It all started 40 years ago, when Liv Kennedy planted the seed by circulating a paper clipboard at one of the Ocean Cruising Series presentations at the Vancouver Maritime Museum.
Liv Kennedy, who wrote the Offshore People column for Pacific Yachting magazine for many years, starting in 1970, also started a speakers’ series on blue water cruising for the Vancouver Maritime Museum. The Blue Water Cruising in Small Boats speakers’ series had its debut in 1976, and went on to become a very popular event, boasting full houses on a regular basis. It was during one of those presentations in 1978 that Liv circulated a paper clipboard inviting those interested in forming a blue water sailing club to sign up and come to an “Offshore Party” in April. Seventy-nine people signed up, and many of those became the founding members of what is now a thriving association of just under 500 members, staying true to its vision of “fostering seamanship and friendship for people with an active interest in offshore cruising”.
The “Offshore Party” was held on April 22, 1978 at the Vancouver Rowing Club, and you can read a little bit about it in this clip that Linda Hulburt cut out from the August 1978 issue of Pacific Yachting magazine. I met Linda at the 2018 Vancouver Boat Show, while volunteering at the BCA booth. She approached me to say that she and her husband John had been at the party that got the Association started, and she had a photo to prove it! I remember thinking “only sailors would start an official association at a party!”
Knowing that 2018 marks the 40th anniversary of our Association, I promptly asked Linda if she would share that photo with me. She indicated it was a cut out from a Pacific Yachting magazine and that she would send it along. Here is what Linda included in her message to me:
“John and I were very fortunate to have attended this very significant gathering of blue water cruisers in 1978. The start of the Bluewater Cruising Association! As you know, this society is a wonderful group for anyone with a dream of going offshore sailing.
Just a bit of our story and why we were invited to attend this party. There were many accomplished offshore sailors in attendance, so we felt very honoured to be included. In 1974 we departed from New Zealand on our 40’ steel sloop named Southerly. Our route was via Fiji, New Hebrides, Solomon Islands, Torres Strait, Indonesia, Singapore, then across the Indian Ocean to the Seychelle Islands. The Suez Canal had just reopened, so we chose that route. We arrived in the Med almost 2 years and many adventures later. By then we decided we needed to return home for work. We were in our twenties and had been away from our home in Canada for 4 years.
We loved our experience of cruising in the early days before having a family. In 1996 we were finally living back on the coast and our children were almost finished school. We eventually purchased a cruising sailboat named Madhatter, a 44’ ketch designed by Bruce Roberts. We joined the Bluewater Cruising Association and attended fleet with Cam and Marianne. Sailboats and equipment are much more complicated than back in the day when we sailed on Southerly with only a radio and a sextant. What a great group of people. We eventually departed from Vancouver in 2004. We did a slow cruise toward the South Pacific. We still needed to work, so would leave Madhatter in a safe location to return every six months to work in the Arctic. I guess you would call us commuter cruisers. We did this for 7 years. Eventually we sold Madhatter in Sydney Australia in 2011. We do miss ocean cruising. Now we have gone to the ‘dark side’ when we changed over to a power boat, a 38’ Taiwanese Trawler, Rory Mor.
We now live on Bowen Island and enjoy cruising the beautiful coast of BC. We still go the same slow pace of 6 knots, but now have big windows and a heater for comfort in our northern climate.”
The clip that Linda sent me had me wanting to read more about the article and finding out more about ‘the party’ that got it all started. So, if you were at that party, like Linda, or if you would like to share stories about ‘the good old days’, please send me an email with your text and I will publish it in Currents.
BCA had a strategic planning session in March, and I found myself thinking how wonderful that the Association has kept a steady course of fostering “an active interest in offshore sailing” over the 40 years of its existence. We are focused. We have a strong purpose. We are in good shape and true to our origins. We are still fueling offshore dreams after 40 years!