SUCCESS!

After my birthday fiasco power became a serious issue. The small solar panels I picked up in Recife had stopped giving juice and my wind generator was toast. I don’t know what it is about this boat but it’s like I have some anti-solar panel voodoo curse. On April 6th I lost all my ability to charge anything and my AGM batteries were only half full. I was hoping I would be able to finish the last leg of trip with relative ease but instead it was by the skin of my teeth. Simon was bringing a 54 foot sailboat up from Tortola (Helna, which coincidentally is owned by one of my sponsors, Tom Willbanks of EdgeSource). I was becalmed for 36 hours which is usually a nuisance but under these circumstances it made our “coming together” much easier. By the time Simon arrived the seas had calmed significantly. It was 3am when we first met so I had opportunity to shoot off some flares. For the recorded, 12 gauge flares that you shoot out of that little orange flare gun are a joke! It was my 300th day at sea so I had Simon toss me a strong drink to celebrate and then we both hove to about a mile apart. I told him that I had no way to charge anything and I asked if he could swing by in the morning and I could hand him my computer, hand held VHF, iPod and satellite phone as all these items were in need of a charge. So Simon devised a system where he would slowly pass by St Brendan throw me a line that was attached to a cooler and once I had the line he would gently put the cooler in the water and I would pull it over to my boat. Then I would throw the line back on his next pass and he would retrieve the now empty cooler (coolers float). Like I said the seas were calm or else this would have been impossible. I also got him to give me whatever fresh food he could spare and some rum. After a couple hours he had charged all my various devices sent them back via the cooler (they were placed in a waterproof bag when in the cooler) and said goodbye. He raised his sails and over the horizon he went. Two days later another frontal boundary passed with a 45-50 knot squall and on the leading edge of these winds was a wave large enough that when it broke on St Brendan it knocked me over 90 degrees. I had just turned off my good laptop (I have two laptops a good one and the one I’m writing on now which is junk). Anyway my good laptop was thrown so hard by the big breaking wave that it slammed up against the other side of the cabin and is now broke. It survived the whole trip just to die at the very end. To give you some idea, at the time the wave hit I was making a cup of coffee, when my boat righted itself I looked up and I had had coffee grounds stuck to my cabin top above my head. I’ve been knocked around so many times during this voyage that I was tired of it and ready to be done. I had a few days of head winds following the front then finally some good Southwest winds that let me pass safely and easily by Cape Hatteras, the last real obstacle of any merit.

I sailed past Virginia Beach and was at the mouth of the bay when the wind died. I could see the finish line (Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel). There is a semi-strong current at the mouth of the bay that usually runs around 1.5 to 2 knots. When the wind first died I wasn’t too worried because the tide was supposed to change. I also had a sailboat (Float On) come out to meet me and they handed me some cold beer. At first I was just happy to be sitting there having a beer waiting for the tide to change and some wind to appear. A very strange thing happen, not just did the wind remain dead calm but the current never changed and it just keep pushing me south. By 3am when the wind finally picked up I was 16 miles south of Cape Henry. Since April 6th when I lost my ability to charge my batteries I haven’t had the power to run my navigation lights at night. I was in an area with a lot of freighter traffic so I didn’t sleep much. The previous three days I hadn’t slept at all. Partially because of shipping traffic – but also because I was excited. So by 3am after going backwards for 12 hours I was well beyond frustrated. The wind built through the morning and by 10am I had 25 knots out the Northeast which gave me the ability to finally get thought the Bay Bridge Tunnel and finish the trip.

When it comes to sailing it’s difficult to say who is the first person to do what because so many people have sailed so many places. In the case of this trip it becomes easier because of the Northwest Passage element. Not that many boats have sailed through the Northwest Passage and every boat that has, is listed on the Polar Scott Institutes’ (Cambridge University) web site along with the number on crew. Out of these boats very few were taken through the Northwest Passage singlehanded and out of those few only a couple boats did it both single handed and non-stop. The very very few that have, did not continue non-stop to Cape Horn and then back to their original starting point. So – long story short I’m the first person in history to have completed a non-stop singlehanded circumnavigation of the Americas.

