Equator

Day 152, 13,334 miles

Don Backe used to be the head of a school until one day (25 years ago) he got into a bad car accident and became paralyzed. They didn’t have the jaws of life back then so it took several hours to get him out of his vehicle. In the mean time his spine was swelling. He could see the rescue helicopter sitting there but he was stuck. Most people including myself would have a very hard time being paralyzed but Don has a level of optimism that few people have. He was able to move on with his life without being depressed and saying “woe is me”. (His troubles are far from over he has been bed-ridden for the last 28 weeks and is just now getting better.) After the accident he got together with another guy and started C.R.A.B. You see the thing is, anyone of us could become disabled. Thats why I think C.R.A.B is a good origination – you’re not promised tomorrow, sometimes life can be incredibly hard especially if your dealing with a debilitating disability. An organization like C.R.A.B can make a big difference to those who are dealing with extra ordinarily tough situations.

I entered the East Northeast trades, which blew hard enough to keep me down to my second reef point for six days. It was a bit annoying having 6-8 foot seas hitting St Brendan’s beam, over and over, day after day. I have such low freeboard that my deck was awash the entire time. Shes a wet ride! You should hear the sounds this boat makes. It cracks and creaks, moans and groans like an old pirate ship. The Vikings used to say a boat should flex for speed. Well this boat flexes alright. The fiberglass is always flexing under the pressure of the sea but the wood inside doesn’t like to flex so it complains all the time. This is nothing new, it’s been like this since I left the Chesapeake bay. I’ve never sailed such a loaded boat. I couldn’t even think about fishing in the easterlies. Unfortunately things are going to get worse before they get better. I made it through the intercontinental convergence zone. Its a strange place full of thunderstorms and lightning. One moment you have strong easterlies then out of nowhere the wind changes to southerlies, then northerlies, then some other crazy direction. Lots of micro bursts. When the storms leave your left becalmed. The cool thing was that you could see every different type of cloud mixed all together. It looked unreal. Now I’ve entered the SE trades, and you can see the dilemma. I’m trying to go SE and these trade winds are running me off course and may continue to do so for the next 1,000 miles. I’m getting pushed west and the only thing I can do is try to do is make up for it when I get into the westerlies. As I get further south the winds should become more east, but I’ll still be close hauled. This means that I have to beat into the wind and waves for a long, long time, which is terribly uncomfortable and hard on the boat. It has also become quite hot. I sweat all the time, in my sleep, while I read, you should see me after I have pumped the water maker for a half hour. I’m soaked. The last couple of days have been absolutely aggravating. I sailed into an area with a 3kt northerly current and then the wind died. My engine is reliable but not powerful. I only go 3kts at sea so I’ve had a very hard time getting south, although I’ve managed to go every other direction. I even motored backwards while heading south at one point. I can’t believe such a strong current could be found out here in the middle of no where! I’m still battling the current as I write but its starting to ease up a bit. I just wish the wind would come back and help me out. I only made it 16 miles south yesterday.

My sat phone email finally died. It’s been slowly getting worse since the Arctic. This means I’ve now lost communication with the outside world … for the most part. I sent this email through my Predict Wind satellite communicator so I still have some communication. The problem is this system doesn’t shrink the files like that sat phone email did so it costs more money. At the same time its pretty cool that I can send an email from my weather forecasting device. This also means I can no longer see the comments you post on the web site. It’s too bad, those comments made me feel less lonely. Keep posting your comments, I’ll read them when I get back and finally see my web site for the first time in its full glory. I can no longer post pictures on the web site, I’ll post them when I get back. The bail on my boom also ripped off (it was riveted). I tried to bend it back and through bolt it but I couldn’t bend it. I rigged a new bail with some Amsteel line. I just have to watch for chafe. It was the boom vang bail not the mainsheet bail. Also all four solar panels have died. Three of the panels are the roll up kind (solar film). They started to rot early in the trip. I’m sure some company makes good solar film panels, unfortunately the company that made mine must be run by a team of inbred jackabites. I thought my one hard panel would last but it died a couple weeks ago, I have no idea why. It’s a shame, you can get good power from solar panels. That leaves me with just my old wind generator, my alternator and my silly little human powered generator. Oh well, no use crying over spilled milk. My new tiller pilot also bit the dust. It had an engineering flaw. Whenever the arm was all the way out or all the way in it kept trying to go instead of automatically stopping. So over time it chewed up its own gears. I really can’t believe that the designers could look past such a crucial flaw. But whatever, its dead.

