West Northwest

Sometimes the longer way is the quicker way. As much as I would prefer to be 400-600 miles offshore the winds to the north are very light. So I’m saying within 100-200 miles of the coast of South America to take advantage of the stronger winds and currents. I’ll head north just before the Caribbean and run parallel to the islands. Once north of the islands it’s a straight shot to Hatteras then 100 miles to the Chesapeake Bay – at least that’s the plan.
I think there has been a bit of confusion about which picture is a picture of Cape Horn. It’s my fault as I’ve never explained any pictures. A basic rule of thumb is if you see a picture of a rocky mountainous area with a lot of green or snow than that’s Alaska. If you see a rocky mountainous picture with no green and therefor mostly gray then it’s the Cape Horn area. The picture of Cape Horn is the one with waves in the foreground and a black outline which is “the rock”. It was getting dark by the time I took the picture so you can see the moon in the top right corner and the clouds have a slight purple color.
I had quite a scare last night. I woke up at 2am and right behind me was a freighter. This wasn’t like the friendly visit from the freighter awhile back that honked its horn at me. This freighter had no idea I was there. I had my mast head navigation lights on and my basketball sized radar reflector, but no one on the freighter was paying attention. I had less than sixty seconds to turn and get clear of the freighter and it passed by within feet of me. I’ve had some close calls over the years at sea but this is by far the closest I’ve ever come to being run down at night. It’s strange that I woke up as my alarm clock had 10 more minutes before it was going to ring. I’m still quite shaken up over it. It was nearly the end of me.
I once read that the luxuries of civilization only satisfy those wants which they themselves create. In some ways I can agree but I definitely miss the basic creature comforts of civilization. A hot shower or running water, fresh food, clean sheets. Just to be able to stand up and walk ten steps in any direction is something I haven’t been able to do in 275 days. It’s easy to take things for granted, I try to stay thankful. I’m thankful to have been born in a prosperous country. There is poverty in the United States but it’s nothing like the 3rd world. I’m thankful to be alive at this point in history. 100 years ago life was much harder and in 100 years this planet might be a very different place. It’s interesting to think that in the year 1800 there were only a billion people on earth. The population has doubled since 1960. The earth can only sustain so many people. I’m no Doom’s Day theorist and I have no idea what’s going to happen when the earth’s population reaches 15 or 20 billion people. Yet it doesn’t really matter whether you believe the earth is getting warmer because of man made greenhouse gases or because of a natural cycle of heating and cooling. The Artic is proof positive that for one reason or another the earth is getting warmer. 50 years ago it would have been impossible to sail a 27 foot fiber glass boat through the Northwest Passage in one season. If you look at a graph for the amount of Artic ice over the last 15 years you will see a huge decline. I’ve read many theories and I can’t say how exactly that’s going to affect us – but there is one thing I know for sure – people aren’t going to wake up one morning and say to their neighbor “Man I’m glad all that ice is gone up there”. The unfortunate thing is that environmental issues have become wrapped up in partisan politics. We need to separate politicians political agendas from environmental issues. I’m not saying “save the planet” because the plants not going anywhere. There is a finite amount of oil, lumber and fresh water, yet we use our resources as if there is no end. It seems modern man often has an over inflated sense of self entitlement.
See… this is the problem with being alone for too long, you end up thinking about everything – often over and over again. To get back to the point, I’m thankful. Even though living on a small boat at sea is tough I still eat better on a daily basis then hundreds of millions of people through out the world. Education is power; the information is out there the question is what are you going to do with it?

30 thoughts on “West Northwest”

  1. Matt, that sure is “keeping one eye open”!! … And – oh sure, you need the Westing for better current & wind … I’m sure the “rum directive” could be an effect!!! : ) Not to mention the “sights” on all those charter boats venturing out and about!! Seriously … wish you all God’s speed and safety … keep up the good and thankful thoughts … and point er’ homeward! Best regards ……

  2. Matt, thanks for pointing out which photo is of Cape Horn. That’s a powerful image, with the waves in the foreground.

    Good luck on the last few legs of your journey!

