Recife (Day 262)

A few years ago a watched a documentary on Recife on the Discovery channel during shark week. Evidently Recife is the shark bite capital of the world (Bull Sharks) – not that I’m planned on going for a swim. To take a step back, after my last update I spent three days trying to get my engine started. I took off all the wires and cleaned the connections with sandpaper. I was hoping it was a bad ground wire but unfortunately that wasn’t the problem. I tried to take the starter off but for some crazy reason it is connected to the engine with round bolts with a large Allen key fitting in the center. So I didn’t have the rather odd tool required to remove the bolts. Why they couldn’t have used normal hex head bolts is beyond me. So after three days of getting covered in engine grime I came to the conclusion that it is beyond my abilities to fix the engine. In order to get better access to the engine I removed my cockpit floor. I have been taking on a lot of water and I thought well if I can’t fix the engine at least I can tighten the stuffing box. To my surprise the stuffing box wasn’t leaking and neither was the rudder shaft. That’s not good! That means I’m taking on salt water from somewhere else – I have an unknown leak below the water line. I spent the next day ripping the boat apart trying to find the mystery leak. The culprit is an old (at least 25-30 year old) depth sounder transducer that was hidden in my V-berth. So I told Simon that the engine is beyond repair and I’m taking on water below the water line. He said “we should look into another resupply” and he sweetened the deal with promises of strong drink. I’m not sure how he does it, he has some natural ability to find very nice helpful people anywhere in the world. He contacted a guy named Marcos in Recife Brazil, sent him a list, and Marcos took it from there.

I was still four days out so I spent some time fixing other items. I was able to get some winch lube into my wind generator and that stopped the binding problem. I have continued to lube up my water maker by applying olive oil to the piston and now it “works like new”. Unfortunately my hydro generator’s paddle wheel couldn’t handle the load and fell apart. It was the aluminum boat hook pieces that failed, I just didn’t have strong enough material to use – but I still stand behind my design. I was still having a hard time with power; my batteries were so dead I could only run my GPS for 10 minutes every 24 hours. I brought a battery powered GPS but somehow the Artic fog got inside and killed it many months ago. In all honesty you don’t really need to have a chart plotter on 24/7. As long as I can get a position report every 12 hours I can do the rest of the navigation with a compass.
There has been a ton of freighter traffic in the last week. Freighters are like mosquitos on a camping trip. So, I approached the coast of Brazil a bit early and hove to about 15 miles off. There are these strange and I’m guessing uniquely Brazilian fishing boats all over the place. They are around 35 feet, made of wood with a little shelter on the back and open on the front. They just drop anchor at night and go to sleep 10 to 15 miles out. I nearly hit one that must have forgotten to turn on its anchor light. They usually hang out in groups of three to four. Colorful boats, must be a hard life though. . I hit my target waypoint about 2 miles offshore ten minutes early. I sat there hove-to thinking that not far away there was a beach full of beautiful Brazilian girls and here I am stuck on this little boat drifting around. I didn’t drift for long before I saw Marcos approaching in a large inflatable. There was a good 3-5 foot swell so it was a great idea to use a forgiving inflatable instead of a hard sided vessel. The whole thing was very quick, in less than ten minutes they were gone and I was heading back out to sea. I got a handheld VHF because sailing without a working VHF is ridiculous, that’s just safety 101. I got same underwater putty to fix my leaky transducer (I’ll do that later today and let you know if it worked). I got two small solar panels that are 15 watts each (about 2 amps total). It doesn’t sound like much but it’s giving me the power to write this update. I also got a hand crank for the engine. This all happened yesterday and by the time I received the items I had been awake for 40 hours. I just woke up so I haven’t had time to try it out. Again I’ll write about it in my next update. I also got some Brazilian booze and some Johnny Walker along with some sweet treats and the best roasted chicken I’ve ever had. Oh yeah, also 15 gallons of diesel and 20 gallons of emergency water, along with other bits and bobbles.