It’s true, the great age of exploration has been over for some time. This last March 29th marked 100 years since the deaths of Scott, Wilson, and Bowers (Oates and Evens dead shortly before). There are no new undiscovered lands, and nearly unlimited information can be found on a computer just a few clicks away. But there is still so much to learn. I consider myself a bit of an explorer. I’ve spent the last ten years either saving money for trips, planning trips or doing trips all over the world. Its not a paid profession – being an explorer is a form of financial suicide. You can only do it for the education. Even after every single thing on this planet has been cataloged, there is still so much a person can learn about themselves. We should never stop exploring, for exploration is the physical expression of intellectual passion. (A C-G)
(Through Endurance????)
FORTITUDINE VINCIMUS

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15 Responses to Equator

  1. Kirsten says:

    Don’t let that current get you down (or North for this matter)! Matt, your words are inspiring and your actions are indisputably courageous, bold, and out of sight, mate! Eleanor Roosevelt once said ‘do one thing that scares you every day.’ I took this to mean; go out and live each day, explore who you are every day or you might be letting an adventure go unsought or possibly miss out on learning something about yourself. You’ve taken this quote to a new level in my eyes. It tickles the imagination of the places and people you might encounter, the dangers and quiet times that teach yourself new depths about how far you can go. Those lessons better the world, they inspire to act. Keep going Matt. Maybe one day I’ll meet you and we can chat over a beer.

    Cheers

  2. Rachel says:

    Hey Boogs,
    Know you probably won’t read this till you get back to MD but I wanted to let you know that I check your progress daily (sometimes more) and I couldn’t be more proud of my favorite person in the world, my little brother. 🙂 You are unbelievably courageous, with have a will of stone and tons of heart. You are and have been for many years the person I look up to. A bit of a change since we were teenagers eh? I was so sad to hear about the Kindle but stoked you found the kindle app on your iPod. Your writing has gotten so good. And I’m sure some of that can be attributed to all those books you read in addition to your natural ability to tell a good tale. If you are able to get this before you get home, know that I am happy to throw funds at sat phone minutes so you can send emails/blog posts through whatever means you have. As always, looking out for you (and in this case please let me or dad or Jim or whomever help.) Its just as good for us and all your adoring fans to watch your progress and know that you are safe as it is for you to fight off the lonlies. I hope to be able to meet you on the dock upon your return and you, me and a few cups of Tokyo sake can enjoy each other’s company. All the best to you my fearless brother. You deserve nothing but the greatest success. Can’t wait to see you in April.
    Love,
    Rach

    • Mom/Marlowe says:

      I agree with your sister. I plan on being there, too, when you make it back to Annapolis. A lot of people in Texas have been following your trip. There are many 9 thru 11 year old students at River Ridge Elementary who are following your voyage on their own time at home. I hope to arrange for the funds to bring you to my school as a guest speaker. You really do know how to captivate an audience, Matty Moe!

      The bare bones condition of your equipment is a bit scary. I have confidence in your abilities and believe that you could bring that tiny, eggshell of a vessel back to port in Maryland even if you are forced to row it with a makeshift paddle

    • Mom/Marlowe says:

      FYI; I am shooting for Wednesday, September 19, 2012, as the date to bring you to my school to come speak. That is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. We dressed up as pirates for 2011, and that was when I introduced my students to your adventures.

      I love you. Wish I could send you Thanksgiving Turkey Dinner with all the trimmings!

