600 miles east of Brazil (Day 253)

It’s come to my attention that not everyone knows there is a tracking device on the web site. I don’t have internet access and so I’ve never seen my own web site but somewhere on the top of the home page you can click and you will see my exact position, speed, lat and long, ect.
It’s been a busy and somewhat frustrating week. I had light easterly winds for some time and although I wasn’t moving too quickly I was heading in the right direction and all in all it was pleasant. It was about as easy and comfortable as life at sea can get. Unfortunately other problems arose. When you are at home you can plug in a laptop or some other appliance without having to worry about how much power it uses. You have nearly infinite power being piped into your home (hence your electric bill). At sea I have to generate my own power in order to run my computer, GPS, or anything for that matter. Since I lost all solar panels back by the equator in the Pacific it has been a challenge to keep enough power in my batteries. I had one advantage – I had saved fuel so in a pinch I could run my engine in idle to charge my batteries. I didn’t have enough fuel to use my engine for propulsion but I could still (once in a while) give my batteries a good charge. I still have about 5 gallons of diesel set aside for this purpose but it seems that my starter is dead. I can’t start my engine without a starter. I tried to start it manually but I have found it to be quite impossible as I don’t have a crank handle and my jury rigged handle couldn’t take the load and broke. Now I’m down to just my old wind generator for power. I spent 3 full days converting a human powered generator into a hydro generator. It was quite the task. My hack saw is broken so I had to make many cuts through metal holding the flimsy rusty blade in my hand slowly sawing away hour after hour. I felt like a cartoon character trying to break out of jail using a nail file. I built a paddle wheel out of an old boat hook a broken piece of whisker pole some starboard. It looks cool but it is high maintenance and I don’t have much faith in it lasting very long. The chain that runs from the paddle wheel to the alternator keeps falling off, so I have to mess with it every half hour or so. I hope I can keep it running as it puts off about an amp. That doesn’t sound like much, but it adds up over time and at this point anything helps. My old wind generator has been binding up a bit since Cape Horn and I’ve been spraying it with WD-40 which helps but I ran out of WD 40 last night. If the wind generator dies I’m going to be in serious trouble – all I can do is cross my fingers. What all this means is I won’t be able to write the web entries as often now that I barely have any power. I’m only going to turn on my computer once a week to try to save power but that mean I’ll only be able to get a weather report once a week. Now that I’m in the easterlies it’s not a big deal, I know the weather will blow between 10 and 25 knots out of an easterly direction every day for the next month. I’ll need to know the weather more frequently when I get near Cape Hatteras and the Gulf Stream but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. If I get good wind I’ll have more power which means more web updates but if I have light winds then you won’t be hearing from me much because I won’t have enough power to charge my laptop. Once again most of my inverters have broken so I’m down to just one. If that breaks I won’t be able to charge anything anyways so a lack of power wouldn’t really matter. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.
Two out of my three water makers have broken and the last one was giving me some problems. I was able to lube it up with some olive oil (an oil based lubricant would have damaged the membrane) and it seems to be working better but if that were to brake … well I don’t even want to think about that.
I’ve lost my Bernard Moitessier mindset – thinking of sailing endlessly in an oceanic utopia. It’s been replaced by a much more realistic idea that I need to get back to land before this whole boat falls apart. I’m riding close to the edge and it wouldn’t take much for me to go over. I think structurally the boat is fine. I hope. Although I was on a port tack for so many miles that my bulkheads had shifted and settled to that load. Now that I?m on a starboard tack my bulkhead are slowly readjusting and periodically make a terrible noise. Sometimes the cracking sound is so loud that I would swear that my bulkhead had just cracked in half. The sound that wood can make when it’s in agony is incredible. So ya, I need to get my butt up to the bay before my whole world falls apart.


36 thoughts on “600 miles east of Brazil (Day 253)”

  1. Whoa Matt,

    Prayers seem needed!!! You sound a bit down and I can well understand. Just last night I was thinking HMMM boat still going but no news and today I see why. You have overcome so many, many seemingly insurmoutable obstacles I am hoping these latest breaks are not just too much. I know your amazing spirit will not let you cave unless absolutely imperative. I wish you could receive the messages of hope and pride in you and your vessel.

    Does anyone OUT there in Matt’s following know how some of this rather big hiccups might be remedaited. Will he ever be or could he be close enough for some resupply of major broken items, something for power and definitely water. I know an air drop is probably mega bucks unless we could find someone with a chopper and the know how…..will he ever be close enough to land for a boat to help with an ER run? I am so hoping and hoping too that St Brendan and the angel that has to have been riding so gently on his shoulder will bring inspiration to someone(s) somewhere. He has come through so much to have it all come undone now.

    Ideas anyone of you most resourceful peeps out there?

    I also hope someone might update us on Don B. I have been praying for him since last post.

    Those who have the ability to contact Matt with sat phone I hope can use it to buoy this amazing Celtic lad up.

    When you read this Matt…..know that you were almost in Brazil for Mardi Gras though your little boat is certainly not enjoying any of the FAT TUesday celebrations.

