Saturday, March 17, 2012

Plaque to mark South Pole explorer Captain Oates

Blue plaque to commemorate Captain Lawrence Oates
The park was owned by the Oates family before being sold to the council

The explorer who famously sacrificed his life on Captain Scott's doomed South Pole expedition has been honoured with the unveiling of a blue plaque.

Captain Lawrence Oates stepped outside the expedition's tent in 1912, telling his colleagues: "I am just going outside and may be some time."

The blue plaque for him was unveiled at Meanwood Park in Leeds.

The Royal Dragoon Guards have also paraded in York to honour Capt Oates, who was a regiment member.

The 31-year-old was one of five men who died as they tried to return home from Robert Falcon Scott's ill-fated expedition 100 years ago.

The group found they had been beaten to the pole by a Norwegian team, led by Roald Amundsen, by 33 days.'Local hero'

On the return journey, Capt Oates became unwell. After his fellow explorers refused to leave him, he decided to take matters into his own hands by walking out of camp barefoot during a severe blizzard, never to be seen again. His body was never found.

The Leeds park, then called Meanwoodside, was owned by the Oates family before being sold to the city council in 1954.

Councillor Adam Ogilvie, who performed the unveiling of the plaque, said: "The story of Captain Scott's expedition and Captain Oates' incredible bravery and self-sacrifice is one of the most famous ever told.

"Meanwood Park is one of the best-loved public parks in the city, and we are delighted to be putting this plaque in place so visitors can find out more."

Peter Bewell, president of Meanwood Village Association, said: "I have lived in Meanwood in Leeds for over 70 years and from being a schoolboy have always regarded Captain Oates as our very own local hero."

More on This Story

Related Stories
Who was Captain Lawrence Oates? 09 MARCH 2012, UK
Five things Scott found in Antarctica 02 NOVEMBER 2011, MAGAZINE
Appeal to shed light on Pole letters 17 JANUARY 2012, WALES
Researchers praise Scott's legacy 17 JANUARY 2012, SCIENCE &

Friday, March 16, 2012

Flotilla Cruise through the Greek Islands

Flotilla Cruise through the Greek Islands

'ASA flotilla - a group relaxing' .

Our flotilla began on July 16th, a warm and sunny afternoon. My boat, Maya, known as 'the girlie boat,' was ready, as were the other 5 boats. We met in Alimos Marina in Athens at a café at the end of the pier. Alimos is one of the largest marinas in all of Greece and perhaps the Med, with hundreds of boats lined up Med moored on numerous piers.

There are several cafés and tavernas on the marina grounds as well as grocery shops and markets within walking distance. Announcements and introductions were made; questions were answered; now it was time to find our floating homes for the week.

Each group of sailors boarded their yachts which ranged in size from 41’ to 54’. Several of the boats opted to have a Greek skipper come along and take the stress out of sailing in an unfamiliar and challenging sea and really enjoy their holiday.

If you’ve never sailed in the Med before it can be a bit daunting, especially when it comes to Med mooring in the small ports. That’s when flotilla sailing and local expertise really comes in handy. As I was told on my first trip to Greece, 'This isn’t the Caribbean my dear!' Meaning it’s a bit more of a challenge than I was used to.

Everyone got settled in, and that evening we had a brief skipper’s meeting at the Skipper’s Yacht & Roll Bar and determined that we would sail to Epidaurus, which is in the Peloponnese and about a 4 to 5 hour sail from Athens. We would head out at 0900.

We awoke to light winds and a sunny day. Everyone was ready to go and we filed out one by one through the narrow exit of the marina. In Greece they are on the Lateral A buoyage system, red is on your starboard when leaving for sea, something to keep in mind for the week!

Epidaurus here we come, but first we stop for swimming in the clear turquoise water off the small green island of Angistri. We anchored and took a line ashore to an even smaller rocky island across the narrow channel from Angistri. Apo (short for Apostolles), one of our Greek skippers, arrived first. He was in the water and helped the other boats tie off their sterns to the rocks once they dropped the hook. This is a common practice in Greece and allows more boats to fit in limited space.

