Note: Okay, at the bottom of this post is some audio I recorded with Matt, I think back in April last year. It would have been a few months before his departure. His Pearson 323 was docked one block away from Arcturus in Annapolis, at the little marina at the end of Burnside Street. I had been friends with him since the summer before when he returned from his double-Transatlantic. We sat down in the clubhouse and talked for a couple hours on a bunch of different topics. The audio is completely unedited and slightly embarrassing for me to listen to, but it's pretty cool nonetheless and gives some interesting insight into Matt and his trip. He doesn't start talking about the NW passage until about the 45-minute mark, but touches on his motivations and why he's involved CRAB. Very enlightening stuff. I left the entire 1:52:00 intact because I enjoy listening to uncut stuff like this, and so will you! On that note, look for some more interviews I've done with some other interesting people to pop up here in the future. I've always wanted to start a podcast, so maybe this is the first episode....
Two days ago (on February 29), I received this email from Simon Edwards, Matt's longtime delivery skipper friend and biggest shoreside support in Matt's Around the America's expedition:
"It's done. He picked the gear up this morning. Fantastic response from people, $30,000 [for CRAB] and still coming. Will write more, trying to anchor up in Sandy Hook in freezing rain. Still, hard to complain being as Rutherford set the bar too high!!!"
Can't argue with that. Matt is in the middle of setting the bar arguably higher than it's ever been set before. He's been compared to some of the sailing pioneers like Chichester and one of his heros Knox-Johnston. And the cool part is, those comparisons came from Herb McCormick, who recently completed his own Around the Americas expedition, albeit one with stops and aboard a boat with heat. The comments below came from an interview that the Washington Post conducted with McCormick for a recent article.
“What Matt is trying to do, I’m absolutely blown away by it,” McCormick said. “He’s doing this in a boat that, frankly, I’d be scared to sail from Newport to Bermuda. I’m in awe of the guy. This is such a mammoth undertaking, and to do it without stopping — alone — is mind-boggling."
But everyone who has been following Matt's adventure in the slightest already knows that. At this point it's almost beyond description.
So, to the original point of this update. Matt’s resupply, and my effort to get him as much publicity as possible in his effort to raise money for CRAB. It’s the third of his voyage so far, if you count the one off St. John’s, Newfoundland in which he received a replacement watermaker when his original exploded on him. At that point, so close to the start of his voyage, it was nearly a fatal blow to his hopes. In Alaska he was interviewed by NPR, given some pizza and beer and restocked with a few essentials. And now Recife.
Matt talks often in his blog about his water generator, and how he tried to fix it with an improvised propeller he cobbled together from an old boathook. It reminded me of Yves Gelinas and his similar repair aboard Jean du Sud, the Alberg 30 that Gelinas sailed around the world via the Great Capes, his only stop in Chatham Island thanks to a capsize and subsequent dismasting. Gelinas is also the inventor of the Cape Horn windvane, which saw Mia and I across the Atlantic on Arcturus last summer. He's a great and humble man, and Matt reminds me of him, particularly in his determination and ability to see something through.
Alas, some things are beyond his control. St. Brendan’s engine is officially dead in Matt’s estimation.
“I took off all the wires and cleaned the connections with sandpaper,” he wrote in his blog at solotheamericas.org. “I was hoping it was a bad ground wire but unfortunately that wasn’t the problem. I tried to take the starter off but for some crazy reason it is connected to the engine with round bolts with a large Allen key fitting in the center. So I didn’t have the rather odd tool required to remove the bolts. Why they couldn’t have used normal hex head bolts is beyond me. So after three days of getting covered in engine grime I came to the conclusion that it is beyond my abilities to fix the engine.”
Gelinas didn't even have an engine, by design, so Matt will be just fine without it. And Moitessier dove on his Joshua to remove the propeller before long passages to cut down on drag, knowing that far offshore it would be of little use anyway save for using as a generator, which is precisely what Matt needs it for. Without it, it might mean less internet updates and radio contact, but it won't affect his ability to sail the boat. Marcos in Recife gave him a few small solar panels, which should suffice for his minimal power requirements.
Not to get too far ahead of ourselves - Matt still has several thousand miles to sail to reach the Chesapeake and close the circle on his journey - but there is already talk of what's in the works in Annapolis for his return, and it includes some pretty high-profile boats and people. At this point, the mission is to continue getting the word out, both for CRAB, and to give Matt the heros welcome that he deserves, hopefully sometime in April.
Simon Edwards, in an email to me last week, did a nice job summing up the absurdity of trying to plan for his arrival:
"In a perfect scenario for their plans, Matt will sail round Thomas Point on the 14th April to arrive at the Hall of Fame dock at noon."
Read about the rest of his resupply from the man himself at solotheamericas.org. And donate to CRAB online at crabsailing.org. Check out the audio of my chat [which will be uploaded shortly - check back] with Matt before his adventure, which is posted below. Enjoy.