Every December, Bluewater Cruising Association honours the achievements of its members by presenting dozens of awards in different categories. The ceremonial presentation to skipper and crew of a vessel, upon their return from offshore, has its roots in the nautical tradition of “paying out” the crew on their return to home port. The awards are intended to be a formal recognition of members’ achievements: a celebration of those achievements by the membership at large; an inspiration to our Dreamers; an incentive for the Doers to maintain their membership until they return from offshore and then – having been suitably honoured – to share their offshore experiences and knowledge as Doners through Club Nights and the Education and Fleet programs.
2020 was a year that whirled everyone’s expectations upside down and inside out; even so, there were awards to present and journeys to celebrate. Although unable to do our usual in-person presentations, and missing our usual (and fantastic) pot luck feasts, we were still able to come together as a community online to share a wonderful evening. Awards were announced, stories told, thoughts shared, and even a few tears were shed.
BCA Service Awards
We had two long serving watch-keepers step down from their positions this year, and want to take the opportunity to recognize and thank them:
- Rudy Witt
After five years of providing our watch-keepers and members with responsive and much appreciated support for our website and backend systems, VI Chapter member Rudy Witt as passed the webmaster torch on to a new and soon-to-be-announced candidate. Rudy continues to serve as System Administrator, for which we are very grateful.
- Jennifer Handley
VI secretary 2005-2006, 2007-2009, VI Vice Commodore 2010, BCA Vice Commodore 2011-2013, BCA Commodore 2014-2016, BCA Past Commodore 2017-2019, VI Membership 2019-2020, BCA Directory co-coordinator 2018-present
I could say that Jennifer needs no introduction, but that would be unfair to those of you who haven’t yet met her. Jennifer has been an important part of BCA from the time she first joined the Vancouver Island Watch and hasn’t really stopped. She has taken on may different roles, and is a seemly inexhaustible source of information and positive energy, very much appreciated by those who work with her and follow in her footsteps.
Rudi Siefert Keeper of the Light Award
Named after the late Rudi Seiftert, this service award is presented from time to time to a deserving member whose significant and often behind the scenes contributions to BCA reflect and support the spirit of the Association. There were no nominations for this award this year.
The BCA Cruising Awards
These awards recognize specific achievements in passage-making and acknowledge the contribution that BCA made to the journey. Congratulations to all Award recipients. We look forward to many happy hours listening to your stories and learning from your experiences.
This award recognizes a non-commercial coastal (harbour-hopping) voyage outside Canadian territorial waters where straightest short-line charted distance between starting and ending port is minimum 999 nautical miles.
- Mike Duff, Anestina: Bamfield – Cabo San Lucas, Mexico (2267 nm)
- Jeff Clark and Astrid Weiss, Hayley, Dillon, MV Magpie: Victoria – La Cruz, Mexico; (5038 nm round trip)
- Brent Alley and Barb Lyall, Pegasus II: Victoria – La Cruz, Mexico (2923 nm)
- Tim and Linda Rann, Starlight Express: Victoria – La Paz, Mexico (2,750 nm)
This award recognizes the completion of an offshore passage outside Canadian territorial waters while actively engaged in ongoing operation of the vessel as unpaid crew where straightest short-line charted distance between starting and ending port is minimum 999 nautical miles
- Spencer Gordon, Sooner: Victoria – La Paz – Hawaii – Victoria
- Roger Bragg, Full and By: Mexico – Marquesas – Hawaii – Vancouver
This award recognizes the completion of an offshore passage in your own non-commercial boat outside Canadian territorial waters where straightest short-line charted distance between starting and ending port is minimum 999 nautical miles without putting into port before completing 999 nm. This award comes with BCA Doner pins and confers ‘bluewater member’ designation.
- Rob Gordon and Jennifer MacGillivary, Sooner: Victoria – La Paz – Hawaii – Victoria (crew: Spencer Gordon)
- Brian Short, Carpe Ventus (single-hander): La Cruz, Mexico – Hilo, Hawaii – Victoria
- Dick Towson, Full and By: Mexico – Marquesas – Hawaii – Vancouver (crew: Ken Robertson, Roger Bragg)
- David Vanderhoek and Margaret Cormie, Heart and Soul: Nanaimo – Mexico – Galapagos – Chile – Cape Horn – Marquesas – French Polynesia – Hawaii – Nanaimo (2013 – 2019)
Cape Horn Award
This award is presented to those who have qualified for an Offshore Award and have rounded Cape Horn in their own boat.
