Thursday, April 18, 2013

Matt Rutherford's talk at the Cruising Association

Yesterday evening I headed down to the Cruising Association in Limehouse Basin to hear Matt Rutherford give a talk about his circumnavigation of the Americas - single handed in a 27' yacht.

And pretty riveting it was too - and funny. Matt is I guess just into his 30s and has an upbeat what you see is what you get attitude, and I wondered how much his voyage had changed him, maybe calmed him.

It's a long way to sail, though he was pretty nonchalant about it. After making it through the North West Passage, he said, he had to get home somehow to Annapolis and the Panama Canal costs money and he just had $40 on him so he might as well keep going round!

Naturally after last summer's sail to the Arctic Circle I was most interested in the bit between Newfoundland and Alaska and it didn't disappoint.

He too fogs, whales and dolphins as we did and he had no heater either, but then he also had ice bergs, big ones, as large as container ships, walls rearing out of the whiteness.

To make sure he didn't crash into them his watch system was 50 hours on 3 off, 50 hours on 6 off.

Now that is really tough.

But then as he described it, it felt like playing a video game, dodging those growlers, a video game where he had just the one life. He described how time seemed to change, so that 10 hours would pass like 10 minutes, and how his coping strategy was to do everything very slowly, in keeping with his brain and body's speed.

It clearly wasn't much fun when the gales blew through, but there times of calm when he could drift and not worry about a bit of bumping - or indeed running aground as most of the channels up there involve deep water apart from the Simpson Strait.

Then down through the Baring Strait with 20 foot waves and 50 knot winds, across the wide Pacific, at one point closer to New Zealand than Cape Horn, struggling with the doldrums, until finally reaching that most southern point where, surrounded by albatrosses, penguins and rainbows he saw this:
After the Horn he could turn north and face his most severe test yet.

One problem he had was things breaking and he didn't have spares. The water maker required a rendezvous off Newfoundland but when the engine starter motor failed he had to get a new handle delivered off Brazil.

All was going well until he realised he could see the beach, and on the beach were Brazilian girls.

It was tough, but as he pointed out, to achieve something as well as hard work you must also make sacrifices.

So very true, and when he finally sailed back into Chesapeake Bay, crossing his outbound track, it was a really great achievement.

1 comment:

Baydog said...

I am a worm, sir. A wiggly worm.