I knew this trip would be hard for any captain on any sailboat. Although my boat was small and my budget meager it was my unwavering determination and previous sailing experience that got me through. We are all capable of incredible things; all you have to do is believe in yourself. I thank you all for following along during the trip. It’s been a great adventure and although the trip has been hard it’s also been very enjoyable. I’ll write one final update in a week or so after I’ve had some time for reflection. There are also some new pictures coming. If you can’t make it to Annapolis on April 21st (by noon) then you can watch my homecoming live on my web site (11:30 to 12:30 EST) or you can view the live show on your iPhone or iPad from http://www.livestream.com/t2ptv.

This trip is a fundraiser for C.R.A.B (Chesapeake Regional Accessible Boating). I thank all of you who have already donated and we are halfway to our goal. There has recently been a challenge; the crew of Godspeed will match the next $21,000. We are trying to raise money on a money for mile basis, a penny a mile, 10 cents a mile, a dollar a mile, etc. Or a general donation of any amount is most welcome. C.R.A.B is a great non-profit that gives sailing opportunities to people with mental and physical disabilities. I’m proud to be a part of C.R.A.B. and I thank you all for your donations.

THE FINAL TALLY

I sailed 27,077 miles in 309 days, 18 hours and 38 minutes.

FORTITUDINE VINCIMUS

Matt Rutherford

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31 Responses to SUCCESS!

  1. Nancy says:

    Congratulations Matt. What you did was truly phenomenal and an inspiration to read about. I will miss reading your posts now that your trip is done!

  2. krafthaus says:

    Matt, absolutely unbelievable and my utmost admiration on your accomplishment! Congratulations on completing your trip, reading your blog along the way was inspirational.

    You seem like a humble young man, but take the time to savour your achievement and be truly proud of what you have done. It is equal among history’s great voyages.

    Glad to see you home safe & sound. All the Best!!

  3. Tim Carroll says:

    Matt; Your journey is a breath taking awe inspiring accomplishment. Mere Words cannot describe the respect and high esteem that I hold for you. Someday I hope I have the courage and fortitude to achieve such a remarkable feat.

  4. Ernie Shineman says:

    Hi Matt, I find it incredible that you can still write in complete sentences, and that those sentences DO make perfect sense. Charlotte, my eight year old grandaughter who has visited Don with me many times these past several years as he has been recovering, said (about you) “HE’S A GOOD GUY”. That’s quite a compliment from a very opinionated young lady! I quite agree! See you Saturday, Ernie

  5. Amie Durr says:

    Hi Matt! It’s so good to ‘hear’ from you! I just have to tell you that my little ones had the opportunity to go ziplining and climbing and partying this weekend, but both of them got upset at the thought, because they have to “go welcome Matt home!” While reflecting – I hope you can appreciate how many lives you’ve touched, and will touch for decades to come. I know personally of a seven year old and a nine year old whose entire outlook on life and it’s possibilities has changed. For the dreamer in me, you’re my hero. For the mom in me, you’re the reflection of dreams themselves.

  6. Mike Maluski says:

    What you did was amazing! I cannot imagine the mental part of doing what you did. Your dad was excited to see you so hope he made it ok. I can use your story to inspire the many young people I work with each day in my work as a high school counselor and coach. It would be nice to possibly meet you someday. Enjoy some fresh food and good beer!!

  7. Kate says:

    Invincible Matt,

    Once again thank you for taking the time to post your travails and finally victory. You have courage, tenacity and fortitude to spare but you also have a patience that just from the little glimpses we have had of YOU must be more difficult. There just are not enough words……cannot wait until Saturday.

    Welcome back to the bay!
    Kate

  8. Cheer Leader! says:

    Welcome home Matt…

  9. David Sterling says:

    Such an incredible story to tell your grandchildren – Shackleton in stature. I’ll miss checking out your site every day.

