Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Problems returned

Christmas has gone, and old problems returned :(. During two last days winds and currents moved kayak over 70 miles (110 km) to the North. Today Aleksander is paddling in good direction, but it takes him another few days to catch up.

Current situation reminds me what said Andrzej Araminski (designer of Aleksander's kayak). As a main challenge he pointed the very low driving power of this boat. The power of single paddler is much, much lower comparing to what sailing yachts or power boats have. This is the main reason, why Aleksander has no chance in the direct fight with ocean. All he can do is just wait for favorable conditions.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas ! :) Let me send you best wishes from Poland.
Christmas Eve (Wigilia) is very special time in Poland. I'm sure Aleksander is missing his family: wife, sons, grandchildren.

The most important news is that it seems that finally, after 30 days of fighting with opposite currents and stormy weather, he is on the right current. GPS plot shows very good progress last two days. That's nice, christmas present.
It seems that he is now on South Equatorial Current. Only 1200 miles left to Fortaleza.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Great day

Hurray! Today our paddler has passed Turning Point. This is very important moment because of three reasons:
  • Turning point is the beginning of South Equatorial Current. This very strong current will drive Aleksander directly to Fortaleza.
  • Mentally Aleksander is starting the second half of the expedition. This should be easier now.
  • Weather on South Atlantic more stable than near Equatorial. So every day there should be less storms.
It's amazing how tough guy he is. After nearly 30 days of bed weather, still optimistic and paddling 40 miles (65 km) a day. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Shark visit

Latest message from Aleksander:
It was an hour before dawn, when I was paddling, suddenly I felt hit in the rudder. It was shark, 10 feet (3 meters) long. Swam several times under the kayak. I punched him twice on the head, run away.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Weather forecast

I've found very good ocean weather forecast for sailors (and paddlers ;)). Wind, waves, precipitation - all important stuff. They try to predict weather for 7 days, which is in my opinion rather guess that predictions. Nevertheless webpage is definitely worth bookmarking.  (

The problem is that weather in this region of Atlantic is extremely unstable, and unpredictible in the local scale. General map of winds, and waves looks good, but hundreds of small storms are crawling around all the time. None of them are very strong, but they make Aleksander's life not easy. I'm afraid that if he doesn't manage to catch South Equatorial Current, he won't finish this expedition in Brazil.
Rain fall and many small storms visible around Aleksander.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

50 days

50 days on the ocean. Aleksander has paddled already 1350mi (2170km), but future of the expedition is not clear. For last 20 days he is constantly attacked by the storms, what caused nearly no progress made for that time.

I'd like to remind you that he is prepared to survive 100 day. So now he has to make serious decision: whether he wants to continue expedition? This is the last moment to get back to Afrika.
Official webpage mutes. GPS plots crazy lines. We are all waiting for any info from Aleksander.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Problems again

Recently we realized slow down on the map. Yesterday Aleksander called his wife  in Poland:
The last two days were the hardest that I have met. After a few easier days, bed weather hit again. It was difficult, but yesterday afternoon began to deteriorate.  Huge, dark clouds heavy with rain, hung over me. Tropical rain started falling. Conditions were deteriorating rapidly, a very violent storm came with strong winds and high waves breaking over the kayak. The storm lasted all night, which was the worst ever. I was so tired that I hadn't shut tightly the hatch. Water was slowly flooding me all night. Morning, it appeared that the water got into the batteries. Fortunately, not all of them are kept in one place, so others survived. 
The wind is all the time against me blowing from the south. It's very tiring. When the wind get weaker, try to paddle to the south-west. GPS shows me that I'm spinning around. This happened third time of this expedition. I do not know when I will be able to get out, I hope the weather improves.

Today sky over Aleksander looks better:

For more satellite images visit NESDIS webpage.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

First trial: Kaylantic 2004

Have you known, that this expedition is actually the second trial taken by Aleksander? The first was in 2004.

Original idea to cross the Altantic from Africa to South America and use power of South Equatorial Current was presented by Paweł Napierała somewhere between 2000-2003. Pawel was rather unexperienced that days in sea kayaking, but his passion and brave idea attracted Aleksander Doba, who has already paddled thousands miles through the seas. 

The first attempt was in 2004. Pawel and Aleksander organized tandem expedition. They wanted to use two tandem kayaks (Prijon Excursion model, which is quite popular in Poland) and connect them with four pipes. On the platform constructed that way, they planed to set up the tent to sleep in. This low-cost plan failed on the ocean.

On December 10th, 2004, they launched their boats at city Tema in Ghana (see the map). For two days they were fighting with Guinea Current, which was pushing them to the East. They suffered problems with leakages  and with connecting boats to build the platform.

