Open Water

I’ll try to explain my original problem I had with this resupply, although I might come across sounding completely crazy. The heroes in my life are men like Shackleton, Amundsen, and Tom Crean. When I left on this trip I wanted to feel what they felt, I wanted to suffer like they suffered. I felt that the resupply was infringing on my suffering. But the reality is, I’ll never be Ernest Shackleton, I’ll never be Tom Crean, I can only be Matt Rutherford. Anyway, there is no reason to make this trip harder then it already is. Right now I’m the happiest man on the planet. That resupply was like the greatest birthday mixed with the greatest Christmas times ten. I won’t lie, I was sad to leave the Arctic. Ever since, I felt like my inner-Shackleton was wrapped in cryptonite – I’m sure you could tell by my writing and I apologize for that. The best way I could describe ones inner-Shackleton would be, unwavering optimism in the face of mental and physical hardship.

Let me take a few steps back. So I was in the mix-master sailing along. At the time I’d never heard of the mix-master. I was confused because it was only blowing 35kts with higher gusts but the seas were breaking as if it was blowing much harder. Waves kept crashing in my cockpit, I must of been pooped 20 times in 24 hours. I reduced sail to just a scrap of jib, but like I said it was only blowing 35kts. I have a translucent slide for my companionway hatch so it makes for a good back window. I remember looking back behind my boat just by chance and seeing this monster wave towering above my stern. I said Oh Cra….but I couldn’t get the words out of my mouth before I was flying threw the air. Next thing I know I’m rolling around on my port side window, half pressed up against my cabin top. St Brendan bounced back on her feet quickly, the Vega is a good boat, owners have good reason to be proud. It was a rouge wave, not some 80 footer or something crazy like that, but it was much larger then the waves around it. I just happened to be right under it when it decided to break. About 5 hours later at 3am I was trying to dodge a fishing vessel in the rain and fog and I noticed a sickly sweet smell. I knew right away it was the smell of wires burning. I ripped open my access point for the new wiring I added before I left and all looked fine. Then I ripped open the access to the old wiring and found that for some reason, some of the old wiring picked that moment to burn. I took a knife and cut the wires and like that it was over. It was quite a day! The only real damage I had from the knockdown was my poor old dodger. Its frame is bent, its glass is blown out in several places and it looks like it lost a fight with Freddy Crouger.

I never knew the Aleutian Islands were so beautiful, I’d never seen a picture of them before and I’d never thought much about them. They’re one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever sailed. It would be highly worthwhile to spend a summer (July and August) sailing the island chain. Ya theres bad weather sometimes, but there is good shelter all over the place. The storm I was worried about turned out to be a typhoon. Luckily the typhoon turned direction and fizzled out in the Pacific. The last thing I need is another typhoon. The resupply happened in a well protected part of Unalaska Bay (I love the name Unalaska). Jeff, Lauren, and Alexandra came out and tied off to my boat and we shared my para-anchor. They brought pizza and beer and they hung out for two hours. I took the chance to ask them about Libya, Syria and other news as I’ve been in the dark for over 100 days. I asked them how the economy was doing and they said I was better off at sea. Thats depressing, when I finally get back to Annapolis I would rather have a good economy then a cold beer and hot shower. I was able to pass off a thumb drive with a bunch of pictures on it so there should be new pics on the site. Alexandra is a reporter for NPR so we did an interview but it was difficult as I couldn’t leave my boat and no one could come aboard St Brendan, it was also blowing hard and raining. Originally I had emailed Simon telling him that 3 out of 4 inverters had broke due to excessive moisture. My plan was to try to bum an inverter of a passing fishing boat – I admit it was a bad plan. Simon said I’ll mail you one when you get down by Dutch Harbor – thats how the resupply started. It wasn’t planned but was spontaneous and grew and grew. I received more stuff then I can list but a few items… new tiller pilot, back up water maker, 25 gal diesel, 5 gal stove fuel, BOOZE!, fresh veggies, a Virgina ham, ect. I would like to thank all of you involved in the resupply. You have made my life soooooo much better and things will be a bit easier down the road thanks! I stayed in Unalaska bay for 48 hours drifting around the west side of the bay getting sleep and repacking the boat. The bay is amazing. I could see a volcano, a waterfall and some whales without even turning my head. The whales got so close I was afraid they would get caught in my para-anchor and take me on an Alaska sleigh ride. There were also williwaws, one of which I clocked blowing 60kts.

Well I’m through the islands and in the open water, what a great feeling. Due to your generosity I have fresh supplies and feel fully refreshed and revitalized. I feel like a new man. The plan is the same and now I can make up for lost time. I’m coming Cape Horn, I’m coming.


20 thoughts on “Open Water”

  1. Thank you, Simon, and thanks to everyone else who contributed to Matt’s life enriching, early Christmas! As my 5th grade students would say, “You ROCK!