    I know you will cling to that motto!

    Semper Fi and God speed,

    Maggie in Maryland

    p.s. to Matt’s mum. YOU too are a portrait in courage. I can only guess at what goes on in that mother’s heart of hearts.

  2. I’ve been following your circumnavigation with a huge amount of respect and fascination. I built the Human Power Generator you have on board and can just imagine what sawing through that steel would have been like. The HPG is a generator for small power needs but can easily crank out 5 amps when it’s connected to a 12V battery. Granted you have to pedal the whole time and I can appreciate why you needed to make something else out of it. The permanent magnet DC generator that’s mounted in the frame doesn’t do to well in direct water – water will seep down into the armature and the inside will rust and fail. I don’t know how you have it set up but I wanted to let you know – even if you have some silicon or some other substance that can seal up where the shaft meets the end cap, it will help. Best to you – Sheila

  3. Hang in there Matt and pray your boat stays together to at least BVI

  4. Matt ,
    Hang in there! I once heard about someone starting a diesel on a sailboat by flipping the decompression device on, and using a line from the boom to the pulley in front of the engine, and then gybing. Re water. Do you have anything to catch rain? As long as you have water , food, and a floating boat with sails, you can do it!
    (Easy to give advice from land, I can’t imagine what your reality is like from your perspective after all the sea miles.) Best of Luck!


  5. Matt: You’re too far along on this venture to have things go wrong with the water machine and the starter motor as the distiller can go out at any time. So get some of your shore buddies to do what they did up in Canada: Get the things you need and get them out to you as soon as possible before you have an emergency. If necessary, sail closer to shore to make it convenient for the transfer, wither by boat or helicopter. Good luck…

  6. Matt, your incredible journey is nearly in the record books, keep her going.

    For those who can use this info, I hope it may help.

    Matt is about 560 NM SE from Recife Brazil. The Cabanga Yacht Club of Recife has plaid host to several voyaging sailors, perhaps they would be able to play some role in providing Matt with needed supplies.

    Their email address is secretaria@cabanga.com.br

    All the best Mate

    1. Thank you for this information….Matt and I have been discussing possible options, just in case it becomes necessary….
      Simon Edwards

  7. I’m worried about you, Big Matt, really worried, because throughout your adventure, I learned to admire you. You’re my new hero and guru. I sincerely hope you arrive safely at your destination. If you need help, remember that Fernando de Noronha is straight ahead, exactly in your bow.

    Good winds !

    Fernando Costa, from Cabo Frio, Brazil

    Hey, I quoted you for the twentieth time on my blog, look!


    And I also conveyed your last message to the group Altomar – http://br.groups.yahoo.com/group/altomar/

    1. After reading your most recent report, I think resupply at Fernando de Noronha is a good option. A close pass will get you within range of private boats. With some help from the boating community there, you will probably not have to violate the rules of your circumnavigation. Hope this helps. I am enjoying your writing and inspired by your adventure.


  8. Dear Matt,
    Being as I am unable to provide any sailing and fix-it advice, all I can do is increase the number and intensity of my prayers and encourage others to do the same. I’m really hoping a “helicopter” angel comes to your rescue with needed equipment and parts. Be very cautious about hydration. If possible, use those empty Thrive Cans to collect rain. Cap them off and save as much as you can. Be sure to eat, even if you just nibble on those freeze-dried foods all day as you work at staying afloat. I’m praying you can collect plenty of rain water to drink!

    Keep your spirits high and health in tact. May God be with you and guide your reparation skills and bring you safely to your destination.

    With great concern,

    Karol Harlan

    1. Back in Alaska, we were able to send funds to the CRAB organization in order to help with the re supply. Simon Edwards headed that up and did a great job. I’m sure he will reach out to us if that is an option.

  9. Matt

    I have a small catamaran (see blog) and live in Fortaleza – Ceara – Brazil. If you can go near (40 nm) the coast I can provide you with some assistance (water, fuel, food, gas generator (?) etc.). I am presentely at Rio de Janeiro but next sunday (February/26) I will be back in Fortaleza.

    Feel free to contact me by mail or by phone 55 85 87776484.

    1. Thank you for this offer of assistance……we will keep it in mind ….
      Simon E

  10. Matt,
    You can not do this, but it might give you an idea. Once when I was a Merchant Marine engr. we were broken down and had no power to start the emergency diesel gen. We rigged up a line around the flywheel, de-compressed 2 cly. The line was then pased through a bunch of blocks to a lifeboat. Then the lifeboat was lowered away, starting the engine. In short maybe you could use some weight on the boom with a line around the flywheel.

    I am in awe of your accomplishment, Norman

  11. It would be a terrible loss if Matt were unable to achieve his goal after all this time and effort. What he has done is amazing!!!

    That said, we would like to thank those of you (such as Airton) who have volunteered to possibly help with a resupply of essential equipment (watermakers; electrical generating equipment). Unfortunately, we are unable to physically help in this endeavor. But we, for one, would be happy to help financially to specifically assist those who might be able to organize a resupply. Let us know if we can be of assistance in accomplishing this task.