Thank you all for your contributions to help with this resupply. I should be able to plug my rather dangerous leak and keep my batteries charged enough for the basics. Not to mention I can now have a gill worth of strong drink from time to time which is good for morale. This resupply should make the last leg of this long journey safer. To put it in some prospective – if Unalaska Bay was One Ton Depot then Recife was Conner Camp. Now it’s time to head for Cape Evans (The Chesapeake Bay).
My camera broke in the Bering Sea but the Alaska resupply guy gave me his personal camera. So I was able to give Marcos a pen drive with 50 (or so) pictures on it covering Alaska, Open Pacific, Cape Horn, ect. If the new pictures are not on the site by now then they will be soon. I also heard that Don Backe is recovering quickly and is in much better health. On to the Equator.

30 thoughts on “Recife (Day 262)”

  1. Great News Matt…..miracles do happen.
    I still think you have St. Brendan as a silent lookout and comment to your reading ,if you haven’t already, The Brendan Voyage.

    Thank you for you update….low key and modest as usual. Your spirit seems buoyant as always but you must be ready to see”Cape Evans”……we shall a have a grand crowd as the wind pulls you home!

  2. Was really glad to hear that Simon & Marcos got you hooked up. Please know that there are a number of people trying to get your story out. Hopefully we can generate more interest thereby helping you with fund raising both for you in case you need another resupply before you have to pass by Hatteras and for CRAB. I know you will want everything as shipshape as possible before passing the cape. Fair winds and Following seas be with you.

  3. Thanks to Simon and Marcos! Hurray! I’ve been watching the website multiple times a day for the past several days, watching St. B approach the hump of Brazil, seeing the course turn sharply, and waiting for the update. Hurray! Hope the leak gets fixed, that the engine cranks easily, and that the trades are just strong enough. Time for a long, 5 knot run with the winds abeam. Who knows about the greeting in April? I’m in, if my 27 foot boat is in the water! I’ll take a day off work!

  4. Glad Simon was able to get your care package put together in time . Hoping to be with Simon as you approach Chesapeake . Good sailing !!!

  5. Good stuff. I’ve been watching this inspiring effort in awe. Good luck with the repairs. It seems Matt is pretty creative when it comes from fixing things, which is a good thing!

    Safe home

  6. Matt: Glad to hear you (hopefully) have what you need to finish the voyage. Nice to see a plan come together! See you in the friendly confines of the Chesapeake before you know it! Pax per Maris!


    Do you know what?
    If Matt Rutherford is a dreamer I’m another, smaller, much smaller than him, but I am also a dreamer.
    I dream of all the oceans of the world full of refueling stations, each one, with a clone of Marcos Medeiros on board, always ready to serve any sailor in need of water, fuel, whiskey and everything else someone might need lost in the middle of ocean. Free and fast, of course! LoL!

    Good winds Marcos Medeiros ! And once again congratulations for the faster fueling operation of all time. A real “splash and go”. 10 minutes ?!!! No, I can not believe ! LoL!

    Good winds Matt Rutherford, reading your blog is a great pleasure and my best sailing school!

  8. You certainly have a great story for a book, even a made-for-tv movie or more! You can’t make this stuff up, Matt. Good job! Good health! And fair winds for the rest of the voyage!

  9. Simply amazing. Here’s hoping that everything works and you’re back in the Bay before you know it. If I can get my boat off the hard before you get back to Annapolis, I also hope to join the flotilla escorting you into the harbor. If not, I hope to be able to join the crowd welcoming you at the dock.

  10. Thank you thank you thankyou Marcos! For your willingness and for your ability to pull it all together in such a short time. You are my hero for the day!

    The ocean is soooo big…and Matt’s boat so small…but God covers it all!

    And thank you Matt for giving us all an update on how the re-supply took place. You are an inspiration.

