembling a hamster wheel out of wire and buoys which was powered only with his own paddling. The Coast Guard found and stopped him 70 miles off the coast of Georgia while Hurricane Franklin headed towards their location.
According to the authorities, Baluchi rebuffed their attempts to stop his voyage multiple times. Baluchi is alleged to have produced two knives and threatened to harm himself should the Coast Guard attempt to board his vessel. At one point, he is alleged to have held several wires in his hands and threatened to set off a bomb, the location of which he would not disclose. The Coast Guard requested help from the Navy in order to find the explosive device, which Baluchi ultimately revealed to have been a hoax, according to the charges filed against him.
Baluchi has previously been in trouble with authorities when making adventurous attempts across water. In 2021, he was rescued while trying to sail to New York from Florida. He was consequently arrested. In 2014 and in 2016 he also ran into trouble while sailing his contraptions off the Florida coastline, and both times required rescue.
Baluchi has spoken to the press on several occasions to discuss his unusual inventions and his motivation for repeatedly attempting to undertake long and potentially dangerous journeys with them. In 2021, he told Orlando television crews that he wanted to raise money for a variety of causes, including to help the homeless and to raise money for the same Coast Guard that had had to go to his aid.
Mr. Baluchi has been released on bail for $250,000. He has not made a public statement about his latest attempted voyage or arrest.
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