The Equator Strikes Back (23,433 miles, Day 268)

Karl Guerra is CRAB’s program director, the guy that used to pick me up in the morning so we could go around and work on CRABs boats. Karl used to have a business that saved failing business. In other words he would take over a business figure out what?s wrong and fix the business before the business went under. I can?t even imagine the logistics involved. One day Karl had a stroke and lost his ability to speak. They told him he would never speak again and his insurance company wouldn’t help pay for his speech therapy. So Karl spent all his money – something like a half a million dollars – learning how to speak again. Then he had a heart attack and then rheumatoid arthritis. The only way to deal with it is by doing chemo-therapy every week, which makes him sick as a dog for 3-4 days. Then he got cancer from the chemo. I think Karl’s got the record for the person with the most physical ailments still walking around. Karl helped quite a bit with this trip. He spoke on behalf of CRAB at all my seminars when I was trying to raise money for the trip and he had the misfortune of being part of the last week extravaganza. The last week before you leave on a trip of this nature is total chaos and Karl was running all over Annapolis helping to get items so I could wrap up the boat. When I’m not worrying about Don’s health, I’m worrying about Karl. Working for CRAB has been a huge boost to Karl’s moral (productivity is the world’s greatest anti-depressant). I guess that that’s a big part of CRABs message, just because you’re disabled doesn’t mean you’re not capable anymore. So this trip is a fundraiser for CRAB. St. Brendan owned by CRAB and I’m trying to raise money on a per mile basis. A penny a mile, 10 cents a mile, a dollar a mile, act – or a general donation which can be done on CRABs web site. In the last month or so the checks have started coming in and we are starting to raise good money, so thank you to all who have already contributed. Your helping a good non-profit give sailing opportunities to people with mental and physical disabilities.

The general degradation of this vessel seems to come in waves. Nothing new has broken in the last week so I guess I’m in a trough. Things have been going well since the resupply for the most part. For the record I was originally trying to do this trip with no resupplies but after the water maker broke that became impossible. I wasn’t able to plug my leak below the water line. I used a whole bucket of the putty I received in the resupply, to no avail. Water would start coming out of one side of the putty and I would smooth it out, then water would come out the other side and I would smooth it out. It just kept finding new ways of getting through the putty until eventually the putty became hard and that was that. I was trying to fight the water pressure and the putty couldn’t do it. If I had swam under the boat with some putty I might have fixed it from that direction but I didn’t think about that until later. So whatever, I’ll live with it. Also there is very little room to try to hand start this engine. The crank hits things as I rotate it. I cut a chuck of wood out of the boat to make it easier but it gets so close to the fiberglass floor that I bust my knuckles on every rotation. So I haven’t started it yet, but I’ll keep at it, I have a few ideas. At least my new little solar panels are giving me power, which is making a big difference.

Man is it hot around here! I’m a sweaty mess all day; the night comes as a great relief.

Speaking of night. Two nights ago I get up around midnight to look for freighters, check my course, etc. I see this vessel on the horizon which I thought was a big boat far away, but its lights were arranged in a different manner then a freighter. I would see a red, then a green, then red and green. I’m thinking where is this boat going and what the heck is it doing? All of a sudden I realize that it’s not a big boat far away but a smaller boat up close. It was 50-60 feet made of wood and quite beat up looking. It kind of looked like a larger version of a crab fishing boat you would find in the Chesapeake Bay, except we were 120 miles from land. The boat passed close by so I turned on all my lights so it could seem me. As far as I could tell it was a fishing boat but no one was fishing. There was very little wind so I was only going 1.5kts and starting my engine wasn’t an option so I couldn’t really maneuver much. The boat passed by again even closer, maybe fifty feet away and I could hear them talking and laughing. I thought they are probably drunk. They started to circle my boat so I got out my new handheld VHF and yelled at them on channel 16. I?m sure they don?t understand English but they would surly understand yelling. They passed by again even closer than before. I wanted to go back to bed and I wasn’t in the mood to play games with drunken fishermen 120 offshore so I grabbed my 12 gauge and my last 20 shells. I thought, pass by one more time. They did and when they were 20 feet away I put two rounds in the air, there boat fell silent there engines RPM drastically increased and they took off. I watched them go over the horizon then I went to bed.

