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The RYA Northern Ireland Cruising Conference will take place on Saturday, 28 January at the Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club on Belfast Lough.

The event is set to provide an opportunity for the cruising community to come together, learn about the latest issues and opportunities and hear from experts on a wide range of informative and enjoyable topics. 

With a packed agenda, the Conference will have plenty of networking opportunities with other sailors, RYA staff, volunteers and speakers.

Registration will begin at 9.30 am, with the conference running from 10 am until 4.30 pm.

Speakers for the day include Carol Paddison and Mel Hyde from RYA. They will also be joined by Paul Magee from PGM Training, discussing Sea Survival and Margie Crawford from East Down Yacht Club, telling of her experiences cruising Antarctica.

Tickets for the event, which includes a two-course lunch, cost £35, and there is a reduced fee of £30 for RYA Personal Members.

Published in RYA Northern Ireland

This week's announcement of the 2022 Cruising Club of America awards for adventurous use of the seas puts the spotlight on achievements ranging from ocean crossings by young and old, a rescue at sea, and a new award recognising sailing innovation, to service to the Club itself.

As Afloat reported previously, for a lifetime of ocean-crossing achievement, Japan’s best-known ocean sailor, Kenichi Hori, has been named winner of the prestigious Blue Water Medal, awarded 95 times since 1923. 

His most recent voyage began in March 2022, when he sailed alone from San Francisco to Chiba, Japan, at age 83.

Young Voyager Award: Cal Currier

CCA Young Voyager Award: Cal CurrierYoung Voyager Award: Cal Currier

This high-school student from Palo Alto, California, had a big year in 2022—first learning to sail, then buying and preparing a modest, 30-foot sloop. Last summer, he set sail alone from Marion, Massachusetts, and sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to Lagos, Portugal, via the Azores. 

Rod Stephens Seamanship Trophy: Kirsten Neuschäfer

Rod Stephens Seamanship Trophy: Kirsten NeuschäferRod Stephens Seamanship Trophy: Kirsten Neuschäfer

The South African sailor is this year’s recipient of the CCA’s seamanship award for playing a pivotal role in the successful rescue of a fellow 2022 Golden Globe Race competitor, Tapio Lehtinen. The race is on-going, and Neuschäfer’s 36-foot Minnehaha is contending for the lead with 12,000 nautical miles still to sail to the finish in Les Sables d’Olonne, France. 

Diana Russell Award: Mary Crowley

Diana Russell Award: Mary CrowleyDiana Russell Award: Mary Crowley

The winner of the inaugural CCA award, which recognises a club member for innovation in sailing design, methodology, education, training, safety, and the adventurous use and enjoyment of the sea, is a lifelong sailor. She is recognized for founding and directing the Ocean Voyages Institute, as well as her active support for several other non-profits dedicated to the marine environment. 

Richard S. Nye Award: Barbara Watson

Richard S. Nye Award: Barbara WatsonRichard S. Nye Award: Barbara Watson

The 2022 winner has served, and continues to serve, the Cruising Club of America (CCA) at the highest levels. She has served as a station Rear Commodore and historian, on the Club Nominating Committee, chair of the Events Committee, an editor of Voyages Magazine, and is currently the Yearbook Editor. Read more

Far Horizons Award: David Tunick

David Tunick often sails solo on his 55-foot Sparkman & Stephens yawl, Night WatchDavid Tunick often sails solo on his 55-foot Sparkman & Stephens yawl, Night Watch

Recognisng CCA members for a particularly meritorious cruise or series of cruises, the 2022 award, recognises the winner’s pair of transatlantic passages solo aboard his 55-foot Sparkman & Stephens yawl, Night Watch, more than two decades apart—the “bookends” to an extended cruise through the Baltic and Northern Europe.

The awards will be presented at the CCA’s Spring Meeting in New York, March 4, 2023. 

Photo credits: Cal Currier, Ocean Voyages Institute, Barbara Watson, GGR2022, David Tunick

Published in Cruising
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Ballyronan Boat Club is a small club on the Northwestern shore of Lough Neagh in Northern Ireland, the largest body of inland water in the British Isles, and it was from this small outfit that the Commodore, Elwyn Agnew and four friends embarked on an ambitious adventure in the autumn of 2022.

