One of Swiftsure’s hardest working volunteers is also one of our longest.  Alec Matthews 34th birthday is March 26, 2013 (woop, woop) and on that day, Alec will have worked with Swiftsure for almost HALF his life.  He joined Swiftsure in 1998, helping advance Swiftsure’s technology environment by leaps and bounds each year.

This year, along with making the Swiftsure Tracker more robust, Alec designed our new web site.  As soon as he heard the ‘Canvas to Carbon 70 years of Swiftsure’ theme, Alec created the cool carbon cross-hatching background.  He’s made the site crisp, clean and easy to read in all light conditions while streamlining the function and information.  We all love the site – hope you do, too.

So – what you may not know about Alec, apart from his passion for Swiftsure and sailing – Alec keeps Swiftsure’s technology stable while working FULL TIME from eastern Canada – like Newfoundland east!  A big chunk of his time is spent at sea for weeks at a time, as second mate on this ship which carries fuel to the frozen north, refuelling locations in the Arctic like Baffin Island.  Without the fuel, these remote places do not function so it’s critical for the ships to arrive safely – not always a given.

So… here is Alec, in extreme north locations where there is NO Starbuck’s let alone WiFi, supporting Swiftsure remotely (in every sense of the word).  How does he do it?  Magic, for sure.  And trolling for signals whenever possible to catch an internet wave and surf it ‘til he’s had his way.  Alec ensures the Swiftsure technology ticks along, gets redesigned, developed and deployed.  Alec also responds to the millions (or maybe it just seems so) of requests we send him (mostly from me, I think).  All while working 6-on, 6-off shifts as second mate, around the clock on the fuel ship.

Now there was the time, in winter 2011, that Alec Skype’d in to the Swiftsure meeting at 7:30 PM Victoria time (so 12 midnight his time) in the middle of a Newf hurricane with his windows rattling and banging, and we could hardly hear Alec for the whining of the wind.  Never mind – Alec still coached us, remotely, through his new version of the Race Tracker.

Check out Alec’s comments and photos from August 2012 near Frobisher Bay (Nunavut) in Iqaluit.  Anchored for 2 days before settling into position to refuel, with a GPS margin of error of 2 miles, then add fog and ice and… you’re on pause for a bit.  His ship also goes to Cape Dorset where there is no cell phone service and limited internet but no night, either , in July.  October 22 2011; 50 knots & blowing snow – and the bridge windows are single-pane!  Brrrr…  And then there’s the water shortage aboard.

So, while many on the Swiftsure Committee put in a monstrous # of hours to pull the race together, none, apart from Vern Burkhardt, put in more time, more creativity and more ingenuity than Alec.

Story by Charlotte Gann – who drives Alec bonkers but he accommodates anyway… well, most of the time.