The Official Magazine of the Bluewater Cruising Association

What Is a ‘Peterson Cup’, Anyway?

Ken Christie

Blue Rose
DeKleer Bros. 30 Sloop
July 9th, 2015

Traditionally, Bluewater Cruising Association has been about gaining experience in preparation for offshore cruising. There are other kinds of associations and other boating clubs. They have specific spots, pubs, and docks at which to meet. In contrast, BCA is beholden to no one place in the world as being its specific port of call. Anywhere can be home for a while, as blue water singer, Eileen Quinn, sings:

There is no easy way to navigate the heart / I take a fix here and now, I plot it on this chart / But what lat and long can mark the place, if home’s a point in time not space? / Absence makes the heart grow fonder but up ahead way over yonder / There’s always one more harbour, there’s always one more town / Always one more wave to crest and the next one to slide down

The Peterson Cup was created in this tradition. It brings local sailors together for a few days to cruise to places where there might be only what you could expect to find on a South Pacific island… no Internet, no grocery store, just folks with a suntan. There are no pit stops needed during the rally. All boats are able to go anywhere for as long as needed, stop anywhere, and they’re able to handle conditions found on the voyage.

The Peterson Cup is a casual race from anchorage to anchorage, with all of the crew – or perhaps just a solo admiral – deciding on a whim which anchorage would be a good venue for looking at the sunset tomorrow evening. Independence is allowed; after all it is your voyage from one South Pacific isle to another, without the expense or the distances, but with all the camaraderie, kisses, and hugs.

So, let’s pick a sunset that will suit the happy ending of a fine happy hour on the deck of whichever boat first arrived at this interesting anchorage and serves as this evening’s host boat. As usual, food for happy hour is made during the voyage and is served on an island of rafted-up dinghies drifting free, or across the decks of our rafted-together boats, or perhaps around the beach campfire, where anything is possible.

In years past, the Peterson Cup has had various themes such as, voyages to uncharted islands; pirates; cannibals; lazy drifters; long distance voyages; racing skills; and the discovery and founding of a new country. This year, the theme is continued exploration of exotic places. The organizing committee has picked the Isla Hornos –Cape Horn – the traditional feared point for sailors, who, after rounding the Horn and heading for the sweet Pacific Isles, were known as Horny (editor’s note: Officially, they are known as Cape Horners!).

During his voyage around the Horn, Ken proudly wore his Peterson Cup t-shirt.

During his voyage around the Horn, Ken proudly wore his Peterson Cup t-shirt.

I was the 2014 Peterson Cup winner, and had just returned from around Cape Horn. The islands and channels of Patagonia in southern Chile look are very similar to those of our own Gulf Islands. However, in British Columbia, the currents and tide differences are larger, there are fewer shipwrecks, and more areas are fully charted. So, let’s just flip the Gulf Islands sideways, change a few names, and call the 2015 Peterson Cup ‘Around the Horn in Four Days’.

During the Peterson Cup happy hour on July 26th, we will go over maps and charts and stories that cover the joys and dangers of cruising at the bottom of the world, while remaining at the top of the world. We will also cover some of the passages, tides, differences in weather patterns, and the preparations one might dream up to make such a voyage around Cape Horn. (Please don’t take this part too seriously…)

Skipper and crew are free to arrive and free to leave at anytime, or they can choose an alternate route to get to the same destination. This happens to be just the way Bluewater cruising works. And, in fact, crew members are encouraged to jump ship, and perhaps have a bonfire on the island (subject to fire regulations) to enjoy the naturalness of a Tierra Del Fuego potluck.

Lex Peterson, a Past Commodore, created the event that, after his death, was named in his honour. What wasn’t known to others at the first rally was that Lex had only two years to live. His motto is passed on to us: ‘Celebrate life.’ While Lex was an avid racer, he also knew that people sharing in the freedom of sailing and living in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others is the better way to go. The strict competitiveness of racing, where one person wins and everyone else loses is not what life is about.

I suppose that Lex also saw folks hell bent on equipping their boats and in gaining technique and planning, and by the end of all the preparation, they were very short of a couple of things they really needed for a long voyage: to have fun and also to be able to be a good, giving companion, and be fair to others. Violence – physical or psychological – and demeaning behaviours have no place in a cruising community.

BCA recognises the ways in which we respect the talents of all and engage both men and women. We have a new effort that women will be encouraged to develop the same skills as men, and to be equal and competent skippers. Every person on board needs to be able to run the ship, including being able to turn around and fully rescue a crew overboard. The Peterson Cup provides an opportunity for women to seek new competencies. The rally is an ideal place for them to experiment with their boats, hone their skills, and get some very easy and kind feedback everyday during Appie Hour.

Because the Peterson Cup is done in the relaxed and happy cruising mindset, no one gets pushed and no one loses. In fact, there are boxes of useful and fun prizes to supply their boats! Every participant gets a t-shirt and the sailors who actually cruise the designated courses and passages, and around the designated Isla Hornos, get the earring as well!

Ken at the bottom of the world! (Note the classic and tasteful Peterson Cup t-shirt.)

Ken at the bottom of the world! (Note the classic and tasteful Peterson Cup t-shirt.)

A note on Lasqueti Island, we have the mirror image (reverse) here of the Falkland Islands’ complex. Whereas the Falkland isles have a lot of people wearing a lot of clothing and the islands have no cover, the Lasqueti / Jedediah group are covered in trees and the people are not necessarily covered in anything. This part of the ‘Round the Horn’ voyage is just beyond our 5-day adventure. However, it is a recommended destination.

The Peterson Cup theme song might be from Eileen Quinn’s song, ‘We Gotta Regatta’.

Gotta Regatta © Eileen Quinn, from her album, ‘Degrees Of Deviation’ (1997)

Intro:       F Dm7 | C 

Verse:      C     | Am 

1. My little boat, she’s not so fast

C         | G7

We don’t come first but we don’t come last

C         | Dm

When it comes to the trophy, we fail the test

F         | G7 

But you know we can always party with the best


C        | Am   

Gotta gotta gotta regatta

F        | G7  

Gotta gotta gotta regatta

C        | Am 

Gotta gotta gotta regatta

F        | G7   

Gotta gotta gotta regatta

2. We trim the sails, do the best we can

Still it’s like racing in the Indy in a mini van

Got so much gear aboard, she barely floats

Who are we kidding, racing these boats?

Repeat chorus

3. We’re slow even by corrected time

Although we’re often near the front of the buffet line

Takes us a while to sail very far

But we can strike like lightning at an open bar

Repeat chorus

4. To the ones who are serious about the cup

All I can say is “lighten up”

Some come to race, some to chew the fat

Me, I came for the t-shirt and the hat


  1. jaqualine roussin says:

    Did you see Darwin’s home on the Cape? (apparently where he came up with his theory of evolution after noticing little birds surviving on the Galapagos).
    Talking of Survival of the fittest … men can show the ladies how to operate a boat like themselves?
    Ha ha ha ha
    or was that just a gauntlet that you threw down for the heck of it.
    A call out to Single handed ladies. Please cut the ice from your bow ,and course through the rapids in time for the rally, and demonstrate what is really behind those petticoats. Darwin could be right.
    Jade Passage

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