After a refreshing swim everyone devoured lunch. We had some brave swimmers come by to sample lunch on board 'the girlie boat.' Maria, my first mate and Greek chef makes the most wonderful dishes, and this was no exception. Everyone agreed that we were going to be spoiled this week! After lunch in the warm Greek sun it would have been easy to lounge about, but we had to get to Epidaurus and find a parking space!

ASA flotilla - sunset - .. . Click Here to view large photo

Late afternoon we arrived in Epidaurus to find a small crowded port. Luckily we had called ahead and reserved a few spaces; it helps to know someone on the islands. The boats were moored, now it was time to do a little exploring. There are orange and lemon groves lining the north side of the bay. Several years ago a farmer was digging near his home when he uncovered the ruins of a small amphitheater. Currently there is a dig going on where they are excavating an amazing intact theater overlooking the bay. It’s a great hike up to the area to observe the dig and grab a few oranges off the tree!

In the port vendors were setting up booths along the quay for a festival that was taking place that evening. The Peloponnese with its rich volcanic soil is known for its fruits, veggies and wine. There were all kinds of food products produced and sold by the farmers in the area. We bought the most amazing olives, honey, and hand- made olive oil soap, local wine and more.

After strolling through the vendors stalls, we made our way to a nearby taverna where we dined on simple Greek food and homemade wine while listening to the sounds of live music wafting over us from the port. Watching as the townspeople young and old promenaded along the quay, the sun setting over the sea and the full moon rising, I heard someone say, 'This doesn’t suck.'

The next morning we all boarded an air conditioned coach and made our way to one of the most well-known and ancient amphitheaters in existence. The sanctuary of Asclepios (the God of healing) at Epidaurus is a spiritual place worth traveling around the world to visit! In fact the ancient Greeks did just that in order to pay tribute to their spiritual entities in the face of Asclepios, and to ask the gods for remedies for their physical ailments. It was a healing center as well as a cultural center in ancient times. Epidaurus was built around the third century BC and is adorned with a multitude of buildings most famous of which is the ancient Theater of Epidaurus.

This is one of the very few theaters that retains its original circular 'Orchestra' and it is a rare aesthetic sight. During Roman occupation of Greece, most theater 'Orchestras' were changed from a circle to a semicircle but luckily the theater at Epidaurus escaped intact. The view, aesthetics, and acoustics of the theater are breathtaking, as is the feeling I got when I sat on the ancient limestone stone seat–high up–and thought of all the ancients that might have shared this seat with me.

After roaming the grounds, the museum and taking turns speaking and/or singing on the ancient stage, we boarded the bus and headed back to port. We were headed around Methana a volcanic peninsula, to the island of Poros in the Saronic Gulf–a good 4 to 5 hour sail. Pame, let’s go!

Later that afternoon after sailing and then motoring in light winds Poros was dead ahead. Poros town faces the Peloponnese main land, separated by a narrow channel less than two hundred meters wide in some spots. It’s a tricky navigation. In ancient times it was home to an asylum dedicated to Poseidon, the ruins of which are still accessible on a hilltop close to the town.

As you enter through the channel and round the point and head towards Poros town the famous clock tower greets you and under it the whitewashed houses on the hillside which cascade down to meet the water. It’s a view that say, 'This is a Greek island!' We found space along the quay for all 6 boats and started with the Med mooring experience. Dinghies were deployed and I or one of the Greek skippers- Christos or Apo, would ride out to assist those who needed our help in docking their boat.

ASA flotilla - med mooring means there’s no dinghy ride home - .. .

We were positioned in front of the Yachting Café which made it convenient for picking up wifi from onboard and having an afternoon frappe and ice cream!

Poros is a great island with everything you need, from lovely beaches, scooter rentals, cafés, tavernas, shops, etc. It’s also where my friends, Michalis and Sakis, are proprietors of a fabulous fresh fish taverna aptly named Oasis. It’s right on the water and we had reservations for a group dinner.