Ballyronan is an RYA training centre and provides powerboat, sailing and windsurfing lessons from beginner to advanced. In his mission statement, Elwyn Agnew says, “The Club is keen to create great experiences and long-lasting memories”. And this venture has certainly done that.

Ballyronan Boat Club on Lough NeaghBallyronan Boat Club on Lough Neagh

From a throwaway remark developed the idea that the ARC – Atlantic Rally for Cruisers in Elwyn’s aptly named Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 45 Optimistic could be a runner. Optimistic is berthed in Carrickfergus Marina, and she was delivered in just under three weeks to Gran Canaria in September in preparation for the 37th edition of the Race. That trip covered 2300 nm and apparently was quite an adventure with sightings of whales and dolphins, fish jumping on board, glorious sunshine and lightning storms.

Optimistic's ARC track across the AtlanticOptimistic's ARC track across the Atlantic

The first stage of the rally sails from Las Palmas to Mindelo Marina, São Vicente on Cape Verde, approximately 850nm. Following the four to six day stopover, it’s on to Port Louis Marina, Grenada. The passage to Grenada in the Caribbean is approximately 2150nm.

The crew consisted of Elwyn and his daughter Emily and Michael Brown from Ballyronan, Anna Richmond from Vancouver, Canada and Matt Ruiz from London.

 The crew in Grenada (l to r) Emily Agnew (Ballyronan BC), Elwyn Agnew (Commodore Ballyronan BC) Anna Richmond (Vancouver) Matt Ruiz (London) and Michael Browne (Ballyronan BC) The crew in Grenada (l to r) Emily Agnew (Ballyronan BC), Elwyn Agnew (Commodore Ballyronan BC) Anna Richmond (Vancouver) Matt Ruiz (London) and Michael Browne (Ballyronan BC)

Michael Browne says that they were blessed with good weather, mostly 20 – 22 knots of wind with a few squally nights, and the voyage to Cape Verde took six days and then a further two weeks to Grenada which they reached on 2nd December.

Published in Cruising
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Marking the final countdown to the start of ARC 2022 on Sunday, 20 November, a colourful Opening Ceremony parade was held today in Las Palmas Marina, celebrating the nations taking part in the 37th Atlantic Rally for Cruisers. At 11:30, crews from 144 boats representing 35 nations gathered in the southern corner of the marina to parade their country flags around the docks. Over 800 crew will be sailing on this year’s rally, and the assortment of cultures, languages and ages was keenly apparent in the ocean crossing community as the parade began.

With a spectacular, colourful carnival parade around the whole marina, crews waved their national flags patriotically and got into the spirit of the event. For many, this will be their longest ocean passage and for others, it is a regular trip across the pond, but for all, it has been the culmination of a lot of hard work and preparation in the build-up to this great adventure. Today’s Opening Ceremony recognised the crew coming from multiple different nations who are now forged together with a common goal of crossing the Atlantic Ocean.

The international conga line was led by the Banda Guiniguada, with the Batucada Samba Isleña beating a salsa rhythm at the back. Once the procession had completed its parade around the marina, World Cruising Club's Andrew Pickersgill welcomed sailors to the ARC. He acknowledged the support of the Tourist Board of Gran Canaria, the Ayuntamiento de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, and the Port Authority who have supported participants as they prepare for departure. “I’m sure you will agree that Las Palmas Marina have been wonderful hosts for the start of your adventure, working hard to accommodate the myriad of yachts in the marina behind me. Whether this will be your first ocean crossing or you have sailed many before, we hope being a part of the 37th ARC is a great adventure for you. We hope the crossing will be a safe and enjoyable experience for you all and can guarantee that on the other side of the Atlantic, on the island of Saint Lucia, a warm Caribbean welcome awaits you.”

Juan Francisco Martin, Commercial Director of the Port Authority of Las Palmas, informed the listening crowd that for the start of their adventure, steady tradewinds had been ordered for a smooth departure from Gran Canaria and wished them a safe and enjoyable ocean crossing.

The flags of 35 nations were raised on poles overlooking the docks, which are now filled with a wide range of boats as eclectic as the crews on board. Around the marina are examples of almost every kind of ocean cruising boat available, with the ARC bringing together one of the most diverse fleets of any sailing event. From the largest yacht, Oyster 885 Karibu (GGY), to the smallest, French-flagged Vancouver 28 Oberoi (FRA), 105 monohulls, 38 Multihulls and one motorboat are set to make their departure with the ARC a week from today, on Sunday 20 November. There has been a significant swing towards multihulls once again this year, and 35 catamarans and three trimarans will be on the start line and perhaps again be the first to reach the rum punch at IGY Rodney Bay Marina.

