The Ocean Cruising Club Announces Recipients of The 2012 OCC Awards


18th January 2013

The Ocean Cruising Club (OCC), the world’s truly global ocean cruising association, has announced the recipients of the OCC Annual Awards.  Each year the OCC recognizes the achievements of ordinary individuals doing extraordinary things on the world’s oceans and brings those achievements to the attention of the sailing community at large. Peter Whatley, chairman of the Awards Sub-Committee made the announcement at the OCC annual boat show dinner in London today.  This year, three recipients share the OCC Award of Merit:  Tim Severin of Ireland, Dick Giddings of the United States, and James Wharram of the United Kingdom.  The OCC congratulates all recipients and nominees for this year’s awards, and thanks all adventurous cruising sailors for reaching for extraordinary goals. All winners will be invited to attend the OCC Annual Dinner and Awards Ceremony on 20th April 2013 aboard HQS Wellington (Head Quarters Ship and home of the Honourable Company of Master Mariners) in London, where formal presentations of the awards will be made.  The full stories will be presented on the night and published in the subsequent edition of Flying Fish  (the journal of the Ocean Cruising Club)

OCC AWARDS  for 2012

This is the final list of Award Winners (presented in 2013 for their achievements in 2012)

Awards will be presented at the OCC Annual Awards Ceremony being held on board HQS Wellington, London on Saturday 20th April 2013

In brief

  • OCC Award of Merit (3)  
    Tim Severin, Dick Giddings, James Wharam
  • OCC Award
    Fergus and Kay Quinlan
  • Geoff Pack Memorial Award 
    Val Howells
  • The Rose Meda
    David Tyler
  • The Jester Medal 
    Matt Rutherford
  • The Barton Cup  
    Patrick and Amanda Marshall
  • The Rambler Medal
    Jim and Kate Thomsen
  • The Vasey Vase  
    Rev Bob Shepton
  • The David Wallis Trophy
    Maggie Nelson
  • The Water Music Trophy  
    John Kirkus
  • The Qualifier’s Mug   
    The Smith Family (David, Sarah, Bethany & Bryn)
  • The Port Officer Medal  
    John Van Schalkwyk

OCC Award of Merit To a member or non-member for performing some outstanding voyage or achievement

(may award more than one per year!) All three this year are non-members.

Tim Severin – has sailed a leather boat across the Atlantic in the wake of St Brendan the Navigator, captained an Arab sailing ship from Muscat to China to investigate the legends of Sinbad the sailor, steered a replica of a Bronze Age galley to seek the landfalls of Jason and the Argonauts and of Ulysses, ridden the route of the first Crusader Knights across Europe to Jerusalem, travelled on horseback with nomads of Mongolia in search of the heritage of Genghis Khan, sailed the Pacific on a bamboo raft to test the theory that ancient Chinese mariners could have reached the Americas, retraced the journeys of Alfred Russell Wallace, Victorian pioneer naturalist, through the Spice Islands of Indonesia using a 19th century prahu and traced the origins of Moby Dick.

James Wharram – designed his first offshore cruising catamaran, the 23′ 6″ TANGAROA in 1953, before the word catamaran was yet in common use and began sailing with her off the coast of Britain with two German girls, Ruth Merseburger (Wharram) and Jutta Schultze-Rohnhof. He was inspired to do this by Frenchman Eric de Bisschop, who sailed a double canoe from Hawaii to France in 1939. James believed in the seagoing qualities of the double canoe and set out to prove them with two pioneering Trans Atlantic voyages on TANGAROA (1956) and 40ft RONGO (1959).  Since then, James Wharram, has been designing, building and sailing offshore catamarans longer than any other multihull designer. Already in 1987 the “Multihulls Buyers Guide” showed that James Wharram had sold three times more plans than any other multihull designer in the world. Design sales have since topped 10,000.  ( Dick Giddings – is one of the unsung heroes of the cruising community. “Disabled, living on the smell of an oilrag.” For many years he has given selflessly and unstintingly of his time and effort to create a safe passage for cruisers by providing a radio network that covers N. Atlantic and the Caribbean waters (which is where a huge number of OCC members land up!). It’s a check-in service, provides weather routing but even more importantly contact between cruisers and shore as well. He keeps a watchful eye on cruisers and if they don’t log in, he puts the word out to emergency services.  The stories are too numerous to mention where a cruiser has been unable to contact home except via Dick Giddings. Dick operates the DooDah and Cruiseheimers  Net.  ( (

OCC Award To a member or Port Officer non-member who has done most to “foster and encourage ocean cruising in small craft and the practice of seamanship and navigation in all branches”.

This may include any invention, report, idea or action, which is calculated to promote the objects of the Club.

Fergus and Kay Quinlan – Fergus and Kay have just completed a three year around the world cruise in a steel yacht that the two of them BUILT THEMSELVES from scratch. The first thing he did was go on a welding course! Their voyage was inspired by the spirit of Darwin, coinciding with 150th anniversary of the publication of Origin of the Species and also the 200th anniverary of Darwin’s birth.

Geoff Pack Memorial Award To a member or non-member who, by his or her writing, has done most to foster and encourage ocean cruising in small craft.

Val Howells – An eventful series of voyages in the Merchant Service pumped salt into Valentine Howells’ young bloodstream, resulting in a succession of sailing dinghies and the eventual acquisition of a Scandinavian Folkboat. This vessel, launched in 1958 and named Eira after the owner’s wife, was sailed in the 1960 single-handed trans-Atlantic race when Val was invited to take part by Lt Colonel H. G. Hasler. At the time the whole concept of a singlehanded oceanic race was novel. The boats were small and wooden, the word electronics was not even in the dictionary and sponsorship was non-existent. Author and boat thus played a not insignificant part in helping to establish what has become a major event in the international yachting calendar. The account of this trip was published as ‘Sailing Into Solitude’ in 1966. Nearly half a century on, the sailing public’s appetite for a good seafaring yarn remains as strong as ever, and now Val has extensively re-written ‘Solitude’ and set up his own publishing company to produce a beautifully bound book that is at once a cracking yarn, a study of a deeply interesting individual and a piece of yachting history. ‘Solitude’ is not the author’s only work . . . it is the one to read first, but we guarantee that you will then be compelled to follow it up with the appositely titled ‘Up My Particular Creek’. (

The Jester Medal For an outstanding contribution to the art of single-handed sailing by a member or non-member

Matt Rutherford –  ‘Saint Brendan’ –  sailed singlehanded and non-stop around the Americas in the face of enormous challenges to benefit CRAB (Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating).

This adventure begins from Annapolis in June of 2011 and is 23,000 nautical miles in total.  Arrival at the Northwest passage will be in early August which is only open for six weeks.  After exiting the Passage, Matt heads for Cape Horn, rounding it by March 1 2012.  Then heading north up the east coast of the America’s heading home for Chesapeake Bay, passing the Caribbean before hurricane season.  At 80 miles a day, it will take roughly 10 1/2 months… all of this adventure NON-STOP!

The Rose Medal For the most meritorious short-handed voyage by a club member(s)

David Tyler – ‘Tystie’ junk rigged voyage from Sydney to Hawaii and on to Alaska

The Barton Cup For the most meritorious voyage by a club member(s)

Patrick and Amanda Marshall – for their ‘directionally challenged’ Atlantic passage aboard their Sweden Yachts 390, Egret. Some seek challenges, others have challenges thrust upon them, and few things could be more challenging than losing the rudder of a fin-keeled yacht just four days into an Atlantic passage with 1500 miles still to go. Indeed, several yachts have been abandoned or even scuttled mid-Atlantic following steering failure.

Patrick and Amanda showed great determination and excellent seamanship during the remainder of their 26 day passage, and their well-written account contains information which would be invaluable to anyone faced with a similar failure in the future.

The Rambler Medal For the most meritorious short voyage by a club member(s)

Jim and Kate Thomsen – ‘Tenaya’ HR40  For their Pacific island cruising experience. Kate writes, “Jim and I are happy as clams on our floating home, whether we are crossing oceans or anchored in the South Pacific exploring French Polynesian islands.  We love this life!”

The Vasey Vase For a voyage of an unusual or exploratory nature made by a Club member

Rev Bob Shepton –  no-one could deny that Bob Shepton would be a worthy winner for 2012. The account of his two-month voyage through the Northwest Passage aboard his Westerly 33 Dodo’s Delight with a crew of four South African climbers, stopping to make various ‘first ascents’ along the way makes for fascinating reading. In a full and varied life, Bob Shepton has been a Royal Marines officer, a full time youth leader down the east end of London and Kilburn, and Chaplain to two schools. Since retiring, he has tended to leave the pulpit for the cockpit of his yacht, ‘Dodo’s Delight’. Through countless seasons of exploring he has become a leading expert on the waters around Greenland, winning the The Royal Cruising Club Tilman Medal twice for his exploits. His articles appear regularly in the international yachting press. Bob is a member of The Ocean Cruising Club, The Royal Cruising Club, The Alpine Club and The Arctic Club. ‘Dodo’s Delight’ is a Westerly 33ft Discus built in 1980. The current yacht is the second ‘Dodo’s Delight’ and is an almost exact replica of the first which was destroyed by fire while wintering in the ice in Greenland in 2005. She is pivotal to Bob’s expeditions.

David Wallis Trophy

For the most valuable contribution to ‘Flying Fish’. The recipient is nominated by the Editorial Sub-Committee

Maggie Nelson – for her excellent chartlets. These are models of clarity on which the most convoluted voyages can be followed with ease, and as such are a truly ‘valuable’ contribution. The Editor selects which articles most need plans, list the places mentioned in the text, and then leaves the rest to her. Maggie started drawing chartlets for Flying Fish in the late 1990s and must have produced close to a hundred over the years.

The Water Music Trophy

To a member who has contributed most to the Club by way of providing cruising information, navigation and pilotage.

John Kirkus – has appreciated the growing importance of a library of yacht tracks to assist navigators to identify safe routes and anchorages, especially in area where the chart data is unreliable. His website ‘Bluesipps Track’ library <> is now linked to the Cruising Information section of the OCCs website. Tracks are available to be downloaded into your chart plotter covering previous courses sailed in: Australia, Bonaire, Brazil, Canary Islands, Cape Verde Islands, Chagos, Cook Islands, Curacao, Cyprus, Dominica, Egypt, French Polynesia, Galapagos Islands, Gibraltar, Grenada, India, Indonesia, Italy, Madagascar, Marquesas Islands, Martinique, Morocco, Mozambique, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Oman, Panama, Philippines, Red Sea, Seychelles, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, St Helena, St Lucia, St Vincent, Bequia & The Grenadines, Thailand, Tonga and Tuamotu. John has realised the importance of recorded tracks and has put considerable technical expertise and many hours of effort into developing this innovative resource.

The Qualifier’s Mug

For the most ambitious or arduous qualifying voyage by a new member as submitted for publication in the OCC  journal, “Flying Fish” or in the OCC Newsletter. Members of the OCC are required to qualify for membership by completing a passage of not less than 1000nm non-stop in a craft of less than 70’

David, Sarah, Bethany and Bryn Smith for an excellent article for Flying Fish about their voyage from Gambia to the Caribbean on yacht ‘Cape’

Sarah, David, Bethany and Bryn Smith left the UK in 2007 aboard Cape, their Gitana 43. They explored the Atlantic coasts of Spain and Portugal, before spending three seasons in the Mediterranean followed by a year in the Canaries – working and home-schooling as they went. At the time of their qualifying passage from The Gambia to Tobago in March 2012, Bethany was 13 and Bryn was 12, making them the youngest full members of the OCC.

Bethany and Bryn still smiling – ‘we survived a month at sea with Mum and Dad!’

The Port Officer Medal

For the most outstanding contribution from a Port Officer

John van Schalkwyk –  OCC Port Officer for Jeddore & Halifax, Nova Scotia

The OCC Port Officer Network covers the entire world and is an invaluable benefit for members wherever they may be sailing. John is one of the club’s most outstanding and enthusiastic members and Port Officers. He is friendly to all who come his way showering them with an abundance of hospitality and helpfulness. Many examples follow: 1. John and his charming wife Heather are always the most gracious hosts imaginable when visiting yachts come calling at their waterfront home in Jeddore, Nova Scotia. They treat their guests like visiting royalty with unending food, drinks and good humor, plus silver service fit for a king or queen. He also has a special guest mooring of his dock for visiting OCC boats. 2. John knows yacht service providers in the Halifax intimately and is often able to get things done quickly when help is needed. 3. Since being appointed Port Officer a few years ago, John has reinvigorated the OCC in Nova Scotia by supporting the club, generating publicity and adding many new members. 4. John was instrumental in helping us make the Newfoundland Cruise in 2011 such an outstanding event. He made arrangements for two big social events in both Baddeck (Cape Breton) and St. Pierre island. He also signed up several new OCC members to participate in the cruise. 5. He also organized a very successful cocktail & dinner event this fall at Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron which attracted a number of local yachting luminaries, including the Commodore of the RNSYS. 6. Above all John has a charming, outgoing personality that makes time spent together most enjoyable and rewarding, as he has many sailing and life stories to tell. His enthusiasm and commitment to the OCC is obvious to all who come his adopted province and country of Nova Scotia, Canada. A great choice for this award!

About The Ocean Cruising Club

The Ocean Cruising Club exists to encourage long-distance sailing in small boats. Every full member has made a 1,000-nautical mile offshore passage in a vessel of 70 feet or less; associate members are committed to the achievement of that goal. This standard distinguishes OCC from all other sailing clubs. It’s not about what you are or who you know, but simply what you have done, that matters. Our membership as a whole has more experience offshore than any other sailing organisation – in the number of circumnavigators, in the range of extraordinary voyages members have completed, in the number of solo sailors, and female sailors among our ranks. This is what sets us apart from other organisations, even as it draws us together as a group.  We bring the spirit of seafaring to our association by always being willing to assist any fellow sailor we meet, either afloat or ashore. With a central office in the UK, though it has no physical clubhouse, the OCC is, in a way, the “home port” for all of us who have sailed long distances across big oceans. With 48 nationalities and Port Officers in as many countries, we have a more diverse membership and a more international reach than any other sailing organisation. Our Port Officers and Regional Rear Commodores represent the frontline interaction with our existing members and the recruitment of new members. RECOGNITION OF ACHIEVEMENT As members, we fly the “Flying Fish” burgee to celebrate our own accomplishment and level of experience. As an organisation, we promote the achievements of our overall membership so that the Club will be recognised as the pre-eminent offshore sailing organisation in the world, with a unique body of knowledge, experience and expertise.   We publish a record of member’s voyages in the “Flying Fish” journal to commemorate their achievements and to provide information to all who are interested in voyages in small craft over the navigable waters of the world. Through our Annual Awards, we recognise exceptional sailing achievement wherever we find it, inside and outside the Club.  For more information about prior award recipients or membership, please visit where you can also visit the OCC Forum, view the Cruising Information Service, or peruse back issues of Flying Fish.

About the Ocean Cruising Club Awards

The OCC Awards are announced annually at the London Boat Show and presented to recipients at the Annual Dinner associated with OCC AGM in the Spring. Qualified nominations are submitted by OCC members. Selections are made by the OCC Awards Sub-Committee and approved by the Committee and Board. OCC Award of Merit* One or more awards open to members or non-members who have performed some outstanding voyage or achievement. OCC Award Made to the member(s) who has/have done most to foster and encourage ocean cruising in small craft and the practice of seamanship and navigation in all branches. This may include any invention, report, idea or action which is calculated to promote the objects of the Club. Jester Medal* Donated by the Jester Trust, and awarded to a member or non-member for an outstanding contribution to the art of singlehanded sailing. Barton Cup For the most meritorious voyage made by a Club member or members. Rose Medal For the most meritorious short-handed voyage made by a Club member or members. Rambler Medal For the most meritorious short voyage made by a Club member or members. Vasey Vase For a ‘voyage of an unusual or exploratory nature’ made by a Club member or members. Port Officer  Medal This award is presented to one or more Port Officer(s) who has/have provided outstanding service to the Club and the wider sailing community by developing and promoting their port. Geoff Pack Memorial Award* For the person (a member or non-member) who, by his or her writing, has done most to foster and encourage ocean cruising in small craft. David Wallis Trophy* For the ‘most outstanding, valuable or enjoyable contribution to Flying Fish’, as chosen by the Editorial Sub-Committee. Water Music Trophy For the member or members contributing most to the Club by way of providing cruising, navigation or pilotage information. Qualifiers Mug For the most ambitious or arduous qualifying voyage by a new member, or members, as submitted for publication in Flying Fish or the Newsletter. SPECIAL AWARD  May be given as a Special Award in recognition of a truly epic voyage at any time outside of the confines of the Awards timetable.  *Awards for which non-members are eligible.

Prior winners of the OCC Award of Merit          2011 –        Thies Matzen and Kicki Ericson (Wanderer III) Paul and Rachel Chandler (Lynn Rival ) 2010 – Rolf Bjelke and Deborah Shapiro (Northern Light) Jeremy Rogers (Contessa 32) 2009 – Dee Caffari Mike Perham ( Erik Vischer 2008 –    Kirsten Jones and Gary Hancock (Wandering Albatross) 2007 – Minoru Saito (Shutendohji II) world. Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, CBE (Suhaili & Saga Insurance ) 2006 – Mary Falk, (QII – Pocock 35) Mike Golding (Ecover) 2005 – Alex Whitworth (63) & Pete Crozier (60) (Berrimilla (1977) Paul Gelder (Gypsy Moth IV) 2004 – Jeremy Lines (Nicholson Yachts) 2001 – Ellen MacArthur & Helen Tew 2000 – Lyn and Jim Foley & Peter and Tania Hopkinson 1999 – Amyr Klink & Peter Keig 1998 – Herb Hilgenberg & Gerd Engel 1997 – Pete Goss 1996 – Les Powles 1995 – Robin Davie 1994 – Jo Hunter 1993 – Mike Richey 1992 – Miles Clark 1991 – Trevor Osben 1990 – Gudrun Calligaro 1989 – Ewan Southby-Tailyour & Robin Knox-Johnston  & Skipper & Crew of Creightons Naturally 1988 – Dr. John Bockstoce & Mike Birch 1987 – Crew of TRISHNA



  1. Wow didn't know that there was such an association. I congratulate all the winners. It has been bvery interesting reading all about the OCC will come back to read more often

    Wilf Staton

  2. The Ocean Cruising Club exists to encourage long-distance sailing in small boats. Every full member has made a 1,000-nautical mile offshore passage in a vessel of 70 feet or less;

    Man that is some impressive stats. Like, EVERY MEMBER? I've got some ways to go then…

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