Merry Christmas (Happy New Year)

I hope this Christmas finds everyone in good health and high spirits.  It’s not very festive down here but I did put some things aside for the holidays.  I have a can of ham (my Christmas ham).  I have half a bottle of 15 year old Highland Park scotch and a cigar.  So it’s a good Christmas.  I don’t have a tree but I do have a red and green light on top of my mast.  I wish I had an angel; I would tie it to my masthead.  I’ve been alone in the middle of the ocean twice in the last three years on Christmas.  Last time I was half way between Gambia (West Africa) and Antigua.  I’ve got stop sailing alone one of these days, it’s getting a bit ridiculous. Anyways, Ho Ho Ho, and all that good stuff.

My automatic bulge pump died.  That really sucks.  I brought an oil extraction pump with me in case I had to do an oil change mid trip.  I never had to use it and since I only have 10 gallons of diesel left I won’t need it.  So I jury rigged the oil extraction pump and converted it into a manual bilge pump.  Luckily I have the large model that holds 4 liters.  I set it up next to my head so I fill the oil extraction pumps reservoir with bilge water then dump it in my head and flush it overboard, and then I repeat the process until the bilge is empty.  The nice thing about an oil extraction pump is they pressurize so I pump it a few times and it will suck out a half gallon.  St Brendan takes on a lot of water so I have to do this every five hours round the clock, but whatever.  Historically speaking having to work the pumps was common practice on old sailing vessels, so things have gotten a bit more traditional.  

I got a bit dinged up about a week and a half ago.  It was blowing 30-35kts and these squally rain showers where consistently passing by producing 40kt winds.  If there’s too much wind my wind generator disconnects (somehow) from my batteries and without that load it starts spinning out of control.  You can tell when this happens because the sound that the wind generator makes changes drastically.  So I went outside to tie off the blades and stop the generator from spinning.  It sits on an eight foot pole, and because of the 40kt winds my boat was heeled over something awful.  I had very little sail up so there was nothing I could do about that.  Anyway, it’s a precarious job but I managed to tie off the wind generator.  In order to get from the back of my cockpit to the companionway I have to step over the lines that run from my wind vane to my tiller.  I’ve done this 1,000 times and could do it blindfolded.  The problem was that it was 2 or 3am and the thick clouds blocked out the moonlight so I was sailing in pitch black darkness.  As I went to step over the line a wave came out of the darkness hitting me with a solid wall of water.  I had one foot in the air so it easily threw me across the cockpit.  I came down hard on a winch right in the ribs and I must have hit several other things as I was dinged up in a half dozen places.  I was alright after a few days but it hurt to take a deep breath for a while.  The point is, when things go wrong on a sail boat it happens very quickly.  One moment I’m sleeping peacefully in my sleeping bag, a few minutes later I’m sprawled out in the bottom of my cockpit with the wind knocked out of me, covered in water, trying to figure out what just happened.  

Well, all in all, all is good.  I’m happy to be down here.  It’s an exciting place with an infamous history.  I’m 1,240 miles from the Horn and right on schedule.  The winds will pick up as I get closer to the Horn.  It looks like I might have a gale in the next few days.  So happy holidays, drink some egg nog for me and have a good new year.

37 thoughts on “Merry Christmas (Happy New Year)”

  1. The 15 year old Highland Park has been known to make a few good sailors fall down, but we will go with your story of the big wave in the dark. May the new year be as rewarding as the past.

    1. Hi Matt,

      I’d just like to say hello to you from Reno, Nevada !!!
      Stay safe and Happy New Year to you 🙂 Cheers & a toast to you
      You truly are a courageous man !!
      We’d like to meet you one day & hear all about your adventures

      Team Reno
      Jahnean & Ryan

    2. Hi Matt. You’re in it ! I am following you as a ‘bright shadow’. So are my prayers and good wishes ! ! ! See you in The Atlantic and in Norfolk, Va.
      Good speed – and ‘have fun’ !
      Ps. There’s an angel in the top of your mast. Kind Viking Thoughts.

  2. Merry Christmas Matt! Your uncle Peter, myself and your cousins Audra & Peter (& Angela) were together Christmas Eve in our living room. The last thing we did before heading to bed was send up prayers for you – for your safety – your continued success with the trip – and that somehow during this Christmas season, as you are sailing out there – alone -, you would know in your heart how many are thinking of you & sending their love to you. ONWARD !!!! Our love to you !!!

  3. I found myself really looking forward to Christmas this year….more so than usual. I knew Matt would be wishing us a Merry Christmas and along with that, an all important update. Hearing you were alright was the best present I received. Sounds like you are getting a lot of practice for the Horn passage. Good to hear you have some strictly medicinal beverages aboard. Still a ways off but give us a shout if you need any supplies when you approach Cape Hatteras and we’ll meet you out by the light. Onward thru the fog bro…..

