ORLANDO, Fla. - A Florida man is facing federal criminal charges after he attempted to cross the Atlantic Ocean to get to England in a human-sized hamster wheel contraption, officials said.
Ray "Reza" Baluchi was charged with obstruction of a boarding and violation of a captain of the port order, according to a criminal complaint.
On Aug. 26, US Coast Guard officers stopped Baluchi after spotting him on his homemade vessel approximately 70 nautical miles east of Tybee Island, Georgia. It was then that he told officials he was headed to London, court documents said.
Officers deemed his hamster wheel – which was afloat as a result of wiring and buoys – was unsafe for the voyage and ordered him to get into their boat.
Authorities said Baluchi said he was armed with a 12-inch knife and would attempt to kill himself if officers tried to remove him from the wheel.
For days, Coast Guard officers tried to get Baluchi into their boat. At one point, officials said he displayed two knives and threatened to use a bomb to blow himself up, along with the wheel.
Officers believed his threat was valid because Baluchi was reportedly holding wires in his hand. He later told officers the bomb was not real.
On Aug. 29, officers were able to safely get Baluchi off the hamster wheel. He was brought to ashore at the US Coast Guard base in Miami Beach.
This recent incident was not the first time he attempted to travel the ocean by running in what he calls his bubble.
Back in 2014, he had to be rescued from a Hydro bubble near St. Augustine. His second attempt was in 2016 where he had to be rescued from a Hydro pod off the coast of Jupiter.
In the summer of 2021, Baluchi was encountered by Flagler County deputies when his hamster wheel washed ashore farther north in Saint Augustine.
At the time, he claimed he was raising money for charity, and was making his way to New York.