Caribbean (Day 281 million)

It was a fast ride along the north coast of South America. I had my best run of the entire trip; I sailed 163 miles in 24 hours (thanks to strong currents). Even after sailing for 24,936 miles, day in and day out this Albin Vega still has some life left in her. I enjoy pushing a boat hard under the right circumstances but I don’t do it too often as its best to go slow and steady when you have such a long journey to complete. Well the old girl still has some pep in her step! Maybe I should take St Brendan around for a second lap.
Sometimes good things come out of a bad situation. I’ll never forget that freighter that nearly got me. To look out and see very bright red and green light and in between a huge black bow towering over me is an image I will have burned into my brain forever. After I turned I felt like everything was going in slow motion and for 30 seconds I thought I was going to be smashed into little pieces. It wasn’t until the last 10 seconds that I knew I would be safe. Even then I got slapped by the bow wake. This trip isn’t over until I’m safely tied off to the dock in Annapolis. I decided to spend some time to trying to resurrect my AIS. Once an electronic devices is dead usually it’s good as garbage. But, I took apart the AIS and cleaned the circuit board soldered about 10 connections. Trying to do detailed solder work on a moving vessel would be hard for a pro and I’m certainly not a professional when it comes to soldering. I even climbed my mast in 5 foot seas and took apart and soldered the connection to the mast head antenna. It would have been a joke to see me up there if it wasn’t for the fact I was holding on for dear life. I didn’t think I would get the AIS working again, but after 10 hours of messing about I turned the unit on and hot damn if it didn’t work again! I successfully brought my AIS back from the dead and she’s working pretty good. Every eight hours or so the AIS freaks out and I have to turn it off then turn it back on, but then it works fine. 30 minutes after I got my AIS fixed my wind generator stopped working as if I’d disturbed some kind of balance. The next day I rewired the wind generator and now its fine. For a single hander there’s nothing quite like a good wind vane and a working AIS.

I haven’t been fishing since Recife. Right before my resupply I had a 3-4 foot Mahi-Mahi swimming right next to my boat. I had modified a bow and arrow so I could shoot an arrow and pull it back onboard with a special line. It’s mostly for entertainment. Sometimes I shoot an arrow at flotsam as it passes by. I also thought it would come in handy if I wound up in a life raft. So I see this Mahi two feet away just swimming alongside the boat. I grab the bow and pull back my arrow, just then the sun comes out from behind a cloud and the fish became the most beautiful color of blue. I stopped for a second and began to think twice about killing such a beautiful creature. Then a second Mahi popped up next to the first. Mahi-Mahi are one of the only fish that mate for life – I’m not saying a fish can fall in love, but once together they are inseparable until death. All of a sudden I realized that if I killed this fish then the other one would spend its life roaming the ocean alone. I know what that feels like and I couldn’t bring myself to kill it. Man I must be getting soft if I can’t even kill a fish. Then again I had just ate and I usually don’t fish on a full stomach. Ever since the intercontinental convergence zone there has been so much sea weed that fishing is nearly impossible. It’s that bushy sea weed. If you ever sailed from the Caribbean to the mid or upper east coast you’ve seen it before. It grows until around 25-28 north.

I haven’t seen many dolphins this trip. My last trip I saw hundreds. I was about 90 miles off the coast of French Guyana and I saw a species I’ve never seen before. They were brown with long slim mouth and a pink belly. The odd thing was that most of them had some kind of lamprey or suckerfish attached to them. The suckerfish were bone white with a little purple around there edges and a good 1-2 feet long. I’ve never seen a dolphin with a big sucker fish attached to it and I can’t figure out how the suckerfish could catch the dolphin in the first place as they don’t look very fast. Well the dolphins were jumping and playing with St Brendan for over an hour. Nothing warms the heart like playful marine life.

