Go, Olek, Go! 67-Year-Old Transatlantic Kayaker 300 Miles From Florida

67-year-old Aleksander Doba begins the final leg of his trans-Atlantic expedition; Photograph by Nicola Muirhead / @nicolaanne_photo
67-year-old Aleksander Doba begins the final leg of his transatlantic expedition; Photograph by Nicola Muirhead / @nicolaanne_photo

Aleksander “Olek” Doba, a retired engineer from Poland, left Lisbon, Portugal, in his kayak on October 5, 2013. He is paddling for New Smyrna Beach, Florida, 4,700 nautical miles away. If successful, he will be the first person to kayak between the most distant points located on the coasts of Europe and North America. He is anticipated to finish his voyage on Thursday or Friday, April 17 or 18.

“Haitian girls wanted to greet me with flowers, but I passed Haiti too fast,” invariably good humor stays with Aleksander “Olek” Doba, who departed from Lisbon, Portugal, and is paddling solo in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. However, from this playful text sent a few days ago, and the apparent data from SPOT (observation points on the map designating his current position), we learn that Doba is approaching Florida, the conclusion of his expedition, at a fast pace.

If his kayak had a sail, it could be said, that after months of grappling with storms, hurricanes, and a broken rudder, Doba has finally caught the wind in his sails!  Following a short break due to his forced landing in Bermuda, he returned to the waters of the ocean on March 25, at the exact location where his original route was interrupted by a broken rudder, and he quickly continued in the direction of the American coast.  In less than two weeks he has paddled almost half of the remaining 700-mile route, and in the last four days he has covered nearly 250 miles.

Where is such speed is coming from? First, quite favorable north and northeasterly winds have pushed Doba in the desired south and southwest direction. Secondly, the kayak has no wings (a roll bar of sorts), an important design element of  OLO, the name of Doba’s kayak, which would bring the kayak to the upright position if it capsized, but at the same time it was a slowing element due to the air drag.

Launching Aleksander Doba’s kayak in the ocean; Photograph by Nicola Muirhead / @nicolaanne_photo
Launching Aleksander Doba’s kayak back into position from the Spirit of Bermuda; Photograph by Nicola Muirhead / @nicolaanne_photo

Doba and his kayak reached the point of 27N;64W on the deck of the sailing ship Spirit of Bermuda, thanks to help from James Butterfield and the Bermuda Sloop Foundation, to continue his journey in the Atlantic. During the launching, the kayak with Doba on board was pushed against the sloop by a violent gust of wind. The roar of falling water and noise of the wind drowned out the cracking sound of the wings breaking off. Fortunately, Doba wasn’t hurt, but a basic question was raised among the sailboat crew: whether he could carry on without the safety provided by the wings?

But Doba had no doubts. After salvaging the navigation light and active antenna radar from the broken wings, without hesitation he started paddling to meet his dream—to be the first in history to kayak between the most distant points located on the coasts of Europe and North America. A few days later, it was apparent that OLO was handling the waves without the wings very well, and was moving much faster than before.

But one problem remained. For security reasons it was necessary to install the dismantled warning signals on the kayak as quickly as possible, which was not an easy installation. However, Doba, not for the first time, proved that his knowledge of engineering and his inherent ingenuity was the source of an unusual, but practical solution, as he wrote in his report from April 4:

“My dear ones, after ten days it is not bad, actually it’s good! Navigational light was mounted on the first day … on a pitcher; diffuser made of Coca-Cola bottle and bulb is placed 16 inches above the cab. Active radar antenna is attached to a mast made of a paddle at the same height as the wings–this project took me five days to complete.”

After those ten days, Doba summarizes all the advantages and disadvantages of paddling in the kayak deprived of the wings, in his report:

“Cons: light and antenna—a stopgap. Favorable winds—supporting forces weaker. When drifting, despite the use of three drift anchors mounted on the bow, kayak is set sideways to the waves or at 45 degrees; with the wings, it was set directly with the bow to the waves. This is the biggest downside. Pros: greater stability of the vessel—less wagging, less resistance under unfavorable winds. Without the wings is better!”