- David Vanderhoek and Margaret Cormie, Heart and Soul: 5 day Cape Horn circumnavigation, March 2017
- William (Bill) Norrie, Pixie: rounded the Horn at 10:00am local time, Dec 20, 2019
- Glen Wilson and Marija Wilson, Danica I: 2019 – 2020; 27 countries, 27,000 miles, crossing the Mediterranean, North Atlantic, Panama Canal, South Pacific, Indian Ocean, South Atlantic. (Glen will be presenting stories and photos of their trip for BCA members and friends in January 2021.)
2020 – A Year of Great Challenges
From a nomination letter submitted by Peter McMartin: “ I think it’s really important to recognize the bravery and determination of all who sailed their boats home to Canada regardless of which specific award they might get….!”
When the pandemic heated up in the Spring of 2020, BCA members in many parts of the world were affected. Some were in home port in British Columbia Canada, finalizing their plans to cast off and start a new adventure. Some had left in 2019 or early 2020, and had to decide whether to stay put where they were (if that was even possible) or to come home to Canada. Some had been cruising for years and, like everyone, were trying to figure out where it was safe to be.
As the weeks and months went by and the situation became more serious, plans were changed, and changed again, and in many cases had to be adapted day by day. One thing was evident almost from the start: it is impossible to overstate the importance and the strength both of the cruising community we are part of, and the communities we move among.
Time and again we heard stories of people trying to find information where there was confusion, trying to find a way to resupply or plan a passage to a safer place when the normal support and supply sources were not available. By reaching out, whether through contact via the BCA Fleets or other members, or to nearby boaters in similar situations and those who support them, eventually they worked together to find answers to the problems experienced and they safe harbour they needed.
It’s impossible to recognize each individual story right now, although I will highlight a few. And as we move into 2021 and as we sift through our memories of the past stressful and chaotic year, as we reflect on exactly what did happen and when, I’m certain more stories of courage and compassion will come to light. I hope you will share them with each other, and perhaps in December next year, when the award season comes around again, we can lift a few up to remember, acknowledge and respect.
To start with, this year we created a special award to be presented to a marina manager in Panama who provided significant support for cruisers trapped there as the pandemic’s ever changing and consistently confusing rules closed in. I’ll send out more details in a future news item once we have everything setup.
Some 2020 Passages of Interest
- Bjarne Hansen and Barb Peck, Hoku Pa’a: Mexico – Victoria, without landfall
“Due to port closures, and a strong desire to not become ill at sea, this first stage had us anchoring but avoiding going ashore. That meant our water, provisions and fuel had to last from April 20 when we left Puerto Escondido until we got home. . . . By the morning of 31 May 2020 we were tied up at the Victoria Customs Dock. We covered 3404 miles from Puerto Escondido and were happy to be back, albeit in an unnecessary additional 2 weeks of quarantine!”
- Nora Thös, Candine: Single-handing unexpectedly, for the first time, from Panama to Ecuador after being stranded alone by border closures at the start of the 2020 pandemic
“After 3 weeks of Panamanian buraucra-silly and trying to get the boat ready in very remote area, I was finally able to exit Panama on April 10. One hour after I departed Boca Chica I anchored near Isla Parida where I disassembled and cleaned our L&S electric autopilot pumps. Both had just stopped working with no alternative for self-steering in a single handed situation. After repairing both (my first time disassembling a pump like this) and finally sailing northbound, I encountered intense lightning storms and watched the squalls envelop me on all sides over the next 3 days! . . . I made landfall in Puerto Chiapas on the morning of April 23. Total distance was 850 nm.”
The BCA Perpetual Awards
While not necessarily awarded every year, the BCA Perpetual Awards recognize significant achievements of our members in various ways.
Antares Pacific High Finders’ Award
Awarded annually to the member(s) who log the longest time Hawaii-Victoria passage (in either direction); the glass Japanese net float, donated by Past Commodore Blake Williams, came from his personal collection accumulated during a twenty-five day passage in 1981.