I passed within 5 miles of Barbados last night. So close, yet so far away. I didn’t get much sleep as I was afraid that the wind might shift and leave me on the beach. I’m finally getting back into familiar waters. Man it’s been a long time! I would like to thank Gillian and Diane at Crosby for all their help with PR. They have really helped us get the word out and raise money for CRAB. My next waypoint is off Antigua then I’m off to Hatteras.
FORTITUDINE VINCIMUS

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35 Responses to Caribbean (Day 281 million)

  1. Matt says:

    Would a working AIS have prevented the near “run in” with the freighter?

  2. Hugh Kelly says:

    Incredible job on the AIS.

    BTW — Don’t sweat Hatteras. I fished from the beach on the point and mated on a charter-fisher in the gulf stream most of my youth and it always seemed rougher from land where the two flows are competing for space (and that was mostly in the winter). Outside it isn’t any different than off the rest of the Carolinas….to me anyway. I just made that passage last year coming into Oregon Inlet and sea was like glass with a comfortable 5-10 from the SE. Anyway, after the NWP and Horn, what can stop super-Matt?

    Homeward bound’…..or lap 2? :)

  3. Ken Page says:

    I got some friends in Antigua so I e-mailed and asked if anybody felt like trying to catch you offshore while your sailing by to offer you a beer. Just maybe, you know, one for the last leg!

  4. Oh, Matt… Words fail me. I have immense respect for you, man. Safe journey home, bud. You’re a hero.

    Larry Johnson
    Beaverton, Oregon

  5. MATT x JOSHUA 2

    Here is a second couple of quotes to our collection, dear friends !

    Congratulations for this tasty and romantic piece of text Matt !

    Beautiful, exciting, unforgettable !

    “So I see this Mahi two feet away just swimming alongside the boat. I grab the bow and pull back my arrow, just then the sun comes out from behind a cloud and the fish became the most beautiful color of blue. I stopped for a second and began to think twice about killing such a beautiful creature. Then a second Mahi popped up next to the first. Mahi-Mahi are one of the only fish that mate for life – I’m not saying a fish can fall in love, but once together they are inseparable until death. All of a sudden I realized that if I killed this fish then the other one would spend its life roaming the ocean alone. I know what that feels like and I couldn’t bring myself to kill it. Man I must be getting soft if I can’t even kill a fish. Then again I had just ate and I usually don’t fish on a full stomach. ”

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

    “The Spray’s next companion of the voyage was a swordfish, that swam alongside, showing its tall fin out of the water, till I made a stir for my harpoon, when it hauled its black flag down and disappeared. September 30, at half-past eleven in the morning, the Spray crossed the equator in longitude 29 degrees 30′ W. At noon she was two miles south of the line. The southeast trade-winds, met, rather light, in about 4 degrees N., gave her sails now a stiff full sending her handsomely over the sea toward the coast of Brazil, where on October 5, just north of Olinda Point, without further incident, she made the land, casting anchor in Pernambuco harbor about noon: forty days from Gibraltar, and all well on board. Did I tire of the voyage in all that time? Not a bit of it! I was never in better trim in all my life, and was eager for the more perilous experience of rounding the Horn.

    Joshua Slocum – “Sailing Alone Around the World” – 1900

    Good Winds Matt !

    Good eternal winds master Joshua !

    Fernando Costa, from Cabo Frio, Brazil

  6. Alison says:

    We are live-aboard sailors, and so understand the importance of self-sufficiency on your floating home, but REALLY!…. resurrecting an AIS is pretty damned incredible, Matt! I sure hope it keeps working for you, as you approach more crowded seaways. I FELT your terror at seeing that big black bow between the red & green…. we never personally had THAT close of a call, but collisions are my worst fear when on a passage. gotta love the AIS! Not much longer now….. hopefully you’ll have a crisis-free last leg home (to our home waters, too!)
    We have enormous respect for you, Matt, from our safe cozy berth in Barcelona, Spain.
    Alison, Chuck and Zoey the Jack Russell aboard s/v ChaliVentures 3

  7. Nancy F says:

    Your trip captivates me. Be safe, and can’t wait to see you when you arrive in Annapolis!