But the most important message was where Doba wrote: “I am so glad that after the emergency break, I can continue my Second Transatlantic Kayak Expedition.”

At the time of departure from the Spirit of Bermuda, Doba expected that he would arrive in Florida within five to six weeks. However, the pace at which he is now moving may result in a shorter timeframe. If there are no new obstacles, Doba can be expected at the port of New Smyrna Beach, Florida, as early as a week!

Read more:
Retirement Plan: Transatlantic Kayak Expedition
67-Year-Old Kayaker Needs Help Near End of Atlantic Crossing
Solo Transatlantic Expedition: Kayaker Declines Rescue


  1. Malgorzata
    NJ USA
    April 11, 2014, 11:36 am

    Aleksander Doba is AMAZING MAN! We wish him the best and can’t wait to see him in Florida. Go OLek GO.

  2. Jonathon Hall
    Reston, VA
    April 11, 2014, 11:56 am

    What an exciting story of man fighting the elements to accomplish his dream. I can only imagine what it must be like to cross the Atlantic Ocean (alone) and to overcome such adversity. It has certainly been a long journey for both Olek and family & friends that have been following his adventure. Looking forward to seeing him arrive in North America. Go OLEK Go!!!!

  3. Kinga Kępa
    Piotrków Trybunalski - Poland
    April 11, 2014, 1:06 pm

    Olek, it’s so close! Maybe four – five days left!
    You are the best!

  4. Kent Campbell
    April 11, 2014, 3:22 pm

    Amazing feat from an amazing man.

  5. Stefan Danielski
    April 11, 2014, 4:50 pm

    Old Man and the sea. Driven by sheer determination he is a man from another era; Explorer Extraordinary by capital letter “E”. Wishing him fair winds and calm seas.

  6. Bob Triggs
    April 12, 2014, 12:52 am

    I have been following ocean crossing stories for years. This one is among the best.

  7. Jacek Starzyński
    April 12, 2014, 1:47 am

    His determination to realize the dreams inspires!

  8. Gabi Doba
    April 12, 2014, 1:49 am

    Olek, już blisko. Płyń, płyń.

  9. Kasia
    April 12, 2014, 2:12 am

    Olek is amazing! It is unbelievable that in the twenty-first century, when the children sit in front of TVs and games, was a man who, instead of babysit grandchildren, breaking records! A model to follow! Thanks for this report! As “live”! 😉

  10. Ewa
    Polska - Polce
    April 12, 2014, 2:37 am

    Jesteśmy bardzo szczęśliwi , że nasz Bohater jest tak blisko lądu :-))
    Nadal trzymamy mocno kciuki !!!

  11. Christina McIntyre
    Blacksburg, VA
    April 12, 2014, 11:58 am

    Keep up the good work Olek. We are cheering for you – hope you can hear us. Your persistence is an inspiration to us all. Cheers, Christina

  12. Sylwia
    April 12, 2014, 1:18 pm

    Olek vs Trójkąt: 2:1

  13. Jacek Skoczylas
    Szczecinek Poland
    April 12, 2014, 3:26 pm

    Już jesteś na wirażu, a potem ostatnia prosta i Floryda !

  14. Mike Sikora
    Denver, Colorado, USA
    April 12, 2014, 8:12 pm

    Wow!! No words to discuss Olek’s bravery. Only this type of people with determinations without borders can get to finish line. Olek, I keep fingers crossed for your success. Keep going, Florida is not too far anymore.

  15. Lois Reed
    New Smyrna Beach
    April 13, 2014, 4:17 pm

    I live in NSB and would love to welcome Mr Doba – can you notify me, or tell me when and where to look for info on his arrival. Thank you!

  16. Marucha
    April 14, 2014, 2:33 am


    I admire your perseverance in achieving plans.

