Sunday, 15 April 2012

A letter from the new OCC Commodore

Thats the OCC (ocean cruising club) read the letter if you have the time, it highlights some important issues.


OCC Port Officer for Hout Bay and Cape Town

 The Commodores boat, Al Shaheen.

Dear Roy

At the AGM last week Bill McLaren stepped down as Commodore of the OCC, and I was elected to serve in his place. For those of you who don’t know me, I attach some relevant information separately at

so as not to distract you from the more serious content of this message.

Bill McLaren ably steered the Club through a difficult period and succeeded in restoring the OCC to a sound financial footing. I am honoured to be taking over from him and will do my utmost to build upon his work to ensure the Club’s future. To that end, I have launched a strategy review to determine how the OCC can best serve its members in this, the second fifty years of its existence. In view of the importance of this to the Club’s future, I am taking the liberty of contacting you directly to apprise you of this work and, in due course, to ask you for your assistance.

As Tony Vasey’s history of the Club so eloquently describes, membership of the OCC has always been based on sailing accomplishments and on a willingness to share hard won knowledge with others who hope to realise their own cruising dreams. Humphrey Barton and the other founding members envisaged a Club without clubhouse, where dues were low, camaraderie was high, and most members were offshore. In an age before Internet and onboard communications, the flying fish served as the link between vessels and the promise of an evening’s entertainment with newfound friends. Those values have served the OCC well and helped us to grow into an international organization of more than 1,800 members with more than half of our membership home-ported outside the UK.

As we move into the second half of the Club’s first century, we find ourselves in a very different world. Cruising information on the most remote destination is often only a click away on the Internet. A variety of other sailing clubs offer similar services to those out cruising and to those who hope to go. Our own membership appears to have aged and many cruise local waters or have retired from cruising altogether, but do not want to lose touch with the cruising life and the extraordinary people who live it. Cruising rallies and onshore gatherings have become as important as cocktails in the cockpit under the flying fish burgee.

Many of our members are still actively “out there” cruising, and we remain a strong and vital organization with broadly shared values, but the original mission of the Club—“to foster and encourage ocean cruising in small craft and the practice of seamanship and navigation in all branches”—may no longer translate into a clear mandate to guide the Committee in the management of the Club.

I have launched the strategy review in order to try to understand how best the OCC can serve our existing and future members, like you, going forward and have formed a working group consisting of Mark Holbrook, Sally Currin, Eric Vischer, Gus Wilson, Doug Bruce, Beth Leonard and David Blackburn. This group (including myself) represents the diversity of the OCC membership and includes four Brits, one South African, two Americans; six men and two women; three current or recent long-term liveaboards; one Port Officer; one Regional Rear Commodore who also served as a Port Officer and a former Vice Commodore.

This is very much a group effort. Mark Holbrook assisted by Eric Vischer will look at “Trends”; Sally Currin our Treasurer will cover “Finances”; Doug Bruce, now assisted by Daria Blackwell will look at “Members” and Gus Wilson at “Competition”. Beth Leonard will direct strategy and compile and collate the results.

The survey many of you completed last year will form a starting point for our work. In the coming months, we need additional feedback to make this project a success. The working group will be gathering data from members through small group discussions and via email and phone contacts. For those who feel comfortable participating electronically, we will also be launching a strategy category on the OCC Forum

( and discussions are already underway on the OCC Facebook page. You are invited to contact any of the working group members directly if you would like to participate in the project or have suggestions you want to share. We will be reporting back to you through the Newsletter, the Email Bulletin, Facebook and the website. The working group plans to submit its final report at the November Committee meeting.

The OCC is our Club. Our members share strong values and are proud to be part of this unique community. I hope that you will be willing to help the Club leadership determine how best to serve you, the members, so that the OCC’s second fifty years can be just as successful and exciting as the first fifty.

Kind regards,

John Franklin


Note, membership of the OCC is rather simple, you need to have done an ocean passge of at least 1000 sea miles without stopping.

How hard can this be.