South Pacific

So, I was 15 miles from land the other day. I never saw Ducie Island but I wasn’t far from it. Apparently it’s uninhabited and teeming with Galapagos sharks. Not a place to spend your honeymoon. The idea of land seems very foreign to me. I haven’t seen any other ships in some time and not much marine life. It’s just me, the clouds, sky and water. Every day the same thing. Although at night the stars are incredible. I’ve been spending a lot of time working on the boat the last week or so. I thought I did everything but then I sat down and made a new list. On a boat there is always something that needs to be done. It’s a good way to spend a day of light winds. At the end of the day you feel good because you’ve been productive. I remember seeing a commercial right before I left advertising an anti-depressant you take on top of another anti-depressant (it might lead to suicidal thoughts). The idea that a pill will solve your problems is insanity. I took Prozac from 13 to 16. I just stopped taking it one day when I was 16 and didn’t feel any different. Back then they were feeding me all sorts of pills. Anyway my point is, productivity is the world’s greatest anti-depressant. If you feel like you’re doing something with your life, then you’re happy. It’s when you feel like you’re not going anywhere in life that depression takes over.

Today is the first time in 41 days that I had the wind and waves aft of the beam. Man is it nice to have some following seas again! I’ll have good northerly winds tomorrow followed by three more days of head winds, and then I should finally be done with these stupid southeasterly winds. The westerlies are coming. I’ve also set a couple new personal records, I was on the same tack for 21 days and I’ve been barefoot for 53 days strait. I did finally wash all my dirty socks from the Arctic, they were wicked. I’ve also been trying to improve my grammar, I don’t know if you guys can notice.

I’ve been thinking about the Americas a lot lately. Historically speaking it wasn’t that long ago that the Americas were considered Terra Incognita. If only I could go back in time and tell Ptolemy all the things I have seen and done. I would have to learn ancient Greek first. It’s interesting to think about how philosophical and technological advancements have moved in a westerly direction throughout history. Starting with one of the oldest cities we know of, Babylon. First through the Arab world (the Arabs invented the rudder and many other things) then to the Persians (who were much more advanced than the western world gives them credit for). The Greeks borrowed much of their understanding from these two cultures and also created entirely new ways of thinking (Athens was the first democracy). The Romans borrowed much of their understanding from the Greeks and built upon that foundation a great empire. Europe took a step backwards during the dark ages but that was only temporary. The Florentines, Genoese, Franks, Holy roman empire, Castilians, Portuguese, English all built upon the philosophical and technological legacy left by the Romans. Then moving west again across the Atlantic where a new form of democracy was born with a legislative, Judicial, and Executive branch, ultimately ending the power of the monarchy within the lands to the east. The original inhabitants of the Americas had the advanced cultures of the Maya, Aztec, Inca, ect, but they didn’t have the benefit of learning from the Arabs, Persians, Greeks and Romans. So when (Imperialist) Europeans finally arrived, the inhabitants of Terra Incognita were at a great disadvantage. Now this has absolutely nothing to do with sailing but has everything to do with where my mind is. Although my body is stuck on a boat in the middle of the ocean my mind travels through time and history trying to make sense of this planet we live in. Being lost in thought helps me keep my mind healthy.

13 thoughts on “South Pacific”

  1. Hey Matt,
    I agree with you concerning productivity and the evolution of civilization(I only hope it continues). I hope you have everything ready for the Horn. I hope you can send a frequent message while in Drakes Passage just so we can know everything is OK .

    Praying for you,
    Dave Sterling

  2. Matt, when you get back, come up to my fourth floor office above CRAB. I want to give you a book that explains how all this time alone thinking is developing parts of your mind that most people never develop. You are getting much more out of this great adventure than you planned. In fact, you are developing the same new mental skills attained by Tibetan masters of meditation. No need for Prozac or any other meds with these skills. Following seas…..
    PS: you have plenty of donated minutes so keep up the communication!

  3. It’s kewl to hear you’ve been bare footed for so many days, did you know being bare footed uses a primal part of your brain that once you start wearing shoes stops that part of brain growth and causes old folks to shuffel along not really feeling there feet and loose ballance easly, just a bare foot thing. Were getting ready for our lighted Christmas paraid next weekend, I wish I could see the stars like you do instead. Have a great couple of weeks.

  4. Really enjoyed this update, Matt . . . you are managing to also be a teacher (to the rest of us) while you are reading, thinking about what you’re reading, and then sharing it! Very interesting!!!

    I would imagine that none of us have ever seen a night sky in the same way you are experiencing it . . . we’ve probably all seen what seems like a star-filled sky, but I’m sure it wouldn’t compare with what you see! And, on a night free of clouds, I would imagine the dark sea reflects a lot of those stars creating an amazing twinkling sky above and and equally amazing twinkling sea next to you . . . awesome to even think about! And, of course, there’s those nights when the moon creates a lovely pathway on the water. You must be in a perpetual state of awe!!