  8. Dan says:

    I have been an avid follower (checking in many times a day) since first reading about the adventure in the Washington Post. The story of soldering the AIS back together was fabulous – I have spent many hours with a too-small soldering iron trying to get things reconnected. I am now trying to anticipate when you might arrive back in Annapolis – hoping that you don’t arrive when I’m out of town for spring break with my kids! I’m calculating the schedule every time I see a speed shift. Will he beat me back or won’t he! Don’t push St Brendan too hard! :)
    Safe sailing!

  9. Alan says:

    The Mahi Mahi are eternally grateful for your thoughtful inaction.

  10. Helen says:

    Hiya Matt,

    Months of checking in on you and your position map now shows your start and end points when you zoom out with 2 clicks. I just watched your resupply video and chuffed to see you and St. Brendan in such good health.

    Looking forward to toasting your safe return.

    Helen
    Annapolis, MD

  11. Henk van Loon says:

    Hello Matt
    I follow your blog for sometime, but I must translate it into Dutch. You are amazing and our Albin Vega sailors ii Europe a nice piece op advertising.
    I wish you continued good trip.

  12. Toretheviking .... says:

    …. Rutherford/Hemingway/Steinbeck.
    Great writings, Matt ! When does YOUR book go to the printer ?
    I’d like a 1st edition autographed copy. Please !
    Good Speed on the last lap. See you SOON.
    Kind thoughts – Tore.

  13. Jeanne Blue says:

    Like many others it was the Washington Post article that led me to the addiction of checking “where’s Matt?” You’re nearly past Puerto Rico now, HOME STRETCH!!!!!

    Wishing you clear skys, good winds, and no more tankers or rogue waves, and a very Happy Homecoming!

  14. MATT x JOSHUA 2

    Here is a gift for those who loves quotes like me. A new couple of citations from the logs of the first person to sail alone around the Earth (Joshua Slocum) and the first person to circumnavegate the America’s (Matt Rutherford).

    ……….

    “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.”

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

    “In danger now of being flanked by the savages in the bush close aboard, I was obliged to hoist the sails, which I had barely lowered, and make across to the opposite side of the strait, a distance of six miles. But now I was put to my wit’s end as to how I should weigh anchor, for through an accident to the windlass right here I could not budge it.

    However, I set all sail and filled away, first hauling short by hand. The sloop carried her anchor away, as though it was meant to be always towed in this way underfoot, and with it she towed a ton or more of kelp from a reef in the bay, the wind blowing a wholesale breeze.

    Meanwhile I worked till blood started from my fingers, and with one eye over my shoulder for savages, I watched at the same time, and sent a bullet whistling whenever I saw a limb or a twig move; for I kept a gun always at hand, and an Indian appearing then within range would have been taken as a declaration of war.

    As it was, however, my own blood was all that was spilt–and from the trifling accident of sometimes breaking the flesh against a cleat or a pin which came in the way when I was in haste.

    Sea-cuts in my hands from pulling on hard, wet ropes were sometimes painful and often bled freely; but these healed when I finally got away from the strait into fine weather.”

    Joshua Slocum – “Sailing Alone Around the World” – 1900

    Good winds brave Matt !

    Good eternal winds master Joshua !

    Fernando Costa, from Cabo Frio, Brazil

  15. Jim Ague says:

    Unbelievable! You’re going to make it. You’re now halfway between the equator, which was a few days ago, and home. What will it feel like to tie down after 300 days alone at sea? What will it feel like to sleep on land, in a bed? What will it feel like to crowded in by people curious to see the person that did such a lonely, magnificent feat? How soon will you have to untie?

    • Marlowe/Mom says:

      The word from C.R.A.B.’s website is that Matt is expected on or around April 14th in Annapolis!

    • Jordan Bettisb says:

      Don’t say that (please knock on some wood or something now that it’s said)!

      He still has a lot of water to cover, with plenty of traffic in it. Not to mention Cape Hatteras…

      What he’s done so far is amazing, but it ain’t over till it’s over. Don’t jinx him!