We can all help make a difference. If we all spent one hour a week volunteering for a local charity, one hour less stilling in front of the television watching some stupid TV show, imagine how much could be accomplished. There are many problems in this world we live in and no one person can fix everything, but everyone can do something.

33 thoughts on “The Equator Strikes Back (23,433 miles, Day 268)”

  1. Welcome back into the Northern Hemisphere, Matt!! Glad the encounter with the fishing boat and it’s probably “drunk” crew didn’t get ugly! Thankful that you scared them off and had no more problem with them!!!

    Let’s see, “two (shots) in the air” means you must still have 18 shells left, so, glad you didn’t have to use any more, and hope that you still have the 18 when you arrive back home!

    Really enjoyed your wonderful photos that have been posted, Matt, (and also those that were taken during the resupply) but, I was totally wrong when I pictured you with a lot of facial hair after 260 some days at sea! I figured you’d probably have no sissors and no mirror! Your longer, curly hair, looks great, but I was really surprised to see that you’ve been shaving. I don’t know how anyone does that on a pitching deck, but. I guess when you’ve been becalmed it would have been easier to shave . . . and have given you something to do as well!!

    Your trip, drawing attention to C.R.A.B. and the opportunities it has given to the disabled, to empower them, and enable them to experience the joy that sailing can bring, has been such a worthy cause, Matt! I hope that they are very successful in raising awareness, and raising enough money to keep them going for a long time!!

    When I was telling some visiting friends from Long Island, who are now living down here in Florida, about your amazing voyage, and your goal to draw attention to C.R.A.B., they said that they knew a couple that were involved in promoting disabled sailing up in the Annapolis area . . . a Don and Linda (I think they said) . . . could that possibly be your Don? If not the same as Don Backe, it may be another couple who participate in the program in some way!!

    Well, Matt, hope you don’t encounter any more drunken sailors out there that you have to scare off!! Glad you had a way to “get their attention”!! Stay safe!!

    By the way, are you now in that lovely current that’s going to help bring you home??

    With warm wishes,

    Carol Florida U.S.A.

    * * * * * * * * *

  2. Matt,

    I love your stories! Get those skunts attention!!! BOOM!!!

    Glad your on your way again.

    Be safe and hope to see your smiling face again soon.


  3. Matt –

    As the president of CRAB’s board of directors, all that I can say is “thank you!” Your voyage and dedication to CRAB are huge affirmations that our mission is important and that we are touching people’s lives. Your courage and commitment to CRAB are great. The funds raised through this campaign will help CRAB update our fleet and ensure that our financial outlook stays strong as we continue to provide access onto the Chesapeake for disabled sailors like myself.

    We look forward to a safe return and a great celebration at your arrival in Annapolis in April.

    – Lance Hinrichs

      1. Sen. Harkin,

        I just saw your reply to my post and look forward to speaking with you about Matt Rutherford’s voyage and CRAB. I will contact your office tomorrow. However, if you would like to call me instead, or have one of your staff members reach me, my contact information is below.


        Lance Hinrichs
        Work) 202-502-6438
        Home) 703-532-2110


    Well, well, I think I will stop giving laps around this blog. I don’t want to get shots from my hero Matt Rutherford, the MacGyver of the Seven Seas! LoL !

    You’re right Matt, Brazilians fishermen are rude, arrogant and disrespectful. Everyone complains about them, including me.

    But do not start a war between the fragile USA and the powerful Brazil. The 120 miles off the coast you are within our territorial waters (200 miles). LoL!

    Good winds Matt !


    Fernando Costa, from Cabo Frio, Brazil

  5. Hi Matt,

    I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading your updates and am awe struck at your dedication and determination. As a fellow sailor I can appreciate how audacious a venture this is. You are an inspiration, and certainly know what’s important in life and go after it! You’re right about volunteering, it takes a village, and we all have something to contribute. Hope to sail along side you at your homecoming back to Annapolis. Thank you for all you’re doing for CRAB! I will support your endeavor with a donation.