As start day draws nearer, preparations for the crossing increase in urgency as provisions are stowed, equipment is checked and re-checked, and further crew members fly in daily to join the yachts. The average cruising boat can expect to be at sea for 18 to 21 days and there are plenty of jobs to be done for the boats and crews to undertake the adventures of sailing an ocean. In week two of the programme laid on by rally organisers World Cruising Club to support their preparations, many will take advantage of the free seminars led by some of the industry's most respected cruising sailors and marine specialists. Social events include the 70’s Disco costume party, the Farewell Drinks at the Real Club Náutico, and nightly sundowners.

The Start of ARC 2022 will take place on Sunday, 20 November. The atmosphere in Las Palmas Marina on the morning of the ARC start is not to be missed. The pontoons are buzzing with anticipation and final farewells as yachts begin to depart around 1100 to a soundtrack of music and calls of ‘Bon Voyage’ as they head out to the starting area. The sea wall alongside the Av. de Canarias (main road south) provides an opportunity to see the starts and watch the boats sail south from onshore, with the Multihulls leading the charge at 12:30, followed by the Racing Division at 12:45, and 13:00 for the largest Cruising Division fleet.

Published in Cruising

ARC+ 2022, World Cruising Club’s two-stage transatlantic rally to Grenada, set sail today, 6 November, from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria with 90 boats spirited away by the gentle tradewinds bound for Mindelo Marina, Cape Verde, for the first leg of their ocean adventure. Over 400 crew are taking part in this year’s rally onboard boats large and small, old and new, and each felt a mix of excitement and anticipation as their ocean crossing began.

With a full programme of preparations running since 26 October in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, the crews of 69 monohulls, 20 multihulls and 1 motoryacht have got to know each other well prior to departure. “With seminars on weather routing under our belt and a smattering of celestial navigation, as well as important pointers on rigging and provisioning, it has been so worthwhile being part of the ARC+.” said South Africans Darrol and Kathy Martin and the crew of Disa (GBR), a 1988 Amel Mango. “We are filled with excitement and trepidation and have been saying goodbye to the good friends we have made on Pontoon K. We cannot wait to have the wind in our sails and be heading south to Cape Verde in our beautiful old boat, Disa.”

On the docks of Las Palmas Marina this morning, lines were slipped and the marina slowly emptied as the diverse fleet headed out to the starting area off the Avenue Maritima on Gran Canaria’s north-east coast. From the smallest boat on the ARC+ 2022 start line, Ciel Bleu (GBR), a Fountaine Pajot Maldives 32, to the biggest Oyster 675 Alika (GBR), it is the largest and most diverse fleet to be leaving Las Palmas de Gran Canaria since the event began in 2013. Celebrating its 10th edition this year, the two-stage Atlantic crossing has once again proved popular with adventurous families, with 36 children sailing on 18 different boats, the youngest being Herman Habenicht on Ballerina (SWE), aged just three years old. The youngest skipper, Ronja Dörnfeld, is aged 25 and one of four female skippers to set off on ARC+ 2022 today.

First to start, 20 yachts in the rally’s Multihull Division got into position for the signal at 12:45 local time. Balance3 (FIN) a Lagoon 42-2 skippered by Pasi Heiskanen with his family on board was first over the line, followed by Indrek Prants' Lagoon 50 Sirocco (EST), another family boat, then Hanuman (USA) a Catana 53 skippered by Steve May. Following their rockstar exit from the Marina with music and costumes, Piment Rouge (FRA) Pierre De Saint-Vincent's Outremer 51 sailed close to the Aduanas Patrol Vessel Condor used by Rally Control for the start to get the offshore edge out of the harbour and was soon leading the fleet on the 865nm first leg to Mindelo, Cape Verde.

Then came the turn of Cruising and Open Divisions, a total of 70 boats. On point to cross the line first were the all-Italian crew of Azuree 46 Enalia (ITA), skippered by Alberto Rizzotti followed by Richard Hill’s Mazi 1300 Kirima (GBR). The impressive cruiser-racer Mylius 60 Fra Diavolo (ITA) with Vincenzo Addessi and crew showed its regatta racing pedigree and cross the line in 3rd place.

