Through the Gulf of Alaska

So, Victor tells me I’m the only person who would dare cross the Gulf of Alaska this time of year. I tell him, I can’t help it, by its very nature this trip forces me offshore. If I can’t cross the Gulf of Alaska I’ll never make it around Cape Horn. So as far as im concerned this is just practice for the Horn. After everything I’ve been through I’ve become hardened like a boxer in is 50th fight, the ocean can punch me in the face ten times in a row and I hardly notice. Well, at least thats what I tell myself.

This last gale wasn’t very fun. The wind changed direction, not by a lot, but by enough that I had two different wave trains. The old wave train kept smashing into the starboard side of my boat. I was trying to read a book on the history of the Vikings on my Kindle when a large wave broke and sent my Nalgene bottle (full of water) flying across my cabin. The hard plastic water bottle knocked the Kindle out of my hand and crushed it up against the port side of my cabin. I had 39 books on that Kindle. The Kindle is destroyed, I cant tell you how devastating that is. The few normal books I have are saturated in water and black mold. I have to spend the next 6 months alone at sea with nothing to read but moldy books? I cant read them if I wanted to the pages would fall apart.

Also I went to recharge my little video camera the other day and it started smoking. The strange thing is I always keep it in its waterproof housing. So much for my documentary. I guess it doesn’t matter, the hard drive I was storing all the video footage on was destroyed in the knockdown back in the Bering sea. If thats not bad enough my waterproof, dust proof, impact proof camera was evidentially not knockdown proof and it was as destroyed in the Bering sea. Jeff (the resupply guy) was nice enough to let me have his camera. I don’t know how long it will last. I’ve been protecting it like its a holy relic. To top it all off the modem that connects my sat phone to my computer is dying. It was completely dead the other day. I was able to fix but right now its being held together by rubber-bands. If that dies I can still write blog entries through my Predictwind satellite communicator but there will be no more pictures, Q&A and no more contact from anyone. Also my boathook (Assegai) is bent and will most likely break soon. Sometimes I feel like my world is falling apart around me. What am I going to do without books?

The original reefing system on this Vega was a primitive version of in-boom furling. Except instead on being in the boom, the boom slowly spins around, furling the sail. This means to reef I would have to go to the mast and slowly furl the main. That would be dangerous and very,very wet. On my Pearson 323 I have slab reefing. I cant tell you how many times I have had to reef the main and got completely soaked. It got so bad that I used to strip down naked, reef the sail, come back in, dry off, and put on my dry cloths. When redesigning this reefing system I tried to model the way I reef around a boat called Jester. Now Jester was a very different boat with a junk rig but the idea was that I could reef the sails with out leaving the safety of the cabin. I was lucky to be sponsored by Eastport Spars and rigging. John Callawaert has been rigging boats longer then I’ve been alive. John Callawaert is “the godfather” of rigging. So he helped me set up a single line reefing system that would allow me to reef my sails while standing in my companionway hatch, while my feet(and most of my body) are still inside the boat. I can reef my main in 60 seconds which is a huge comfort/safety benefit. Eastport spars and rigging also replaced my standing rigging. My running rigging came from West Marine Rigging. Julian was the driving force behind my sponsorship. He replaced my old running rigging with a new live West Marine Rigging has been carrying Called VPC. The interesting thing is the VPC line has held up better then the running rigging on my 323 Pearson, which is three times as expensive. Not often do you find a product which is both cheaper and better. The Annapolis boat show should be any day now. If you go, Don Backe will be there with some C.R.A.B boats, representing. Tell him I said hi. Around the corner lies the California current then its south, south, south. Warmer weather and good fishing awaits.

15 thoughts on “Through the Gulf of Alaska”

  1. Hello Matt, I only recently found out about your trek through an NPR story on the radio, but have been enthralled since. The skill and fortitude you must have to even attempt this endeavour is simply amazing.

    Sans the books maybe you should try to expand your journal entries. Or if you can find dry paper, write down a short story or two. That can keep the mind busy and imaginitive.

    Is it possible to get a new communicator when you get resupplied?

    Best of luck and warm waters soon,

  2. Hey Matt,
    Is there any way we can get a Kindle out to you? Scott Carpenter and I were wondering if/when you’re gonna be close to land so we can arrange another supplies drop? I’m doing my best to help out Don and Lyn. Take care of yourself. -J

  3. Matt Rutherford!!!!!
    I knew you could get through the NWP! I just knew you could!!
    Keeping up with your blog has kept me on the edge of my seat. I’m always eager to know more about what you’re experiencing out there in the deep blue seas and how you have been dealing with the challenges that arise. When ever I feel challenged by life, I think of you and I know there’s nothing that I can’t do!
    Sounds like you’ve experienced some unfortunate events just recently. I’m super bummed your water bottle bomb dived your Kindle!! NO BUENO!!
    I sure hope there is something that can keep you busy and entertained.
    I think of you often and hear your laugh (and screams) in my head when I imagine you on that boat by yourself.
    I wish you well, my friend.

