Happy Birthday To Me

I turn 31 this April 6th. Man, 31 years old. When you’re in your twenties you can still make excuses. “It doesn’t matter I’m only 25 or 27.” When your pass 30 there is no more room for excuses – it’s time to get down to business. I’m having a small birthday party, you’re all invited but it might be a long swim. I got this heavy sweet bread during the Recife resupply called Bolo De Rolo. I had two of them, I ate one already. Bolo De Rolo consists of many layers of soft bread rolled up with a sweet fruit filling between each layer. Anyway, that’s my birthday cake. I’ll make a couple candles out of cardboard. I also have a bottle of wine I’ve been saving for a special occasion. I was given this bottle of wine on my last trip when I was anchored in Falmouth England. The guy who gave it to me was a seventy-six year old single hander who had sailed alone across the Atlantic 6 times in the last six years. He bought the bottle when he was in the Caribbean and it sailed with him back to England. Then it sailed with me to France, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Canary Islands, Senegal and Gambia then back across the ocean to the Caribbean and finally to Annapolis. Then I brought it with me on this trip and placed it in my ditch bag. If I ended up in a life raft at least I would have some good wine. This bottle of wine has sailed more miles in the last four years than most people do in a lifetime, but its sailing days will come to an end on April 6th.

What can I say about the recent weather that hasn’t already been said about dysentery? This is the sixth time I’ve brought a boat up from the Caribbean along this route and usually the winds are at least half decent. I’ve had either no wind or head winds for the last week and my forecast doesn’t look much better. It’s still a bit early in the season, two years ago I was bringing a 42ft Bavaria up from Puerto Rico with Mike (the guy who’s running this website) and we were hit by a late season Nor’easter just east of the Gulf Stream off Hatteras. So gales are not uncommon – I had a nasty one pass to the north of me the last couple days. I had Northwest winds and a large swell and as you can see by my iTrac tracking device I’ve been zig-zaging back and forth going nowhere. I’ve also been pounding my brains out. I reduced sail to my third reef point and I was still pounding. I’ll go over a wave then free fall for four or five feet then BAM I hit the next wave and my whole boat shudders in the most incredible way. At the same time my bulkheads crunch and pop and my rig grinds on its base. There’s no way to sleep, I’ve been up for the better part of 50 hours. This is nothing new I’ve been dealing with headwinds on and off throughout the trip but the boat is not what it used to be. Neither am I – I’ve got a tooth ache and I’ve been getting strange sharp pains in my abdomen when I sleep. I think we are both in need of a rest. Well there is some good news, I will have good winds on the 5th and 6th but then they will become northerly again for possibly five days. I can’t cross the Gulf Stream if the winds are blowing out of the north more than 15 knots, especially off Hatteris. Patients is the key to Hatteras – you never round it when it’s blowing hard out of the north. To do so is foolishness border-lining incompetence. So I might end up hove-to east of the Gulf Stream waiting for a weather window to appear. It’s unlikely I’ll be back by April 14th. It’s a shame, I’m not far from the bay but the winds and waves have conspired against me. Of course it could always be worse, I’m still floating. It’s just been and will continue to be a difficult and uncomfortable ride to the finish line.

My wind generator stopped working two days ago. It’s possible that it’s kicked the bucket. I’ll try to rewire it again but I think the problem is internal and beyond simple wiring. If that’s the case the little solar panels I received in Recife are not strong enough up here to power my GPS and AIS. Unfortunately my AIS is not independent – it runs through the GPS so if one doesn’t work neither does the other. There has been a lot of traffic lately and it would suck badly if I can no longer power those units. Not to mention no more power for my laptop so no more weather forecasts. I’ll mess with the wind generator today but it’s been slowly getting worse since Cape Horn. I knew it would die eventually.

