Spirit of Bermuda to deliver solo kayaker to drop-off point
A reluctant Aleksander Doba bid Bermuda farewell yesterday as he and the Spirit of Bermuda — carrying the 67 year-old Polish adventurer's 1,300lb kayak, named Olo — began sailing 335 miles south of the Island, where Mr Doba will resume his trans-Atlantic record bid.
He is attempting to be the first person to kayak across the Atlantic from Europe to North America, a feat he said only recently became possible with advancements in food ration packaging and ocean kayak technology.
In order to restart his record bid, Mr Doba must return to the point where he was blown off-course in January, around 300 miles south, hopefully nullifying the assistance he received that might invalidate his attempt.
“It's nice to finally get him going again, but at the same time Bermuda is such a friendly place that he didn't want to go this morning. He asked if he can stay longer!” said Mr Doba's friend and fellow kayaker, Piotr Chmielinski.
“Even though Bermuda was not a place he desired to go, it was an accident, but altogether it turned into a very positive experience.
“Staying for one month, he probably knows every inch of the island. He was bicycling all the time after he repaired his rudder.
“For the Spirit of Bermuda to take him, you cannot ask for a better combination. Thank you so much to all the Bermudians who helped Olek [Doba].”
Mr Doba arrived in Bermuda on February 24 to repair a broken rudder, which came unhinged during five severe storms in January which pushed him north, away from his originally intended course and toward Bermuda.
After a month spent on the Island hoping for someone to take him to the point where he was blown off-course, The Spirit of Bermuda and sponsors stepped in last week for what they saw as a perfect opportunity.
“When you think of the spirit of Bermudians, you think about giving people, you think about loving people, you think about people who are willing to reach out a helping hand, and I think that this gives us the opportunity to show exactly what we are claiming when carry the name ‘Spirit of Bermuda',” said the Sloop Foundation CEO, Denise Riviere.
What also makes the combination a good match, said Ms Riviere, is that Mr Doba is a walking representation of what an individual can do when they embrace the same principals The Spirit of Bermuda itself embraces.
“When we're out on any of our school voyages, we're drilling our values into our young people's minds — self confidence, accountability, responsibility — these are things we expect them to take away from their experience on Spirit. But you have to walk the talk.
“Olek really embodies a lot of the principals we try to instil in our young people. You can't preach to kids you want them to embody these values, and not recognise it when you come across someone who has those values too.
“For Olek to have embarked on that journey, he's got to be accountable, he has to show responsibility, he has to have self confidence, and those are all the things we encourage kids to reach for in order to be productive citizens.”
Sponsoring the trip are Butterfield and Vallis CEO Jim Butterfield, the Bermuda Tourism Authority, and Rubis Gas, which already donates fuel for the Spirit of Bermuda's Middle School Education and Character Development voyages.
Among those on-board the Spirit of Bermuda are former UBP MP Charlie Swan, Mr Doba's colleague, Piotr Chmielinski, and twelve others, including several students.
The trip will take approximately five days, while Mr Doba hopes to reach his final destination in Florida within three weeks, barring any unforeseen weather, once he sets off.