We dined on abundant appetizers or meza, Greek salads, a grilled whole fish complete with head and tail for everyone. Fresh carpoozi and peponia (water melon and melon) with semolina (a Greek sweet) completed the feast. Dinner was wonderful and the atmosphere festive.

After dinner some of the girls from my boat led the way for dancing at Club Malibu, while others slowly meandered back to the boats. The nice thing about sailing in Greece and Med mooring is that you don’t need the dinghy to go back to the boat, you simply cross the passarella (gang way) and you’re home!

For information on ASA’s 2012 flotillas, including Greece June 9-16, click here.

About the American Sailing Association:
Driven by a clear need for uniform sailing teaching standards and increased access to sailing activities, the American Sailing Association (ASA) has been the leader in U.S. sailing education for nearly two decades.
The association has grown to include an international network of 300 plus professionally accredited sailing schools. More than 260,000 students have graduated from ASA schools and clubs since 1983. The ASA has formed a strategic partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary which also uses ASA educational material. We were instrumental in establishing national sailing education standards through our work on the National Association of State Boating Law Administrator's Education Committee. The ASA has also consulted with the Department of Transportation and the National Parks Service. Join now and assist us with our mission to help make your lifestyle safer and more enjoyable!

by Capt. Valerie Weingrad

Scotland's Malts Cruise - Highland and island adventure News

Scotland's Malts Cruise - Highland and island adventure
11:27 PM Thu 15 Mar 2012 GMT 

'Malts Cruise - the Old Forge Pub garden'    .

Cruising Scotland at the height of summer - what an idyllic thought! - but it could be real if you take the opportunity. World Cruising Club's Malts Cruise 2012 will start from Oban on 7 July and finish in Tobermory on 20 July. If you need to charter a boat for your Malts Cruise, there are several good charter companies in the west of Scotland. Bareboat and skippered options are available. 

Malts Cruise - venison steak bbq -  .. .  

The Malts Cruise 2012 sets sail on 8 July with a parade around Oban Bay, before exploring the lochs and islands of Scotland's west coast and finishing with a traditional ceilidh on 19 July in Tobermory on the Isle of Mull.

Lots to See and Do:
With free time to set your own itinerary, and rendezvous in beautiful locations like Tobermory, Rum, Loch Harport and Plockton, the Malts Cruise suits both free spirits and those looking for a cruise in company.

Social activities ashore include beach barbecues with local specialities, crew suppers, ceilidh dancing, an eagle-spotting walk, guided tour of a castle and a real chance to meet the locals and understand a little of the wildlife and culture of the region.

The northerly route will allow the boats to circumnavigate the rugged and romantic Isle of Skye, as well as visiting the Small Isles, Loch Scavaig, Loch Gairloch, Kyle Rhea, Loch Nevis, Mallaig and in Inverie, home to the most remote pub in Britain!

The Malt Whisky theme:
The Malts Cruise is more than a sightseeing tour; it is an opportunity to discover the connections between the landscape and the region's most famous export - malt whisky. The cruise includes complementary visits to Oban, Tobermory and Talisker distilleries to see how the whiskies are made, and to try a dram to two! A 'roving nose' will accompany the fleet, and in wild and beautiful anchorages will introduce the participants to the elements of good malt whisky through nosings (tastings) of different whiskies.

How to Join:
Bring your own boat, or charter locally - there are skippered and bareboat charters available. All types of boat are welcome, the only requirement is that they be suitable for the local conditions. Discounts for the Caledonian Canal are available for Malts Cruise participants making the transit either way.
Places on the cruise are strictly limited in order to maintain seclusion in the more remote anchorages. For more information see or email

Full itinerary:

Friday 06 July
in Oban Oban Marina, Kerrera
Malts Cruise reception opens
Complimentary Oban Distillery tours

Saturday 07 July
in Oban Malts Cruise registration continues
Complimentary Oban distillery tours
Afternoon: seminars and Cruise briefing
Evening: Welcome buffet supper and live music with local ceilidh band

Sunday 08 July
Oban to Tobermory Parade of Sail round Oban Bay
Sail the Sound of Mull to Tobermory
Informal pub supper in MacGochans in Tobermory

