OCC Forums

Membership Qualification - a Facebook thread copied over


By bbalme - 2 Jun 2019

Bob Carlisle  At the risk of causing offence and accepting that we're rightly keen to encourage new members, I've just copied this from our website:

"A Full Member of the OCC must have completed a non-stop ocean passage between two ports, where the distance between the ports is not less than 1,000 nautical miles measured by the shortest practical Great Circle route, as skipper or member of the crew in a vessel of not more than 70ft (21.3 m) LOA."

Did this statement not used to include a requirement for your also going a certain distance offshore and not having/being 'professional' crew?

A few years ago we met a couple of newish members who related the tale of their qualifying passage from the US east coast to the Eastern Caribbean Islands, their only assistance coming from a professional skipper, two professional crew and almost 900 litres of diesel. My thoughts then (and now) were that I certainly wouldn't have signed-up as their proposer or seconder.
More recently I've noticed a qualifying passage from Italy to Southern Portugal; having done that route myself I don't envy them the trip and would also assume that to achieve it 'non stop' they too must've had a huge diesel reserve to call upon. But is it 1000 miles? (I've no Med charts aboard at the moment to confirm) Perhaps it is by the time you've detoured to avoid making a landfall in Corsica, Sardinia, or the Balearic Islands. Though given the amount of fuel that passage almost invariably entails, I doubt I could've managed to motor past the super-cheap diesel available to replenish it on either side of the Gibraltar Straits in favour of continuing on to Portugal. I concede that the Atlantic 'Ocean' requirement rather than crossing the Mediterranean 'Sea' on that passage is theoretically fulfilled during the final hundred-odd miles across the Bay of Cadiz from the Straits of Gibraltar Straits to Portugal.

I'll ignore any abuse, but would be interested in well argued opinion either way.

Lynn Weiss Hoenke Is there a problem with motoring? Can a motor boat not be part of the OCC?
      Bob Carlisle Actually, I think that's changed too, I'm sure the original requirement used to be 'in a sailing vessel of not more than 70 feet'?

Nigel Collin Studdart I would support the open and warm welcoming nature of the OCC that I have felted appreciated around the world. In terms of qualifying passages having done many miles both as an "amateur" and a professional with a dozen crew aboard running superyachts I am happy to report that superyacht crew can be very excellent seaman and outstanding individuals. I am lucky to have had many crew in my many miles of sailing. Whether that's under power or sail brings its own challenges. Managing and handling a Motor vessel on an ocean passage brings its own challenges and having done both I would take a sailboat anytime ( Hence now my own oyster 435). On a power vessel the winds, swells and sea state are if anything even more important as they impact stability and fuel consumption. I would certainly not look on anyone making long voyages under power with anything but respect. I suppose in terms of qualifying passages the OCC relies on peoples honesty and there own narrative. certainly I have no longer any records of mine way back in the 80's! So I respect th trust put in me by teh membership secretary. So to cut a long story short in a world that is sometimes less inclusive I would wish that the policy and application of the OCC continues as an inclusive community of worldwide seaman and seawomen .

Ken Montgomery
Whether it’s sail or power is not the issue I think as both demand certain skills to make a safe offshore/ocean passage. I think the issue is about being able to demonstrate sound seamanship on a non-stop offshore/ocean passage from A to B. Such a passage requires planning, preparation, contingency, self/reliance and fosters a better understanding of ones boat and their ability to manage it and to reflect and learn.
By simoncurrin - 2 Jun 2019

The OCC entry requirements have not been changed although there has been occasional pressure to increase the maximum boat size allowed.
By Dick - 2 Jun 2019

Simon Currin - 6/2/2019
The OCC entry requirements have not been changed although there has been occasional pressure to increase the maximum boat size allowed.

Hi All,
It has been my take right along that joining the OCC could be seen as based on having shown a certain skill set: showing that you can skipper a boat through a 1,000nm passage. Allowing a partner/crew on the passage to attain full OCC status just made sense as, for me, a partner/crew should be fully capable of bringing his/her vessel safely to shore on a lengthy passage should the skipper become disabled. If not so fully capable, possibly they should be offered only associate status.
The description of those whose qualifying voyage had them hiring a professional skipper and 2 professional crew certainly sounds, at face value, as if the owners did not feel themselves qualified to undertake the passage on their own: they sound like they considered themselves more likely as passengers. Now they may have learned a lot on the passage, but, to me, they had no apparent need to have the skills so well expressed in a previous letter:
” Such a passage requires planning, preparation, contingency, self/reliance and fosters a better understanding of ones boat and their ability to manage it and to reflect and learn.”
Actually skippering your vessel through an ocean passage is my expectation of a full OCC member. Being partner to someone who has done so and willing and able to take over if the skipper is disabled works for me also.
Not sure, but doubtful, about anything else.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy, St. Margaret’s Bay, Nova Scotia, Canada

By bbalme - 2 Jun 2019

I have sympathy for Bob's perspective. I think it much more significant to make a passage in your own boat or a friend's boat in which you are actively participating as crew - versus a gimmee in a professionally crewed yacht - however - I can say we see very few of the latter coming though the membership applications.  

