Some 80+ OCC members descended on the Greenlands estate in Henley-on-Thames, England at the weekend of 30 March-2 Apr to take part in a packed agenda of excursions, meetings, presentations, lectures, elections, receptions, speeches and dinners. With a mix of business and entertainment, we accomplished a great deal while having fun. Perhaps the most rewarding aspect was meeting new friends we’d only met previously via social media and email.

People traveled from the east and west coasts of the US and Canada, the Canaries, Norway, Denmark, Holland, Ireland and all around the UK to attend this event. The early arrivals were picked up at Greenlands by river barge for a water-borne excursion on Friday evening. It was a lovely day despite the dire forecasts for rain, and some 30 members enjoyed a 2-hour tour through Henley, ascending via a lock into the upper reaches of the river.

Tea, coffee and stronger libations were served with sandwiches on board while a guide shared interesting historical anecdotes about the town, the river, and the stately homes and buildings along the manicured shores. Then it was on to a cocktail hour and light supper at the bar, as more members trickled in from their travels.

Saturday morning started early with breakfast at 0745. By 0930, former Commodore John Franklin was kicking off a series of talks in front of about 50 members. First, Rob Stevens, Managing Director of Topsail Insurance, sponsor of the lecture series who kindly subsidized the meeting room, gave us a very helpful overview of marine and travel insurance, what to look for in the wording of policies, how to select the coverage you really need, and how to avoid the pitfalls you might encounter.

Next, Daria and Alex Blackwell, co-authors of Cruising the Wild Atlantic Way, took members on a lively, illustrated tour of the West Coast of Ireland, sailing from Cork to Donegal and describing memorable harbours and villages along the way. Some members recalled their own voyages of the past, while others were inspired to start planning their first to that challenging Atlantic coast.

John Franklin then described plans for an Azores Pursuit Rally scheduled for 2018 to celebrate the centenary of Peter Café Sport, established near the harbour in Horta in 1918. The great grandson of the founder Ernesto Azevedo, Jose Henrique Azevedo, welcomes OCC members as Port Officer for Horta. The OCC’s special relationship with the Azevedo family puts us in a unique position to create a commemorative event. It is a rite of passage for sailors crossing the Atlantic to visit Horta, paint their boat’s details on the walls of the marina, and, of course, visit Peter Café Sport for a pint and a meal and to share stories of adventures and ordeals. The OCC has organized many rallies in the Azores over the years. This event is conceived as a Pursuit Rally in which participants plan their passage from any point to cross the line at Horta on the date and time specified by the rally organizers. The event is scheduled to begin during the week commencing 18 June 2018 to enable yachts crossing the Atlantic from the Americas and Caribbean to take part. Shore-based events in Faial and Pico will be organized as part of the festivities. Members of other cruising organizations will be invited to take part.

Next, Canadian Victor Wejer, advisor to mariners transiting the Northwest Passage and this year’s recipient of the OCC Award of Merit, gave a comprehensive overview of the way ice is measured and reported and all the different routes available to navigators of these waters. He described the early expeditions and some of the more recent attempts. Moreover, he stressed that it takes massive preparation to successfully transit the Passage.

Finally, former Commodore and surgeon, Martin Thomas, gave a talk entitled “Rum, Sodomy and the Lash; a review of naval medicine through the ages”. Through early paintings and stories, Martin walked the audience through evolving approaches to health and medicine in the early days of the British Navy. Indeed, conquering scurvy, infectious diseases, and cruel and unhygienic practices enabled Britain to become the greatest power on the seas. Though at times brutally gruesome for a morning lecture, it was thoroughly entertaining and informative. Now we know where sayings like “the cat is out of the bag” and “rubbing salt into the wound” come from.

Everyone came away from the morning sessions with some new kernel of knowledge, useful or not. After a light lunch, we returned to the auditorium for the business part of the weekend, the AGM.

While members were taking their seats, a slide presentation about the winners of the 2016 OCC Awards was playing on the large overhead screen in a loop. This presentation can be viewed as a pdf document on the website. The Commodore opened the session with her report of the past year’s activities. This was followed by a very brief report of healthy finances by Treasurer George Ehlers. During this time, volunteers credentialed members who were voting onsite and counted the paper ballots. A record number of members voted electronically this year, delivering a strong endorsement for this method of participation in vital organizational activities. Our thanks to Frances Rennie who was the recipient of the electronic votes, and Gus and Helen Wilson for recording the final counts. 

We also had a record number of members volunteering to contribute to the Club via the Committee, with eight members standing for four available seats this year. There are many jobs available for volunteers and all will be recruited to help out where their skills best fit. The new Committee members voted in are Carol Dutton, Zdenka Griswold, Fiona Jones and Ted Laurentius. Peter Paternotte, formerly Rear Commodore, was elected Vice Commodore while Committee members Daria Blackwell and Simon Currin joined the Board of Directors as Rear Commodores.

A special resolution on the agenda required a vote: whether to amend the articles to allow the OCC to extend temporary membership to the Commodores of other select cruising clubs. This resolution passed with a vast majority. All in all, the AGM took less than an hour – many speculated that it was the shortest annual general meeting the OCC has ever had!

Now it was time for the highlight of the weekend: the Saturday evening Awards Dinner. The awards presentations were divided into two tranches, ably MC'd by VC Tony Gooch and VC Peter Paternotte and, as we only had seven recipients at the dinner, each winner had a good amount of time to speak: some fascinating stories came forth, as always. The meal concluded with a toast to young member Bethany Smith, who died while serving on a charter yacht in Jamaica, and to the Queen. The food was excellent, the service outstanding, the timing impeccable, and the last barfly left well after midnight.

Thanks to Jenny Crickmore-Thompson and Rachelle Turk for their massive efforts in organizing this event. The outcome was memorable, as all proclaimed when departing to their respective corners of the world the following morning. A party is planned for Down Under to make the event come to life through media. Next year, Fiona and Chris Jones will be taking on the task of managing the event and have already suggested a new venue for consideration. Bring on a new year of great camaraderie with support from the OCC!

 

 

Vice Commodore Peter Paternotte, Master of Ceremony

 

Vice Commodore Tony Gooch, Master of Ceremony

Crew of Mission Performance accepting the Seamanship Award.

 

 

Victor Wejer, winner of the OCC Award of Merit.

Chris and Val accepting the Geoff Pack Memorial Award on behalf of the staff of Noonsite.

 

Sally and Simon Currin, winners of the Vasey Vase, with Tony Vasey and Tony Gooch.

George Curtis accepting the Water Music Trophy.

 

Agustin Martin, PO Gran Canaria, accepting the Port Officer Medal.

 

James Muggoch entertaining the crowd with stories from his qualifying voyage for which he received the Qualifier's Mug. 

 

 

Jenny Crickmore-Thompson receiving a special award, a flying fish wine pouch, from Norway PO Jan Isaksen.