  3. Dear Matt,
    I am checking your progress early in the morning, before bed, and a few times during the day. Reading about that freighter last night makes me pause and imagine the heart pumping. But, if you couldn’t start your motor, you must have tacked and moved out of the way in 60 seconds. Oh my! I join the chorus of caring folks.
    Fair winds and NO Freighters at night for the rest of the trip.
    You are an inspiration.

  4. Whoa Matt,
    That made my heart start racing…..I pray that is the last of ANY sort of close calls …this trip at least! Thank goodness that angel riding with you made a speedy tack!
    You are going to have some good reading when you get home written by YOU! Yes, you have become a philospher as you sail,among other things. You have much to teach all of us who have never experienced or seen with our own eyes the changes to our mother earth and sea. As difficult as it has been and as down as you may at times have felt you are doing doing something so few of us could do,even if we had the sailing skills. I think all that alone time is going to be a great gift in the end…but what a readjustment you will have when first you reach our Maryland shore. I hope you give yourself and others give you the time to become reaquainted with our cacaphonous world. I’ll bet there may be days you want to just jump back into St. Brendan.

    However, thank you for your courage, your honesty and your genrousity. CRAB will be better known and hopefully have a tidy endowment for all the joy it brings to others. You are one special young man.

    Mom/Marlowe while your heart may be racing after reading of a BIG close encounter it must also be so filled with love and pride. What a very unique son!
    Bring her home to port Matt……so many of us are waiting to salute you!

    OH and p.s Have a lovely St Paddy’s Day.

    1. Yes, that incident left me shaken, too! You see, I live on the south side of Lake Travis which snakes through the hills of central Texas. I taught on the north side. For 5 years, I would walk down from my house to the lake and row a 12 ft john boat in the dark to go teach school. I can row in 35 mph winds. The lake is only a mile wide — sometimes much less because Travis is a flood control, variable level lake. I, too, had a few close calls with fast moving three story boats almost running over me in my tiny boat! Usually, they didn’t pay attention because they didn’t realize that some crazy person was out there in a row boat. Matt will need to be as vigilant about boat traffic as he was about icebergs. Let us hope that his guardian angel never falls asleep on the job.

      1. Well Marlowe…I see where your boy gets his gumption! Teaching school is a trip in itself and your transportation was indeed unique! I certainly hope your pupils realized the extra MILE with muscle that your brought to them.

        Yes, I think the BIG ships might well be as big an issue as the icebergs. I know here on the bay you no sooner purchase a boat than you receive a letter from the Coast Guard “gently” reminding you that the cargo boats that ply our waters carrying goods to Baltimore take a full MILE to stop once they put on the “brakes”! That so caught my eye……but I do trust in Matt and St. Brendan and angelic friends to bring him safely home to you and his family.
        Hang on. I admire your ability to have raised him up and let him go to see him sprout his wings and FLY!( and he is really flying of late) God Bless you!

  5. coast guard, g-cap., navy???? anybody out there who can ride shotgun to help get THE
    representative of “ALL it means to be a MAN” home safely? we cannot bear to lose him. esp. to some superfreak tankard flying by wire.

  6. hi matt, i love your wisdom moments ^^ glad you could make it safe and sound, be careful for next time. Fair wind

  7. Master Matt,

    There is no problem with “being alone or thinking about everything”, its good for the soul.

    “The Winds of Fate”

    One ship drives east and another drives west,
    With the self-same winds that blow,
    ‘Tis the set of the sails
    And not the gales
    That tell them the way to go.
    Like the winds of the sea are the winds of fate,
    As we voyage along through life,
    ‘Tis the set of the soul
    That decides its goal
    And not the calm or the strife. — Ella Wheeler Wilcox

    Perhaps your next audacious challenge will be how best to deal with the parasitic media after so long a solo journey. But, I’m sure you have thought about this “over and over again” as well.

    All the Best Mate

    1. Dear Mom/Marlowe,
      This video was done during the resupply near Recife. We where togheter with a photografer from a local news paper ” Folha de Pernambuco”. For reasons that I can´t understand, after retur to port, I ask him for the a copy of pictures and video he had done to send to you but he said that it was not possible since all material are property of news paper…I ask the news paper and they promise to give copies but it never happened up to now.
      It is fany…we advise and invite them to came with our small boat, we pick him up and after all we heard a NO!!!!