  4. So very happy to read your Christmas greetings and know that, in spite of injuries, you are still OK. Please know that you are still in our prayers. So many are concerned for you and your journey for good. Stay strong, keep healthy, and continue to share your adventurous spirit with us. Your strength inspires me to be stronger in my own pursuits.

    MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY NEW YEAR. May your dreams become your reality. So keep dreaming awesome dreams and we’ll keep giving thanks for your wondrous accomplishments.

    Stay happy,

    Karol Harlan

  5. There is nothing like a good drink and a good cigar. I’m glad you were able to enjoy Christmas. My prayers are with you.

    David Sterling

  6. Well done Matt, we’re all following your trip in your Albin Vega. Very proud of you and your Vega….

    Fair winds and tides

    Steve birch Vega “Southern Comfort” V1703

    1. Good Going, Matt !
      …. and thanks for the greetings via ‘ space’ and Don. A few of us had a great dinner with him and Lynn yesterday. Good food and very pleasant company. Missed you – though. I was sorry to learn of the ‘cruel sea’ that gave you such wallop. Glad to know you are made so tough, and of durable timber.
      You bet we’ll all be with you in a very special way during the next few nights and days. Remember – ” FRAM” is the name of the game ….! ! !
      Bought a boat from Don the other day, by the way. A “Bristol” 24. How do you like that !? I guess a fellow is never THAT old but that can sail happily into the sunset….. Oh, well.
      GOOD SPEED ahead, Matt – and a steady hand on the tiller !
      Kind thouhts from Tore.

  7. glad your ok matt and had a good happy new year and good safe and god speed.bob in md

  8. Merry Christmas Matt! Much love and peace to you as you complete your journey! Love, Tusa

  9. Hi, Matt!!

    Wow, that sounds like you had a very close call. So, thankful that you didn’t knock yourself out, or that you weren’t bleeding seriously. A blow to the ribs can be very painful, but I guess they protect some of the more vital areas. Please, be careful!!! We worry about you enough, without hearing about all the possible obstacles waiting to snare you as you move about the boat!!

    Glad you had some goodies (your Scotch and Cigar) to help you celebrate Christmas . . . hope you’ve saved something for your New Years Eve celebration!!!

    Regarding wishing you had an angel with you . . . I have no doubt that you do, and that all the prayers that are being said for you daily (and nightly), are keeping the angels on the watch for you . . . maybe that’s even why you weren’t hurt more seriously. Having accidents like that serve their purpose though. After being gone for so long, you need to have them to serve as an important reminder to ALWAYS be careful in every area, above and below deck!!

    Prayers for your safety are being offered by all the many who are following you, Matt!

    Many of us also have been keeping our eye on Bass Strait and the Sydney to Hobart (Tasmania) Yacht Race 2011, being held right now. One of the leaders, Wild Thing, had to drop out of the race because of problems . . . so sad, after a year of preparation!!

    We’re pulling for Jessica Watson (the young Aussie, who, at 16 years old, successfully circumnavigated the globe (in 210 days) . . . Her RTW was solo, non-stop, and unassisted (no stopping for supplies, no boat following along) . She rounded Cape Horn on January 13, 2010, which sounds like you’ll be there near that same date in 2012.

    Jessica probably had entered “The Fearsome Fifties” a few days later than you did, so you may actually get to the Cape sooner than she did! I know, it all depends on the wind and weather.

    So, Matt, you can be sure that we’ll be watching you closely your whole voyage . . . And, remember, really, that any moment that goes by, someone, somewhere, is thinking of you!!!

    Take care, and Godspeed!!

    Carol Florida U.S.A.

  10. Dude good to hear you’re feeling better after the fall. I landed on a winch a few years back and my spleen ruptured. I wish you luck on the horn brother, I know it will intense! If you can’t be safe, be careful. HA! or try.

  11. Matt-
    Started following this blog as soon as I heard about it. I’m on pins and needles as you approach the horn. Be safe, be careful.

  12. Matt,
    We’re keeping you in our thoughts and prayers as you approach the Horn.
    Ev & Bob

  13. Ahoy Matt. Just learned of your fantastic voyage reading my current issue of Cruising World. Way to go Mate. I am writing from Bratislava, Slovakia- the geographic center of Europe and about as far from the sea as you get- where I am visiting my wife’s family for the holidays, but my spirit is with you in the south east Pacific. Wishing you Fair Winds & Following Seas around the Horn!