  6. That wasn’t politically correct on my part…I am worried still about conditions on Matt’s boat. The last thing he needs is to encounter danger from fellow humans. I don’t know if many of us could hold up alone this long and with your world on the edge of falling apart. My apologies to the Brazilians if they meant no harm, and I will be relieved when Matt finally pulls St. Brendan back to shore.

    1. Dear Marlowe,

      I think about you often and admire the supporting voice you give to this adventure. When I was in my twenties and teaching sailing, there were dreams of sailing around the world. Now that I have a daughter a year older than Matt, I am much more in tune with my feelings as a mother: pride for the accomplishments of my adult child and still trying to hold worries in check. I hope to meet your remarkable family on the docks in Annapolis in a few weeks.
      Meredith in Silver Spring MD

      1. Krishna Sir, Nice to hear from you about our village.Although we are away,we awyals eagar to hear & see prosperity of Ghandruk and the Ghandruke.Thank you very much and hopeto hear from you very soon. Krishna Gurung Kot Gaon(residing in The U.K.)

  7. Marlowe/Mom good morning !

    How are you?

    Me too, I am worried about conditions on Matt’s boat.

    I admire Matt a lot and I believe that all other Brazilians that follow his amazing, fantastic, extraordinary adventure, too.

    It was just a joke. If you read my blog, you will realize that I spend all my time making jokes.

    Matt proceeded correctly … It was just a joke. Forgive me.

    SOME Brazilian fishermen need a lesson from time to time. They are very insolent and impolite.

    I’m sure the brave Matt will pull back Saint Brendan to Annapolis and become a national heroe.

    Don’t worry Marlowe/Mom, be happy ! 🙂

  8. Thanks for your compliment dear Marlowe /Mom, but reading my blog you will understand that I am a deep admirer of all the lonely sailors of all times and places. I’ve made the apology of Joshua Slocum, Bernard Moitessier, Alfred Johnson, Eric Tabarly, Howard Blackburn, Florence Arthaud, Aleixo Belov, Alain Colas, Vito Dumas, Francis Chichester and many others. Now is the time of Matt Rutherford, the MacGyver of the Seas.
    – Hey, Matt changed course, he is now sailing in 272º true? !
    – Will he make another pit stop?
    – He seems to be going to Macapá!
    – Simon Edwards should know …

    Good winds Matt!


    Fernando Costa, from Cabo Frio, Brazil

  9. Re the encounter with boat: Who knows, maybe they just wanted to help out, and give Matt a fish . But then again, maybe up to no good. And it was night. Even if there wasn’t any language barrier, no way to know. But obviously, when Matt let go those blasts, he signaled that he was not in the mood for a visit, and didn’t need any help! On another note, many thanks to the Brazilians that helped with his resupply!
    Maybe Matt will visit your beautiful country some day. I sure would like to.

      1. Richard and Simon,
        About the misterious boat, that area is a place where many boats are fishing and it doesn´t mean that all of them are brasilians. Brasilian Navy doesn´t have all resurces to follow each one and many times there are boats from Asia fishing there too. I´m not saying that we don´t have some problems with piracy , but as I know, problems happened near ports.
        During the last 20 years sailing what I heard is that fishing boats are allways our last resurce to receive some help.

      2. Hi Marcos,
        I have no doubt it was all a misunderstanding. Anyway, Marcos, you saw the boat, I don’t think a pirate would be very interested do you?!!
        Great photos by the way…One of your pictures was on Baltimore TV the other day…

  10. I have been following this amazing person since the Wash Post article came out. I’m in my late 40’s and just started sailing last summer taking lessons in Annapolis, what took me so long! Matt you are an inspiration to me. I couldn’t wait to get through the nasty beltway traffic tonight to see that your course had changed, you had me worried when you were heading towards land, WERE YOU SLEEPING?!! I hope to watch you step onto the docks in Annapolis in April. Stay Safe!