      1. Marcos,
        You are a true gentleman and an angel of the sea for Matt! I hope that when Matt’s life settles down into something almost normal, that he can visit you in your wondrous country to thank you personally. I am certain that Matt will, also, visit the kind folks in Unalaska who assisted him there, too!

        I hope the newspaper allows us all the photos, but they are a business after all. It was amazing to watch the short video. After all these days at sea, Matt’s determination to complete this quest rings out above the roar of the sea.

  8. Matt was extremely lucky to have avoided the freighter.

    Jessica Watson was run down by a bulk carrier while doing sea trials prior to her round the world voyage. Jess was sleeping at the time and the ship was aware they were on a collision course but ignored alarms and failed to take evasive action. The ships crew expected the sail boat to evade them, contrary to navigation rules. The ship did not even stop to assist. Jess managed to make her way to port under power, escorted by the water police. The damage was extensive and almost brought an end to her proposed voyage. Jess was lucky to have escaped injury herself.

    Shipping is a real danger for small vessels and especially so for solo sailors, that have to sleep at times.

    Good luck to Matt, You have many followers here in Aus that wish you well.

    Thanks to those who re-supplied Matt also.

  9. Wow Matt I can actually fit where you are now and Chesapeake Bay on the same map if I zoom out only once.

  10. MATT x JOSHUA 1

    Good morning friends !

    Somewhere in the past (124 years ago) a north american citizen was sailing in the same region that our brave Matt is now going through.
    – What was his name?
    – Yes, yes, we’re talking about that same sailor, who soon after became the first person to circumnavigate the planet Earth, which should be called WATER, in solitary …
    – What was the name of his “canoe” ?
    – His name was Joshua Slocum and his boat was called “Liberdade” in Portuguese and “Freedom” in English.
    In this new series I decided to compare the blogs of Matt and Joshua.
    – Look at the first double quotes:

    “I had quite a scare last night. I woke up at 2am and right behind me was a freighter. This wasn’t like the friendly visit from the freighter awhile back that honked its horn at me. This freighter had no idea I was…”

    Matt Rutherford – “Solo Around the America’s” – 2012

    “A phantom of the stately Aquidneck appeared one night, sweeping by with crowning skysails set, that fairly brushed the stars. No apparition could have affected us more than the sight of this floating…”

    Joshua Slocum – “Voyage of the Liberdade” – 1888

    Joshua Slocum (February 20, 1844 – on or shortly after November 14, 1909) was the first man to sail single-handedly around the world. He was aCanadian born, naturalised American seaman and adventurer, and a noted writer. In 1900 he told the story of this in Sailing Alone Around the World. Hedisappeared in November 1909 while aboard his boat, the Spray. (WIKIPEDIA)

    Voyage of the Liberdade

    After being stranded in Brazil with his wife and sons Garfield and Victor, he started building a boat that could sail them home. He used local materials, salvaged materials from the Aquidneck and local workforce. The boat was launched on May 13, 1888, the very day slavery was abolished in Brazil, and therefore the ship was given the Portuguese name Liberdade. It was an unusual 35-foot (11 m)junk-rigged design which he described as “half Cape Ann dory and half Japanese [sic] sampan”. He and his family began their voyage back to the United States, his son Victor being the mate. After fifty-five days at sea and 5510 miles, the Slocums reached Cape Roman, South Carolina and continued inland to Washington D.C. for winter and finally reaching Boston via New York in 1889. This was the last time Henrietta sailed with the family. In 1890, Slocum published the accounts of these adventures in Voyage of the Liberdade.

    Good winds Big Matt !

    Good eternal winds Big Joshua !

