Coast Guard plucks French kayaker from the Bering Sea

Posted: Monday, July 06, 2009

ANCHORAGE - A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter has rescued a French kayaker who became fatigued in the Bering Sea during his quest to circumnavigate the world.

Jean-Gabriel Chelala contacted authorities from his kayak Saturday after he encountered several days of rough waters and became too weak to paddle through the currents.

A Jayhawk helicopter airlifted Chelala from his specialized kayak about 40 miles off the coast of St. Lawrence Island and flew him to Nome, where he was treated for mild hypothermia, the Coast Guard said. The kayak was abandoned.

The 28-year-old has been attempting to circle the globe through human power - bicycling and kayaking. He left France by bike in January 2008, kayaked across the Atlantic Ocean to Florida and then pedaled from Florida to Alaska, according to his Web site.

Chelala left Emmonak on Alaska's western coast on June 27 with the goal of reaching Gambell on St. Lawrence Island - a journey of 250 miles, the Coast Guard said. But rough seas threw him off course.

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