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Latino Daily News

Saturday April 20, 2013

After Following Ponce de Leon’s Footsteps, Spaniard Wants to Cross Pacific With Jet Ski

After Following Ponce de Leon’s Footsteps, Spaniard Wants to Cross Pacific With Jet Ski

Photo: Alvaro de Marichalar

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After a solo crossing of 21 days by jet ski, Spanish navigator Alvaro de Marichalar completed the route sailed by explorer and conquistador Juan Ponce de Leon when he discovered Florida 500 years ago, and now plans a four-month crossing of the Pacific Ocean, which will be his longest and perhaps last important feat.

“In June, God willing, I will make the longest expedition of my life. This one will be about another Spaniard and another important historical date - the discovery of the Pacific Ocean on Sept. 26, 1513 by Blasco Nuñez de Balboa,” Marichalar said Friday during an interview with Efe in Havana.

The real estate and telecommunications businessman, who will turn 52 in a few days, reached Cuba Wednesday on the last stretch of his “Florida Discovery Expedition” in honor of the voyage made by Spain’s Ponce de Leon in 1513, when he sailed from Puerto Rico in search of the Fountain of Youth but discovered Florida instead.

Centuries later, Marichalar set out on his own expedition across the open sea riding his precarious craft “to continue an idea, an adventure, a dream.”

The adventurer left Puerto Rico on March 20 and rode his jet ski almost 1,960 nautical miles with stops in the Dominican Republic, the Turks and Caicos islands and the Bahamas, before arriving at St. Augustine, Florida, on April 3, the same date that Ponce de Leon landed there.

Among the most difficult moments of the journey, Marichalar mentioned two storms at night near Nassau in the Bahamas, the high seas in the Florida Straits and a failure of his GPS that left him adrift for five nights.

“You fall in the water sometimes, and the problem then is not only to get back on the jet ski, but just to find it, because it can disappear in the waves,” the Navarra native said.

In 2013 he will spend more time than usual navigating. In June he plans to kick off another solo crossing, riding the same jet ski to conquer the Pacific, from the Philippines to Panama by way of Russia and Alaska.

“For now it’s just an idea, but it will be my last really long trip. After that I’m thinking of doing more crossings but not such tough ones,” he said.