    Fernando Costa, from Cabo Frio, Brazil

  11. Matt we are incredibly proud of you and glad for the amazing growth you are experiencing as a person. Good for you Matt. May you receive with contentment the kudos headed your way. We know you will use this whole experience as a powerful and effective motivational tool to help others. I was so glad to hear your language in regards to the planet. You are witnessing things first hand that has worked its way into you and made you a thoughtful and appreciative person. You’re right, we have to work at remaining appreciative. There are so many insane distractions in a beautiful but also very troubled world. Love to you…..Wayne and Hazel

  12. I have been a “follower ” since the article in the Wash Post. Amazing endeavor! I would like to know when Matt will be coming by Elbow Cay in the Bahamas. It is at Lat 26^ 35′ N, Long 76^ 57′ W. That is the coord for Hopetown, the settlement on Elbow Cay. Matt’s track will take him right by the “elbow” , as that will be the best track straight up to the Chesapeake Bay. I’m sure there are some friends of mine-including me-who would like to motor out to greet him.

    1. Senator Harkin,

      Thank you for your interest in Matt’s amazing quest to raise funds for C.R.A.B. As an elementary school teacher, I really appreciate the changes that have been made to make life better for children with disabilities.

      As far as meeting up with Matt…
      Don Becke at C.R.A.B. has been very ill, so he is not easily available now.
      Simon Edwards, Matt’s sailing mentor and good friend, is busy making deliveries but you could try to reach him at stredwards@gmail.com.
      Mike handles this website, and his contact info is located at the bottom of this page.
      If Matt calls me or another family member, we will let him know that you are interested in meeting him. Matt has a sat phone which he uses sparingly.

      You can track Matt’s actual location with the map at the top of the blog. If you double click on the red dot, you will see his coordinates. The GPS on Matt’s boat pings the satellite on the hour, but the update on the blog’s map usually occurs at 15 – 18 minutes after the hour.

      If you do rendevous with him, you will need to follow the rules for “non-stop” and “solo”. Matt may not leave his boat and no one else may come aboard St. Brendan. Matt may not drop anchor, may not tie up to a boat that has dropped anchor, can not tie up to a boat that has its engine running, and maybe there are other rules that I don’t know about.

      Matt has been living off of freeze dried food, courtesy of Shelf Reliance, and would enjoy something fresh. He would enjoy a hot pizza and some cold, good beer!


    Hey everybody !

    Here is a CURIOSITY for those who like curiosities, like me:
    Our brave Matt is approaching the famous island of Robinson Crusoe.

    “ROBINSON CRUSOE” is a novel by Daniel Defoe that was first published in 1719. Epistolary, confessional, and didactic in form, the book is a fictional autobiography of the title character—a castaway who spends 28 years on a remote tropical island near Trinidad, encountering cannibals, captives, and mutineers before being rescued.
    The story was perhaps influenced by Alexander Selkirk, a Scottish castaway who lived for four years on the Pacific island called “Más a Tierra” (in 1966 its name was changed to Robinson Crusoe Island), Chile. The details of Crusoe’s island were probably based on the Caribbean island of Tobago, since that island lies a short distance north of the Venezuelan coast near the mouth of the Orinoco river, in sight of Trinidad. It is also likely that Defoe was inspired by the Latin or English translations of Ibn Tufail’s Hayy ibn Yaqdhan, an earlier novel also set on a desert island. Another source for Defoe’s novel may have been Robert Knox’s account of his abduction by the King of Ceylon in 1659 in “An Historical Account of the Island Ceylon,” Glasgow: James MacLehose and Sons (Publishers to the University), 1911. Although inspired by a real life event, it was the first notable work of literature where the story was independent of mythology, history, legends, or previous literature. (WIKIPEDIA)

    Here’s a quote from the book ROBINSON CRUSOE by Daniel Defoe

    “The wave that came upon me again buried me at once twenty or thirty feet deep in its own body, and I could feel myself carried with a mighty force and swiftness towards the shore – a very great way; but I held my breath, and assisted myself to swim still forward with all my might. I was ready to burst with holding my breath, when, as I felt myself rising up, so, to my immediate relief, I found my head and hands shoot out above the surface of the water; and though it was not two seconds of time that I could keep myself so, yet it relieved me greatly, gave me breath, and new courage. I was covered again with water a good while, but not so long but I held it out; and finding the water had spent itself, and began to return, I struck forward against the return of the waves, and felt ground again with my feet. I stood still a few moments to recover breath, and till the waters went from me, and then took to my heels and ran with what strength I had further towards the shore. But neither would this deliver me from the fury of the sea, which came pouring in after me again; and twice more I was lifted up by the waves and carried forward as before, the shore being very flat.”

