Florida man Reza Baluchi was detained by the US Coast Guard on Friday after allegedly attempting to cross the Atlantic Ocean and reach the United Kingdom via a floating vessel resembling a hamster wheel, according to an official criminal complaint.
Baluchi, 44, was spotted by members of the Coast Guard about 70 miles (110km) off Tybee Island, Georgia on August 26th. Baluchi refused to leave the vessel and maintained that he would continue to London, even threatening to blow himself up as officers attempted to detain him.
After a three-day standoff with Baluchi, officers finally succeeded in removing him from the makeshift ship and arrested him in Florida on September 1st. Officers also determined that there was no bomb in the vessel and Baluchi’s threat was baseless.
Baluchi’s floating hamster wheel
The peculiar vessel is fitted with makeshift paddles meant to propel Baluchi forward as he turned the base of the vessel in a manner reminiscent of a hamster wheel.
"Based on the condition of the vessel – which was afloat as a result of wiring and buoys – officers determined Baluchi was conducting a manifestly unsafe voyage," the criminal complaint explained.
Baluchi has made waves with his vessel in the past – Baluchi was arrested in 2021 after being rescued while trying to ride from Florida to New York after drifting 30 miles south of his departure point. Baluchi was also arrested in Florida in 2014 and 2016 for separate incidents.
Baluchi has previously claimed that his eccentric failed voyages have been in honor of charitable causes, such as for the homeless, police, and the US Coast Guard.
"My goal is to not only raise money for homeless people, raise money for the Coast Guard, raise money for the police department, raise money for the fire department," he told WOFL-TV in Orlando in 2021. "They are in public service, they do it for safety, and they help other people."