I had a wave break over my boat a couple days ago. It’s been awhile since that’s happened. I have such low freeboard that sometimes a wave will break over the entire boat. St Brendan is literally under the wave and therefor underwater for a moment. The boat heels way over and things go flying around in the cabin, including myself. I wish I could get an aerial picture of it happening. You would see a big breaking wave with a little mast sticking out. I didn’t expect it to happen and the wave washed my sailing gloves overboard along with my fresh water bucket that was tied off to the boom. I was trying to collect some rain earlier that day but the wave ripped my bucket right off the boom. So I can no longer collect rain water nor do I have sailing gloves.
All in all I have no idea when I’ll get back. There is a low that will be coming off Hatteras in a few days that might become a gale. If it does it will be northerly and will probably push me backwards for 50-60 miles. Even if it doesn’t become a gale its going be hard going north against the wind. The long term forecast could change but right now it’s pretty bad. This trip will end when Poseidon says it will end and not a day sooner.

51 thoughts on “Happy Birthday To Me”

  1. nothing like a nasty beat/slog after a solo navigation of nw passage, berring sea, cape horn, south atlantic anomaly during a major x-class solar storm, falklands/ maldvina sword rattling, freighter survival, and much, much more!!! but like the wa-po blogger said “beats another browns season”!!! happy much deserved birthday wishes sir! can’t wait for your incredible book!!

  2. Happy Birthday, Mattie Moe! See you when your friens Poseidon allows.


  3. Happy Birthday Matt…you are da man!!! We are ALL behind you and positively know you will fulfill your quest!

  4. Happy Birthday! Lots of us have done this north passage from the islands more than a few times, but not “any” of us after circumnavigating two continents single handed, non stop in a beat up (well used) old 27′ Vega without an iron genny! Dude!

    When I zoom in to your course and look at the battle your having getting north without an engine, I feel for you. But then again, you must be a bit numb by it all at this point.

    Wishing you, a full 6 knots, heading NW all 24 hours of your birthday!

  5. Happy Birthday the MacGyver of the Seas !

    Congratulations Big Matt!

    My best sailing school is your nice and juicy blog!

    Please do not rush to go home.

    The more you sail, the more we, your fans, will have importants an funny messages to taste.

    Good, very good, excelent winds !

    Fernando Costa, from Cabo Frio, Brazil

  6. We are bound no longer by the straitjacket of the past and nowhere is the change greater than in our profession of arms. What, you may well ask, will be the end of all of this? I would not know! But I would hope that our beloved country will drink deep from the chalice of courage

  7. ¡Feliz cumpleaños Matt! ¡Ojalá que esta botella de vino te lleva tan cuidadosamente a MD como tu la has llevada hasta ahora!

    Con muchísima suerte y tranquilidad,

  8. Matt,
    I heard about your journey from Tom Harkin. I’m eager to pour through your entire blog and look forward to following your home coming!
    And, happy birthday!

  9. Happy Birthday Matt!!! Enjoy your wine.
    We will tip one up for you for sure on my birthday a few days later.
    Best wishes!!!

  10. Hope you enjoyed your wine and special bread, and my family is toasting you here in Annapolis. We are toasting to your birthday and to your safety on St Brendan.

  11. Happy Birthday Matt!!!
    Been following you amazing trip every day.
    You achievement is an inspiration for thousands!
    Best of luck with the rest of the trip.

  12. Happy Birthday Matt and hats off to you for your bravery and pioneering spirit.
    An Odyssey and beyond …
    Wishing you safe passage on the home stretch!

  13. Happy Birthday Matt!
    Looking forward to seeing you sail into Annapolis soon!!

  14. Happy Birthday Matt!!!! Here in Recife and in Cabanga Iate Clube we are celebrating your birthday with our special boose. Bolo de Rolo is a special cake developed by a traditional family years ago. Now after you taste it and approved , Bolo de Rolo is a International Cake!
    Hope the wind came in the right direction. Take care.
    Marcos Medeiros
    Cabanga Iate Clube

    1. Marcos,
      We will need a copy of the recipe and perhaps a photo of your delightful cake to include in Matt’s book! Please feel free to email me the recipe and photo to marlowe.macintyre@gmail.com. Thank you so much for providing Matt a little joy to celebrate his birthday.

      1. In the meantime, so that you can see what the Bolo de Rolo looks like, you can access the following website:


        Further below on that website is the recipe and many photographs that show the process!! But maybe they will send you the recipe that they used, and let you know if it was Guava, or some other fruit that was used in the one that Matt is going to celebrate with tomorrow (the 6th)!!!

