San Juan, Puerto Rico – Spanish adventurer Alvaro de Marichalar departed from San Juan to Florida on Wednesday on a 15-day jet ski journey of 1,624 nautical miles. His goal is to retrace the trip made five centuries ago by explorer Juan Ponce de Leon.
Marichalar, without any support vessels in attendance, departed from the dock at the Club Nautico in San Juan. He told Efe that he was scared but at the same time confident that he would successfully accomplish this new adventure.
"Juan Ponce de Leon arrived at the (site of the future) city of St. Augustine, in Florida, on April 3, and I intend to arrive right on another April 3 500 years later, or at least try to carry the flag of Spain to that town," he said.
He said his plan includes a first leg of the journey from San Juan to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, where he is scheduled to arrive in the next few hours, if weather and ocean conditions permit.
On board his jet ski, called the "Numancia," Marichalar will travel an average of 14 hours per day, always standing up and, as he has been doing since 1982 on his ocean journeys, he will sleep on several nights drifting on the jet ski.
By traversing the specific route he has plotted, Marichalar is attempting to commemorate the voyage made by Ponce de Leon, the Spanish governor of Puerto Rico, who on April 3, 1513, arrived on the coast of the future United States, which he named "La Florida."
"In the end, I wasn't able to get a support ship," said Marichalar, after noting that although this caused him some logical apprehension it wouldn't be the first time that he has crossed the ocean alone on his jet ski.
Marichalar was in San Juan for about two weeks looking fruitlessly for a support vessel and sponsors, but his lack of success on these tasks did not change his mind about undertaking the jet ski voyage since he trusts in his extensive ocean experience to make the trip successfully.
Starting in 1982, Marichalar has made 38 ocean expeditions - logging some 30,000 miles on board his jet ski - and set 11 world records.