Update: Moving Forward

While the skies were clear the day of the attempted launch, Matt and Undaunted quickly ran into a number of problems leading up to the decision to postpone their crossing.  -Photo by Caroline Watson

While the skies were clear the day of the attempted launch, Matt and Undaunted quickly ran into a number of problems leading up to the decision to postpone their crossing.

-Photo by Caroline Watson

On April 6, 2017 Matt and Undaunted set out from the coast of La Gomera in their attempt at making their Atlantic Ocean crossing. For those of you who have not heard through the updates passed around from our Facebook page within the 24hrs following their launch, a series of unfortunate and unforeseen circumstances led Matt into making the difficult call of turning back and forgoing the attempt at the crossing at this time. 

With making it this far in the project and coming so close to the real beginning of this epic journey, deciding to postpone the official crossing was a difficult call for Matt to make. Overall, the decision  came with a culmination of various factors. The biggest being time. We had a set timeline we wanted to have Matt and Undaunted launch by because of the project length of their trip. Our biggest concern was having them both back on the coast of Florida safe and sound well before the end of the summer when Hurricane season is known to be at its peak. Unfortunately due to shipping delays of both the boat and needed parts and issues with custom clearances, we were already uncomfortably pushed back to the edge of our launch deadline.  When Matt was able to set out the morning of April 6th, yet another wave of setbacks occurred in questions to various parts of Undaunted's current design and even Undaunted being backed into by a spectator's vessel while trying to capture that day's events. While most of the issues discovered in this attempted launch were not of reasonable significance, there were just enough issues to fix that would take too much time to be able to accomplish from the Spanish owned island that was limited in resources making us uncomfortable in getting Matt home in time.

After accepting the devastating feeling of having to put a delay into our project, we are now striving to move forward in fixing and updating Undaunted to be ready for another shot at the crossing this coming Fall when the conditions will once again be in our favor. Matt has since returned home to the United States eager to improve on what he has learned from his first attempt and make himself and Undaunted that much more ready. 

We want to sincerely thank ALL of our followers for their continued support and well wishes especially in light of having to postpone the crossing. As many of you have agreed and stated along with us, this was a call made in the best interests of keeping Matt safe, which is of course our number one priority and was done so while we had the easiest chance of getting him back to the islands once we decided that it was for the best. 

For those of you who are just catching up with our current status, I apologize for the delay in this update. Below you can read Matt's first hand account of what had happened the day of the launch leading up to his decision to turn back. 

We are eager and excited to take what we have learned from this first attempt and push forward in applying new ideas and design adaptions in making Matt and Undaunted that much more ready for their second round. Like others before us, we should only now see this as a chance to learn and grow and not let it deter us from our end goal. 

You all have been our biggest source of support and we truly thank you.

- C.Soltis

The following is Matt’s account on what had happened on his attempt to leave the Canaries and why it is better to take time to redesign and try again;

[4/6, 21:47] Matthew Kent: Well. . .I’m back on La Gomera. I am safe and the boat is safe. I wasnt really in too much danger, there was a weak point in the boat that was concerning me. The emergency floatation system component that was on the rudders assembly was getting hammered so hard in these really close together waves. The float was getting jammed upwards so fast and so often the boat’s movement couldn’t keep up. I was concerned that it was going to break the piano hinge it was attached too. It was already bending. I unlashed the float and lashed it to the back of the boat, high up where it could not interfere with the rudders. That was an hour long ordeal. Right after i got that done, a yacht that was taking pictures of me, accidently back their transom into mine. It wasn’t a big deal, but it was certainly alarming as it happened. One of the pins on the hinges had worked it’s way down almost a full inch during the floatation issues.
The movment was super chaotic because of the wind funneling through the passage between the islands. It was the worst most unpredictable and erratic conditions I have ever sailed in, period. Anyway, when it started gusting 45 knots I looked back at the island and decided that I shouldn’t keep going with such an obvious weak link. I am conferring with Carrie now, but with it being so late in my window timeline beforw hurricane season starts up on the East coast, don’t think I will be going this season. I am going to haul the boat out, get it packed away and leave it here. I will go home and build some new parts this summer and aim for setting sail in this fall.
[4/6, 21:48] Matthew Kent: [4/6, 21:34] Matthew Kent: I am very disappointed that I will not be going this summer, however it was a very good test and I learned a lot. Now that I have had a moment to calm down about not going I realize this is for a best. If I had been stubborn stayed out it could have been a lot worse. I might have last rudder control or been pushed onto Tenerife, which is where it looked like I was heading. Calling it when I did holds to the mantra of this project: Do it right, don’t cut corners, be safe.
[4/6, 21:37] Matthew Kent: Carrie also had a good point to make. As far as this record goes I am not anywhere near the first person to have halting progress. Both of the guys that held this record over and over had to wait months or even years as set backs took there toll.