Matt Rutherford’s 100 Days at Sea

Spinsheet Magazine’s Beth Crabtree wrote a fun and informative article about Matt Rutherford’s journey thru the Northwest Passage and Arctic seas.   A portion of the article is printed below.

Where in the World Is Matt Rutherford?

“I can see Russia right now. Well, at least it’s a Russian island, but nevertheless, it’s part of Russia. It’s crazy to think not long ago I was looking at Greenland, and now I’m looking at Russia. I’m officially out of the Arctic, and I broke a record as the smallest boat sailed single-handedly through the Northwest Passage.” So says Matt

Rutherford, who is attempting to circumnavigate the Americas sailing an Albin Vega 27 and has dedicated his journey to Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating (CRAB), a non-profit organization that makes the thrill of sailing a reality for physically and developmentally challenged individuals and for people whose financial circumstances preclude them from getting out on the Chesapeake Bay.

A solo circumnavigation is an impressive goal, even to a seasoned bluewater sailor. Equally impressive is Rutherford’s purpose in making his amazing journey: to raise funds for CRAB. Rutherford says, “I want to promote this trip because the more people who know about it, the more money I’ll be able to raise. It’s still a non-stop circumnavigation of the Americas. I’ve been going for 90 days straight and have another 200 days left. I have been writing updates every seven days or so, and there’s a tracker on my website so you can see my position.”

Rutherford has faced many challenges along the way. Most recently, he completed what may be one of the most challenging portions of his voyage, sailing through the Northwest Passage of the Arctic, where he rode out a typhoon. Matt says, “The good thing about riding out a storm on a sea anchor is that if you do it right, you’ll make it through the storm with no damage. The down side is that it’s incredibly uncomfortable. The motion is very different than when you’re sailing. It’s more sharp and violent. Many times my sleeping bag and I were launched across the cabin.”

Knowing his friend had taken a beating from the weather, Annapolis sailor Simon Edwards has arranged a resupply effort. An Alaskan fishing boat from Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian Islands will deliver a care package to Rutherford. Supporters and friends have ensured that the container includes supplies for the boat as well as fuel for the sailor. Among the package contents will be a replacement for the solar energy converters, a water maker, a Virginia ham, and a tub of cookies.

After surviving the typhoon and officially leaving the Arctic, Rutherford opines about the larger journey, “The Northwest Passage has multiple beginnings and endings. I think it’s funny that it has two beginnings and three ends depending on whom you talk to and which way you are going. I don’t care where you draw the imaginary line; it’s absolutely irrelevant at this point. It was incredibly difficult, but also incredibly beautiful. The best things in life don’t come easy.”

Rutherford sailed out of Annapolis June 11. Two days later he crossed over his official start and finish line, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. According to Don Backe, executive director of CRAB, Rutherford will continue down the coast to Canada, the United States, and South America; around Cape Horn; and return to Annapolis by July 2012. His goals are to circumnavigate the Americas and never set foot on land.