Cape Horn

It’s taken me 208 days and 18,341 miles to get to Cape Horn, but finally I’m here. It’s an honor to be here. I think all blue water sailors dream of rounding the Horn. It’s a special place and it’s a privilege to sail these waters. 208 days is a long time to be cooped up on a 27 foot boat, I can’t even stand up without hitting my head. It’s been a long trip from the top of the planet down to the bottom. Heck, it was a long trip just to get to the place north of Alaska (Point Barrow) where I could finally turn south. I think I had grand tour of the open Pacific. Originally when I left Annapolis I estimated that I would round the Horn on January 16th so I’m 11 days ahead of schedule. I’m also only 1,000 miles from South Georgia (Island). How tempting is that? In 10 days from now I could be on South Georgia, standing next to Shackletons grave toasting “the boss” with my last glass of whiskey. It’s a nice idea but I’ve come too far to stop now. Now I can start thinking about my ultimate destination, the finish line at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay and my first landfall in Annapolis.

My friend Simon Edwards did some reconnaissance work and sent me this on the Dec 30th (revised version). “Seas will be in the 15-20 foot range for the rest of today with a large W swell and rough wind wave chop. They will continue in this range into Sat before diminishing some late in the day. They will build back to 15-20 feet for Sun and up to 18-25 feet Mon (the 1st) with large NW swell and rough wind wave chop. It looks like a general but gradual decreasing trend in seas Tue. Waves will increase to 15-20 feet Weds and on Thurs waves will be 12-15 feet near Cape Horn, then higher seas developing after the Horn.” I couldn’t have asked for a much nicer day for rounding the Horn. I have 20 knots out of the SW, partly cloudy skies with spots of blue sky and sunshine. There are tons of squally rain showers but that’s not a big deal. What a beautiful day! It has been an on and off gale since the 27th, but considering where I am the weather has been fairly nice. I was actually becalmed for 10 hours on the 2nd/3rd and when the wind came back it was blew out of the east for eight hours (that’s right, east). I am almost out of diesel so it was slow going for a while. The winds turned west again on the 4th and I did 135 miles in 24 hours. I usually don’t push the boat that hard but this is no place to hang out. I need to move like I’ve got a fire under me. There’s a fine line between pushing the boat hard and pushing the boat too hard. Since I don’t race anyone, most of the time I have the luxury of reefing early and reefing often. Down in the furious fifties it’s prudent that a sailor gets his boat around the Horn and back up north to safe waters ASAP. But you must be careful, down here the wind builds quickly and the gusts are more extreme. Any carelessness is an invitation for a dismasting. It’s rainy, cloudy, windy and cold down here (it was 42 degrees this morning), but after 3,000 miles in the Artic the temperature and moisture is not that bad.

I brought in the New Year in a gale. I was in the mood for some excitement so it was entertaining. Sometimes gales are absolutely annoying but other times they can be good fun. I’m talking about a gale not a full ocean storm; a true storm is never fun. Anyway, I was thinking about wave patterns laying in my sleeping bag when a wave hit that filled my cockpit so full of water that water was pouring down from my companionway hatch into my cabin. I thought it was humorous, as I was just thinking about that right before it happened. I’ve become desensitized. It’s pretty funny to think I’m rounding Cape Horn without a dodger, or any canvas for that matter. My dodger was so badly damaged in the Bering Sea that there is no use trying to fix it. I don’t need a dodger, I have a paintball mask. Between my Paintball mask and my mustang survival suit I look like a heavy weather ninja (Karate chopping waves).

I’ve seen quite a few Albatross lately. They will fly threw a gale like its blowing 5kts. To live down here they must be rather indestructible. They remind me of avian jumbo jets. A week ago I had a small seal playing with my boat for hours. I was 400 miles from land and surprised to see him that far out. I must have seen two hundred seals in the Artic, but they never hung out with me before. The little guy must have been as lonely as I am; I’ve never seen a seal so happy and playful.
If you get the chance pick up a copy of the January issue of Cruising World magazine. An article I wrote back by the Bering straits is their featured article. This is the first time anything I’ve written has been published. Most of you already know the story and have seen the pictures, but it’s still interesting. I would like to thank Mark Pillsbury and the cruising world staff for giving me this opportunity.

It’s round Cape Horn we all must go, Bring ’em down;
Arms all stiff to the ice and snow, Bring ’em down;
Oh, rock and roll me over boys, Bring ’em down;
And get this damn job over boys, Bring ’em down.
(19th Century Sea Shanty)


29 thoughts on “Cape Horn”

  1. Congratulations Matt!
    Your Mom is so excited! She came round to let me know of the update and the great news!!! You may be desensitized but some of us reading your unfolding story are not- and are amazed at your bravery and skill! A toast to you and rounding the horn! and 11 days early at that!!! Excited to see your new pictures!!! No bananas on your boat!