        Keeping Matt in my prayers!!!

        Carol Florida U.S.A.

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

  15. Hurray! He’s headed NNW again! Matt, best wishes on your birthday (and my niece’s), and the best present I could wish for you is winds from any point south, for a week and a half.

  16. Dear Matt, we’re happy to hear that your birthday will be spent in a special sort of way, what with your wine and Bolo de Rolo bread. We are VERY HOPEFUL that Poseiden ALSO gives you an even BETTER birthday celebration and provides you with good wind and wave conditions. I haven’t felt this nervous since my (31 yr old) daughter was 16 and out driving late at night…. while I waited and waited for her to get home safely. We’re anxiously waiting to hear that you get your wind generator working again…. or invent SOME means to keep your GPS and AIS alive. You are the most remarkable and resourceful young man! I’ve shared your story with HUNDREDS of people, which will hopefully generate some increased funds. You have a LOT OF FANS out there! Sitting here in Barcelona feeling like your mother,,,,,, Alison

  17. Happy Birthday Matt!

    Wishing you brisk winds moving in your favor.

    Aunt Betsy and Uncle Scott

  18. Happy birthday Matt. You are so right. Things are bad but they could be so much worse – you are still afloat. Looking forward to seeing you in Annapolis.

    Dave Sterling

  19. Happy Birthday Matt! Sending prayers for a safe journey on the home stretch.

  20. Slowly but surely will keep u in prayer.My wife of 43yrs ,her birthday is today.Happy birthday matt,be safe and hope to meet you someday.

  21. Dear Matt,

    Happy Belated B’day. I had to smile at your musings of turning 31!!!! Those of us past that point know that life carries on quite well. That said YOU have accomplished more in your short spate of years than many in a lifetime….Oh but you have everyright to feel proud.

    I am praying so hard for the weather to change and for you to arrive in Annapolis as soon, as you said, Poseidon eases up. I feel exactly like Allison in Portugal and as your own dear wondeful mom must feel……home safe and sound!
    You have been and continue to be such an incredible inspiration…..your story will thrill and move all but I think of the effect on those far younger than 31! You have charted a path of honor and courage so very few could ever achievebut you will light a spark in all.

    God Bless you this Easter season and St. Brendan………………..bring him home.


  22. Happy Birthday Matt !!!! Hardly seems possible that you’re 31 yrs. old now. Seems like yesterday that I was babysitting you & Rachel (on a visit to Ohio) and was grinding up chicken for you to eat !! Lol. You were just over a year old ! And one VERY cute little guy!!

    We’re praying for you … and routing you on all the way to the finish !! Whether you arrive on the 14th — earlier or later — just arrive safely !!!

    We are all SO proud of you !!!!

    Our love,

    Aunt Paula, Uncle Peter & your cousins Peter & Audra

  23. Happy Birthday Matt! I have been following your adventure since the article appeared in the Washington Post. Your adventure is a real inspiration for a weekend sailor like me. I am a retired US Navy dentist. In you blog I see you have a toothache. If you need information of advice I am happy to offer any help I can. Of course I think the best thing would be a visit to a dentist when you get home to Maryland.

    God Bless you. I hope He continues to smile on your efforts,

    Doug Wright

  24. Happy birthday Matt! Best wishes and fair winds for the last leg of your voyage! Looking forward to welcoming you back home :))

  25. Matt – here’s a prayer that hung over my Dad’s bed – it means so much to us and the longner I live the more it means – I will once again meet him again – never really knew the real meaning until I got much, much older:
    An Ancient Gaelic Blessing
    May the road rise beneath you,
    May the wind always be at your back,
    May the sunshine warm on your face,
    And, the rains fall soft on your fields,
    And until we meet again, may God keep you in the hollow of his hand

  26. Happy birthday, Matt! We raised a toast to your magnificent adventure. I look forward to seeing you at your return whenever the winds bring you back. I hope that the winds change in your favor quickly.

  27. Happy Birthday Matt! Reading your post today sounds like you are in need of some of Don Backe’s fair winds and following seas. Keep the faith brother, as we used to say we are all trying to will you home. Will see you in Annapolis soon!

