All hope is lost.
An Iranian exile who received asylum in the United States was trying his best to restore that hope and raise money for children in need, but he failed.
Modern-day “Bubble Boy meets Forrest Gump” Reza Baluchi received asylum in the United States a little more than a decade ago. Since then, he has been doing a lot of interesting things, like extreme distance running.
He even ran all the way across Death Valley in 2010. He has run all the way around the perimeter of United States. But the one task he couldn’t complete was running more than 1,000 miles between Miami and Bermuda.
Yes, running through the Bermuda Triangle is challenging. Open water and foot traffic just don’t mix.
But Baluchi had a plan. He designed a device that was part hamster ball, part paddleboat to help him make it across.
I had a hard time imagining someone completing this trek because of little things like having to eat, sleep, breathe and other things our bodies do that you wouldn’t want to do in a hamster ball.
But Baluchi’s Hydro Pod had openings on the side that allowed him to jump out when the temperatures in the ball rose over 120 degrees. He could swim in the ocean while tethered to his home away from home. I assume other things happened in the ocean as well that we don’t want details about.
The big ball was apparently equipped with a hammock for his morning naps during calm seas. That’s a big ball and must have taken a lot of energy to propel, even with paddles on the outside and soccer balls in the rails to increase its seaworthiness.
As for eating, Baluchi said on his website that he is a great fisherman and would catch fish to eat when he became hungry. I can’t see how a campfire could have worked on the pod so I guess we’re talking about sushi. Even as bad as that would be, he couldn’t have had that much success fishing in open waters with severe gear and bait limitations.
I’ve gone fishing with a guide on great fishing lakes several times. Only once did I enjoy any real success. This guy is going to shove a makeshift rod out a hole in a bubble in the ocean and hope to catch enough fish to survive.
Baluchi brought along a lot of water and homemade protein bars to supplement his sushi intake. Something tells me he was going to need a lot of protein bars.
In addition to running enough to make it from Miami to Bermuda, Baluchi was going to have to pump air into his device for an hour a day to stay afloat.
Despite the obvious difficulties associated with the trip, Baluchi said he was confident of his ability to make the journey because he had crossed Death Valley in 2010.
While planning water breaks and rest stops in a desert is tough, the sand in the Death Valley doesn’t move in the opposite direction and there are no gas stations in the Bermuda Triangle.
Baluchi’s folly ended this weekend as the Coast Guard had to come in and rescue him – lost and disoriented only 70 miles and three days into his improbable journey.
I hope the needy children served by his charity Plant Unity did better than American taxpayers who footed the bill for rescuers using planes, helicopters and boats that cost thousands of dollars per hour to operate in order to locate and rescue the runner in his hamster ball.
This was the second time in his three day tour that the Coast Guard had to contact him. The first time, he turned down their help because he had practiced for two years to complete the task.
Two years of practice resulted in three days of futility and failure.
Baluchi is upset because he says he wasn’t really disoriented – although he had been spotted on day one asking for directions to Bermuda - and “accidentally” turned on his GPS rescue beacon. He is also worried about his glorified floating hamster ball – which the Coast Guard abandoned because apparently they don’t consider themselves the AAA of the open seas, responsible for towing ridiculous modes of transportation back to shore. That thing is probably making a lot better time now as the strong currents push it to the north.
Doing a little math, Bubble Boy made it 70 miles in three days. That isn’t a horrible effort. However, at that pace, he would have reached Bermuda in six weeks.
As nice as Thanksgiving would have been in Bermuda, the chances he could have made it that far are slim. He is lucky to have failed sooner rather than later so that at least he could just be embarrassed and not dead.
The moral of this story is simple and true.
Everything is impossible until someone accomplishes it. Some things are impossible because trying to accomplish them is pointless and reckless.
Kent Bush: Bubble Boy meets Forrest Gump
All hope is lost.