The ARC+ fleet is now on their way to Mindelo, on 865NM to the southwest of Gran Canaria. The weather forecast suggests north-easterly trade winds building through the passage enabling the boats to make good mileage, and the majority of the fleet are expected to arrive at Mindelo Marina, in Cape Verde on Friday, 11 and Saturday, 12 November.

ARC and ARC Route Map Courtesy World Cruising ClubARC and ARC Route Map Courtesy World Cruising Club

The latest YB Tracking Satellite trackers have been fitted on board each boat, allowing family and friends to follow the fleet from the comfort of their own homes via the online Fleet Viewer. Boats can also send blogs and photos, posted on to the rally website to share life on board.

As the ARC+ fleet left today, the pre-departure programme has only just begun for the crews of the ARC fleet sailing directly to Saint Lucia on 20 November. Before their own start two weeks from today, ARC crews can look forward to a full programme of activities to give them the best possible send off for their own ocean crossing.

Published in Cruising
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Nick Kats of Clifden and originally America is always looking to the north for new cruises with his hefty 39ft Danish-built Bermudan ketch Teddy. And when we say “north”, we mean Arctic voyaging and a continuing fascination with Iceland and Greenland, for Nick and the Teddy every so often shape their course for high latitudes in much the same way most of the rest of us would contemplate another cruise to West Cork.

When Teddy with her international crew returned recently to Clifden without fuss or fanfare, it marked the completion of Nick’s tenth visit to Iceland, and his third detailed cruise in East Greenland. And as his voyages have included going on north to Jan Mayen, one of his crew managed to get a crystal-clear image of that remote island’s often fog-shrouded icy peak of Beerenberg, which is a rare pearl indeed.

 Seldom seen, never forgotten……as recorded on one of Teddy’s ten Arctic cruises, the rarely fully visible Beerenberg on Jan Mayen is one of the most epic sights in high latitudes cruising Seldom seen, never forgotten……as recorded on one of Teddy’s ten Arctic cruises, the rarely fully visible Beerenberg on Jan Mayen is one of the most epic sights in high latitudes cruising

In fact, thanks to his online-recruited crew inevitably including some top class photographers, the collected images of the Teddy Arctic cruises make for an impressive and informative display. You can get the flavour of it in this year’s cruise blog And “flavour” is the operative word , for in addition to many other interests, Nick is a nutritionist and an organic grower at his place in West Connemara, which gives added insight to the many meals – some of them decidedly experimental – consumed during the course of this well-fed venture.


Yet while the assumption is that Arctic voyaging boats will be largely on their own, and will be the only visitor when they get to some hidden little port, one point of particular interest in this tenth northern cruise was the number of other boats now regularly cruising in the region, some of which they knew already. Thus they met up with Peter Owens and his researching crew aboard Danu from Galway, and as Nick drily records: “We socialized”. Where two Irish-based boats are involved, those two words are open to any and many interpretations.

Nick Kats is very much his own manNick Kats is very much his own man

 Greenland cruising expects some isolation, as with Teddy at this abandoned Innuit village, but there was also some high-powered socialising with sailing legends Greenland cruising expects some isolation, as with Teddy at this abandoned Innuit village, but there was also some high-powered socialising with sailing legends


Then there was a real blast from the past with a get-together at Scoresbysund with Northabout, the purpose-built alloy-constructed expedition yacht put together by owner Jarlath Cunnane of Mayo and Paddy Barry and their team more than twenty years ago. The boat built, they sailed Northabout out from Westport to an astonishing career which included a global circumnavigation via the two northern routes, and two awards of the ultra-elite Blue Water Medal of the Cruising Club of America.

In this the Centenary Year of the CCA, that in itself is enough to remember with celebration. But Nick Kats was further pleased to report that they found Northabout - now under French ownership - to be “one very happy boat - eight crew on board, all women, four sailors, three mountaineers, and one photographer.”

A true sailing marathon man met up with was Trevor Robertson, going solo on his Alajuela 38 – he logged his 400,000 ocean miles quite some time ago. And then there were Jurgen and Claudia Kirchberger from Austria with the Americas-circuiting La Belle Epoque – you can find more about them through Fortgeblasen.