  10. Chad Carroll says:

    Matt,

    Congratulations! My son, Brady , and I have been following your trip since December and are so amazed by your adventure. You’re fundraising for C.R.A.B has really touched my heart. Brady is involved with Special Olympics in Chandler AZ, so programs for the disabled are close to my heart. We have never had the opportunity to “sail” and I hope that someday we will have that chance. We discussed your trip frequently and I know that he has taken an interest in you and your quest. I take my hat off to you!

    Chad Carroll

  11. Ken Page says:

    If I could stand in front of you, I’d offer my hand and a word of congratulations along with an offer to let me buy you a few beers. If you accepted, I’d probably then say, “So, are you going to start looking for a “real job” now?” …and hope that you’d laugh knowing I was just giving you crap. Have a great homecoming, your going to be swamped!!

  12. Erick says:

    Congrats Matt. You are an inspiration to all of us sailors and wannabe explorers out there.

  13. Dave D says:

    On this windless and foggy day (it’s lifting now), I see the speed is up, which means the engine is running. So, I’m happy to re-offer our deep water slip at the north end of Herring Bay for tonight, if you don’t already have a stopping point closer to Crab-town. Shore power and beer available. Our boat is still up on blocks, slower than the doldrums to get in the water, so the slip is yours for the night if it is of help. Congrats again, and we are looking forward to meeting you tomorrow. Only regret is that the weekly reports from sea and the red dot will stop.
    Dave D

  14. Hi Matt,

    I can see that you are almost back in Maryland, near Smith Island. Time to enter the “real” world. Thanks for conveying your cosmic seagoing experience through your blog posts. Although you spent a lot of time being lonely, the solitude gave you a perspective that very few people have known of the actual “real world”.
    Congratulations again on a great achievement!

    Richard

  15. Aunt Paula - & all says:

    Dearest Matt -

    We won’t be at your “Welcome Home” bash, but will make a visit when the fanfare dies down a bit — & take you out for a huge prime rib dinner & a few glasses of Johnny Walker (the best label they’ve got!). I know you won’t see this for quite a while, but am sending along “Grampa’s Rules to Live By” — you’ve covered them all. Gramps would definitely be proud of your great accomplishment — that you set your mind to something bigger than you & never gave up. But he’d also be so proud of what your boldness & sacrifice & generous spirit has accomplished for CRAB. You know how much he believed in “giving back.” I’ll be thinking of you tomorrow when you step onto the City Dock — a spot you took Audra & I last May during our “inflatable dinghy tour” of the area. I have a good visual in my head, so will be giving you big HUGS – if only in my mind’s eye. Love you Matt, Your Aunt Paula

    “GRAMPA’S RULES TO LIVE BY”

    1. RESPECT YOURSELF AND OTHERS

    2. BE SELF-ASSURED AND RESPONSIBLE

    3. TELL THE TRUTH

    4. DO YOUR BEST, NO MATTER HOW TRIVIAL THE TASK

    5. CHOOSE THE DIFFICULT “RIGHT” OVER THE EASY “WRONG”

    6. DON’T WHINE OR MAKE EXCUSES

    7. HAVE THE STRENGTH TO UNDERSTAND THE THINGS YOU CANNOT CHANGE

    • Marlowe/Mom says:

      Paula,
      Those are excellent rules for life!
      Marlowe

      • Aunt Paula - & all says:

        Thanks – most excellent “Momma of Matt the sailor” !! Do me a wee favor — give him one extra quick squeeze … on top of the several thousand hugs you’ll be giving him tomorrow ….. and tell him the little one is from his ole Aunt Paula !! (and a big hug for you too ! I’m sure those “Momma tears of joy” will be flowing tomorrow !)

        Love, Paula

        • Marlowe/Mom says:

          Paula,
          I am not much of/a crier, but I cried at school when my students and I watched Matt cross the finish line after that grueling night where he almost ran aground.

          I will most certainly hug Matt on behalf of his Aunt Paula! It is an honor.

