Author Alan Fadling once wrote, “When my heart is a hamster wheel, my inner life becomes a blur.”
Perhaps that little speck of inspiration is what spurred a Florida man to try to cross the Atlantic Ocean on such a contraption. Alas, as is the scourge of the hamster wheel, he didn’t get very far.
The Coast Guard rescued and then arrested Reza Ray Baluchi for the stunt, and now he is facing federal charges.
According to the criminal complaint, the “Hydro Pod” in which Baluchi was running was spotted by the Coast Guard on Aug. 27 approximately 70 nautical miles off Tybee Island.
“Coast Guard Seventh District crews terminated the manifestly unsafe voyage of Mr. Reza Baluchi and rescued him from his makeshift hydro-pod vessel approximately 60 nautical miles off the coast of Georgetown, South Carolina ahead of Hurricane Idalia,” according to a statement from U.S. Coast Guard Southeast.
Baluchi told the Coasties that his intended destination was London, England, and allegedly became hostile as Coast Guard personnel attempted to board the vessel.
“[T]he USCG Cutter VALIANT continued to make efforts to disembark BALUCHI utilizing their small boat,” the complaint notes. “However, BALUCHI displayed two knives and threatened to hurt himself if officers boarded the Vessel. Moreover, BALUCHI threatened to blow himself up, along with the Vessel.”
The Coast Guardsmen involved deemed the threat to be credible, as Baluchi was holding wires. Ultimately, he reneged and admitted the threat was fabricated. It wasn’t until Aug. 29 — and with the help of an additional cutter — that Baluchi was safely removed from the vessel.
The incident does not mark Baluchi’s first attempt at a trans-Atlantic hamster wheel journey. According to the criminal complaint, he tried the voyage in 2014, ‘16 and ‘21.
As a result of the incident, Baluchi has been charged with obstruction of boarding and violation of the captain of the port order.
Baluchi’s bond was set at $250,000.
Sarah Sicard is a Senior Editor with Military Times. She previously served as the Digitial Editor of Military Times and the Army Times Editor. Other work can be found at National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose, and Defense News.