The successful end of a great era – Northabout returns to Clew Bay after her award-winning Arctic global circuitThe successful end of a great era – Northabout returns to Clew Bay after her award-winning Arctic global circuit

Men of the west and the Arctic – Jarlath Cunnane with Dr Mick Brogan and some of Northabout’s many crews at Westport Quay. Northabout continues Arctic voyaging, but now under French ownership.Men of the west and the Arctic – Jarlath Cunnane with Dr Mick Brogan and some of Northabout’s many crews at Westport Quay. Northabout continues Arctic voyaging, but now under French ownership 


Another memorable gathering was with Germany’s senior Arctic voyager Arved Fuchs with his very traditional Dag Aaen. So clearly there are times when the North Water seems more like a highway than a destination. And the numbers visiting will be likely increased by John Henderson and Helen Gould from Scotland - another cruising team met by the Teddy crew - for they are sailing along through ice and clear water alike, preparing “a quality sailor’s guide” to Greenland.

Germany’s Arved Fuchs has long found his vocation in Arctic cruisingGermany’s Arved Fuchs has long found his vocation in Arctic cruising

Pedants of language will wonder whether that will be a high quality publication, or a guide aimed at high quality sailors, or indeed if sales are going to be limited to members of “the quality” who happen to go sailing. Have it as you wish. But meanwhile Ireland’s west coast now scores remarkably well for seasoned Arctic sailors, with Jarlath Cunnane up on Clew Bay, Nick Kats in Clifden Harbour, Paddy Barry (just back from Svalbard) at Mannin Bay near Ballyconneelly, and Peter Owens back home with Vera Quinlan and their family near Kinvara. It’s a formidable line-up.

“Peace after stormy seas….” – Nick Kats’ Teddy (centre) in her sheltered drying berth at Clifden Quay. Photo: W M Nixon“Peace after stormy seas….” – Nick Kats’ Teddy (centre) in her sheltered drying berth at Clifden Quay. Photo: W M Nixon

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The almost absurdly picturesque township of Westport at the head of Clew Bay has been variously acknowledged and nationally recognised as “Ireland’s Best Place to Visit”, and Ireland’s “Best Place to Live”. Even if dedicated misanthropes would argue that any self-respecting township - however lively and easy it is on the eye – simply can’t be both at once, there’s no doubting that hospitable and facilities-rich Westport has an impressive array of factors in its favour.

Yet this only adds to the frustration of cruising folk making their way along Ireland’s Atlantic seaboard, when they make a diversion into island-studded Clew Bay in the hope of savouring Westport’s numerous charms. For Clew Bay’s many islands – with a host of secret anchorages among them – are simply too much of a good thing.

There are so many islands and sheltered anchorages at the head of Clew BayToo much of a good thing? There are so many islands and sheltered anchorages at the head of Clew Bay that it’s difficult deciding which is the most convenient for accessing Westport (lower right)

Thus it has ended up with the thriving Mayo Sailing Club having its well-furnished base at relatively remote Rosmoney, hidden among the islands and inlets a good 9.2 kilometres northwestward from Westport. Other anchorages conveniently reached from sea are wellnigh inaccessible by land unless you’re in the know on where certain tree-lined un-signed boreens are leading. And while the obvious and most direct seaward access point to Westport is to berth at Westport Quay, much of that ancient port dries or has shallow depths at low water.

Chartlet of Westport Quay – even with a berth here, you are still 3 kilometres from Westport town. Courtesy Irish Cruising Club

And anyway, Westport Quay is itself more than 3 kilometres from Westport itself, which can seem a challengingly long distance if you’d like to amble into town, but have walked no further than the length of a cruising boat’s deck for the past week. That said, Westport Quay is an attractively bustling and hospitable community in its own right, quite enough of a destination in its individuality for many of us. And if you want to hit the bright lights of the big city at Westport itself, it’s only a modest taxi fare to reach one of the best nights on the town Ireland has to offer, if you could only be secure in the knowledge that your boat is safely berthed back in Westport Quay.

But with its uneven depths and large tidal range, Westport Quay cannot provide that guarantee. So not surprisingly, noted Clew Bay sailor Alex Blackwell – better known for his ocean voyaging – has been spending some of his time at home in Mayo during the past decade and more in sussing out the possibilities of providing acceptable modern berthing at Westport Quay, complete with the expected facilities such as a Travelhoist.