  2. Good Morning, Matt!!

    It’s 1:15 AM on Sunday morning, and I haven’t gone to sleep yet, but I was hoping to see you on the move again!! It was really funny to watch your movement on the tracker when you were trying to keep moving, but didn’t want to get out of the sheltered bay you were in . . . the blue lines went back and forth and back and forth some more making a lot of blue zig zags on the tracker (kind of like the old Etch-a-Sketch my kids used to “draw” on making similar looking lines) A day or so ago, the tracker was black and the speed showed just zeros and I was really worried until the tracker “turned on” again. With that storm that you were to have encountered, I was afraid of another more serious knockdown!!!

    What a relief to be able to go off to sleep now, knowing how things went, but also knowing that you’re a “new man” all refreshed and ready to face whatever comes next with renewed energy and optimism!!! I don’t mind telling you we were all wishing we could be there to help pull you out of your weariness and your understandable discouragement!! So, this new posting has done as much for our mood as your visitors did for yours!!!

    A big thank you to all who were so generous with goodies, and the necessaries, that the resupply brought you! And, I’m sure seeing those friendly, smiling, faces was the most beautiful thing you’d seen for a long time . . . and you could now go on and really appreciate the beauty of your surroundings!!! Will be anxious to look at the new photos!!

    Take care, Matt . . . keeping you in our prayers!!

    Carol Florida U.S.A.

  3. Whacko, Into the Pacific and pointed South!

    Keep heading for warmer climes, you deserve some nice sunny days and warm nights.

    onya, mate.

  4. Fantanstic, Matt ! Best show in ‘ Space’ …… All fun and games now till ‘The Horn’ – right !? Well done, brothher. Hitch onto a whale heading south and enjoy a well earned break. Your entries read like Hemingway and Steinbeck. Bringing us all much joy. Keep them coming; you ‘lucky guy’. You sure aren’t missing much by not hanging out in our man made world. Really. Enjoy your FREEDOM out there. Kind thought from ” Amundsen ” ……( Tore, that is.)

  5. If you had chosen land instead of the sea, you would be trudging from depot to depot.
    This was ‘One Ton Depot’…

  6. What a great report, Matt. I have very good friends who worked for many years in Dutch Harbor and I always felt that they had a real love/hate feeling for the place. So there have been many times when I’ve wanted to visit the Aleutians and many times that it sounded like the last place I’d want to visit. But after reading your report, I’ve put it high on my list of places to visit.

    I remember having a small electrical fire onboard my commercial fishing boat and I know it’s a bit nerving. Glad to hear it wasn’t anything too serious. And it’s great to hear that the resupply recharged you. Have a great trip downhill to the Horn! We’ll be with you all the way.

  7. So does anyone know if or when tne reporter from NPR will or did air a story featuring Matt? I have searched the NPR website to no avail.

    1. I’ve been providing info about Matt to an editor in the NPR national office, which is going to coordinate with the reporter. Typically, public radio reporters are actually affiliated with the local state operation, so its not like the national office (i.e. National Public Radio) can just call up “their reporter” in Alaska. Its going to take a bit of coordination, but rest assured that NPR is actively working on a story about Matt. As soon as I hear more, I’ll post.

  8. Congrats on getting out of those storms! I’ve been following your travels and was chatting with someone in our staff lounge the other day (NYC public school teacher) when our newly hired social worker looked up and asked if we were talking about Matt Rutherford. Turns out she was an old teacher of yours! (Hilary Kopple) Small world. Anyway, we’re pulling for you here in NYC!!

  9. The interview did take place Marlowe, and I have a great foto of matt with the interviewer which I will fwd to you.

  10. Hey Matt,

    It’s Hilary, one of the Willow house interns, from Eagle Rock. Small world huh? I am so proud of your adventures. You’re a brave and unique man. That was apparent in your teen years. All the best!!


  11. Hey Matt,

    While you are searching for your inner Shackleton, I’m searching for my inner Rutherford. I think your adventurous spirit is encouraging your supporters to take on new challenges.

    Praying for you,
    Dave Sterling

  12. Such wonderful news. So happy the resupply effort was successful and that your spirits are high. You are being blessed every day… even through the hard times. Thank you for being so strong of heart. You are a great example to the rest of us.

    Take care and continue to enjoy the view.

    Keep up the good work,
    Karol Harlan

  13. Looking great, warmer weather ahead ! Hows the banged up leg ? Watch those rogue waves in the north Pacific.

  14. Hey Matt…good to see you breaking into the more comfortable latitudes. We’ve been keeping up with the progress and watch in silent awe…clawing through the Arctic, face-planting after rogue waves…you will have much to share with your children once/if you settle down. Until then, we’ll live vicariously through your expeditions. What a guy….

  15. A pen-drive full of pictures – can’t wait to see some of them – alternate URL?
    Matt – advise details on your weather sailing strategy – wholely PredictWind based?
    What changes are you observing since departing the Arctic – water, sky, light, wildlife etc.

    What MUSTs do you suggest for anyone attempting the NWP?

    Standing by and wishing you God Speed,


  16. Matt,
    I have a sail boat on north shore of Oahu. I imagine you will be well east of me, but if you happen to come this way and need provisions, let me know. I will meet you off shore.

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