    1. One word, Matt. ( maybe a couple ) WOW ! I stand in AWE – take my hat off to you; bow my head, and say ” SIR MATT “. The Viking.

  2. Well Done Matt!
    I haven’t posted in quite a while but have been checking in almost daily. I plan to be in Annapolis with the welcoming committee
    Duane Ellicott City, MD

  3. Congratulations Matt!
    Your now officially a Cape Horner by way of an extraordinary route. The last leg of your journey lay ahead, Annapolis, then what adventure will challenge your quest for another new ending…. Cheers Mate

  4. BRAVO!!! SIR! your bravery is exceeded only by the joy you have given all who have ever dreamed of such an incredible journey! so very happy and proud for you , and yours!!!

  5. Noticed yr South Georgia comment Mathew Rutherford , but damn, l am proud of you. Outstanding effort my friend.

  6. The Cruising World article is what turned me on to your website. Awesome adventure, great cause, you’re an inspiration.


  7. great news glad your safe.truly amazing what youve done.will keep u in prayer.

  8. Congratulations Matt!!! Your passage abeam the Horn was cheered by the Ships Pilots and Tug Captains w/ Navy Region PNW (Puget Sound) … many of us sail and your exploits have given us something to admire … and certainly respect! Best wishes, keep er’ in the middle … and Godspeed to the North and home for you!! FYI: My classmate from school was a sailor and worked out of Ushuia … Mark Eichenberger of “Sea Tomato” rowing fame in that area … I’m sure his spirit was with you as well! All the best ….

  9. Matt,
    All I can say is “You are the man!!” You didn’t have to live a hundred years ago to be an adventurer, you are having an epic adventure right now!
    Congratulations on a great acheivement!


  10. FANTASTIC, Matt!

    Outstanding…you are an inspiration to many, young and old, male and female, sailors and non-sailors –adventurers in the game of life.

  11. Wow. May the home stretch bring you the safety and inner peace you have found on the adventure so far.

  12. Congratulations Matt on the stunning achievement thus far! You will surely take your place in the history of sailing. By the way, have you had any visitations similar to that reported by another great single hander- Joshua Slocum? From his book: “When I came to, as I thought, from my swoon, I realized that the sloop was plunging into a heavy sea, and looking out of the companionway, to my amazement I saw a tall man at the helm. His rigid hand, grasping the spokes of the wheel, held them as in a vise. One may imagine my astonishment. His rig was that of a foreign sailor, and the large red cap he wore was cockbilled over his left ear, and all was set off with shaggy black whiskers. He would have been taken for a pirate in any part of the world. While I gazed upon his threatening aspect I forgot the storm, and wondered if he had come to cut my throat. This he seemed to divine. “Señor,” said he, doffing his cap, “I have come to do you no harm.” And a smile, the faintest in the world, but still a smile, played on his face, which seemed not unkind when he spoke. “I have come to do you no harm. I have sailed free,” he said, “but was never worse than a contrabandista. I am one of Columbus’s crew,” he continued. “I am the pilot of the Pinta come to aid you. Lie quiet, señor captain,” he added,” and I will guide your ship to-night.”

    God Speed!

  13. We are in George Town, Exuma, Bahamas if you need anything brought out to you but it sounds like the worst is over! SSB 4006USB 1900 hrs. Wx 4045USB 0630 hrs.
    Sue Schadt s/v Nice ‘n’ Easy

  14. WAY TO GO CAPTAIN MATT !!! (or is that SIR Admiral Matt). And PUBLISHED no less !!! Nana & Gramps are smiling, to be sure. And are cheering you on all the way to the “finish line.” How PROUD they would be! ONWARD to ANNAPOLIS !!!!!

  15. Matt just called by sat phone to say that the winds have died way down. He is drinking a bottle of champagne and watching land as he completes this leg of his voyage. He is in excellent spirits and should be able to get some rest because the winds are forcasted to remain calm for a few days. He says, “I will just drift around for a while and enjoy it.”

    1. Thanks for some other informative wesibte. Where else may just I get that type of information written in such an ideal method? I’ve a project that I am just now operating on, and I have been on the look out for such info.

  16. Well Done Sir!

    I’m going to drink a few cold ones in your honor tonight.
    Keep Safe.

  17. Great Job Whahoo – Really Matt you are da man, now you’re in the right ocean, headed in the right direction to see people who have been with every mile. Like Tooter Turtle used to say “Twizzle, twazzle, twozzle, twome; time for this one to come home.” Look forward to seeing you in Annapolis in June.

    1. This was a seriously quite very good subimt. In theory I’d prefer to publish like this also getting time and actual effort to make a great piece of writing but what can I say I procrastinate alot and by no means appear to obtain something done.

  18. Matt,Hold the tiller tight
    Small donation from Yokohama went through VISA without a problem.

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