    Hang in there Matt — but, remember nothing is worth compromising your personal safety.

    Best wishes, P&S

    1. There is a Matt Rutherford fund at CRAB….just write on the check it is for
      Matt’s challenge ………………..

  12. You prob will not see this for a wile, however I will say it, all of us are with you. The thing about solo sailing is that you are on you own, it is bitter truth, the moment you decided to take those lines off, that was the moment you told the world I can do with out you.

    I for one envy you, what ever happens you have achieved more than ,00001% of the population have and will ever get too!

    You have proven to be a very resource full man, I am sure you will over come this challenge, furthermore you will succeed not just because you have done what no other man has done in the last few decades but because what is left is just the home stretch dude!!!!!!!

    I am not a god fearing person but I am sure “the good lord will provide” up to a point keep on hooping, you never know what is over the next cloud.

    Stay alive!

    1. I agree Roger. While we all want Matt to finish this voyage,we most of all want him safe. What he has done to date is beyond remarkable and to have conquered the NWP was a grand feat alone….but from reading Matt’s blog I gather Matt sees sucess only if Mission Accomplished!
      So we can send some funds and hope he can get the help he needs but as Simon says….he is an incredibly resourceful young man! I just wish he could read all the words of encouragement.

  13. Just in case I have put out a couple of feelers to see what we can do if the situation arises
    where we need a drop. Matt is as resourceful as ever and via the phone he is trying to get things sorted, so hopefully he can just keep on trucking.
    Will keep you posted, I know that once again, his comms are limited…..

  14. We continue to be amazed by your exploits and the outpouring from so many people following your journey. All we can offer to help is to send some more funds into CRAB. Stay safe as already mentioned. We hope the offer from Brazil works out.

  15. I have followed your posts from the beginning. In my eyes you have already accomplished the impossible. Fortunately or unfortunately, Matt, your standards are much higher than mine. Be safe.

  16. Hey Simon,
    If Matt needs another “supply drop” please let us know. I’ll be glad to help again. All of Matts’ followers should be reminded that his endeavor is expensive and we all need to help a little with it, as well as contributing to C.R.A.B. A great cause that Matt supports.

  17. Contacted the people in Brasil. They are very kind and willing to help, waiting for a call tomorrow from Matt to see what the status is on board Saint Brendan. he may not need anything, but if he does we have help at hand……

    1. Thank you, Simon! Matt may be on board St. Brendan alone, but you are always with him. It is incredible that readers all over the world are reaching out through the power of the web to assist a lone sailor on his quest. Thank you, to all of Matt’s supporters. And remember, Matt has the “luck of the Irish”!

    2. Matt & Simon,

      This adventure has become a vesssel for all that is good and decent within the human spirit as people around the world identify with the courage of Matt and his spirit to simply greet each day and forge on.

      I’m glad the folks in Brasil were willing to help.

      All the best Mate.

  18. Well done Matt!

    The uphill leg is always won by the will — That commodity you are not in short supply of Captain.

    If what you are attempting to do was easy it would have been done before. You are demonstrating it takes a special kind of person to do what you are doing and that improvisation ain’t just some comedy act in a jazz club.

    Yesterday was Ash Wednesday….the beginning of Lent….a special period of spending a bit more time in prayer/reflection, of sacrifice and alms-giving to our neighbor in need. Matt, this Lent, you just keep sacrificing your safety, sleep and comfort keeping a northerly heading while the rest of us steer over to the ‘Donate to Crab’ link and do our small part.
    And then we can all get on our knees and thank the good Lord for giving us the Matt’s of the world – Those uncommon souls that inspire us to face each new challenge head-on while acknowledging the seemingly impossible is still possible.

    1. Lovely note Hugh….wish Matt could see the notes now but I hope he feels the care, concern, love and SPIRIT….a port he just recently passed in Brazil.

    2. Nice Hugh,
      I know that Matt’s courage, determination and sacrifice to support those less fortunate has encouraged me to be a better person. I feel humbled that all I can do is click on the ‘Donate to CRAB’

  19. Matt,

    So wonderful to see all of your followers and offers of support! Our hearts are with you here in Colorado. Sending you an immense amount of good energy and love. Can’t wait for your return. I’m hoping you’ll be able to make RJBJR’s retirement in August! Hang in there. You are an absolutely amazing human being with an indefatigable spirit!
    So much love to you!

  20. Hello from Australia Matt, I have been following your blog all the way along and your voyage would make an amazing movie!! It is a story of incredible bravery, resourcefulness, compassion, ingenuity, guts, determination, discovery, adventure, resilience and a spirit that never gives up – the list could go on and on. You are a very unique human being Matt, keep hanging tough!

  21. You can do all things through God who strengthens you! And what an amazing job of jerryrigging you’ve been doing. It’s a privilege to support you through a donation.
    With loads of prayers coming your way that all plans go smoothly for the re-supply.


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