Founder Members, Allen; Loomis; Nicolson; Mudie - Hum's Boys
Derrick Allen (joined as Associate 1954)
Initially I fitted out a 52’ ketch (Fedoa) to sail to Antigua in order to start a charter business. In Lymington, before I left, Humphrey Barton made contact and made me the Club’s first Associate Member and a full member only when I had completed the crossing! Mrs Jessie Barton was a great help with victualling my vessel: Crosse & Blackwell were having
a promotion in Lymington and we were given lots of tins of their products on condition they could use us in their local adverts!
Our voyage via Gibralter and the Canaries was successful, as were the subsequent chartering years. On returning to the UK I lived near Harwich, and became a Port Officer for Harwich and Suffolk. Basically the Port Officer system is excellent world-wide and although not unique, is widely used if you live away from the UK. However, in the past 50 years I have had only 2 members contact me: one was the Port Officer for Texel who had never had anyone contact him either, and the other a doctor from the USA. No Port Officer awards for hard work for me!
Later I owned and for 9 years sailed a Thames barge and I was required to “qualify” as a Barge Master by the Department of Transport. On passing, I was invited to join the Examination Board, but could not find the time to do so. Then at 84 I had to have a new knee and decided to sell my 25’ m.f.v. type – my wife “fussed” now about my single-handed expeditions!
I am now approaching 86, and I am no longer available to pilot members on the East Coast rivers from the Thames and Medway to Lowestoft. I have sailed them all by barge (drawing 2’3” for’rard, 2’9” aft!) and if this became a busier station, the Club would need to find a new Port Officer.
I regularly used to travel by container ship down the African coast, and I miss my container ship voyages to Cape Town and back, 9 in all, but these ships no longer carry passengers on this run. While it lasted, I enjoyed my visits to various parts of S. Africa, jmping ship to travel inland while the ship went on to PE and Durban and then back to Cape Town where I rejoined her.
We few members on the East Coast feel the Club is very South Coast orientated – we don’t like their rocky shores and they don’t like our muddy creeks! They are so near to France, but we are only 68nm from Holland.The concession of being able to stay at the Royal Thames YC is much appreciated and I make good use of it!
Harvey Loomis (joined 1954)
It’s funny the memories that stick from my qualifying voyage in Gulvain back in 1950. I was the only Yank aboard, it was my first Bermuda Race and at 18, I was the youngest in the crew. I remember my shipmates being horrified by my taste for sausages and jam together for breakfast – it seemed perfectly natural to me, but I took a lot of friendly grief about it. Then, when one of the spreaders failed, “Alligator” King went aloft in very unpleasant conditions and I have a vivid picture of him in the bosun’s chair decked out in thick white wool submariner’s long johns to protect his legs from encounters with the rigging.
And my favorite mental picture of our Founder Hum Barton, skipper in this race, was on one wet and noisy, two-reef night watch in the middle of the Atlantic; he sat in the doghouse in his oilskins, unperturbed and totally at peace, a cigarette between his lips – with an inch-long ash drooping from the end. What a shipmate he was. Lucky me.
Humphrey Barton had sailed his Vertue 35 to New York in order to participate in the race, and then he commanded her on the trans-Atlantic race back to Plymouth. (Also in the crew were Tim Heywood, future Commodore of the OCC, Charles Gardiner and navigator Bill “Alligator” King of Royal Navy and Galway Blazer fame.) So when Hum Barton later created the OCC, Gulvain’s crew were signed up as founding members on the basis of that voyage. Thought to be the first ocean racing yacht made from aluminum-alloy, and one of the first to feature reverse sheer, the 55-foot Gulvain was designed by Laurent Giles and built in 1949 for Jack Rawlings.
I was fairly active in ocean racing over the following years (always “OPB” - on other peoples’ boats): Cowes-Plymouth on Bloodhound; Plymouth-Santander and Santander- Belle Isle aboard Myth of Malham with John Illingworth; Buenos Aires-Rio aboard Royono in 1956; the last St. Petersburg-Havana race in 1957; the Fastnet in 1959 aboard Myth; a couple of Miami-Nassau Races; two Marblehead - Halifax races, many sprints up and down Long Island Sound, and fourteen more Bermuda races in various yachts.
Sad to say, there is less demand for the odd foredeck hand or sea cook on a family cruise than for an ocean race, and as a result I did less cruising. But some of the highlights were: a splendid CCA cruise in 1976 up the west coast of Vancouver Island; a trip from Helsinki to Bergen and a passage from Vigo to Bermuda aboard Bill Rothschild’s Moonbeam; a passage from Stonington (Connecticut) to the Azores aboard Jim McCurdy’s Wissahicken in 1985 with recent CCA Commodore Sheila McCurdy; a quick, delightful cruise from Halifax NS to St. Pierre & Miquelon; a certain amount (but not enough) cruising up and down the U.S. east coast, a remarkable voyage in 2001 from Greenport, NY, to Bermuda aboard the bark Europa and a few jaunts to the sunny Caribbean.