Monday 09 July
(cruising) Suggested cruising itinerary: Loch Moidart, Small Isles, Canna

Tuesday 10July
Isle of Rum Rendezvous - Isle of Rum
Guided tour of Kinloch Castle
Guided walking tour with local wildlife ranger
Informal cruise BBQ ashore

Wednesday 11 July
(cruising) Suggested cruising itinerary: Canna, Soay, Loch Scavaig

Thursday 12 July
Isle of Skye Rendezvous - Loch Harport, Isle of Skye
Talisker Distillery Tours
Informal Cruise Bar Supper – Old Inn, Carbost

Friday 13 July
Isle of Skye or cruising Talisker Distillery Tours
Suggested cruising itinerary: Loch Gairloch, Inner Sound

Saturday 14 July
(cruising) Inner Sound

Sunday 15 July
(cruising) Inner Sound and Portree

Monday 16 July
in Plockton Rendezvous in Plockton, Loch Carron
Cruise supper and ceilidh

Tuesday 17 July
(cruising) Suggested cruising itinerary: Kyle Rhea, onto Loch Nevis (Inverie),
or Mallaig

Wednesday 18 July
Cruising to Tobermory Suggested cruising itinerary: Small Isles, Arisaig, Moidart
onto finish in Tobermory (Isle of Mull)

Thursday 19 July
Tobermory Complimentary Tobermory distillery tours
Half-day Mull island tour
Final cruise buffet supper and ceilidh at the Western Isles Hotel

by World Cruising Club/Sail-World 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Tribute to CG-6535 - USCG Aviation Training Center in Mobile Alabama

CG-6535 tribute

On behalf of the Coast Guard family, we at Coast Guard Compass want to thank all of you for the outpouring of support and prayers following the tragic loss of four Coast Guardsmen when Coast Guard helicopter CG-6535 crashed in Mobile Bay on Tuesday evening.

Last night, the Coast Guard called off the active search for survivors and has shifted to recovery operations.

The social media team has created a graphic to memorialize the crew: Lt. Cmdr. Dale Taylor, Lt. j.g. Thomas Cameron, Chief Petty Officer Fernando Jorge and Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrew Knight.

We invite you to click on and download the image above and join us in making this image your social media profile photo in solidarity with the service and in tribute to the crew of CG-6535.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Expedition sails towards the remote and uninhabited Clipperton island

Mexico: Expedition sails towards the remote and uninhabited Clipperton Island

Click screen to close

An aerial view of Clipperton Island. In the early 1900’s some 100 Mexican workers and their families lived here, receiving supplies from the Mexican government. But when supplies stopped arriving, a desperate struggle for survival broke out. (Photo

A small team of artists and scientists sailed off toward the remote Clipperton island today, in a rare, multidisciplinary expedition that will investigate the island’s dramatic history and how it has been affected by global warming

Currently uninhabited, Clipperton lies about 900 miles off the coast of Mexico, surrounded by the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean.

Scientists say the tropical island provides an interesting example of how a terrestrial ecosystem survives in the middle of the ocean. It is also a thermometer of sorts for how global warming affects the planet.

“The Clipperton Project [as the expedition in known] aims to create a new kind of discourse and presentation of climate change, using Clipperton Island as a prism through which this broad theme can be seen,” project director Johnathan Bonfiglio, said during a press conference on Monday, before sailing off to Clipperton from the Mexican city of La Paz.

Bonfiglio said that participants in the expedition will collect data on different aspects of the island’s geographical make-up, and present their findings to the public later this year.

One of Clipperton’s main features is a lagoon at the center of the island that is only separated from the ocean by thin strips of land, but that inexplicably, contains drinkable water.

Some members of the expedition –which includes a sculptor, a sociologist and a writer- will also delve into Clipperton’s turbulent history, gathering insights on the unfortunate people who once inhabited this deserted island.

France, the U.S. and Mexico have laid claims to this territory over the past 200 years, coveting its vast reserves of bird poop or guano, which was used as fertilizer in the 19th century.

