Aleksander Doba, a Polish adventurer who kayaked alone across the Atlantic at the age of 70 while subsisting on his wife’s fortifying plum jam — after having twice paddled solo across the Atlantic when he was in his 60s — died on Feb. 22 on the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa. He was 74.
His son Czeslaw said the cause was asphyxia resulting from high-altitude pulmonary edema.
Mr. Doba’s three daring voyages earned him Guinness World Records titles, and in 2017 he became the oldest person to kayak across the Atlantic. His feats made him a national hero in Poland.
A former chemical plant engineer who lived in a little river town, Mr. Doba had long been the most accomplished kayaker in his country. His desire to conquer the ocean grew from an innocent idea that gradually consumed him: He had kayaked everything else, so why not the Atlantic Ocean?
As a young man in Communist Poland, he had joined a local kayaking club, and he took to the sport avidly. In 1989, he surpassed the record for the most days paddled by a Polish man in a single year. He later spent 100 days paddling the circumference of the Baltic Sea. He also kayaked the coast of Norway to the Arctic Circle; on that trip, he was thrown from his boat during a storm and woke up to the sound of his own screaming after washing ashore.
told The New York Times Magazine in 2018. “I was infected with a virus.”
In the spring of 2017, he began his third trans-Atlantic crossing — the one that garnered the most media attention — when he paddled out from New Jersey. After clearing Barnegat Bay and heading for the horizon, he was soon a floating blip in the ocean.
told The Times.
But Mr. Doba had tested the limits of possibility during his two previous Atlantic crossings.
In 2010, when he kayaked from Senegal to Brazil, his skin broke out in salt-induced rashes, his fingernails nearly peeled off, and his eyes suffered from conjunctivitis. In 2013, when he paddled from Portugal to Florida, a Greek tanker made the mistake of trying to rescue him.
“Me, fine,” Mr. Doba shouted in English to the ship’s crew, giving a thumbs-up.
They offered to throw him ropes. He refused.
When the ship circled back to him again, Mr. Doba shouted a vulgarity in Polish, and they left for good.