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SYFY WIRE Twisted Metal

Florida Man Arrested for Running Across the Ocean in Homemade Hamster Ball... Again

It's a weird hobby, but we appreciate the commitment.

By Cassidy Ward

In the world of Twisted Metal (streaming now on Peacock) there are two basic ways to live. You can have a comparatively ordinary life inside the walled off remains of civilization or you can take to the streets. If you want to survive on the lawless roads between cities, you’re going to need a good vehicle, the more tricked out and bonkers the better!

Reza Baluchi doesn’t live in the fictional world of Twisted Metal, but he’s clearly chosen the second path. Over the last decade Baluchi, a Florida resident, has built a series of homemade watercraft called “Hydro Pods” and attempted to use them to run across the ocean.

Reza Baluchi Wants to Run Across the Atlantic in a Floating Hamster Wheel

Before becoming known as the guy trying to run across the ocean, Baluchi was a professional cyclist and runner. Over the years, he’s been involved in a number of charitable athletic events, and his Hydro Pod activities are an admittedly wacky extension of that.

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Baluchi built his first pod in 2014. The experimental craft was comprised of a plastic and aluminum frame supported by a floating wheel on each side. The wheels are filled with buoys and surrounded by paddles. The whole contraption is controlled by the occupant running inside and turning the paddles. Baluchi attempted to use that first Hydro Pod to run from Miami to Bermuda, Puerto Rico, and back to Miami. He was ultimately recovered by the Coast Guard, and the Hydro Pod was destroyed during its transport back to shore.

Two years later, having built a new and improved Hydro Pod, Baluchi made several attempts to run from Florida to Bermuda, none of which were successful. In 2021, he started out from Florida on a journey up the coast to New York, but turned back when he realized some vital equipment was missing.

Baluchi’s latest attempt was the biggest ever. He set out in late August intending to run more than 4,000 miles across the Atlantic, from Florida to London. The Coast Guard caught up with him on August 26, roughly 70 miles off Tybee Island, Georgia, inside his makeshift craft. The Coast Guard’s primary concern was the safety of Baluchi, the vessel, and the trip. When they deemed the voyage unsafe, the Coast Guard cut it short.

Baluchi reportedly threatened to kill himself with a 12-inch knife if anyone attempted to remove him. The following day, he claimed to have a bomb aboard. He later admitted he was lying and Coast Guard officers removed him from the Hydro Pod after a three-day aquatic standoff on August 29, according to Sky News. Baluchi was charged with obstruction of boarding.

For more wacky vehicles and unhinged plans, catch Twisted Metal streaming now on Peacock!