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Man’s bid to float from Florida to New York in bubble device cut short
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Man’s bid to float from Florida to New York in bubble device cut short

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It wasn't Reza Baluchi's first time trying to venture in Atlantic waters in his homemade "hydro pod" craft, which operates a lot like a hamster wheel. In 2014, the U.S. Coast Guard rescued him while he tried to reach Bermuda from Florida.

A man inside a makeshift bubble floating along the Atlantic Ocean washed ashore in Florida Saturday.

It was the latest attempt by runner Reza Baluchi to run across the sea inside a cylindrical contraption he calls a “hydropod.” This time, he was headed from Florida to New York to raise money for first responders, sick children and people who are homeless, he said.

The Flagler County, Fla., Sheriff’s Office reported that Baluchi, 49, left St. Augustine Friday in his hydropod with the goal of reaching New York.

He had to turn back after discovering some of his safety and navigation equipment had been stolen. His belongings were eventually recovered, but they’re essential for his maritime journeys, he said.

It wasn’t Baluchi’s first time trying to set sail in Atlantic waters in a flotation device. In 2014, the Coast Guard rescued him while he tried to reach Bermuda from Florida in a homemade hydro pod. He has also run from Los Angeles to New York twice and once circled the U.S. perimeter in an 11,720-mile trek.

A refugee from Iran, Baluchi said he was imprisoned and tortured for running afoul of the Iranian regime. He fled to Germany when he was in his 20s and was eventually granted political asylum in the United States.

Now he raises awareness and money for various causes, he says.

People donate to his organization, Run with Reza, to track his treks in real time on his website and watch his livestreams. He says he wants to inspire others to do the same.

“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. They are in public service, they do it for safety and they help other people,” Baluchi told WOFL-TV in Orlando.

Sunday, he was about 30 miles south of St. Augustine, in Palm Coast, waiting out the weather to continue his journey to New York. His team was set to follow him in a safety boat in case of an emergency, but was also unable to because of the weather, he said.

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