    Warm weather wishes,

    I love your motto.
    Keep up the good fight.

  4. Will you be crusing by the California islands and Catalina Island ? You should be there before long and calmer weather. There should be some one to resupply you in that area. I know you will come up with some other past time like fishing soon. I love catching your updates and did like your pic’s up untill now. I hope the hurricans near the Baha and west die out before you get you in trouble in warm water. Good luck fishing.
    Were liveaboards on our Gemini 105Mc and perfer costal sailing and just got back from a 2 week cruse to the WA state’s wine country up the Columbia and Snake Rivers. I wish we could get a great bottle of wine to you.

  5. Wow.. lost your kindle .. ‘books’ ..
    That really sucks .. It’s your only real recreation ….
    I hope your ‘backup folks’ get some electronics out to you!!
    So you can read at least!
    And a camera!!
    After all… when you write your book .. it should have pictures!
    My copy of your book, it will go beside my all time favorite Joshua Slocum and
    other history making sailors!

    Sincerely hoping you get that important resupply of things that
    Mr. Poseidon took away from you!

    All the Best Matt !!! Warmer waters ahead!!

    1. ps: Even if you had to change your route to go closer to the mainland..
      to get a resupply managed, seems to me it would be well worth it.. ?

      1. pss: Matt keep your broken hard drive you should be able to get someone to retrieve the information off of it.

  6. Hope all well with Matt.

    The location hasn’t updated since October 4th at 23:01 GMT.

    Fingers crossed that it is just an electrical problem…


  7. Yes, like Matt 6 says, write. Even if you can’t post it, you’ll have it for later. You’ll be glad you do, believe me. Chin up! Once you’re through this part, it is all downhill and warm. Easy 4 me 2 say!

  8. Mattie ! Too long since I last posted. But we think of you every single day. In truth, I had not checked your website in several days — last night one of my old college friends in Chicago asked where you were at this point? I told her I hadn’t been on lately, but I was going to guess that you were about due west of Oregon. Imagine my surprise when I looked this morning & saw how close my prediction was.

    As for your Kindle …. my heart is broken for you. I know how much the reading means to you — even when you’re NOT battling the seas. I hope & pray that, as others have suggested, there will be a way to ‘drop’ another to you while off the coast of California.

    I thought of you the other day, as the one year anniv. of Nana’s “departure” approached. I thought about watching you sit at her bedside those last few days, with your “BROWNS” hat on — talking football with her — and the contented smile that was on her face. You made her so happy. You have a wonderful great heart.

    We continue to pray for your safety & the success of your journey (which is very successful already, by the way !) — and just basically stand amazed at your accomplishments to date (as do everyone I know who is watching your trip). Though I HATE to think of you making that turn around Cape Horn, I somehow just know you’re going to do this — and when you pull back into Annapolis next early Spring, I don’t think there will be a large enough bottle of Johnny Walker – or a fine enough label – to honor your courage, determination, great sailing skill & your “never say die” spirit. Gramps would be VERY VERY proud of you. I know I am.

    With much love & many prayers,

    your Aunt Paula

    1. Aunt Paula,
      Forgive me for responding on your heart felt post but I think when Matt comes back to Annapolis Johnny Walker will have to have a 30 year old label named ‘Mattie Rutherford’.
      Matt I have been an Awe inspired fan since near the beginning of your trip. If there is an effort to support another resuply for your electronics. I will be glad to help. Beyond my pledge for miles to CRAB, If I get an autographed copy of your book I’ll be sure to add another donation. Although my disabled sister and mom are gone, may their spirits watch over you and keep you safe. Thanks for supporting the people that will benifit from CRAB.

      1. Duane — I couldn’t agree more on the “label” comment !!!! Two thumbs up !!!!!

  9. Matt,
    Just wondering how you navigated through the NW passage. I’ve heard compass and GPS do not work there.
    Good luck

  10. Matt!
    You have carved out a place for yourself in the ranks of the unforgotten. As long as sailors put to sea they will talk about your achievement. This is an awe inspiring and epic adventure. Good luck to you and CRAB and see you in Annapolis!!

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: