The Ocean Cruising Club (OCC), the UK-headquartered ‘home port’ for global adventure sailing for nearly 70 years, gave as good as it got in 2020. That is, the Club presented its annual awards to members in December and in January received the Medal for Services to Cruising award from the Royal Cruising Club (RCC). All awards are especially remarkable due to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The OCC Seamanship Award for 2020 went to member Garry Crothers of Northern Ireland. Crothers, who lost an arm in a motorcycle accident, found himself as a solo one-armed sailor in St Martin when the pandemic struck. He needed to get back to Northern Ireland for his daughter’s wedding in September. With no flights and no possible crew, he sailed solo non-stop directly to Derry in 37 days. Along the way, OCC members checked in with him daily.
Crothers story exemplifies the OCC’s provision of exceptional services to cruising yachtsmen during the COVID 19 pandemic, and why the Club received the RCC award.
“All on the team are truly honored to be recognized by the RCC for the OCC’s pandemic response,” says Daria Blackwell, the OCC’s vice commodore. “Being a global organization, we had the Caribbean, the Atlantic, the Pacific, and the Indian Oceans covered with Port Officers chipping in to help cruisers in remote regions, former diplomats lobbying governments to allow cruisers to reprovision and take on critical supplies including water and fuel, and others on the ground coordinating with cruisers underway in their boats. It was a massive effort, often dealing with people who had no concept of the needs of those who choose to live on small boats. No one had experience with a pandemic response, so everything was new. Yet our members are among the most experienced cruisers in the world, so we were able to pass on valuable information to members and non-members alike as borders closed around the world. Everyone in the OCC is very proud of our effort.” oceancruisingclub.org