Matt Rutherford had just sailed the entire circumference of North and South America nonstop in an old, tiny sailboat.
The 31-year-old had nearly capsized in the Arctic as he battled waves and tried to avoid giant icebergs. He had been frustrated by literal doldrums — areas near the equator with virtually no wind.
He had experienced both the beauty and the fabled winds of South America’s Cape Horn. He’d dealt with more than 300 days of complete solitude.
He brought his 27-foot Vega sailboat, the St. Brendan, home to Annapolis on Saturday — finishing a 27,000-mile adventure to the cheers of hundreds of people waiting to see him take his first step on land in more than 10 months.
And all he wanted was a cold beer.
Well, that and a plate of ribs, a good shower, and to “talk with a nice lady,” he said to enthusiastic onlookers.
Rutherford’s feat is one “for everyone who has gone sailing and looked at the 27-foot Vega and (thought) … how hard it would be to get to St. Michaels in that,” said Gary Jobson, president of US Sailing.
The Annapolis resident’s adventure began last year with little fanfare. He’d decided to take the trip — the first solo, nonstop circumnavigation of the Americas — as a way to raise awareness and money for Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating, or CRAB, a nonprofit organization that gives people with disabilities the opportunity to sail.
He returned Saturday to a near-circus. A marching band played and politicians including the governor took the stage to shake the shell-shocked sailor’s hand. A plane flew overhead pulling a banner that read “Welcome Home Matt.” Boats below blared air horns and a fireboat sprayed an enormous arc of water across the Annapolis harbor.
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