Finally, after the second night, they decided to break the expedition. They landed on the beach near Atitati village. Breaking waves destroyed kayaks and local natives stole most of the equipment (none of photos survived this landing).

Paweł Napierała and Aleksander Doba preparing to Kaylantic 2004. (

Kaylantic 2004. They plan to connect two tandem kayaks, and build platform where they can set up the tent.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Good week

Last 7 days have been very positive. The weather is better and Aleksander is finally moving in the correct direction. Another 200km(120mi) to the south, and the major difficulties will be behind him.

Message sent on Dec 6th: "Beautiful dawn. Six dolphins were playing around me for 15 minutes. Barracudas still very close."

The barracuda is known for its large size and fearsome appearance.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Back to paddling forward

It seems that finally, after two weeks of turning around by storms, Aleksander gets back to paddling forward. Last 5 days was quite optimistic, he did 75mi (120km) in correct direction. Of course it is much below expected average, still 1200mi (2000km) left to Fortaleza.

Today is 40th day on the ocean. He still has food for 60day, but it won't be enough if he didn't manage to break through storm zone and find the South Equatorial Current. Now he should does his best to keep south direction. When he will be approximately 200 miles (320km) to the South, his chances for successful finish increases significantly.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

On standby

Don't worry. In spite of crazy GPS plot, he is fine! :) He just waits for better weather. In the meantime he caught some fish. :)

Today is 36th day on the ocean. In the kayak there is enough food to survive 100 days, so Aleksander is not under time pressure. He could be on standby one or two weeks more. After that time he will have to decide whether to paddle to the Brazil, or get back to Africa.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Waiting for better weather

Last 10 days was very hard for Aleksander. He sent a message: Storm by storm. They hit every few hours, all day and night. I can't keep direction.

10 days track

Currently he is paddling to the north. Probably (we don't have confirmation) he wants to run away the from storm zone and wait for better weather.

Todays weather map. It seems that is should be better for few days.
In my opinion he needs one week window, to jump across the storm zone. Weather in South Atlantic is stable, and much more friendly for the paddler. Moreover he will finally catch South Equatorial Current, which will take him directly to the Brazil.

Todays satellite image is quite optimistic. Sky over Gulf of Guinea is nearly clear, so forecast is promising. We will see ... keep fingers crossed!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Storms, storms

It is not a piece of cake.  For 6 days Aleksander is constantly attacked by tropical storms. He is unable to keep direction and speed. First loops appeared in GPS track.
GPS track, November 20th-26th

Sitting in the front of computer, we are in much more comfortable position. Let's check whats the current weather there. We have easy access to satellite images.

Weather from the satellite. Red cross marks current location of kayaker.
  It doesn't look nicely. Aleksander is in the middle of storm zone. This is area where the most of tropical hurricanes starts. Luckily hurricane season 2010 ended recently, so we are not expecting any severe storms.
 Take a look on animated weather map.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Photos & Videos

I've received several questions about photos from the expedition. You are right, one picture says more that hundreds of words. The problem is that I'm only commenter, I don't have right to publish photos from Aleksanders official webpage. All I can do, is give you direct links. There are two galleries:
We know that Aleksander is using cameras during expedition. But I'm afraid that to see photos and videos from the ocean, we have to wait till he will be back.

BTW: Official webpage is finally translated (partially). Take a look.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Stormy weekend

Saturday's and Sunday's tracks are strangely directed to the North. Last message from Aleksander is explaining everything: "Night storms on weekend pushed me strongly to the North despite of my resistance. Now weather is better, I'm back on my track."
That's true, todays GPS plot looks much better.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

25 days report

Next week has gone and now Aleksander is paddling for 25 days. Current position is 680 miles (1100km) from Dakar, and 1200 miles (1900km) to Fortaleza, what means that he has passed over 1/3 of the whole route.
The strong east winds (average 4B) are compensating drift caused by Equatorial Counter Current, so Aleksander decided to slightly change his strategy. Now he directing his kayak to Brazil, not to the turning point (what was planned before expedition started). This is very reasonable decision since turning point was set to make shorter paddling against Equatorial Counter. With east wind, current is not a problem any more, so the shortest, straight line route should be chosen.
Nothing special happened during last days. Days are similar, very hot and a lot of hard paddling. We know that all equipment is working perfectly (especially watermaker). We also know about one severe storm, which made him feel like a snail hidden in a shell.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Fighting with Equatorial Counter

Kayak OLO is now 390 miles (630 km) from the coast of Africa. Nearly 330 miles (530km) left to the turning point, but this will take two or three weeks of hard paddling. Currently Aleksander is breaking trough  Equatorial Counter Current which is pushing him South-East. Just beyond the turning point he will catch South Equatorial, and situation will improve dramatically.
South Equatorial is strong current with surface velocity up to 30 cm/s = 1 km/h  = 15 miles/day. It's quite interesting how scientists track currents using buoys. As a result we get very detailed map of the current.

