Late Monday morning (Feb. 22) on the 19,341-foot summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, 74-year-old Polish adventurer Aleksander ‘Olek’ Doba broke into a large grin and hollered “Wild Africa!” into the wind. Moments later he sat down and died. The reason for loss of life was not decided.
A compact man with an unlimited beard and boundless enthusiasm, Doba was greatest identified for crossing the Atlantic Ocean three times in a closely modified kayak. He made all three crossings in his seventh decade of life, and every was more durable than the final.
His first crossing from Senegal to Brazil in 2011 was the longest ocean kayak journey ever, lasting 99 days. His second, from Portugal to Florida in 2014, totaled 167 days at sea. For 47 of these days he had no communication with the surface world, as a result of somebody on his help staff had forgotten to pay the invoice for his satellite tv for pc cellphone. Doba didn’t care. When a Greek cargo ship stopped to render help, he waved it off. His third Atlantic crossing, and west-to-east enterprise, featured a pair of trying, errant starts leaving New York Harbor, finally totaling 110 consecutive days at sea following his departure from New Jersey to France.
His 23-foot oceangoing kayak weighed 1,500 kilos loaded, and included a large self-righting mechanism that made it almost inconceivable to paddle into the wind. Designed to maintain him upright in violent seas, it snapped off throughout his second voyage close to Bermuda. The kayak’s rudder failed with alarming regularity, however inside his tiny cabin, the fiberglass partitions signed by family members and embellished together with his granddaughters’ artwork, Doba feared nothing. “I trusted my kayak,” he stated. “If my kayak might survive it, so might I.”
Doba racked up spectacular journeys in standard kayaks too, circumnavigating Lake Baikal and the Baltic Sea, and paddling 3,336 miles from his dwelling in Poland to central Norway.
He’s greatest remembered for his Sisyphean ocean crossings, by which storms and opposite currents pushed his tiny yellow craft backward again and again, till the monitor of his progress resembled a collection of loops drawn by a toddler. By way of all of it, Doba—65 throughout his first voyage, 67 on his second, 70 on his third—simply saved paddling. He by no means doubted himself, and by no means allowed hardship to cloud his enjoyment of the journey. Quite the opposite, when tropical storms battered him for 3 weeks operating within the South Atlantic, he reveled of their elemental energy.
“It introduced me such a detailed relation to the great thing about mighty nature,” stated Doba, who wore nothing over his gnarled torso however that beard and a crown of windswept hair.
“Watching the storms approaching. The superb silence, simply earlier than a storm hit. The highly effective power pulsing, after which fighting the guts of nature; the isolation,” he stated. “These experiences crammed me to the core with profound feelings.”
On Monday he skilled that pleasure one final time. The septuagenarian slowed to climb at his personal tempo, reaching the fore-summit at about 10 a.m. There his guides requested him if he wished to go down, saying the fore-summit counts as reaching the highest. Doba wasn’t having it. “No method,” he stated. “I’m going upstairs!”
On the true summit an hour later he died as he lived—exuberant, irrepressible and till the very finish, unstoppable.
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