In the early days of the OCC there was not a lot of club activity in the States. I believe Bunny Rigg was the first Rear Commodore for the Eastern US, followed by Gifford Pinchot and Chick Larkin; then Larkin called me up one day in the late ‘70s,and casually announced that I was to succeed him as Rear Commodore. At the urging of several members I inaugurated a series of ‘rallies’ at various haunts in New York City, and in 1985 helped organize a joint cruise to the Azores with the CCA which was a notable success.
But indeed, I’ve done precious little sailing at all over the past two decades, except for therapeutic Sunfish outings, and the odd excursion in my12-foot International DN iceboat – an activity which has become very infrequent of late, partly because of a lack of ice here on New York’s Long Island in recent years and also because it is getting to be a bit strenuous for my old bones.
My chief contribution to the OCC was to nominate Emily Morse to succeed me as US East RC. It was she who began a series of well attended rallies at the Mystic (Connecticut) Seaport, and she who cruised the Atlantic round with her husband Forbes, and she who generally jazzed up the OCC’s presence in the USA NE – a presence that has been enhanced by current RCs Doug and Dale Bruce.
Colin Mudie (joined 1954)
A Scottish boat designer who worked under Laurent Giles and Uffa Fox among others before establishing his own firm, naval historian, balloonist, advocate for the integration of the handicapped sailor, one might say that Founder Member Colin Mudie has little use for the ‘ordinary’.
But then neither does his wife Rosemary! Her 1000 mile qualifying passage? “Oh, in 1958 we flew our hydrogen balloon from England to mid-Atlantic, then landed in the sea and sailed the rest of the way," said Rosemary casually.
Colin had done it somewhat more traditionally in 1952 to become a Founder Member of the OCC!
Rosemary: I think Tony Vasey’s ‘The First Fifty Years’ has most of the our OCC stories. But here are a couple more:
Tim Heywood is well documented in the book and we often sailed with him. When he became a bit older he decided to buy a canal boat and invited us to join him on several very enjoyable voyages along the French canals. He apologised that it was not quite the same as voyaging the oceans under sail, but we found some of the passages required just as much energy. On one occasion he announced at the end of the day that we had broken his record for the number of locks traversed. We had done all the winding, mooring and unmooring bits and were quite, if not more, exhausted than we might have been after a day at sea.
The qualifying 1,000 mile port to port passage has helped the OCC to attract quite a few members. We raced and cruised a lot with one friend – he was the actor, Richard Greene, who some may remember as playing Robin Hood in the TV series. He challenged another yacht owner to a race for a one hundred guinea wager from Cowes to Gibraltar. There were six of us in his 36 foot Rhodes designed Santander of Wight, and as OCC members Colin and I were all set to propose and second those wishing to join. However, not long before we were due to start Richard was approached by the powers that be and requested to race to Lisbon instead; it seems that there was going to be an important British trade exhibition there and it was thought our presence would emphasise the traditional Portuguese/British Alliance.
So, with our best evening clothes and suitable mess kits taken for us in the diplomatic bag, we won the race in record time (four days four hours I think it was). But sadly the club lost out on some new members.
Ian Nicolson (joined 1954)
Founder Member Ian Nicolson's reply for a brief bio was:
“OOOOOHHHH!!!!! My "working CV" runs to 4 plus pages. I'm trying to get my 24th and 25th book written. I run four jobs, my next birthday is 3 months away when I will be 84, and I sail [whisper it not, it's racing] two evenings a week and potter around at the w/ends in my mature Rival 34. I'm so busy I do not have time to die, which explains why I am still alive. I fear the Members of the OCC will get fed up with hearing about me." Jenny: No chance, I'd say!
Ian Nicolson was apprenticed to the traditional designer, Fred Parker and was one of the team involved in the first post-war rebuild of large Fife schooner ALTAIR. He did his journeymanship at John I Thornycroft's and later worked with Thornton Grenfell, who is widely considered Canada's (and indeed North America's) finest designer of traditional wooden fast motorboats and power cruisers.
After working for Alan Buchanan on wooden yacht designs, Ian Nicolson was the naval architect for 'Yachts and Yachting' magazine and then became a full partner in A Mylne & Co, the design firm set up in 1896 by Alfred Mylne, the First. When Alfred Mylne the Second died in 1979, Ian Nicolson took over as senior partner.
Ian sold the firm in 2007 to Ace Marine of Limekilns, Scotland, but continues to do design, survey and consultancy work all over the world. He has written 24 books and many articles on the design, survey, construction and operation of small marine craft and his next two books have been commissioned.
He has extensive experience afloat, which includes building his own wooden yacht and sailing her single-handed across the Atlantic in 1954.
Bill Wise (joined 1954)