Ocean voyagers Alex and Daria Blackwell of Clew Bay. While they keep their 57ft ketch Aleria in a secret anchorage among Clew Bay’s mny islands, Alex is well aware that visiting boats need more immediate access to shoreside facilities

Having built up a cohort of like-minded folk in favour of the idea, they have recently been presenting the idea to stakeholders including the local community, tourist interests, boating enthusiasts, the Chamber of Commerce and Mayo County Council, and they’ve been much encouraged by the favourable response.

The scheme – which could in its entirety provide 130 berths – is in two parts. The first phase depends on the installation of a proper sea lock – not a time-constricting tidal gate – at the west end of the river-like stretch of the harbour beside Westport Quay’s attractive waterfront. Provided the sea lock can offer extensive time options for access to the lower channel (which admittedly has shoal sections) and the open sea beyond, it will give significant freedom of movement for boats based in the enclosed berths, pontoon berths which can be provided without the need for extensive and expensive dredging.

Phase 1 of Westport Marina would be provided by a tidal retention barrier and a sea lock.

Phase 2 is the more ambitious project of dredging the lagoon area close to the westward, immediately south of Roman Island. This is a major concept, as it includes a multi-berth accessible-all-tides marina and 40 acres of recreational water right beside the heart of Westport Quay.

The much more ambitious Phase 2 would involved dredging, but it would provide highly-accessible recreational water space in addition to extra all-tide berths

From the wandering cruising person’s point of view, the possibility of a secure berth in the heart of civilisation will offer an attractive change from the rugged offshore islands and remote anchorages which fill much of the menu in a Connacht cruise. And from a strategic point of view, Westport is one of the most westerly points providing direct access to Ireland’s railway network. Longer term berthing in a marina at Westport Quay would offer all sorts of fresh and accessible cruising possibilities on the Atlantic seaboard from most of Ireland’s major conurbations.

Be warned, however, that if you rail your way down to Westport with a crew just let off the leash after some intensive weeks of work, it may take a will of iron to head immediately to the boat from the train, instead of pausing “just for a minute” to savour the entertainments of Westport in a place like Matt Molloy’s. For he’s a sailing man himself, and you know what it’s like when people get talking about boats.

Matt Molloy of Westport – he would as soon talk about boats as his famous music

Published in Irish Marinas
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The Cruising Club of America (CCA) has announced the winners of its prestigious annual awards, highlighting an extraordinary group of sailors who have demonstrated perseverance, service, heroism, and how time spent on the water can change your life.

In keeping with the CCA’s long-standing motto “Nowhere is Too Far,” nearly all the awardees have made exceptional long-distance voyages or sailed around the world.

Peter and Ginger NiemannPeter and Ginger Niemann

That includes the winners of the CCA’s Blue Water Medal, Ginger and Peter Niemann, who completed their second circumnavigation in 2021 as a means of sailing home from Turkey after the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Curtis Green Curtis Green

Curtis Green (Rod Stephens Seamanship Trophy) was on the dock of his family’s marine supply business in Charlestown, Oregon, when he observed a heavily loaded fishing vessel named Darean Rose run aground on a nearby shoal. The grounding nearly became a tragedy when the boat capsized off the shoal and began to sink. If not for Green’s extraordinary act of swimming out, hammer in hand, and finally breaking open the pilothouse windows, the trapped crew most certainly would have drowned.

Matt RutherfordMatt Rutherford

Matt Rutherford (Young Voyager Award) hasn’t sailed around the world, but he has singlehandedly circumnavigated North and South America in a 27-foot boat and in the process became the skipper of the smallest boat to transit the Northwest Passage. Rutherford began sailing to move past a difficult youth of drugs, rehab, prison time and more. Over the ensuing years, he became a mission-driven sailor and adventurer, raising money and awareness for programs ranging from accessibility to ocean pollution and high-latitudes climate-change research.

Don and Sharry StabbertDon and Sharry Stabbert

Don and Sharry Stabbert, of Seattle and Honolulu, Hawaii (2021 Far Horizons Medal), were small-boat sailors who acquired a 77-foot Northern Marine Trawler in 2000 and have now put more than 100,000 miles on its single 400hp Cummins diesel engine. Aboard Starr, they have made extended circuits of the Pacific Ocean as well crossing the Atlantic Ocean and exploring the Mediterranean. While operating and maintaining Starr themselves, they have developed friendships by the dozen and applied their problem-solving skills to a wide range of challenges such as upgrading a school’s computers and teaching and equipping remote islanders to build fibreglass canoes. 

