About the Challenge

Matt Rutherford is a dreamer.  He has proven that when he says he’s going to do something, he should be taken seriously.  When I first met Matt in the public anchorage in Red Hook USVI’s, he had just finished a double trans-Atlantic on his 32′ Pearson.  He sailed single-handed across the far north Atlantic, eventually reaching England.  His voyage took him through Northern Europe, down the coast of Africa, and ultimately 200 miles up the Gambia River before returning via the Trade Wind route to the Caribbean.

His new plan for adventure is far more ambitious and certainly more compelling.  Matt intends to sail single-handed East To West through the the Northwest Passage beginning this summer. “The ice won’t melt enough to make the attempt util August,” he says – and as if it weren’t challenge enough, he’ll do it in a 27′ Albin-Vega donated to the Chesapeake Regional Accessible Boating (aka CRAB) specifically for his voyage.

Despite possessing the soul of an explorer (or perhaps because of it), Matt also possesses the compassionate heart of a good man, and has spent his time in Annapolis working with CRAB, helping persons with disabilities get out and enjoy the water.  The voyage is aimed at raising money for CRAB, and Matt hopes to drum up enough support to get him through successfully while furthering CRAB’s misson.  He’ll be accepting sponsorship in the form of ‘money for miles,’ and all donations will go straight towards supporting CRAB.

Once through the arctic, Matt hopes the voyage will continue: “If the boat and I are still holding up upon arrival in Alaska, we’ll keep going and head for Cape Horn,” he says.  His “Grand Idea” is to complete a solo circumnavigation of the America’s, but remains cautiously optimistic, saying “The Northwest Passage is the focal point of the trip, and I can’t guarantee that the boat will make it across to Alaska before the winter sets in.  But I’m certainly going to do my best to see that it does.”  If he makes it all the way back to Annapolis, he’ll be the first person to have ever done so alone.  Here’s to “doing,” Matt.

This adventure begins from Annapolis in June of 2011 and will be 23,000 nautical miles in it’s entirety.  Arrival at the Northwest passage will be in early August which is only open for six weeks.  After exiting the Passage, he will head for Cape Horn, rounding it by March 1 2012.  Then he will head north up the east coast of the America’s heading home for Chesapeake Bay, passing the Caribbean before hurricane season.  At 80 miles a day, it will take roughly 10 1/2 months… all of this adventure NON-STOP!

93 thoughts on “About the Challenge”

  1. Wow, superb blog structure! How long have you ever been running a blog for? you made blogging look easy. The full look of your website is excellent, as well as the content!

  2. Hi Mat,

    after a halb bottle of french red wine I sit on the floor in my living room.I follow your journey on your homepage. I am so impressed! What a perfomence! Fair winds, good luck and health! Stay strong!

    Vega 1661
    Bremen / Germany

  3. hi!,I really like your writing very so much! proportion we keep up a correspondence more about your article on AOL? I require a specialist on this house to solve my problem. Maybe that’s you! Looking ahead to look you.

  4. My partner and I stumbled over here coming from a different website and thought I may as well check things out. I like what I see so now i am following you. Look forward to checking out your web page repeatedly.

  5. Hi Matt,
    I wrote my last email from Sweden a few days ago but now I am back in the office in California and of course I checked out your position right away. You are now not only past the Horn, you are WAY past the Horn. Congratulation to your fantastic achievement. Here at Scanmar we are all following your progress every day. I am personally very happy to see a YOUNG person taking on this kind of a challange. Most of our Monitor cruising customers are in the retirement face and the younger generation seem to rather play games on their computer. They say it is too expensive to sail but I do not agree. If they sold the BMW and bought an inexpensive boat they could also realize the true exitement of cruising and personal achievement. Your VEGA 27 is possibly worth $10,000 and you have already sailed into the record books because you hade the wish and desire. Keep it up but be careful. Annapolis will be waiting for you. Once again, CONGRATULATIONS!

    Hans Bernwall, SCANMAR

  6. Awesome accomplishment. Great cause. Just read the article in the Washington Post. Good article. Good press.

  7. I am loving this! Used to sail — when I was a single girl — on a Pearson 35 out of Annapolis. Love “shiver me timbers” stories. Have a fantastic rest-of-the voyage; I’ll continue to follow your progress. Here’s a toast to you…God speed.

  8. Everyone at the office is following your progress and are glad you’re in the southern Atlantic. Still a long way to go, but on the home stretch. We will monitor your position and look forward to your safe return. Audentes fortuna iuvat!

  9. Just heard about your voyage. Will be following your progress. Thanks for the inspiration!
    Peregrine, WDF5690 if you’re on the short waves.