Mexico allowed a British company to develop the island’s reserves and by 1908 some 100 guano workers, Mexican soldiers and their families lived on Clipperton, receiving regular shiploads of supplies from the U.S.

By 1910 however the Guano project had proved to be unprofitable. The company abandoned its infrastructure and took its workers home.

Meanwhile, a garrison of Mexican soldiers and their families who stayed on the island struggled to survive, because the Mexican government (which was busy fighting the Mexican revolution) would not send supplies. Slowly but surely, island residents began to die off in a desperate struggle for survival.

By 1916, historians say there was only one man left on the island, Victoriano Alvarez, who shared the small Clipperton with 3 women and 8 kids.

In surreal fashion, Alvarez declared himself “king,” and abused of the women, but two of them eventually found a way to murder him in 1917, right before they were rescued by a U.S. ship.

In 1930, France took over the island and still holds it to this day. The French call it Passion Island or Ile de la Passion.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

New Planet Candidates from NASA's Kepler Team

NASA's Kepler Releases New Catalog- 2,321 Planet Candidates
Published by Klaus Schmidt on Sat Mar 3, 2012

Since science operations began in May 2009, the Kepler team has released two catalogs of transiting planet candidates. The first catalog (Borucki et al, 2010), released in June 2010, contains 312 candidates identified in the first 43 days of Kepler data. The second catalog (Borucki et al, 2011), released in February 2011, is a cumulative catalog containing 1,235 candidates identified in the first 13 months of data.

Today the team presents the third catalog containing 1,091 new planet candidates identified in the first 16 months of observation conducted May 2009 to September 2010. These are the same candidates that the team discussed at the Kepler Science Conference held at NASA Ames Research Center in December 2011.

The histogram summarizes the findings in the Feb. 27, 2012 Kepler Planet Candidate catalog release. The catalog contains 2,321 planet candidates identified during the first 16 months of observation conducted May 2009 to September 2010. Of the 46 planet candidates found in the habitable zone, the region in the planetary system where liquid water could exist, ten of these candidates are near-Earth-size. Credit: NASA Ames/Wendy Stenzel

Here are the highlights of the new catalog:

Planet candidates smaller than twice the size of Earth increased by 197 percent, compared to 52 percent for candidates larger than twice the size of Earth.

Planet candidates with orbital periods longer than 50 days increased by 123 percent, compared to 85 percent for candidates with orbital periods shorter than 50 days.
Since the last catalog was released in February 2011, the number of planet candidates identified by Kepler has increased by 88 percent and now totals 2,321 transiting 1,790 stars.

The cumulative catalog now contains well over 200 Earth-size planet candidates and more than 900 that are smaller than twice Earth-size. Of the 46 planet candidates found in the habitable zone, the region in the planetary system where liquid water could exist, ten of these candidates are near-Earth-size.

The number of planetary systems found with more than one planet candidate also has increased. Last year, 17 percent, or 170 stars, had more than one transiting planet candidate. Today, 20 percent, or 365, stars have more than one.

“With each new catalog release a clear progression toward smaller planets at longer orbital periods is emerging, ” said Natalie Batalha, Kepler deputy science team lead at San Jose State University in California. “This suggests that Earth-size planets in the habitable zone are forthcoming if, indeed, such planets are abundant.”

Nearly 5,000 periodic transit-like signals were analyzed with known spacecraft instrumentation and astrophysical phenomena that could masquerade as transits, which can produce false positives. The most common false positive signatures are associated with eclipsing binary stars- a pair of orbiting stars that eclipse each other from the vantage point of the spacecraft.

The Kepler space telescope identifies planet candidates by repeatedly measuring the change in brightness of more than 150,000 stars in search of planets that pass in front, or “transit,” their host star. Kepler must record at least three transits to verify a signal as a planet.

The findings are published in the “Planetary Candidates Observed by Kepler III: Analysis of the First 16 Months of Data”. The catalog is available at the Kepler data archive at the Space Telescope Science Institute and can be downloaded from the NASA Exoplanet Archive.

NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., manages Kepler’s ground system development, mission operations and science data analysis. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., managed the Kepler mission’s development.

Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colo., developed the Kepler flight system and supports mission operations with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

The Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore archives, hosts and distributes Kepler science data. Kepler is NASA’s 10th Discovery Mission and is funded by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s headquarters in Washington.

Director dives into Arctic mystery - What's killing Hudson Bay's Eider ducks?

Joel Heath's documentary sets out to discover what's killing Hudson Bay's eider ducks

Joel Heath doesn't mind being called a message moviemaker. After all, what's the alternative? he asks. A a movie with nothing to say?

"I think it's important to get important ideas out there to people, so we can make a change," says Heath, a marine scientist, and now accidental documentary filmmaker.

A graduate of Memorial University, Heath believed he'd spend his time as a researcher and academic until he ended up watching eider ducks on Hudson Bay.

Recruited to help the Canadian Wildlife Service study the die-off of thousands of the downy birds in the area surrounding the Belcher Islands, Heath says he was a lot like other white southerners when he first headed to the Arctic: arrogant and frostbitten.

Yet, after watching the ducks month after month, and eventually, year after year, he began to notice the world around him was changing, and he was changing, too.

He began to see a bigger picture that included every living thing on the planet, and the complex dynamics of a world that is both fragile and stubbornly adaptable at the same time.

"I think I had a lot of preconceptions before I went to Sanikiluaq," says Heath. "I was thinking about climate change, and how that was playing a role, but when we looked at the data, the area was experiencing a cooling trend. It wasn't making any sense."

Heath was determined to solve the mystery, and started watching the eider ducks on the surface and below.

Already an experienced wildlife photographer, he captured groundbreaking footage of the eider ducks grace-fully diving to the frigid ocean floor, where they feasted on urchins and mussels. The shots were so dazzling, he was inspired to keep shooting - and broaden the scope.

He started interviewing the elders in the hopes of understanding what was happening to the ducks, and in the process, learned the complex history of the local Inuit community, their relationship to the eiders, and the delicate balance of the Arctic ecosystem.

"When I first started talking with the elders, they all kept talking about Hydro-Quebec and the dams. They were sure the dams were responsible for the changing currents and increasing unpredictability of the sea ice. But I couldn't wrap my head around it," he says.

"I couldn't really grasp how dams and fresh water were creating such different conditions, but eventually, it all made sense - and became clear in a way that seems quite simple to me now."

Essentially, what Heath's research - and countless other important scientific studies - proved, is that increasing the amount of fresh water released into Hudson Bay during the winter has a drastic impact on sea ice.

"There's still some debate about river run-off versus ice melt, but there's no question that increased fresh water in the area surrounding the Belcher Islands was having a profound impact on the ducks."

Heath shows us what happens, in painfully sad images of the ducks dying a slow death from starvation as the clear patches of open water shrink, replaced by churning chunks of bro-ken ice that make it practically impossible for the birds to raise their young, or feed on the bottom without suffocating. "It's not just the ducks that are affected, either. It's the polar bears and belugas, too."

But it doesn't end there, says Heath. The story goes straight to the heart of the human experience, and how a few degrees on our thermostat can herald species Armageddon.

Heath was forced to witness a massive die-off first-hand, and, like every well-intentioned human, tried to help the struggling ducks by manually removing large chunks of ice from a small pool of open water.

It made him feel better, but accomplished little, other than extending the suffering of some - and saving a handful of others. He could have surrendered to cynicism, but that's not what the people of the North have traditionally done. Instead, they adapt and search for solutions.

"I think human beings love finding solutions to problems. So that's what I chose to focus on. I had no intention of making a doom-and-gloom documentary, because I am very hopeful we can find a solution that works for everyone," he says.

"I think there's a way for hydro to work with the seasons instead of against them."

Heath's film makes it clear we are changing traditional seasonal cur-rents, which, in turn, affects the entire climate of the planet and the future of every species that calls it home - including us.

