Happy Thanksgiving

15 12.088 South
I had a nice thanksgiving. I ate the last of my salt cured pork, I broke out the sun oven and baked some brownies. I even had some whiskey that I set aside for the holidays. Shelf Reliance gave me the brownie mix, the sun oven doesn’t get too hot so it takes about 5 hours to bake a batch, but man are they good! I have a lot to be thankful for, I’m thankful for butter powder, my windvane, for the fact that fiberglass is stronger then it looks. To be honest it doesn’t feel much like thanksgiving when your alone.
I’m happy to have made it through the “crazy latitudes”. I call it that because it’s a infamous area, known to make sailors lose their mind. For me it started at around 9 north and continued until 3 south. That’s roughly 720 miles of thunderstorms, light winds, and opposing currents. The French have a word for the doldrums that roughly translates into “terrible miserable darkness”. I’d say that sums it up nicely. It felt like I was trying to sail through the twilight zone, I’m no crazier then when I left. The ocean can kill me, but it can’t break me. Speaking of going crazy, theres a good documentary about Donald Crowhurst and the effects of being alone at sea for to long, called Deep Water. If you have Netflix you can watch it instantly. I highly recommend it. One good thing came out of my trip through the doldrums. I was able to get a huge amount of repairs done to the boat, and I also did some much needed laundry. I’m about as ready as I can be for the horn.

Since 3 south its been head winds, head winds, headwinds. I’m just slowly beating into the seas trying not to beat my boat to death. No matter how much I reduce sail I still pound from time to time. St Brendan is getting pretty beat up. Even though the westerlies to the south of me are going to be dangerously strong, i’d rather deal with that then this southeasterly slugfest. My mast has been making a unsettling grinding noise. It started at around 35 north and has gotten louder since the equator. It might be no more then a bad noise or the aluminum mast could be grinding against the stainless mast step. Over time the stainless would win that fight. I don’t know. I prefer a keel stepped mast. I couldn’t be picky under the circumstances. All it all the Albin Vega is a great boat for its size and affordability, but theres not much room. I’ve still got a long way to go and some nasty water ahead, I’m trying to keep St Brendan in one piece. This boats been through a lot already, not to mention it’s 40 years old. Hopefully I’m out of these SE winds in 7-10 days, I could be longer. Theres only one way back home – south.
“We are all things that make and pass, striving upon a difficult mission, out to the open sea.” – H.G. Wells

17 thoughts on “Happy Thanksgiving”

  1. Hi Matt

    Good to hear from you! I realize your comms are at a minimum, but many of us are glad receive a few chice words, just to know you are well. I look forward to your homecoming!


    Michael Gresalfi
    Boyds, Maryland

  2. Happy Thanksgiving to you, too, Matt. Happy to hear about your progress and I’m glad to hear you still have all (most?) of your marbles intact. But your characterization of the grinding noise coming from the mast is alarming. Come on, St. Brendan! Hold it together!!

    Mountain View, CA

  3. Hi, Matt,

    Great to get a new update from you, and to see that you’re continuing to make progress south! Happy Thanksgiving to you, too . . . . glad that you’re able to find things to be grateful for, and that you’ve gotten through some bad times and haven’t let it beat you down!!

    Keep on winning each battle with the elements!!1 We’re watching, and pulling for you, Matt, and continuing to keep up our prayers for your safety, and a successful voyage!!


    Carol Florida U.S.A.

    * * * * * * * * * * *

  4. hi Matt,
    happy to hear from you, and to know that you keep up the good work inspite of all. best of luck

  5. Hi Matt, Tough boat, Tough Guy = SUCCESS! Good-on-Ya!! Making vega owners proud,, Thanks Bob

  6. Visiting your blog post to re-read it out loud to my sister. Good stuff, man. You crack us up sometimes. Thank you.


  7. Hope the deck stepped mast stays together! Looks like you are between the Pitcairn Islands and Easter Island, your last “civilization” for a while! Best of luck.

    Richard in Maryland

  8. Can anyone explain why Matt’s course is so far west of South America?


    1. I expect that the reason is the very strong Westerlies that he will encounter once more than (?) 40S.

      He needs to avoid being driven onto the W coast of Chile before clearing Cape Horn..

      Good luck to Matt from a Vega sailor…

  9. Happy Belated Thanksgiving. You might be physically alone but the thousands of us who are living vicariously through you are with you every step of the way in spirit. Thanks for the great post. You give us a real experience with your writing. Sending good wishes for a safe and comfortable return home.

  10. Matt, thanks for calling the other day. It was wonderful. To hear how happy and content you sound in spite of the hardships. I marvel at your endurance. You told me to have a beer for you, and as soon as we hing up, Bj and I toasted your voyage and sang your praises over Belhaven Ale. IT HAS BEEN GRAND!

  11. Matt, incredible voyage, incredible focus, incredible timing. There is a Australian solo sailor approximately 170NM due north of you, course 160T, speed 5.0kts, heading for the Horn. His position @ 1759 UTC, 12/3/2011 was 24.16S, 123.39W. S/V Pachuca VNW5980. http://www.pachucaroundtheworld.blogspot.com It appears you will both make the Horn about the same time as your both carring the same general course, however he is able to attain a little faster haul speed. Its feasible you could be in visual contact with him within the next few days.

    All the best, God’s Speed

  12. HI Matt:
    Ongoing congratulations! to each obstacle passed.

    Did you source the grinding noises in your mast ?
    Looks like you are about 3000 miles from the turning point?

    Your “following’ is increasing!,
    Hopefully the wind will do the same!

    Wayne C.

  13. So proud of you, Matt. You remind me of all the wonderful old movies I enjoy watching about the adventures on the seas. I imagine you out there all alone and yet not alone at all. You have great character and I very unique way of expressing it. So glad you enjoyed the Brownies. I want you to know they were not in your original food plan!! I added them to boost your Calories!!! So happy you found a way to get them baked.

    Continue on and stay safe & happy!

    Karol Harlan

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