  10. Dear Matt, Great story, Great cause, Great Job.

    I am an AIS ground station operator for Marinetraffic.com. My station is on the Middle Bay and was hoping you might have AIS on the boat where we could track you up the Bay.

  11. Hi Matt,

    I just read your story in the Seattle Times and am in awe. The quest and the sheer adventure of it, but also the echoing journey of the mind that someone who hasn’t faced anything comparable can only guess at. Have peace, good luck, and a safe journey home. I hope to hear more about this amazing trip.

    Cathy from Seattle

  12. Good Lord, my man: the next time you take on an amazing adventure like this, please hire me for your PR person! 240 days+ into your trip and I am just now hearing of your audacious pursuit? I wish I could have been following your blog every nautical mile. Glad I saw the Washington Post article published in the Seattle Times. I am definitely donating to your cause and I’m guessing the money will flow in now that the word is out.
    You amaze me, inspire me and just flat out blow me away with your courage. I don’t question your reluctance to return to terra firma. If possible, you should hold out until after the election. It’s insanity right now. Fair winds and safe travels to you, Matt.

  13. Hello Matt,

    An article about your trip was in the Seattle Times, and it raised a question in my mind. Did you cross the Drake Passage and sail in the waters of the Antarctica Peninsula? I ask because we just returned from a cruise in that area on which we were in the islands of the Peninsula near the Palmer Station around 06-09 January. We were joined by a sailboat about the size of yours for two hours and I wondered if it was you. If so, I have a number of photographs showing the sailboat in the environment. This may be a great coincidence, two small sailboats in the same area at the same time, but, if not, let me know if you are interested in seeing the pictures.


    1. Fred,
      Matt has no way of reading these posts currently. What are the odds of you seeing a different, small sailboat in those waters at that time? Pretty slim, but possible. If you would like, you can contact Mike directly about sending the pics. Scroll down to the bottom on the home page, you will find a link to Mike.

      I am sure that Matt will enjoy your pics immensely even if they are of a different boat!

      Thank you,

  14. Matt. I’ve been reading of many sailing greats. .Moitessier..etc..
    And also of extremely challenging feats like the veneer globe race
    but you have a specal thing going on….you are one of the greats in my book Matt
    Can’t wait to read your updates and check your progress..
    Ahoy you should come sail the pacific north west at a leisurely pace
    for a holiday..lol..cheers to ya. .Tim V. ..Nelson bc

  15. I heard of you 2/9/12 in a very complimentary artice in The Seattle Times. I have followed you every day since. I started my career in sailing in 2009 and then had it cut short the next year due to some medical problems.

    Anyway I am sure that there are multitudes of followers that are in similar and other circumstances that are following as I am. Watch out when you move about as we are right there with you trying to experience your endevour.

  16. I hope you get all replacement parts and food you need here around the coast of Brazil, Recife, to take you back safe to the US. Good luck and come back soon!!


  17. Hi Matt,
    I am checking your blog every day and I think that you are doing a fantastic job. Regarding hand cranking your engine I remember a fantastic way of doing it. One of the French singlehanded sailors couldn’t start his engine a few years ago but he came up with a crazy idea. He attached a line to the main boom and led it down the companionway down to the fly wheel on the engine. He wrapped the line a few turns and when he felt it was set up right he jibed the main. That developed lots of power and pretty fast pull on the line. And guess what, the engine started and it was the sweatest sound he ever heard. He could now charge the batteries and get all the electronics going. Don’t ask about the detail. This must be very difficult to do. You are
    a smart guy and you might be able to do it. Lots of blocks and lines. Good Luck.

    Hans Bernwall, “the Monitorman”

  18. Hey Matt,
    What a ride! You are a true Viking. I have viewed your web site looking for some indication of being notified when you come into Annapolis. I wanted to be there to see you dock and all the fans that will be supporting you. How can I be certain not to miss your arrival?



  19. Hi Matt

    What a marvellous voyage for a good case. At our annual meeting we collected a minor contribution and the amount is on its way.
    Best wishes for a safe trip back to Cheasapeake
    On behalf of the Danish Vega Association
    Walther Nerving – President of the Vega One Design Association