      Mom

  3. David Sterling says:

    Hello Matt,

    I’m glad your out of Alaskan waters. They just got hit with the biggest storm in recorded history. In fact, Nome was evacuated. As far as solar panels, I have been looking into alternative energy for a while and I can say solar panels are not the answer now. If the government subsidies stopped they would disappear.
    Now lets get something straight, in your Equator post you say “I consider myself a bit of an explorer”. Are you serious, that’s like calling Mick Jagger a bit of a singer. You have done things with that little fiberglass boat no one has ever done before.

    My prayers are with you,
    Dave Sterling

  4. Phil Cathey says:

    Keep up the spirit for all of us out here. I check in daily to see your adventure. As far as your boat creaking it’s better the boat creaks than your bones like mine does. I went solo sailing on our Gemini catamaran yeaterday and logged better than 30 miles in less than 5 hours, I had between 12 and 25 kt breezes with really no fetch but was really tired keeping up with everything and colapsed when back at dock, I don’t see how you do it, youth I guess and no land to hit. I can’t beleave your solar pannels went out must be corrosion inside your wires or controller. I’ll keep checking in daily, GO Man GO

  5. DaveS says:

    I’m another one that checks in daily. Sorry to hear your tiller pilot burned itself out. You do have a wind vane, don’t you? (I’ll check your posts). I can’t imagine sitting in the cockpit steering a course day after day. Well, Joshua Slocum did it. Of course he did tie the tiller down…and he also had the pilot of the Pinta to help him out. But I hope he doesn’t have to help you too.

    Enjoy the warm (hot) weather while it lasts.

  6. Dunwoody Deb says:

    Hi Matt!
    Add me to your list of followers. I was hooked from your NPR story and bookmarked your blog then. I’ve been fascinated, and concerned, as I’ve followed your journey. Sure wish you could receive the comments, but… they’ll be waiting for you.

    Just wanted to let you know there’s yet another person out here you have touched.

    Dunwoody, Georgia

  7. Mark Watland says:

    It’s really is amazing to have such a strong current so far out in the middle of nowhere. Even if you can’t read comments left on your blog, you don’t have to worry about any of your followers abandoning you. Everyone’s with you all the way to Maryland, Matt.

    • Carol Mosier says:

      Just want to ditto Mark’s comments!!

      You’ll find us to be loyal to the finish line, and we’ll be pulling for you, and praying for you, and at all times, checking in and following your blog to keep up with what you’re going through!!!

      Godspeed, Matt!!!

      Carol Florida U.S.A.

      • Toretheviking .... says:

        Happy Thanksgiving Day, Matt ! ! !

        I GUESS PELICANS AND SEA GULLS, OR EVEN ALBATROSSES DON’T TASTE THE SAME AS TURKEYS ….(UGH …) But I’m sure you’ll make the best of it – yes !?

        Enjoy ….and God bless you ! Kind thoughts – Tore.

  8. Happy Thanksgiving, Matt! As I sit in my home, surrounded by all comforts, my thoughts are with you on your little boat somewhere in Pacific. What can I write to a man who truly has everything one needs. I can only pray for your safety! I will continue to do so and thank God for everything He has given you and me. God’s speed, Matt, God’s speed!

  9. Mom/Marlowe says:

    Happy Thanksgiving, my red haired son!

    An old Irish blessing for you:

    May the road rise to meet you,
    May the wind be always at your back,
    The sun shine warm upon your face,
    The rain fall soft upon your fields,
    And, until we meet again,
    May GOD hold you in the palm of HIS hand.

  10. Amazing things here. I am very happy to look your article. Thank you so much and I’m having a look forward to contact you. Will you kindly drop me a mail?

  11. DB Osborne says:

    Life is a journey and yours is an interesting one. Saw your boat picture is one of the first posts and reconized that you were at Kent Narrows where our boat is berthed at the Piney Narrows Marina. This spring we are moving the boat down to the Pamlico Sound and as I sail down the Bay will be thinking about your journey. Fair winds and following seas.

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