Ocean currents on Atlantic (from Wikipedia).
To read more about currents on Atlantic visit Wikipedia topic "Ocean current". Explanation why Aleksander chosen such way of crossing, you will find on Route page.

Remember that map on this blog is updated manually, but you can always check the most current location of Aleksander using SPOT website.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Safe from malaria

The malaria was serious risk.  Starting from Africa was one of the major aims of this expedition (direct continent-continent route), but before leaving coast paddler could be infected by mosquitoes. Luckily this risk has gone away.
Today Aleksander is over 15 days on the ocean. Severe malaria is almost exclusively caused by P. falciparum infection, and usually arises 6–14 days after infection. He feels right, no symptoms are observed, so we can say that he is safe now. :)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

News from Twitter

New Twitter account for Aleksander has been created. It is updated by his son Chez Doba, currently living in UK. They have nearly every day contact using satphone, so I belive that this way we get most current (and nearly direct) information from Atlantic.
I've decided to display 3 top tweets in the right columns of this blog.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Slowing down?

If you are careful follower on our Transatlantic paddler, you realized after speeding in the first week (daily average 40mi / 65km), last last 4 days was slower (daily average 27mi / 45km). The weather has not changed significantly, so I was wondering if this kind of slow down is normal for long distance paddlers.

To answer this question, let's take a closer look on "Crossing the Ditch" expedition. In 2007, James Castrission and Justin James crossed Tasman Sea in tandem kayak. During 62 days they did over 3300km(2100mi), what makes daily average 53km (33 mi). They were paddling in tandem boat which is definitely faster, but on the other hand they had rough sea conditions.

We also have to remember that real day distance is longer, comparing to straight line distance of locations taken for every midnight. I predict that extra mileage is about 20 per cent. So after short calculations current daily milleage for Aleksander is 32 miles /  55 km. This is nearly the same what we get for Crossing the Ditch challenge.

Conclusion: Current speed is natural for long distance ocean paddlers. It should be around 30 miles (50 km) per day.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Night paddling

Aleksander reported recently about the weather. Heat during the day is so high (36C/100F) that it is more comfortable to paddle after the sunset. Night paddling is nice, but sleeping in the day is also difficult (because of high temperature).

Short, but intense, tropical storm hit yesterday. It was visible long time before, so Aleksander could prepare himself and the boat. Kayak manage storm very well, it was stable and dry inside. After storm Aleksander spotted shark, but it was not interested in posing for picture ;).

Thursday, November 4, 2010

He is not a policeman

Some of you realized that ocean kayak OLO is marked by polish flag and two inscriptions "Police" and "Poland". The first thought could be that Aleksander is polish policeman, or at least that he is sponsored by some police department.
This is not true. Explanation is different. 
"Police" is the name of Aleksanders hometown. It's a small city in north-west part of Poland, close to Baltic Sea, and German border. He told me many funny stories how his town helped him with contacts with police during expeditions.  
Polish word "Police" should be pronounced as "politze".

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

First week summary

The first week of expedition has finished. During last 7 days Aleksander paddled over 270 miles (430 km) in open ocean. This gives strong daily average (40mi / 60km). With this speed he should get to the Brazil in 50 days.

Another good news is that currently he is over 160mi (250km) from Africa coast. Such distance is enough to say that he is safe from accidental contacts with pirates boats.

According to the official webpage: Aleksander has reported that the weather is nice. He spotted several dolphins, sharks and natives boats. There are no any problems with kayak and other equipment.

Actually, real track length is 310mi (500km).  So we should expect that total length of the challenge will be around 3800 miles ( 6100 km ). With this result, it definitely will be the longest kayak non-stop, ocean challenge in the history.

Friday, October 29, 2010


Welcome to unofficial blog of Transatlantic kayak expedition.

My name is Bartosz Sawicki, and I'm friend of incredible paddler Aleksander Doda who is currently somewhere on the Altantic ocean. I strongly believe that his Transatlantic challenge is one of the biggest kayak expedition ever taken by human beings.

Unfortunately official expedition web page is rather poor and accessible only in polish language. So I decided to write this page for my english speaking friends.  I just can't stand situation where such amazing challenge is not noticed by international community. I'd like to support Aleksander Doba, and also, by the meantime, present you polish kayaking.

Please share information about Transaltantic challenge with your friends. Make comments, share excitement and enjoy this blog.

cheers, :)

ps. Note that english is my third language (after polish and russian), so please forgive me errors.
pps. You can see some ads on this page. I'm not expecting that it's going to make me rich. It is rather some kind of experiment entitled "how Google adsense service works".