  28. Happy Birthday Matt! A donation in your honor and for your birthday has been made to CRAB. Lifting you in prayer and wishing you fair winds and following seas to Annapolis 🙂

  29. So close may seem so far away,
    as a new adventure greets another day.
    Yet the only challenge back in the Bay,
    is grass to mow and a stack of bills to pay.
    So this diddy is a reminder why you first set underway,
    from a bored nine to fiver wishing you a Happy Birthday!

    With deepest apologies to real poets….

  30. A very Happy Birthday to you, Matt. My daughter and son-in-law turned 31 last year. A good age for good people – a sense of awareness as an adult and the opportunities for many more dreams and adventures. Safe sailing and a joyous return soon. It’s a new month and a new age for you, so I will send another contribution to CRAB to celebrate.

  31. Happy birthday broham. Going to have some rum drinks on the dock for you

  32. Happy Birthday, Matt!!

    Hope you enjoyed celebrating with your Bolo De Rolo and your liquid refreshment!!

    Stay safe, and I’m praying for you to have better weather, better wind and currents, and a safe arrival back to port!!

    What you’ve done already is amazing . . . and we’re rooting for you ALL THE WAY!!!

    Keep Alert for traffic out there!!!

    Carol Florida U.S.A.

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

  33. Congratulations Big Guy of the seas.

    Thank you for what you have done!!!

  34. Happy Birthday Matt!! YOU are amazing and you are close to home! Hope you are ready for all the attention you are going to get! If it gets too crazy, head for Jost in June and we’ll buy you all the Painkiller’s you want!!!! Hope to watch you take that first step in Annapolis after 10 months at sea!


  35. Happy, happy, birthday, Matt. I’ve been following you since the Post article and have enjoyed both your adventures and your recounting of them. I was so delighted to read your tale of the mahi and honoring that fellow traveler in the sea. Glad to see you getter closer, but it’s now nail biting time, isn’t it? Fair winds and a following sea mate. I sent in a little bit earlier and truly wish I could make up any shortfall, but alas, ’tis not to be.

  36. Happy Birtbday Matt !! We hoisted a couple of cold ones in Door County , WI to you tonight.

  37. Happy Birthday Matt! I wish you all the best and winds to the NW for your journey home. I have some clients following your adventure and when they come see me, we look up this blog and discuss your progress! I love bragging about my nephew….I’m very proud of you!

    Love ,

    Aunt Amy, Devon, and Kira

  38. Matt – HAPPY BIRTHDAY OLD MAN – now past the big 3-0 you are ready for another voyage – I’ve send you an important email to your other email – check it when you can.
    Congratulations on your record achievements. I’m following your progress every day… as you pass my Mobile Alabama latitude I am raising a glass of good cheer to you – hear hear Matt Rutherford, Godspeed! I bet can you smell the Chesapeake Bay waters like a Chinook salmon returning home after five years… I look forward to hearing about your arrival at the Sailing Hall of Fame dock – KUDOS MATT, job well done!
    Standing by,

  39. Hiya Matt,

    Happy belated Birthday ol’ thing, Having followed you from your first day out, I am joyous for your journey to have a resting point. I will quietly welcome you back at the back of the crowd and pour a beer in the bay to celebrate your safe return.

    Annapolis, MD

    1. It’s one of those times where the thigns I want to write about are the thigns that I need to say, but the thoughts and ideas are far too large, there’s just no possible way that they’ll ever come from my mind. They’re so impossibly mine, but I want to share them with you; I’d love for them to transcend time–if only as a fleeting record of a brief connection; marvelous proof that you’re the only girl bereft of my forced neglection. You see, for me, you’ve always had a way of standing out in the crowd, and I’m not just talking about your pretty face, but also of your beautiful heart that’s beating strong and beating loud; a magical music that’s intrinsically yours. I know that these will not be the most meaningful words you will read, but I wanted you to know that you have have inspired me. A difference is being made through you that the world can see. Thank you for being great and being true. Thank you AnnaSophia for being you. I wish you the happiest possible birthday!Please help me get this to her!!

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