    Good luck!

  17. Kinga Kępa
    Piotrków Trybunalski, Poland
    April 14, 2014, 4:04 am

    Najbardziej to mi przykro, że nie zobacze na własne oczy jak dopływasz do Florydy. Najbardziej na świecie chciałabym tam być! Liczę na śmigus-dyngus oceaniczną wodą 🙂

  18. Daily News, Mon, Apr 14
    April 14, 2014, 6:57 am

    […] but this crazy old man (hey, it’s a compliment!) is paddling across the Atlantic. Check it […]

  19. Waldeik
    April 14, 2014, 7:40 am


  20. Chez
    April 14, 2014, 8:40 am

    Aleksander is truly unstoppable!

  21. Beata
    April 14, 2014, 12:20 pm

    Już za chwileczkę , już za momencik…tralalalala. Trzymam kciuki aby prosto i w dobrym kierunku wiało. Ściskam Cię mocno

  22. Malgorzata
    USA NJ
    April 14, 2014, 12:45 pm

    Kinga .Ja tez zaluje ze nie bede osobiscie przy powitaniu Olka na plazy NSB i zazdroszcze wszystkim ktorzy tam beda!. Smigus dyngus oceaniczna woda prawdopodobnie zaliczy za nas Pan Piotr, ktory bedzie wspanialym naszym ambasadorem w tym historycznym momencie.Pozdrawiam

  23. michi
    Germany Prenzlau
    April 14, 2014, 12:56 pm

    Great AlexXxander!!!

  24. Gabi Doba
    April 14, 2014, 1:41 pm

    Olek, już tak blisko celu. Jesteś wielkim bohaterem.

  25. Piotr Chmielinski
    Herndon, VA
    April 14, 2014, 1:49 pm

    Dear Lois Reed – we will informed about Olek’s arrival two days before his anticipated landing here on this page of “post a comment”. The trick has been to enjoy the anticipation of Olek’s successful conclusion to his transatlantic feat, but at the same time not get too disappointed with our obvious inability to control mother nature and the sea which at times has its own idea of when and where Olek will be at any given time.
    Piotr Chmielinski

  26. Sylwia
    April 14, 2014, 4:29 pm

    już nie mogę się doczekać, no…;)

  27. Wiesiek
    April 14, 2014, 4:29 pm

    Go to finishand go to home.

  28. Ewa
    Sarasota Florida
    April 14, 2014, 8:16 pm

    czekamy to bedzie wspanialy dzien kiedy zrealizujesz swoj plan

  29. Pangea Magazine
    Edinburgh, Scotland
    April 15, 2014, 3:45 am

    Olek, you are the bravest person on earth!

  30. Kasia
    April 15, 2014, 6:40 am

    I’m so excited! I hope Olek will easy go through the Golfstrom!

  31. Czesław Ochot
    April 15, 2014, 7:26 pm

    Życzę dużo szczęścia! 🙂

  32. Dagmara
    Torun, Poland
    April 16, 2014, 4:08 am

    Go Olek, go! Just a little bit, and You’re Alexander, The Great!

  33. pit
    April 16, 2014, 5:54 am


  34. pit
    April 16, 2014, 5:55 am


  35. Dagmara
    Dublin, Ireland
    April 16, 2014, 10:03 am

    Because people like you Olek, I am proud to be a Pole

  36. Gil
    Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
    April 16, 2014, 12:35 pm

    He is not the first to cross Atlantic paddling a kayak! Amyr Klink made it in 100 days from Capetown to Recife 15 years ago!

  37. Janke Botma
    Lebanon, New Hampshire, USA
    April 16, 2014, 7:35 pm

    This is really a wonderful inspiration to us all. Every day since reading about this I have wondered about where Olek is and how he is doing and wished there was a way to view some of the adventure as it happened. Wishing great success on the rest of the adventure and eagerly awaiting news of the arrival in the USA!