- Richard (Dick) Towson, Full and By: 23 days. A number of boats travelled this familiar Pacific passage in 2020. Three were nominated for this award; Dick takes the float home.
Doug Mitchell Memorial Single Hander’s Award
Presented to members who have made a significant singled-handed voyage. Named after the late Doug Mitchell whose seamanship during a fierce storm off Vancouver Island in 1991 was an inspiration to intrepid BCA sailors.
There were a number of significant single-handed voyages this year, and after consideration the Doug Mitchell award was presented to:
- William (Bill) Norrie, Pixie, for his single-handed circumnavigation through the Southern Ocean via the Five Great Capes. This was Bill’s second circumnavigation; he completed his first time round on Terrwyn with wife and beloved partner Cathy in 2016. (Bill will be sharing stories of his adventures for BCA members and friends in February 2021.)
Ben Rusi Seamanship
Recognizes outstanding acts of seamanship by individuals or groups, for single, multiple, or extended feats demonstrating a level of courage, determination, citizenship and discipline to which all Bluewater cruisers should aspire.
- William (Bill) Norrie, Pixie, for his solo circumnavigation through the Southern Ocean via the Five Great Capes. Again – impossible to do justice to in an article, but this letter of nomination provides some insight into the challenges he faced.
Of all the voyages made by mariners, circumnavigation stands as a pinnacle, dreamed of by many but achieved by few. There are many ways to circumnavigate but few are as risky and as awe-inspiring as going south of the equator, into the dragon-filled waters of the Southern Ocean, and rounding the Five Great Capes at the bottom of the continents. Given the high aspirations and commitment of BCA members, it is no surprise that we have a number of circumnavigators among our midst, and at this year’s ceremony we were honoured to have Guy Druce with us. Like Bill, Guy received the Doug Mitchell Single Hander’s award for his 247-day non-stop solo circumnavigation via the Five Great Capes aboard Floating Point in 1998 and that same year he was also the first recipient of the prestigious Ben Rusi award.
Peter Doherty Goodwill Ambassador Award
Awarded from time to time to the member(s) who exemplify while cruising outstanding commitment to further the cruising lifestyle and camaraderie and providing assistance.
The Ambassador Award was established by BCA in 2005 to honour Peter Doherty, long-time BCA member and Past Commodore, for his dedication and generosity to the sailing community. It was first awarded to Jackie & Malcom Holt, Aeolus XC, in 2005 for their humanitarian efforts to rebuild and coordinate efforts in a small village in El Salvador, following a massive earthquake in January 2001. I suspect we will find some strong nominations for this worthwhile award in 2021.
Ted Long Award
Awarded for outstanding personal contribution to BCA. Recipients are bestowed with Lifetime membership; named after the late Ted Long, in recognition of his service as Education watchkeeper extraordinaire.
This year, I’m pleased to announce that the Ted Long award was awarded to Jennifer Handley. Through her years with BCA and continuing though today, Jennifer continually demonstrates BCA’s vision and every one of BCA’s values as much any single person can. No matter what role she is in, or what work she is doing, Jennifer provides leadership if needed and thoughtful support always. Congratulations, Jennifer, and a warm thank you from your many friends and supporters.
The Hill-Padwick Award (Bent Mast)
There were two entrants for the Bent Mast “Boo-Boo of the Year” Award this year. By popular acclaim, the award went to VI member and loyal watchkeeper Daragh Nagle. We’ll leave it to him tell you his story, but let’s just say it’s pretty briny, although not really that deep!
To review previous years’ award recipients, please check out the lists on the BCA website. Lists of perpetual award winners can also be reviewed here (scroll down the page to find the link for each individual award).
To conclude, I’d like to extend a heartfelt ‘Thank You’ to the volunteers, watchkeepers and board members who worked so hard to make the time we spent together on December 8, 2020 so enjoyable. Our watchkeepers and volunteers are the heart, muscles, brains, hands and feet of BCA; and if watchkeepers and volunteers are the body of this organization, the dreams and voyages of our members are its soul. Please join me in acknowledging and celebrating this years award recipients as we move into whatever challenges and adventures the New Year brings. Wishing you all a happy and healthy 2021, wherever it takes you!