    Good, great, great winds Big Matt!

    And please do not worry about what you just read. Everything will turn out well for you. And as everyone knows. “All’s well that ends well”.


    Fernando Costa, from Cabo Frio – Brazil, your disciple and fan from the beginning.

  14. Matt…I work with your dad at Hamilton HS and heard of your voyage a couple months back. Actually wish I had known earlier as I would have liked to follow you from the start. I just wanted to say I think what you are doing is awesome and courageous! I wish you the best of luck on the home stretch of your journey!

  15. Matt, I got goosebumps when I read how you woke up just in time to avoid the freighter. Guardian angels are watching out for you. May they continue to protect you on the remainder of your awesome journey.

  16. Praying for your safe return, Matt.

    Hey, how bout doing the Appalachian Trail trek next???

  17. Hello Matt,
    Wishing my fellow Irishman a happy St. Patricks Day. I hope to see you in Annapolis when you get back. If I miss your return, I still want to get together for a steak, a cigar, and a good bottle of wine at Ruths’ Chris.

    How about Fernando from Brazil. Isn’t he a great guy. Simond has a knack for finding good people. He should start some globule enterprise.

  18. I see Matt has turned north, away from South America. It must be a good feeling knowing there are only a few legs of the journey left.


    Matt is at 125 miles from the island of Trinidad and Tobago right now and we can’t forget that Columbus landed on the south coast of Trinidad on 31 July 1498, during his…

    Third voyage

    On 30 May 1498, Columbus left with six ships from Sanlúcar, Spain, for his third trip to the New World.
    Columbus led the fleet to the Portuguese island of Porto Santo, his wife’s native land. He then sailed to Madeira and spent some time there with the Portuguese captain João Gonçalves da Camara before sailing to the Canary Islands and Cape Verde. Columbus landed on the south coast of the island of Trinidad on 31 July. From 4 August through 12 August he explored the Gulf of Paria which separates Trinidad from Venezuela. He explored the mainland of South America, including the Orinoco River. He also sailed to the islands of Chacachacare and Margarita Island and sighted and named Tobago (Bella Forma) and Grenada (Concepcion).
    Columbus returned to Hispaniola on 19 August to find that many of the Spanish settlers of the new colony were discontented, having been misled by Columbus about the supposedly bountiful riches of the new world. An entry in his journal from September 1498 reads, “From here one might send, in the name of the Holy Trinity, as many slaves as could be sold…” Since Columbus supported the enslavement of the Hispaniola natives for economic reasons, he ultimately refused to baptize them. He had some of his crew hanged for disobeying him. A number of returning settlers and sailors lobbied against Columbus at the Spanish court, accusing him and his brothers of gross mismanagement. On his return he was arrested for… Read more at WIKIPEDIA

    Good winds Big Matt !

    Good morning David Sterling ! I will comment your nice quote later. Have a good day !

      1. Are you sure Bruce?

        I think you’re wrong.
        I am that poor clown who entertains the audience, while she awaits the arrival of the real star.
        And the name of the real star is this nice theater is Matt Rutherford, and no one else.
        You know what?
        The more comments a blog gets, the more chances he has to receive new visitors and consequently new comments in the future.
        So, if you want to help the CRAB to receive more donations, do the same I do.
        Publish at least one comment per day here.
        I also have a blog, Bruce.
        Where I tell my little adventures at sea.
        If you do in my blog exactly what I do here, I’ll be very happy and grateful.
        The worst that can happen to a blog, Bruce, is the lack or small number of comments.

        Good winds Bruce !

        And pay attention to not confound friends with enemies.

        Sometimes they are similar in appearance, but always very different in the bottom.

  20. Nice blog right here! Additionally your website quite a bit up fast! What host are you the use of? Can I get your associate hyperlink to your host? I desire my web site loaded up as quickly as yours lol

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