  16. Attention please everyone!

    Matt, “the MacGyver of the Seas”, “the True Gilliatt”, will begin to cross the famous “Bermuda Triangle”. Last obstacle to overcome, before reaching the glory of being the first person to circumnavigate the America’s alone, on a sailboat. A little and old sailboat, we must say, so that his victory will be even higher.

    THE BERMUDA TRIANGLE

    “Also known as the Devil’s Triangle, is a region in the western part of the North Atlantic Ocean where a number of aircraft and surface vessels are said to have disappeared under mysterious circumstances.
    Popular culture has attributed these disappearances to the paranormal or activity by extraterrestrial beings. Documented evidence indicates that a significant percentage of the incidents were inaccurately reported or embellished by later authors, and numerous official agencies have stated that the number and nature of disappearances in the region is similar to that in any other area of ocean.” (WIKIPEDIA)

    Don’t worry about the “Bermuda Triangle” Matt, what is said about it, is the result of ignorance, mysticism and sensationalism.

    Hey, do not forget to read the apology, that I have written in your honor.

    Look for it in the bottom of the page “About the Challenge”.

    Good, excellent winds brave Matt!

  17. bob dawson says:

    havnt checked yor blog in a while glad you r well an got tru close call with freighter.will cont to pray for yor safe arrrival in annapolis. bob at west river

  18. Alan says:

    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.
    So throw off the bowlines.
    Sail away from the safe harbor.
    Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover”

    Mark Twain

  19. Lin Pardey says:

    Best wishes from two other small boat sailors. larry and I have been in contact with Don about your voyage since we were in Annapolis last October. Sorry I can’t be in Annapolis with alongside Don Bache and crowd to welcome you home. As others have said, don’t worry about Cape Hatteras, just worry about getting some rest before you close with the shipping you’ll encounter there.

  20. Greg in Annapolis says:

    You da man! Free drinks in 4B upstairs. I have a book for you also. The least I can do for the man who gives me a blog and boat speed to check every day.

  21. Tucker Cholvin says:

    Matt–I’m a freshman at Georgetown University, and I think that your blog and your journey are two of the coolest things ever. I’m involved with the Lecture Fund on campus, and we’d love to have you in the fall, after you’re back and classes have started back up! Let me know if there’s a way to contact you, we would be delighted to host you and hear about your travels. Godspeed!

  22. Robert Gentry says:

    Hey Matt, what a journey you almost accomplished, just incredible! I live 20 miles south on the Chesapeake bay from Annapolis, and what an honor it would be to follow you on your very last leg to Annapolis! I will be watching your every mile up the bay. And Miss Marlowe Mom, I was not able to donate as much as I wish I could , but I thought if I could aware of other people of your sons magnificent journey and his worthy cause , maybe that could be just as the same, so I wrote to the editor of the Bay’s Weekly paper and suggested for them to write an article of your sons soloingtheamericas heroic voyage. I hope that they do. I made some flyers from Matt’s journey and going to take them to and around the western shore of the bay and to restaurants and marinas. What a beautiful sight that would be to have hundreds of sailors and boaters following Matt on his very last leg home home!! S.E. Winds buddy and bring her home safe!!!! And O Matt if you see the black pearl while you are passing through the Carribeans Keira Knightly might be on that boat, so just pull up and take her , you deserve her! LOVE YOU GUYS! You too my amigo, Fernando! Robert Gentry from Solomons Island, Maryland

  23. Walther says:

    Hi Matt

    Best wishes for a safe trip home – At the Annual Meeting The Danish Vega Association made a donation which is on its way.
    We admire you highly for your achievements

  24. Nancy says:

    I can’t believe you are on your home stretch! My husband and I have circled the week of April 14 as the date to jump into our boat and be ready to see you as you enter Annapolis.

    BTW, your planned trip to the Arctic sounds amazing and timely, given the loss of so much of the Arctic ice due to global warming. You have our support.

  25. Jackson Oliver says:

    great job

  26. Pingback: Matt Rutherford: A sailing great on lonelines | Spinsheet

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