    God speed.

  11. Whooooo hooooo! We are with you all the way Matt!!!

    Lots of love coming your way,


  12. I am so relieved, Matt, and Simon, that the resupply went so smoothly (after, I’m sure, all the logistical nightmares that both Simon and then Marcos must have gone through)!! 10 minutes to get all the items on board seems absolutely amazing.

    I was hoping that Marcos would have taken a photograph of you! I’m sure that by now, your close-cut hair and neatly groomed red mustache and beard that you had when you left is now pretty scraggly and very long . . . even keeping your chest warm, when you need it! Would love to see how you’re looking today!!! (If Marcos didn’t take a picture of you, how about taking one of yourself to show us?!!! I’m assuming that they’ve also provide you with a way to now take, and send, some photographs again.)

    It’s wonderful that so many offers of assistance came through, and that all the necessary items were able to be found or “crafted” and then handed off to you . . . and the roasted chicken must have been even more delicious than the thought of enjoying the Brazilian booze and Johnny Walker! I know just reading it made my mouth water . . . mmmmm yum!

    At sea, is there something akin to DUI . . . you know, like “SUI”, that you’d have to worry about? And, as your Mom has reminded you . . . at least keep your tether clipped on, especially when you’re downing these intoxicating liquids!!

    Well, it’s now “North to the Equator and Annapolis” . . . and to the huge “Welcome Home” from your faithful fans!! I’m so sure that you have hundreds, maybe thousands, who have been following your voyage with great admiration for your courage and seamanship . . . even if they haven’t commented on your blog . . . and fans from all parts of the country, or the globe, who won’t be able to be there when you arrive back home but will be watching that little red dot until it stops . . . and who will be celebrating along with all of you and your loyal team and supporters at C.R.A.B.

    And, to use your own motto: “FORTITUDINE VINCIMUS”

    Godspeed, Matt! May it be smooth sailing all the way!

    Carol Florida U.S.A.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

      1. Well, it’s a great motto, and, I think all of us who have been following Matt feel like it applies so well . . . and one that we need to adopt it for our own . . . in whatever big (as in Matt’s) or relatively smaller battles, or struggles, we face . . . the need to endure to be victorious is a great reminder!!

        Thanks “its stolt” for clarifying that it’s really Simon’s motto, but I’m sure it’s been Matt’s constant reminder too, every time he signs off his updates with it!!!

        Thanks Simon for sharing it with the rest of us, it’s a wonderful motto to live by!!


      2. It’s not mine!!! It is Shackleton’s!!
        And Matthew Rutherford has his blessing, believe me.

  13. Carol,
    Matt called me yesterday afternoon! He was on cloud nine. I asked him, “What did Santa bring you?” He paused briefly and then said, “Santa brought me 15 gallons of diesel, two solar panels, a hand crank for my motor, and some Brazilian “aquavite” that I am currently enjoying!”

    Yes, their will be lots of pictures. Matt gave Marcos the pictures, and they should be up soon.

    It may seem unbelievable to everyone who is following Matt’s blog, but Matt has been seriously out of touch with the comments posted on his blog. Simon said that he was going to send Matt a copy of the comments–which is wonderful, but Matt didn’t mention reading them yet.

    Matt really believes that he needs to get back to Annapolis, find a place to tie up St. Brendan, and then jump on a boat or plane to make a delivery. He only has $30 to his name! His sister, Rachel, is making arrangements with other family members to provide Matt a place to stay while he can get back on his land legs. (And, I can’t imagine him taking any money from the CRAB collection! Matt is dedicated to raising this money for CRAB.)

    He, also, does not yet realize how excited everyone is to see him make it back to the bay and to Annapolis. Remember — when he left Annapolis last June — very few people knew what he was planning to accomplish. Many who did know, did not believe it possible! (I helped by painting the bottom of the boat. I crawled around inside where it is unbelievably small and could not imagine how anyone could tolerate these primitive conditions for almost 10 months.) Matt has set his sites on this goal, and those who know him well, know that he finds a way to achieve his goals.