For more information, please visit

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Battered and Worn After 20,000 Miles and 254 Days At Sea, Solo Sailor Anticipating Arriving Home

Matt Rutherford on Final Leg of Record-Breaking Trip Around the Americas, Attempting to Raise $250,000 for CRAB Handicapped Sailing

With supplies running low and equipment failures becoming more frequent, solo sailor Matt Rutherford is racing for home. Eight months and 20,000 miles into his solo sail around North and South America, he has passed Rio de Janeiro off the coast of Brazil and is steering north for his final destination, the Chesapeake Bay. His network of supporters hopes that he and his 27-foot sailboat, St. Brendan, hold together that long.

Rutherford’s 25,000-mile journey is roughly equivalent to the distance around the Earth’s equator. He is making this incredible trip to raise $250,000 – $10 for each nautical mile – for Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating (C.R.A.B.), an Annapolis, Md., nonprofit that makes sailing available to persons with disabilities.

After 254 days at sea, much of his equipment is broken or jury-rigged. His engine starter no longer works, making him completely dependent on sail. The bilge pump is kaput – so he bails bilge water with a can – as are his freighter radar for detecting oncoming ships, solar panels for powering electronics, and VHF radio for talking to other vessels. Not able to generate power, he can’t even turn on his laptop to check the weather or post blog entries via satellite. And the last hand-pumped desalinator, his only source of drinking water, is making strange noises.

“I’ve lost my Bernard Moitessier mindset – thinking of sailing endlessly in an oceanic utopia,” he wrote on February 22. “It’s been replaced by a much more realistic idea that I need to get back to land before this whole boat falls apart. I’m riding close to the edge and it wouldn’t take much for me to go over.”

The situation has gotten so bad that an emergency resupply is being launched from the port city of Recife, Brazil. He will receive a handle to manually start his engine, a bilge pump, a desalinator and lights.

Rutherford has sailed through some of the most dangerous seas on Earth, including the ice-filled Northwest Passage and storm-tossed Cape Horn. The grueling trip is taking its toll on him and St. Brendan. He stands 10-hour shifts at the helm, handles the rigging in every kind of weather, and when he isn’t snatching some sleep in his damp bunk, he is on watch. And all on a 36-year old Albin Vega sailboat designed for weekend jaunting, not circling continents.

When he finishes the last 5,000-mile stretch of his journey, the 30-year-old Maryland resident will earn a singular place in the record books. He will be the first person to solo-sail around North and South America, completing the trip in about 300 days. And in all that time, he will not have stopped at a port, dropped anchor, left his boat or had another person on board.

As amazing a feat as this will be, Rutherford is chiefly motivated to show people, particularly those with disabilities, that there are no limits to what can be accomplished in life. He is also raising money for Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating (CRAB), a nonprofit sailing program for people with disabilities based in Annapolis, Md. The nonprofit hopes to raise $250,000, which will go toward retrofitting CRAB’s current fleet of four sailboats, purchasing new handicap-accessible racing boats and modifying fishing boat for wheelchair accessibility.

So far, there is still a way to go on fundraising, much like Matt’s journey. Donations can be made online at or by calling 410-626-0273.

“We are extremely proud of Matt and grateful for his dedication to our cause,” said Dan Backe, executive director and founder of CRAB. “Because of his journey, many disabled people will get to experience the thrill of sailing on the Chesapeake Bay, gain confidence and improve their overall lives.”

A big welcome-home party is planned when Rutherford drops anchor at the National Sailing Center & Hall of Fame dock in Annapolis on or near April 14. His friends from CRAB, a large section of the Mid-Atlantic sailing community, city and state officials, and hundreds of other supporters will cheer him and his remarkable achievement.

To track Rutherford’s progress, map his course and read his ongoing blog about the trip, go to

About CRAB
Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating (CRAB) is a non-profit organization based in Annapolis, Maryland, that provides opportunities for people with physical and developmental challenges to experience boating on the Chesapeake Bay. Founded by Don Backe in 1991, CRAB maintains a fleet of Freedom Independence 20 sloops, which are designed specifically for use by mobility-challenged persons. To learn more about CRAB, visit: