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Doba Does It

by Kurt Hoehne

As you plan your weekend activities, ponder “Olek” Doba’s latest accomplishment. In case you missed it, the amazing 67-year-old Mr. Doba finished his transatlantic kayak crossing in Florida on April 19. We asked our OAR Northwest’s Jordan Hanssen, who has crossed the Atlantic twice in larger, 4-person rowing boats, what he thought of Doba. “Amazing,” was his response, “I love that he’s doing it with no sponsorship and just for the hell of it.”

Not many of us will undertake a 167-day transatlantic kayak voyage, but the fact that a 67 year old can do it can be incentive to stay active. At least it is for me. There’s lots of coverage, especially from Canoe and Kayak, and this excerpt is from their April 22 post which has lots more great photos:



At 4:18 p.m., on Saturday, April 19, Polish adventurer Aleksander “Olek” Doba officially completed his second successful trans-Atlantic crossing by sea kayak. Hundreds of residents of New Smyrna Beach, Fla. greeted the 67-year-old at the waterfront on “Welcome Aleksander Doba Day.” The compact, sinewy paddler who’s become known in communities along Florida’s Atlantic seaboard as “Aleksander the Great” exited OLO, his custom-made, 23-foot kayak, kissed the ground and laid down on the grass.

The hardships of Doba’s 167-day, 6,000-plus-mile crossing have been well documented—from his Dec. 23 encounter with a tanker ship (and its very surprised crew) on the mid-Atlantic, to a 47-day lack of communication, 40 days of paddling in circles in the confused currents of the Bermuda Triangle, and a broken rudder that nearly ended his crossing and precipitated a layover in Bermuda.Olek

We caught up with Doba, his son Chez, and Polish-American friend Piotr Chmielinski for an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the expedition. We reached Chez by email from Europe, and Doba and Chmielinski by telephone on the road in South Carolina, where the pair are driving north to Washington, D.C., to get their thoughts on a slew of head-scratching topics.

Touch down (Aleksander Doba) “I didn’t sleep on [April 18] and paddled all day and all night. The currents and the winds were pushing me the wrong direction on the Intra-Coastal Waterway. Then I saw people waiting for me on the shore and in boats and kayaks, cheering me on. It was like a boost of energy. I forgot I was tired. My sense of euphoria was so high. I was very, very happy.”

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