          Wiah you and Peter could be here. I miss you guys.
          Love,
          Marlowe

  16. Fernando Costa says:

    You won Matt!

    Bravo master Big Matt !

    I will publish your portrait among those of Joshua Slocum and Bernard Moitessier on my blog “Estrela d’Alva, a Canoa Alada” this night!

    You earned it

    Congratulations once moreThe King of Sea Wolves!

    • Marlowe/Mom says:

      Oh, Fernando!
      Thank you and Marcos for your enthusiasm and support! You are a member of Matt’s team: the Brazilian Department!

      As a mom, it was relieving to know that Matt had friends in Brazil 3hen he needed them the most.
      With love,
      Mom/Marlowe

  17. Paul Raphel says:

    Matt,

    Congratulations on your journey!

    I am a producer at FOX-5 in DC and we are hoping to do a story with you.

    Do you have a media contact? Or the best way to contact you?

    Paul Raphel
    FOX-5 Segment Producer/Reporter
    work: (202)-895-3191
    cell: (301)-204-1490
    email: paul.raphel@foxtv.com
    twitter: @paulraphel

    Overnight/Early morning issues call 202.895.3000

  18. Phil on sv We Be Jammin says:

    Congradulation on finishing your trip. The drama will make a great movie!

  19. Well done Matt. Hope to catch up with you after you settle down after the trip. Love to do an interview for The Sailing Podcast – http://www.thesailingpodcast.com
    David and Carina

  20. LisaBeth says:

    Fantastic! I don’t know you, Matt, but my eyes filled with joyous tears when I read this post. If your Web Master Mike McLinn is reading, PLEASE Mike: add some tweet and Facebook (share) buttons to get the word of this incredible accomplishment, for a beautiful cause, out to the world! Your donations to CRAB will be off the chart (no pun). Matt, can’t wait to read the book and watch the movie. Your feat slipped under the wire for most people because it wasn’t managed well from a media perspective, but I am hoping very soon we will hear a global “Holy *hit!!! This guy rocks!” Congratulations! I am in awe of your courage and determination.

  21. Dear Matt, we are so happy to hear YOUR voice again in the blog. We had shouts of happiness and streaming tears when we saw that little red dot cross the finish line. How FRUSTRATING that must have been for you. An absolutely STUPENDOUS accomplishment! Did your body remember how to have a full night’s sleep down there in Little Creek? We can’t be in Annapolis for your welcome home/congratulations party today, but we’ll be watching your website from our boat here in Barcelona, Spain and WISHING we were there! Congratulations, and we hope you enjoy your homecoming! Alison, Chuck and Zoey the Jack Russell Terrier aboard s/v ChaliVentures, homeport Annapolis.

  22. Janell says:

    Congratulations Matt! It has been a pleasure filled with joy and suspense to follow your solo, non-stop voyage around The Americas! Enjoy all the accolades tomorrow–you deserve every one of them!

    Your story of courage and determination which ended in success is sure to inspire many to pursue their dreams….even if that dream is just to ‘sail around the block’. You are making a difference in many lives!

    And, Thank You for your unwavering support of C.R.A.B.

    Again, congratulations on the completion of a magnificent journey!

  23. Julia says:

    Hi! I’m out of town, but I’ll be racing in the NASS tomorrow!

    Julia

  24. Tanner says:

    Amazing job Matt! You did something amazing!

  25. Christos says:

    Matt,
    I live in annapolis and can’t believe I missed an opportunity to cheer on your arrival yesterday. What a glorious day it was, it felt like a special day and it truly was with your safe arrival. I hope to live with just a fraction of your passion and courage. You have given us all hope with your extraordinary accomplishment!

  26. Dave Hoskins says:

    Congratulations and Welcome Back, Matt. I’m sitting here in Istanbul looking at all the boat traffic on the Bosphorus thinking of you and your indomitable courage and spirit. As you say, “reward truly does live in the house of risk”. I’m glad that you made it back safe and have helped to raise funds for C.R.A.B. I look forward to seeing you when you next come back to Colorado. Well done.

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