Resupply Success!

Solo-sailor Matt Rutherford is under way once again after receiving supplies off the coast of Brazil.

March 2, 2012

Matt Rutherford Cape Horn

Matt Rutherford

A few years ago a watched a documentary on Recife on the Discovery channel during shark week. Evidently Recife is the shark bite capital of the world (Bull Sharks) – not that I’m planned on going for a swim. To take a step back, after my last update I spent three days trying to get my engine started. I took off all the wires and cleaned the connections with sandpaper. 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. In order to get better access to the engine I removed my cockpit floor. I have been taking on a lot of water and I thought well if I can’t fix the engine at least I can tighten the stuffing box. To my surprise the stuffing box wasn’t leaking and neither was the rudder shaft. That’s not good! That means I’m taking on salt water from somewhere else – I have an unknown leak below the water line. I spent the next day ripping the boat apart trying to find the mystery leak. The culprit is an old (at least 25-30 year old) depth sounder transducer that was hidden in my V-berth. So I told Simon that the engine is beyond repair and I’m taking on water below the water line. He said “we should look into another resupply” and he sweetened the deal with promises of strong drink. I’m not sure how he does it, he has some natural ability to find very nice helpful people anywhere in the world. He contacted a guy named Marcos in Recife Brazil, sent him a list, and Marcos took it from there.

I was still four days out so I spent some time fixing other items. I was able to get some winch lube into my wind generator and that stopped the binding problem. I have continued to lube up my water maker by applying olive oil to the piston and now it “works like new”. Unfortunately my hydro generator’s paddle wheel couldn’t handle the load and fell apart. It was the aluminum boat hook pieces that failed, I just didn’t have strong enough material to use – but I still stand behind my design. I was still having a hard time with power; my batteries were so dead I could only run my GPS for 10 minutes every 24 hours. I brought a battery powered GPS but somehow the Arctic fog got inside and killed it many months ago. In all honesty you don’t really need to have a chart plotter on 24/7. As long as I can get a position report every 12 hours I can do the rest of the navigation with a compass.
There has been a ton of freighter traffic in the last week. Freighters are like mosquitos on a camping trip. So, I approached the coast of Brazil a bit early and hove to about 15 miles off. There are these strange and I’m guessing uniquely Brazilian fishing boats all over the place. They are around 35 feet, made of wood with a little shelter on the back and open on the front. They just drop anchor at night and go to sleep 10 to 15 miles out. I nearly hit one that must have forgotten to turn on its anchor light. They usually hang out in groups of three to four. Colorful boats, must be a hard life though.

I hit my target waypoint about 2 miles offshore ten minutes early. I sat there hove-to thinking that not far away there was a beach full of beautiful Brazilian girls and here I am stuck on this little boat drifting around. I didn’t drift for long before I saw Marcos approaching in a large inflatable. There was a good 3-5 foot swell so it was a great idea to use a forgiving inflatable instead of a hard sided vessel. The whole thing was very quick, in less than ten minutes they were gone and I was heading back out to sea. I got a handheld VHF because sailing without a working VHF is ridiculous, that’s just safety 101. I got same underwater putty to fix my leaky transducer (I’ll do that later today and let you know if it worked). I got two small solar panels that are 15 watts each (about 2 amps total). It doesn’t sound like much but it’s giving me the power to write this update. I also got a hand crank for the engine. This all happened yesterday and by the time I received the items I had been awake for 40 hours. I just woke up so I haven’t had time to try it out. Again I’ll write about it in my next update. I also got some Brazilian booze and some Johnny Walker along with some sweet treats and the best roasted chicken I’ve ever had. Oh yeah, also 15 gallons of diesel and 20 gallons of emergency water, along with other bits and bobbles.


Thank you all for your contributions to help with this resupply. I should be able to plug my rather dangerous leak and keep my batteries charged enough for the basics. Not to mention I can now have a gill worth of strong drink from time to time which is good for morale. This resupply should make the last leg of this long journey safer. To put it in some prospective – if Unalaska Bay was One Ton Depot then Recife was Conner Camp. Now it’s time to head for Cape Evans (The Chesapeake Bay).
My camera broke in the Bering Sea but the Alaska resupply guy gave me his personal camera. So I was able to give Marcos a pen drive with 50 (or so) pictures on it covering Alaska, Open Pacific, Cape Horn, ect. If the new pictures are not on the site by now then they will be soon. I also heard that Don Backe is recovering quickly and is in much better health. On to the Equator.

To follow Matt’s journey, or to donate to Chesapeake Regional Accessable Boating, visit


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