Skip Novak and daughter LaraSkip Novak and daughter Lara

Skip Novak (Royal Cruising Club Trophy) is a high-latitude sailor and mountaineer with few if any peers, having sailed four races around the world and led expeditions in the high latitudes every year since the late ‘80s. In 2021 Novak sailed his expedition cruising sailboat Pelagic Australia from Cape Town to Gough Island in the South Atlantic—a 2,400-mile journey in support of a scientific expedition to eradicate an aggressive mouse population threatening albatross and other resident bird species. The voyage was completed despite seemingly insurmountable challenges of weather, location, and sea-state, but also despite strict COVID quarantine and lockdown rules.

The Stabbarts, Niemanns, and Skip Novak are CCA members as well as award winners.

Four other club members who have sailed transatlantic and/or around the world are honoured this year for accomplishments of service and contribution.

Jim ChambersJim Chambers

Jim Chambers receives the Richard S. Nye Trophy for long-time service to the club in a number of roles including influential roles as CCA treasurer and service on the Finance, Nominating and Bermuda Race committees.

Zdenka and Jack GriswoldZdenka and Jack Griswold

Zdenka and Jack Griswold receive the Commodore’s Award for editing the Club’s Voyages magazine and raising what is typically a 200-page publication to an extraordinarily high standard.

Gretchen Dieck BiemesderferGretchen Dieck Biemesderfer

Gretchen Dieck Biemesderfer receives the Charles H. Vilas Literary Prize for her elegant article in Voyages about the art of painting watercolors from Shearwater, the Mason 43 that she owns, cruises, and races with her husband. 

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In July 2022, the yacht ‘Danú of Galway’ will depart from Ireland for Scoresby Sound, East Greenland, the largest fjord in the world.

The team will comprise of a small group of independent adventurers aiming to sail to and climb in this remote landscape. On the way, they will sample for microplastics as part of a scientific collaboration with the Trinity College Dublin’s Centre for the Environment. They will monitor both salt and fresh water sources throughout their time in Scoresby Sound. This data will be used in improving global knowledge of microplastics in Arctic waters.

Danú in Henninsgsvaer, Lofoten Photo: Peter OwensDanú in Henninsgsvaer, Lofoten Photo: Peter Owens

Ocean Cruising Club member Peter Owens, expedition leader is a mountaineer sailor with many years of experience. He has put together a strong team that aims to be self-sufficient in Arctic terrain, with a strict policy of ‘leave no trace’. A number of exploratory mountaineering objectives have been chosen on Milne Land and Renland, within reach of the coast, using the yacht as a floating base.

Peter Owens, expedition leader is a mountaineer sailor Expedition leader Peter Owens is a mountaineer sailor

The OCC has supported the Irish expedition with a grant towards the voyage costs.

Renland - south coast from bear islandRenland - south coast from bear island

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For the sailors of ARC+ 2021, last Friday's prizegiving ceremony in St. George's, Grenada marked the end of their Atlantic cruising adventure that began in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on the eastern side of the Atlantic six weeks ago. The docks of Camper and Nicholsons Port Louis Marina on the beautiful Caribbean island of Grenada have come to life with arrivals over the past ten days following their ocean crossing. Warm welcomes, emotional reunions, and rum punch celebrations for every boat have fittingly marked the achievement of making landfall after sailing over 2,400nm from Mindelo, Cape Verde on the second stage of their ARC+ adventure.

Held at the stunning beachside setting of the Aquarium Restaurant, the ambiance at last night’s prizegiving reflected a large family party, everyone knowing each other so well within the fleet. 64 of the 66 boats sailing under the ARC+ banner have made landfall in Grenada, with the final arrivals who departed late from Mindelo expected in the coming days. With stunning views of Magazine Beach facing the Caribbean sea and a mountainous backdrop, the setting was perfect for the final coming together of nearly 300 participants, including the many children in the fleet. With the sound of a traditional steel pan band providing an unforgettable musical experience as a reminder of their Caribbean landfall, ARC+ children played on the sand and their parents shared stories of their great Atlantic adventure and their memorable rally experience. As the sun started to set, the prizegiving commenced celebrating everyone in this ocean-crossing community with awards for sailing performance and contributions to the amazing rally spirit that has developed over the past six weeks.