As to the motoring thing - difficult to rule that out since one of the founding members of the club came trans Atlantic in a modified, amphibious jeep! To quote the minutes of (I think the first meeting of the OCC) "This meeting was enlivened by Ben and Elinor Carlin arriving in their amphibious jeep, in which they had qualified for the Club by ‘driving’ it across the North Atlantic. Under ‘Any Other Business’, Ben proposed that members arriving at meetings in their own vessel should have their subscriptions waived.
The motion was not carried, but the whole attendance repaired to the street outside to join the throng of passers-by examining this strange contraption. They had made undoubtedly the most original ocean passage of all those present.
By bbalme - 3 Jun 2019

A couple more from Facebook...

Nigel Collin Studdart Thanks Bill interesting story and a collection of eclectic eccentrics who share a common passion for the horizon is a good way too view it. I agree with many of the comments. My own qualifying passage was in a home built ferro boat, with a Casio watch and plastic sextant for navigation and no engine, only other instruments were a compass and a lead line along with a VHF. Had a transistor radio for DF. I was broke and left with 50 quid in my pocket and a great deal more enthusiasm than experience. Was it safe almost certainly not. I learned a great deal. It was a life changing trip and one I will never forget and treasure the memory of. The world has changed my son and family just sailed from the med to NZ in a super maramu. In my days a boat that size would have been considered close o a super yacht!. I have every respect for them and they're achievement a second generation of adventurers as a family with young children its never easy and there is no off watch,. Electronic charts, GPS and AIS have all made it safer but still boats run on reefs sometimes following green dots on large scale charts. The OCC has endured through all this and become bigger and when I look at rallies like the one Suzanne Chappell organised through some tricky waters, better, I have nothing but respect for its members and the ethos.

Bob Carlisle Thanks for the responses, but having started the debate we’re now about to sail away from our ‘decent wifi connection’ – though not a thousand mile passage, unless we bypass Palmerston Reef – so I would like to try and clarify my own position before departure:
My interpretation of the qualification rules was a best guess/memory and if I'm wrong or they’ve formally been changed at an AGM, then fine, I will happily accept the changes and shut up.
I certainly don’t object to anyone using the engine when necessary – without it we might still be drifting along, becalmed in the Guianas Current. Nor per-se to their making the qualifying passage on a professionally skippered vessel. I know that the ARC Atlantic in particular includes many such boats and provided that the prospective member has ‘actively contributed’ to the making of that passage, then welcome aboard. My indignation with the chap whom we met in the Caribbean stemmed more from his attitude rather than his having had the pro-skipper & crew: “No we left all the night watches and rough weather stuff to the crew, if I’m paying them why should we sit up half the night?”
I’m not a natural yacht-club member (I guess that already shows?) but from the OCC website: “Every full member has made a 1,000-nautical mile offshore passage in a vessel of 70 feet or less…This standard DISTINGUISHES us from all other sailing clubs” That statement is what makes us different and was a major factor in why I joined; having the ‘right’ boat, home address, old-school-friends or indeed a large enough bank balance just doesn’t cut it for joining the OCC, you HAVE to make that 1000 mile offshore passage.
I’m all for being welcoming & inclusive, but for the OCC to remain a club ‘distinguished from all other sailing clubs’ then the passage requirement must be maintained, the question then of course is what do we consider to be ‘compliant’? Beyond the ‘1000 miles’ distance certainly isn’t the issue; having now done both I can confirm that qualifying via the 1300-1400 mile trip from the US east coast to the Caribbean is a whole lot tougher than for those pussies (like us!) who qualified by sailing there from the Canary Islands. In some respects I wouldn’t even discount the Mediterranean or other ‘seas’ from in part counting towards the thousand miles; coming east to west especially through the Med is hard work and certainly the very worst storm that we ever sailed (OK, hove to) through was in the Med between Sicily and Sardinia.
Nailing my colours to the mast, I believe the key word is ‘offshore’ and that for a passage to fulfill that requirement, it should for a substantial part of it take you beyond (at the very minimum 24-36 hours) easy access to a safe harbour; if you can bail out at will, then it’s not ‘offshore’