    Your mention of the starry night made me wonder if you had experienced the northern lights while you were going through the Northwest Passage? I guess I should go back and re-read your posts to find out if you had mentioned it before, and, if so, I’m sorry to have missed it . . . it must be an amazing thing to behold!!

    Great that you’re checking everything over and doing the preventive maintenance while you have the time for it!!! That’s the mark of a great seaman . . . leaving nothing to chance, and knowing where every (seemingly little) chafed spot is occurring on sheets or lines.

    We’re loving your posted updates, and all that you share, so hope you will do it often!! Was interesting to read Phil’s information on the health benefits of going barefoot, and how it keeps the brain “awake” . . . it certainly is doing that for you, and it’s also important for some of your older followers (like me)!! Thanks, Phil!!

    Godspeed, Matt!!

    Carol Florida U.S.A.

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  5. Matt your adventure has taking you to your next levels of enlightenment. I’m really proud of you. You have come so far from the Cornado and Columbus. Did you ever think that you would be such a great Anthropologist I could take classes from you cuz. Enjoy the weather wash your cloths lol and keep your mind on vacation. You come so far and going to go even further Captain!!!! Miss ya bra and happy holidays and this toast is to you cheers …
    Pj Toth

  6. Hey Matt!
    I am such a fan I decided it was time to post a little something! I teach Art here at RRDG and I have been following your adventure since your Mom told me about it so many months ago! Your link is on my “bookmarks bar” so I can check in everyday! Its like a real life book I can’t wait to read… but have too!
    Did you know the barefoot shoes are the fastest growing in shoe sales over the past year? You are amazing and inspiring! I look forward to every post and my prayers are with you for safe travels!
    I hope you have some music to listen too!
    I am only one of so many fans!!!!

  7. Interesting your focus on history and philosophy, things looked at from above, during the December months where this is the solar expression as well (energy of Sag). You and the sun are one by this point. Seems like heaven.

    So, well said – I have definately noticed your writing is getting better and more readable!

  8. It was such a thrill to hear your voice. I am amazed that you can be out in the middle of the Pacific, far away from land and other humans, and call your mom in Austin, TX, via satellite phone. You sounded so happy in spite of the hardships and challenges. Your call was my favorite Christmas present ever!

    For Matt’s readers: Just to let you know, Matt has always loved history. When he was still in high school, at Eagle Rock School in Estes Park, Colorado, he taught four courses. He planned the lessons and gave the grades. He taught a course on Vietnam twice, another course about the history of conflict resolution, and a course about the history of governments. Yes, he was still a student himself; Eagle Rock School is a unique and different high school.

    So, (here is a proud mama talking) if anyone out there is a professor of history, how would you like to offer a scholarship to Matt when he returns from this voyage of endurance? Matt is an amazing teacher already and has not yet taken time out for college. Just sit down and talk to him; you will quickly learn that he can hold his own when it comes to world history.

  9. Matt, Just a quick check-in to let you know that I have faithfully been following your journey & reporting to family & friends (and still pitching “CRAB” too). And your Uncle Peter & I are sending up those prayers of protection & completion of this often hard-to-comprehend amazing undertaking. We are so proud to call you our nephew. As for your comments regarding productivity / depression. Well said. Your Gramps, I am convinced, has been with you every nautical mile. As you know, he addressed that very subject many times & could not have put it better himself. In fact, he wrote ME a long letter (only letter he ever wrote to me in fact) when I was just a few years younger than you and, frankly, on a bit of a “self-pity” trip — and he put across that same concept to me. I was struggling at the time — Gramps “pill” for my struggle was: get busy, get out of yourself, be productive, accomplish something — and look around you & count your blessings. You will have more than amazing stories when you return this time, Matt — as your Mom & several others have said, you will be a “teacher” & “inspirer” of much about life for many. Come to think of it, you already are. Love you & sending VERY big hugs !!! (P.S. This aunt & uncle are planning to join the welcome home party in Annapolis come April …… really looking forward to it !!!).

  10. Matt,
    Just want to let you know that there are some in Aus that are following your epic voyage and wish you all the very best. You would now be around my latitude.

    Don’t forget to turn left soon and then it looks to be all uphill to home.
    Good luck mate

  11. Hey Matt, I can imagine how impressive those stars are, here, I can only see the glow of orange street lights! We check your site several times a day…your the man!

    All the best from

  12. Matt Rutherford just phone me to report that he has entered the Roaring Forties, 40 degrees 34 minutes South latitude, sailing at 5.6 knots using a small storm jib. The wind is blowing at 28 knots and the seas are fifteen feet.

    He has traveled 15,130 miles. The boat is shipshape and he’s in good spirits. Just before he called, a wave filled the cockpit.

    Matt sends greeting to everyone and a big THANK YOU to all his supporters.

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