Assisting in the presentation of the awards, Suzana Tetlow and Mark Burton from World Cruising Club were joined by Petra Roach, CEO of the Grenada Tourism Authority, Nikoyan Roberts, Nautical Development Manager and Marketing Manager for the Grenada Tourism Authority, and Lexi Fisher, co-author of Doyles Cruising Guides.

Proceedings began with a hearty recognition of the teams that have put so much into organising ARC+ 2021 with the rally arriving in Grenada for the first time. “It has been an absolute pleasure for Grenada Tourism Authority to be involved in this very prestigious ARC+ event," said Petra Roach, “I want to say a big thank you for choosing Grenada and for us choosing you as well, and to Port Louis Marina as this is a team effort and I’m really pleased about the collaboration that we have ongoing and we really lend our commitment so that going forward we get better and better, because we believe in this event.” Zara Tremlett and the staff at Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina have worked tirelessly to accommodate the ARC+ fleet in Port Louis Marina and Charlotte Fairhead & Karen Stiell from the GTA service partner BroadReach were thanked for their invaluable day-to-day support in the seamless delivery of the rally.

Those visiting the stage to collect their prizes included Arya (NOR) awarded Line Honours, followed by the Multihull Division topped by Neel 47 BigBird (USA) on corrected time, with family catamaran Tortuga (DEU) in 2nd place and Scat Cat (GBR) in 3rd. Already back in their native France, the crew of Outremer 51 Piment Rouge (FRA), who were the first boat to arrive, sent a special message played out to their fellow participants, before the party anthem ‘Everybody Needs Somebody’ by the Blues Brothers upped the party atmosphere as the awards continued.

The Cruising Division was split into three classes based on handicaps, with Najad 490 Albicilla (NOR) topping Class C, Beneteau First 456 Daisy (DNK) 1st in Class B, and Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 50DS Adelante (NOR) 1st in Class A. It was not just the crews who were successful in the competitive side of the rally who received prizes; there were many other awards given out for happenings at sea, the closest finish and longest distance sailed, as well as recognising SSB Net and double-handed crews who took part. The young participants of ARC+ have been a prominent feature of the rally, with 33 children under the age of 16 sailing across this year all invited to the stage to receive special certificates and sweet treats from the Grenada Tourism Authority.

Numerous participants took the opportunity of being on stage to say a few words to the assembled group, praising their own crew, congratulating all the participants as having crossed the Atlantic, and thanking the team of yellow shirts for their contribution to the success of ARC+ 2021. The final participants to be called to the stage were the crew to be presented the Spirit of ARC+. Saved for last in the proceedings, this is given to the crew, or crew member, who, through their extraordinary actions, have demonstrated the spirit of what the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers is all about - safer and enjoyable longer distance cruising, in the company of others.

Oceans can be testing environments for even the most accomplished sailors. And sometimes things can go wrong. On the 5th December, a single-handed sailing yacht on passage from Guyana to Martinique was dis-masted. The skipper was alone with no communications [and no engine]. In his own words, the skipper thought his time had come. However, after 3 days, fortunately for him, a boat from the ARC+ was passing nearby. The crew took the time to check on the yacht and see what assistance they could provide. Once communications were established, they relayed the distress to the authorities, and set about towing this poor single-handed sailor to port. The actions of the crew arguably saved the life of this captain and he eventually made safe landfall in Grenada. The 2021 Spirit of ARC+ was awarded to the crew of Coco (GBR) - Alfie, Ceylan, Adele, and Stuart - in recognition of the support this ARC+ crew provided over 24 hours, and their fellow participants erupted in cheers and applause.

The rally this year has been one of great rewards for those who have delayed plans and overcome challenges encountered by the pandemic; unique friendships have been formed, special memories have been made and the ocean sailors of ARC+ 2021 can all feel rightly proud of their achievements to reach the shores of Pure Grenada. “I am so grateful to have experienced the family-like environment that ARC provided for us. Not only did they go above and beyond to make sure we were prepared for the crossing, but they did a great job of bringing everyone in the rally together by hosting multiple events and parties,” said Megan Simonson from Helios, (USA). “Tonight’s prizegiving was beautifully put together. After the celebratory award hand-out, we got to catch up with fellow ARC+ sailors under the palm trees; the background sound of crashing waves was also wonderful. It was the perfect way to end the ARC+ rally.”

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