    A Happy, SAFE, Healthy, & Prosperous New Year to You! Dolf

  14. Good Luck, Matt.
    Keep moving along, you’re doing nicely.
    Charlene & I wish you a Happy New Year and safe return home.

    From West River Sailing Club, Galesville, Maryland.
    South of Annapolis.

  15. WOW. DUDE!!! there really are no words that can do you justice. totally in awe!!! ROCK ON! may your journey home be as sweet as you are brave!

  16. Matt – Wishing you a Happy New Year 2012 from Columbia, MD. Hang tight and good luck rounding the Horn!

  17. Well, I just got off the phone with Matt. That guy is a trip!! He has been in gale force winds for several days and right now is sailing in 25+foot seas with the wind gusting up to 45Kts. We were talking about all the storms and gales he has dealt with in the voyage so far and he tells me that he has found this particular one (and I quote)…..
    “……Amusing and Entertaining….”
    When I asked him why I heard that he had just pumped out his bilges, with his jury rigged hand pump, for the umpteenth time, when he looked up and saw a huge wave racing toward him with the top breaking. Convinced it was going to swamp his cockpit, he was surprised as it passed harmlessly under the stern. he was just thinking that it isn’t always the big ones that cause the problems, when he was hit by a smaller wave which flooded his cockpit and overflowed into the cabin. More pumping!!
    After all these miles and trials, talking on the phone with the boat rolling her way toward Cape Horn in heavy seas that I can hear breaking as we speak, and Matthew finds it entertaining……well I don’t know what to think about that. Actually it tells me a lot. He is in good spirits, he is doing what he loves and he has everything under control, And I say….. BRAVO MATT!! Godspeed.
    Not only that he is asking me if I have some deliveries for him when he gets back!!
    It looks as if the weather is going to give him a sight of the Cape after all in relatively calm conditions……

    1. Simon, I just love you both! Thanks for the update on Matt’s trip around the horn. Most of his maternal relatives toasted him today, New Year’s Day, and most of us were a little chocked up wishing him safe passage for the remainder of his voyage. Thank you for being such a steady friend to Matt.

  18. Thanks for your report Simon – “Amusing and entertaining” will have to be the quote of the year! Matt is a legend, no doubt, who else would describe huge seas and 45Kt winds as amusing and entertaining. He sounds very much on top of things, dealing with problems as they arise and incredibly, at one with his surroundings. I agree ….BRAVO MATT!!

  19. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Matt! I just found your blog on someone else’s blogroll (propercourse) and am really glad I did. I’m embarking on sailing adventures of my own now, and it’s always so inspiring and motivating to read about others just going for it. I wish you all of the best and more. Thanks for pursuing your dreams!

  20. Matt,

    I am so amazed by your perseverance to complete your voyage,and from what I here from your Mom and Rachel, with a confident attitude. You inspire me!
    We are always thinking of you and I love telling everyone about my nephew and encourage them to follow your trip as well. I will be praying for you as you round the horn.
    I look forward to your safe return,
    Aunt Amy, Devon, and Kira

  21. It’s nice to see that Matt is now farther east than when he started. Matt, I pray that you have a safe trip around the Horn and wish you smooth sailing when you turn north towards home.

  22. Your looking good at 6.8 kt’s that’s past hull speed right and looks like about 200 miles from the horn

  23. Brave man and a stalwart boat!! We’re all with you! Again … wave at the Horn as you go by!!! Don’t forget to turn LEFT for Annapolis! Godspeed ..

  24. You are sailing the hull off that little boat! Unbelievable. Don’t let your guard down after you turn the corner, that’s where J Watson had her “serious” adventure. Best of Luck always!

  25. Alea iacta est* ! Courage Matt !

    Alea iacta est* (Latin: “The die has been cast”) is a Latin phrase attributed by Suetonius (as iacta alea est [ˈjakta ˈaːlea est]) to Julius Caesar on January 10, 49 BC as he led his army across the River Rubicon in Northern Italy. With this step, he entered Italy at the head of his army in defiance and began his long civil war against Pompey and the Optimates. The phrase is still used today to mean that events have passed a point of no return, that something inevitable will happen. (Wikipedia)

  26. Happy New Year! I can’t believe you’re already down south, about to turn back north. Almost the home stretch!! It’s so weird to be so captivated by your expedition since I don’t really know boats and I don’t even know you, but you tell a great story and are a fantastic adventurer. Glad to be able to read along as you go!

    Carrie Soults

  27. Great news! I just got a call from Matt – and all is well, he’s got very good weather and today is the day, he’s rounding the horn today! He said he can currently see land and if he’s lucky he’ll get a photo of the southernmost rock before the sun sets!

    Everyone keep your fingers crossed that the weather holds for him!

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