Closing the Transatlantic Circle

On May 29th, 2016, Aleksander “Olek” Doba will launch his ocean kayak called “OLO” into the Atlantic Ocean for the third time. Unlike the two previous expeditions, this time the kayaker will paddle eastward, starting near the Statue of Liberty in New York and ending in a place familiar to him already, the outpost of many great travelers and explorers, Belem, the famous harbor district of Lisbon, Portugal. This way he intends to complete his Atlantic expeditions to close the loop leading from the east to the west and back, by travelling again to the east. 

“From the beginning, I have always wanted to complete my transatlantic adventure in three expeditions. The first one, from Africa to South America, the second one from South America to North America, and finally, the third expedition, from North America to Europe.” The idea of Olek’s great adventure was born during his first crossing of the ocean in 2011. At that time he covered the shortest route, starting in Senegal and ending in Brazil.

“From there, he came to the US capital, Washington, DC and took part in the annual September meeting of enthusiasts kayaking on the Potomac River organized at my house” – says Piotr Chmielinski, coordinator of the US and the ocean parts of Olek’s second and third expeditions.

Three years later, Olek actually reached the coast of North America in his kayak. However, that road required much more effort and time than the originally planned trip from South America. In continuing with his plan, he crossed the Atlantic for the second time kayaking the longest crossing connecting Lisbon with Florida.

So now, it is time for the planned closure of the long loop with the northern crossing of the Atlantic from the United States to Europe.

This year’s trip will likely prove to be much more difficult than the previous ones due to the adverse conditions through which Olek will be paddling. The characteristics for this part of the ocean are cold, frequent storms, and very high waves. It seems, though, that for Aleksander Doba these may not be real obstacles, since he has always emphasized that he prefers the chill to the heat!  After the last trip, he is well seasoned for the battles with the Atlantic storms and high waves.  During that trip, he fell into one significant turmoil after another, but still was able to marvel at their overwhelming beauty.

Because of the risks posed by the third expedition, Olek’s experiences from his previous trips across the Atlantic are crucial for  his success. The past experiences that will stand him in good stead relate to kayak adaptation to the conditions in the ocean, careful preparation of the equipment and communication systems, as well as the ability to survive alone for many months.

The third transatlantic expedition has one more important goal, quite unusual, but enviable. With this expedition, Aleksander Doba will be celebrating his 70th birthday, which comes in September of this year! He would like to prove that with strong determination, consistent action and persistence it is possible to overcome time and human weaknesses. Indomitable spirit and youthful imagination, pushing for the realization of dreams and plans, despite the passage of years, remain unchanged for Olek. His life motto is saying that one needs to be active, be involved; 95 percent of people die in bed, why then, lie down.  This is a motto we all could embrace! 

We wish Olek good wishes for a safe and successful completion of his 3rd Transatlantic Expedition.

By Piotr Chmielinski