  38. Piotr Chmielinski
    April 17, 2014, 12:28 am

    Gil, Amyr Klink was rowing across the South Atlantic, he did not use kayak paddle. Kayaking and rowing – different disciplines. There a many people who crossed Atlantic from continent to continent by rowing.

  39. Piotr Chmielinski
    April 17, 2014, 12:31 am

    Lois Reed – we expect Aleksander Doba will land in New Smyrna Beach sometime this Friday, April 18th, 2014

  40. Hedi K
    Styria, Austria
    April 17, 2014, 5:01 am

    You crazy genius!!! I wished i had your courage!!! wish you to journey without problems and a good arrival in florida!!! my thoughts are with you!!! kind regards hedi

  41. Darla Heaviland
    Cape Canaveral, Fl
    April 17, 2014, 8:45 pm

    It was my great pleasure to shake hands with this amazing man when he came to shore at the Port of Canaveral on April 17,2014 I was at Jetty Park in Cape Canaveral when I saw him enter the Port, I took many pictures then as he headed down the port we parked near Grill’s to wait for Mr Doba to arrive, the police and many others waited for him, after many pictures were taken and his welcoming friends left I walked over and shook his hand then my husband and 4 year old grandson came over and Sonny also shook his hand and said “I am 4,” which he was as of yesterday. Tomorrow he will continue down the port to the locks then on to the river to New Smyrna Beach Life is just one spectacular event after another, how lucky we all are when we get to experience this once in a life time moment. How lucky Sonny who is 4 is that he was there, such a memory for him in the future when he looks at the photo that his mom took.

  42. Darla Heaviland
    Cape Canaveral Fl
    April 17, 2014, 8:54 pm

    Sonny while shaking Mr Doba’s hand said “I am 4,” which he was as of yesterday, years from now he will know by looking at the picture his mom took what a special moment that was. We were at Jetty Park, Cape Canaveral when Mr Doba entered the port, we all waved and cheered this great man on after his long,long journey. When Mr Doba arrived at the pier next to Grill’s in the Port of Canaveral many of us were there to take pictures and be thrilled to be part of his adventure in such a small way. I also shook Mr Doba’s hand and we spoke a few words, such an honor for myself. Life is an amazing journey and more so when we get to experience a day like this! God speed Mr Doba, deepest regard’s , Darla

  43. michel leroux
    ormond beach
    April 18, 2014, 8:17 am

    We will be along the waterway and at NSB to welcome this new Champion. Try to give a time frame . And also, let us know if you need a hand to help with organization.

  44. Magda
    April 19, 2014, 3:06 am

    This is incredible! a brave and amazing achievement! hope you reach your destination safe and sound! good luck, Olek!

  45. Gary Sroka
    Today - New Smrna Beach, Fl
    April 19, 2014, 5:46 pm

    Many of us were there today, April 19th at 4:15 pm to see Olek Doba land in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. What an amazing story, and feat!!

  46. Tim Forrest
    Edgewater, Florida
    April 20, 2014, 11:07 am

    Hi Piotr,

    I swam out into the Indian River and captured a few images of Aleksander Doba enroute to New Smyrna. If you have any need, you are welcome to use them in any marketing, publicity, or journalist materials.

    Link to photos – https://www.dropbox.com/sh/1g46qp29gj5nuo8/LrWewvPwev

    Photo Credit: Island Sunrises by Tim Forrest

    Thank you,

    Tim Forrest

  47. Andrew Pietowski
    Abuja, Nigeria
    April 21, 2014, 2:44 am

    Great joy for great record achieved! But even more, to follow Olek overcoming so many obstacles on his way from Lisbon to Florida. Character and motivation of this 67 years young Pole should set example for all of us and challenge us to make our dreams come true. Nothing of value comes easy, Olek knows and proves that very well. When I retire (soon!) I will perceive some of dreams that for a while I had to hang up on a peg. Mr. Doba, you are my inspiration too! Way to go and honor to know you.

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