  11. While some impolite fishermen in northern Brazil go disturbing the
    sleep of Matt, other kind fishermen in southern Brazil (next to
    my house) are saving a school of dolphins, look!
    Really incredible.
    Amazing and commendable. Look!

    Congratulations my neighbors from Arraial do Cabo!

    Good winds master Matt, now sailing in 300º true !

  12. amazing what you run into even 120 miles out to sea.glad your safe will pray for your safe arrival back to annapolis.bob in west river

  13. A boat full of drunks in the middle of the night circling like sharks, getting closer and closer. I’m sure there are some “Pollyannas” out there that think they meant no harm but I’m certainly glad he has the ability to defend himself.

    Dave Sterling


    Do you want to see how I guess the thought of Matt?
    He is approaching the land, hoping to see the monstrous mouth of the gigantic Amazon, the world’s largest river.

    The AMAZON

    which has the largest drainage basin in the world, about 7,050,000 square kilometres (2,720,000 sq mi), accounts for approximately one-fifth of the world’s total river flow.
    The width of the Amazon varies between 1.6 and 10 kilometres (1.0 and 6.2 mi) at low stage, but expands during the wet season to 48 kilometres (30 mi) or more. The river enters the Atlantic Ocean in a broad estuary about 240 kilometres (150 mi) wide. The mouth of the main stem is 80 kilometres (50 mi). Because of its vast dimensions, it is sometimes called The River Sea. (WIKIPEDIA)

    Good winds Matt! If you come back to Annapolis by sea, I promise to publish your picture next to Joshua Slocum and Bernard Moitessier, in my humble blog. LoL!


    Fernando Costa, from Cabo Frio, Brazil

    1. Fernando,
      Ever since I was a kid I promised myself I would see the Nile, the Yukon, and the Amazon. Two down, one to go. I hope to visit your beautiful country in 2013.
      I watched the u-tube you suggested – these kind people are performing an admirable task. Thank you.
      Dave Sterling

  15. Correction:
    *Good winds Matt! If you come back to Annapolis by sea, I promise I’ll publish your portrait among those of Johsua Slocum and Bernard Moitessier, on my humble blog. LoL!*

    Hi David ! You, Matt, Don, Karl, Marlowe/Mom, Simon and all the American people, you are welcome to Brazil all the time. 🙂

  16. Matt changed his mind about take a look at the huge mouth of the River Sea (the Amazon river) , I think.
    Now, he is sailing directely to Cayenne, the French Guiana’s capital.
    Perhaps his 20 gallons of emergency water had finish.
    That’s normal, he is sailing in the heart of the torrid zone, after two long weeks.
    My god, for a descendant of the Celts, it must be awful to cross a so hot region.
    You are a superman Matt, to realize all these impossible achievements.
    Matt is teaching us many important things, dear friends, among them, that to circumnavigate America is more difficult than to circumnavigate the whole Earth.
    A surprise to me.

    – Hi David, “the lover of rivers”, check this link out, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

    Good winds Matt!

  17. Thanks for the comments on CRAB and helping disabled folks Matt. My wife has been disabled for the last 20 years with Lupus, degenerative bone disease and a host of other problems. Bought my last boat (Island Packet 31) over a year ago and she hasn’t been fit to even go see it yet – just pictures. But she is kind enough to let me go out sailing from time to time….she understands it is my therapy.
    Having a disabled family member effects all the loved ones with countless, perpetual doctor visits, ongoing chores, just trying to pay the bills, etc, etc. We all have a cross to carry….it seems like everyone I meet has some problem or another.
    Point being, we are all in this together and it gives me great pleasure to read about all of the good folks that have contributed to CRAB. You are not only helping the disabled person but everyone in our collective family. Kudos to all of you!!!

  18. I was just sent a link to Matts story, and cant wait to get caught up! I love adventures like this, especially when they help a worthy cause. All the best Matt!
    Clear skys,

  19. Matt crossed the Tropic of Cancer in the last hour. Congratulations! Another big milestone.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: