Hungarian architect Gabor Rakonczay reportedly became the first person to canoe across the Atlantic Ocean this past weekend after he paddled his “Vitez” canoe nearly 3,500 miles in 76 days.
Rakonczay began the voyage in Portugal late last year and stopped only in the Canary Islands to rest and resupply.
The rest of the voyage was lonely and filled with scares, according to reports. Already working without a satellite navigation system, Rakonczay’s communication equipment stopped working a month and a half ago, which meant he couldn’t communicate with his wife, Viktoria, back in Hungary.
"It was a great relief to reach port because it meant completing the journey and because my family could finally know for sure that I was OK, " he told the UK Telegraph.
He also couldn’t communicate with incoming ships. During his voyage, the canoe capsized twice and three times Rakonczay was forced to fire smoke flares to let nearby ships know his 24.6 foot-long canoe was nearby.
"Some slowed and even changed direction as they likely picked me up on their radars," he said. "But I was often surrounded by waves 4 meters (12 feet) high and the canoe is less than one meter high, so it's most likely that they simply weren't able to see me."
During his seven weeks without contact with his family, Viktoria posted on the family’s blog every day, wondering where he was and how the conditions might be affecting him. She never gave up hope. Once her husband reached port, 20 days earlier than expected, she told Hungarian media she trusted her husband’s abilities.
Even as rough weather headed through an area she thought her husband was going through, she never lost faith.
“This is not a storm, under these circumstances Gabor has routinely known what to do,” she said on the family blog on March 5 (according to Google translate).
And she would know. In 2008, the couple rowed across the Atlantic together. Rowboats and kayaks have traversed the Atlantic before, but Rakonczay’s journey was the first ever by a canoe.
The record was confirmed by the London-based Ocean Rowing Society International, which works alongside the Guinness Book of World Records, the Telegraph reported.
And although he was happy to be back with his family, he did enjoy the time alone.
"I was very interested in discovering what it's like to be all alone on a ship in the ocean," he told the Telegraph. "It was my childhood dream."