    Well, this has become long-winded…

    1. Well, at least when he returns Matt won’t owe any federal tax for the year! Seriously, in the midst of all the national and world travail … it is inspiring to follow Matt “mile by mile” in this historic journey. My best friend, Mark Eichenberger, was lost off Cape Horn … he taught me to sail when we were young … and I know that Mark was (somehow) in support of Matt as he made the passage. All the best to you and yours … and while Matt certainly deserves a rousing welcome home, I know he will also need some space to “collect”. Bravo to all!
      Poulsbo WA V1690

  14. Marcos, Simon & the others supporting Matt’s journey — a big
    Wahooo TO YOU FOLKS!
    Matt is an amazing-dedicated fellow– his team seem to have been
    crafted from similar base design!

    All good inspiring stuffing for the soul.

    Thanks for the updates & hope you got the leak stopped


  15. I always knew it was impossible to do what Matt is doing. Raising the infinite Brazilian coast under sail. But this is the mission of genius, no? Making the impossible easy.

    Good winds the MacGyver of the Seas !


    Fernando Costa, from Cabo Frio, Brazil

  16. Hello Matt,
    I am relieved that you got the emergency drinking water. Be careful cranking that engine. I hope you will be able to enjoy the remainder of the trip.

    I think we can officially begin calling you “Matt the adventurer”

    Dave Sterling

  17. Matt: Keep on…Keep’en on. Lots of folks are praying and hoping for your safe return and landfall at the National Sailing Hall of Fame dock in Annapolis on or about
    April 14th. People and organizations are lining up to welcome and accompany you home….U.S. Coast Guard and Coast Guard Aux. Annapolis, Md. Natural Resources Police; Annapolis city officials, Annapolis Fire Dept. fire boat, Md state officials, the news media and other officials….and then there is the rest of us water people and plain ole folks who have been supporting and checking in on you all the way….and finally your C.R.A.B supporters and other contributors and supporters.

  18. Muito obrigado Marcos! Thank you very much Simon! What a relief to know Matt now has the equipment and provisions to help him safely make it back to Maryland. How delightful that Marcos also brought him roasted chicken, sweets, and liquid refreshment. Thanks to everyone who donated funds to help Matt continue his amazing journey.

    1. P.S.
      Matt, reading about your attempt at fixing your engine reminded me of your great-grandfather and my dad, Lee St. Clair. He worked in a steel mill in NE Ohio all of his life, but also had a home business fixing outboard motors. Maybe you’ve inherited his tinkering skills. He would have been very proud of you, and so would your Grammie Ruth.

  19. Well, dear friends, Matt has won the resistance of the current of Brazil and is within walking distance to reach the South Equatorial Current. Done that and the rest will be a big party. I mean favorable wind and current all the time. Look at the map of this link and know why.

    Good winds the MacGyver of the Seas ! The real Gilliatt !


    Fernando Costa, from Cabo Frio, Brazil

  20. Matt-
    My 9-year old son and I found out about you in the Washington Post in early February. We read a lot of your blogs shortly thereafter, and we were both amazed at the journey you’ve been on. Tonight, we were settling in to read a bedtime story on the iPad when he asked if we could check out your website to see how you were doing. We read about the need for a resupply off the coast of Brazil – a truly stressful read(!), so I can’t even imagine what it was like for you.

    We’re going to plan on meeting you on the dock in Annapolis in April and congratulating you on your journey. Safe sailing on the home stretch!
    Chris and Jack Henry Lages

  21. Matt, We’re so excited and happy here that you’re making such great progress! Godspeed and prayers~

  22. I am concerned about Matt’s latest blog. His situation without his wind generator could mean he loses contact, if his solar panels are not good enough. Any thoughts on getting some supplies?

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