    Do you want to know why I definitely admire single-handed sailors?
    From Slocum to our brand new hero Matt Rutherford.
    Without forgetting Moitessier, Chichester and Dumas, of course!
    And including Michel Desjoyeaux, Mike Horn and the teenager Laura Dekker.
    No, no, I do not exagerate when I write HERO in capital letters!
    Every single-handed sailor is a hero.
    And he is not a little hero, but a big one!
    Therefore, such a HERO has to be only written in capital letters.
    Because to confront Poseidon and Aeolus ALONE, it is not ordinary business!
    I even go further.
    I assert single-handed sailors are cleverer, wiser, braver and smarter than team sailors.
    I explain it to you in detail:
    Single-handed sailors are cleverer than the others, because they are able to invent by themselves new and effective solutions to new problems on a sailboat shaking at sea.
    Single-handed sailors are wiser than the others, because they intimately know each part of their sailboats, master each skill requested by the art of navigation and by seasciences.
    Single-handed sailors are braver than the others, because as I have already told you, they fight alone against the dreadful gods Poseidon and Aeolus and sometimes against some coward pirates or drunken fishermen.
    Single-handed sailors are smarter than the others because, if we (human beings) pretend to have been navigating on sea for 6000 years, it is true we have been practicing single-handed navigation for only 120 years.
    The first single-handed sailor was Joshua Slocum from 1895 and the newest is right now our Matt Rutherford.
    So, if we can prove it is more difficult to circumnavigate both the America’s in 2012, than to circumnavigate the whole world in 1895, Matt Rutherford will be even greater than Slocum and all the others sailors !
    – Do you understand now, why I friendly call him “Big Matt” ?
    Good winds Matt !
    Good eternal winds Joshua !

    Fernando Costa, from Cabo Frio, Brazil

  21. Matt YOU are a true inspiration for every American !!!! It shows what true grit and determination can accomplish …. YOU are to be commended for your CAN DO attitude… I have been following your trip… it will make a great book and exciting movie You are an excellent example of AMERICAN will to succeed at the untried !!! Keep up the good work…. the world is watching and waiting for you to dock at ANNAPOLIS .My very best regards and good luck to you always Most Sincerely ED KECK@ Mc Lean Virginia

  22. I just came across your voyage in Scuttlebutt a couple of days ago. Today you turn 30. Happy birthday! You make our little 100 mile races sound like childs play. Keep it up for a few more days and you can be home in a warm bed and a shower.
    At least the Monitor Vane won’t stop working.
    Congratulations and good luck
    John in Victoria BC, Canada


    I hope the seas and the wind gave u a gift today by settling down. It appears that u r heading west sooner than u anticipated. After ur last blog, we surely would appreciate an up-date.
    Wishing u a safe passage home!
    Ruth Reiner, Annapolis

  24. Matt,
    My friends Nick W. and Mike G. in Kent, Ohio informed me of your amazing and heroic journey. You are an insperation to us all. The work you are doing with CRAB is truly special. I love the blog entries, especially when you had to defend yourself from pirates with a .12 gauge!! Stay strong and hope to see you back in Tree City one day and shake your hand for you are a true warrior.

    Jeff C.
    Akron, Ohio

  25. All of Eagle Rock is cheering for you! The final days are here, you can do it!!!

    Estes Park, CO

  26. YO Matt you made you crazy SOB I will see you on Sat when you land with PJ and the rest of the gang congrats man now that your back lets celebrate Saki-bombs (redneck style) first rounds on me you bring the coldwater kumi cujai I’ll bring the glasses LOL.

  27. Hi Matt – I followed your voyage till Cape Horn and I’m very impressed !
    I injoyed a lot of your postings.
    We have a small boat too (Coronado 25), but we do not think to make it over the Atlantic whith it – but we will go on for a long voyage from Berlin/Germany (where we just bought the boat) through Baltic Sea and NorthSea through the chanals of France – my be touching the English Chanal and Biscaya to end up in the Mediteranian Sea where we will go at least from France to greece….. So we will do a smaller Voyage, but we will have you in mind as the boats name is gonna be “Saint Brendan”
    For you: happy coming home ! (and not to much freighters on your future ways)
    Birgit & Martin

  28. Congratulations Matt !!!!!!!
    You are truly a hero in my eyes. Welcome home and thank you for all that you havee done for CRAB and sailing i n general.

    WELL DONE!!!!!!

  29. I am in awe of your accomplishment. Congratulations again and dang I hope I get meet you one day and buy you a beer!

  30. Congratuilations on crossing your own wake. You did it!! I’ve been keeping track of your progess since you were in awe of the ice island in Baffin Bay.

    It’s an amazing feat

  31. Congratulations on the completion of your voyage from another Albin owner. I owned an Albin 27 aft cabin from 1986 to 1999 & now have a 1996 Albin 32 which we bought in 1999.

    Sorry that I was not aware of your trip till only a couple weeks ago.

  32. Congratulations, Matt!! I had met you a year ago or so ago as you were keeping your boat in Burnside marnia also. I am amazed at what you have accomplished. You should be very proud of yourself and I look forward to seeing what you have in store for the world next! Best wishes and luck for any and everything you put your mind to 🙂

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