The sea is a cruel and unforgiving environment. From orca whales attacking vessels to the occasional rogue wave, the idea of heading out on the open ocean in a small human-powered craft sounds absurd. A man in Florida is now facing federal charges after he tried to head out into the Atlantic Ocean in a massive hamster wheel and ended up in a three-day standoff with the United States Coast Guard.
According to the Independent, the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Valiant spotted the bizarre hamster wheel 70 miles off the coast of Georgia on August 26th. Inside the strange-looking wheel was Reza Baluchi, a 51-year-old Iranian-born athlete. The Coast Guard stated in court documents that Baluchi threatened to kill himself with a 12-inch knife if anyone tried to arrest him. He also claimed that there was a bomb inside the wheel. The explosive device was later found to be fake.
It took three days for the Coast Guard to get Baluchi out of the wheel, and he was charged with obstructing a boarding and violating a Captain of the Port order. Baluchi claimed that he was trying to run all the way across the Atlantic Ocean to London. This isn’t the athlete’s first run-in with the Coast Guard. The service’s vessel intervened in three of his prior ocean journeys in 2014, 2016, and 2021.
After his failed 2021 voyage to Bermuda, Baluchi told WOFL, “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.”