When Matt Rutherford pulled into Annapolis, Md., last Saturday to a hero’s welcome, it marked the end of a 309-day non-stop, record-setting solo voyage around the Americas to raise money and awareness for people with disabilities.
The 31-year-old Maryland resident arrived at noon April 21 at City Dock near the National Sailing Hall of Fame and stepped on terra firma for the first time in more than 10 months. A flotilla met Rutherford at Horn Point and accompanied him up the Severn River.
Gary Jobson, president of US Sailing, was the emcee for the welcoming ceremony.
Click play to watch Rutherford talk about his adventure.
When Rutherford re-entered Chesapeake Bay on April 18, he entered the record books as the first person to sail around North America and South America solo and non-stop, according to his shore team. The voyage covered 27,077 miles — roughly the distance around the equator — and was accomplished in a 27-foot Albin Vega named Saint Brendan, a boat better suited to coastal waters than an offshore voyage.
“I’ve done two major single-handed trips nearly back to back, so I have spent three out of the last four years alone in one way or another,” Rutherford says. “I’ll be happy when I meet a girl who likes sailing. Being alone gets old.”
He made the journey to show people, particularly those with disabilities, that there are no limits to what can be accomplished in life. He was also raising money for Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating, an Annapolis non-profit that makes sailing available to people with disabilities. More than $60,000 had been raised by the time Rutherford returned. Donations can still be made by clicking here or by calling (410) 626-0273.
Rutherford's voyage, which began in Annapolis in June 2011, took him through the Northwest Passage and around Cape Horn.
Much of Saint Brendan’s equipment wore out or failed during the voyage, and the failures forced Rutherford to receive supplies at sea. By the last stretch to Annapolis, the boat was without an engine, bilge pump, radar, solar panels, wind generator, GPS and VHF radio. Yet he never entered a port, dropped anchor or stepped off his boat, nor had another person stepped aboard.