Matt Rutherford off Virginia Beach (photo courtesy of Mark Duehmig)
Editor's note: Andy Schell, my Matt Rutherford correspondent, shot me this report just moments ago. LET'S GO, MATT!!!
You'd think that in a voyage of now 310 days--the time Matt Rutherford has been at sea since departing the Chesapeake almost a year ago--the hardest part would be far behind him.
But in fact, the hardest part is right now.
Matt has the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel in sight, and is only a handful of miles from crossing his outward track, which would make him the first person in history to complete a solo nonstop voyage around both American continents. He's already been recognized by the Scott Polar Institute as having piloted the smallest vessel ever through the Northwest Passage, and if the weather cooperates, he'll make history again in a much bigger way sometime today.
The trouble is the weather is not cooperating.
News & Views
Just had to share this one. This is an animated NASA "visualization" video showing the disposition of global ocean currents during the period from June 2005 through December 2007.
Aside from how beautiful it is, what strikes me most is the prevalence of huge eddies in certain locations--particularly off southern Africa, where there is an impressive string of them stretching from the southeast coast out west into the South Atlantic. There are also some interesting looking eddies off the northeast coast of South America and either side of the Central American isthmus, particularly on the Caribbean side.
The drama of the Wild Viking continues. Last we checked in on Norway's Antarctic adventurer Jarle Andhoey, he and his crew aboard the 54-foot Nilaya had suffered a broken boom after leaving the Ross Sea and were bound to an unspecified Argentine base on the Antarctic peninsula to make repairs and take on fuel. It has not been widely remarked upon (nor has the helpful Argentine base ever been identified), but this evidently was successfully accomplished sometime around March 23.
Now comes word that Andhoey and company were detained on Saturday by the Chilean navy as they were passing through Chilean waters off the southern tip of South America on their way to Argentina. Nilaya is now reportedly at the Chilean naval base at Puerto Williams, strapped alongside a navy vessel with three armed guards aboard. According to the first published reports, Nilaya was detained at the request the government of New Zealand, although the Kiwis apparently have now denied this. According to other reports, Andhoey gave a false name for the vessel when hailed by the Chileans, and this may be what led to the arrest.
It's been a while since I mentioned Reid Stowe, not because I've lost interest in him, but because he went dark for several weeks, not long after he and his family arrived in the jungles of Guyana aboard their schooner Anne back in early January. Now he's got his communications sorted and is again transmitting regular updates.
Last we visited with Reid he was booking into Guyana at Georgetown and accidentally violated the local pilot boat with his bow. Since then he's made friends with the pilots and got some help conning Anne up the coast and into the Essequibo River.
Editor's note: I received another update yesterday on the fate of Matt Rutherford, who is sailing solo non-stop around the Americas aboard an Albin Vega, from his buddy Andy Schell at Father & Son Sailing. Matt is now off Brazil, where he recently had to meet a vessel off Recife to receive parts and gear needed to finish his voyage.
Two days ago (on February 29), I received this e-mail from Simon Edwards, Matt's longtime delivery-skipper friend and his biggest shoreside supporter of the Around the Americas expedition: "It's done. He picked the gear up this morning. Fantastic response from people, $30,000 [for Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating] 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 Robin Knox-Johnston, one of his heroes. 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 in 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."
Norwegian Jarle Andhoey and his crew aboard the outlaw vessel Nilaya have announced they are leaving Antarctic waters and are sailing north again, reportedly for South America. To escape the area they evidently must first transit a 200-mile belt of sea ice. The Maori political activist, Busby Noble, who is aboard without a passport (accidentally or not, depending on which reports you read), has told the media he now plans to get a temporary passport in Argentina so he can return to his home in New Zealand.
If you've been following the unfolding Jarle Andhoey psycho-drama, you'll know that the Wild Viking and his crew aboard the steel sloop Nilaya are now officially in Antarctic waters south of 60 degrees and should be appearing in McMurdo Sound any day now. You may also have learned that the engimatic Kiwi crew member who "inadvertently" joined the expedition when Nilaya suddenly departed Auckland is in fact some Maori guy who weighs upwards of 300 pounds and sports copious facial tattoos. According to published reports, this Maori fellow, who worked on Andhoey's ill-fated Berserk when she was in New Zealand last year, was a genuine stowaway who hid himself in the boat's forepeak so he could join this year's expedition.
Since learning these things myself, I've discovered a website maintained by Charlene Banks, twin sister of Leonard Banks, one of the three crew who were aboard Berserk when she was lost outside McMurdo Sound last February. Charlene recently has published an e-mail from Jarle that her brother received in Decemeber 2010 describing preparations for Berserk's voyage south. In this e-mail Jarle asks Leonard to "Find a boat we can sail and sink - cheap." He also asks him to "find Maori mechanic or seaman with facetattoo."
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