Why are there so many sailing clubs when we hear so often about the decline of sailing? Because the cruisers' bond is a very special one that instigates instant camaraderie and bridges cultural and social divides. Out there, you don't know what people did for a living or how much money they have, only whether they are good sailors or not.
Despite the fact that Alex and I did not consider ourselves "joiners" at first, we have somehow become involved with multiple clubs and have gotten to know their distinctive personalities. Because the choices can be bewildering, I'll try to outline the differences and what they offer the cruising sailor. I'm certain I've missed many similar organizations. Please do let me know of any that should be included here. I will amend the page from time to time.
The Ocean Cruising Club (OCC)
The OCC is the only truly international sailing club in the world for cruisers. To join, one must have completed at least a 1000-mile offshore passage between two points in a boat less than 70 feet in length. In essence, the OCC recognizes achievement and creates a club whose members share a common bond. The OCC Awards, usually announced in February, recognize the special exploits of ordinary people doing extraordinary things on the world's oceans. The OCC has a network of Port Officers around the world who assist sailors when they enter the local waters and organize gatherings of cruisers passing through. It's publications -- the Flying Fish, Newsletter, and eBulletin -- and its website and Forum provide ways for members to share their experiences and stay in touch with each other wherever they go in the world. www.oceancruisingclub.org.
The Seven Seas Cruising Association (SSCA)
The oldest and largest American cruising organization, the SSCA has thousands of members who range in experience from newbies to circumnavigators. The vast majority of the members are considered "Associates". To become "Commodores"one has to have lived aboard for at least a year while cruising. https://ssca.org/dashboard/ If cruising is discontinued, then the member is required to become a "Rear Commodore." They have a good instructional webinar series and host "gams" or get-togethers mostly around the US and contiguous nations. The Commodore's Bulletin and website keep members in touch.
Blue Water Cruising Association (BWCA)
Based out of Vancouver Canada, the BWCA supports the very active group of cruisers in the Pacific Northwest. The mission of Bluewater Cruising Association is to foster seamanship and friendship for people with an active interest in offshore cruising. They provide a forum for communication and information exchange among members through regular meetings, social events, courses and especially, the Association's widely acclaimed publication, "Currents". Education is a cornerstone of the Association. They teach aspiring offshore sailors how to prepare themselves and their boats for sailing beyond protected coastal waters. http://www.bluewatercruising.org/
Great Lakes Cruising Club (GLCC)
Catering to sailors in the Great Lakes, the GLCC maintains a terrific website with cruising information and manages a series of educational webinars which reach the multiple states that touch the lakes. It has been promoting cruising on the Great Lakes for 80 years. The website of the Great Lakes Cruising Club contains harbor reports for 1,100 ports and anchorages throughout the Great Lakes, discussions of Great Lakes issues, places to post boat and cruising photos, and more. http://www.glcclub.com/
Cruising Club of America (CCA)
America's prestigious and exclusive "cruising" association, membership in which is by invitation only. The CCA manages the Newport to Bermuda Race and bestows annually the prestigious Blue Water Medal recognizing extraordinary achievements in sailing. CCA is an international organization of more than 1,200 sailors who have voyaged the oceans for adventure and recreation. Our members have broad sailing experience, exemplified by superior seamanship and demonstrated through significant command.The club conducts seminars on safety at sea for hundreds of sailors. The Bonnell Cove Foundation makes grants to not-for-profit organizations for projects in safety at sea and environmental protection. https://www.cruisingclub.org/
Clyde Cruising Club (CCC)
The premiere cruising club in Scotland, it was founded in 1909 and membership was restricted to those with boats of less than 10 tons. By 1910, 230 members and friends had gathered to announce and promote the formation of the club. The other major decisions of this period were to have a membership book and to have a year book in which the "doings of the Club could be registered". In 1911, the Journal was launched. The first edition of the combined Sailing Directions was published in 1922. The Club now has 5 books detailing the sailing directions and a Cruising Guide to Scotland, all produced in association with IMRAY. http://www.clyde.org/
The Royal Yachting Association (RYA)
The RYA is the British national body for all forms of boating, including dinghy and yacht racing, motor and sail cruising, RIBs and sports boats, powerboat racing, windsurfing, canal and river boat cruising, and personal watercraft. Although the RYA is a non-profit, it acts more like a for profit organization, creating layers of courses, sponsoring events, selling all kinds of merchandise and offering membership to individuals as well as clubs. http://www.rya.org.uk/Pages/Home.aspx
The Royal Cruising Association
Cruising was not recognised by Victorian yacht clubs until, in 1880, a small group of enthusiasts led by Arthur Underhill founded the Cruising Club (becoming the Royal Cruising Club in 1902). The Club's principal objective was to encourage and facilitate cruising and the spirit of the new enterprise was engagingly summed up in the first few lines of the original Rules - "to associate the owners of small yachts, boats and canoes used for cruising on sea, river or lake, and any other persons interested in aquatic amusements." The RCC Pilotage Foundation is run by volunteer members of the RCC. The Foundation publishes pilotage information through books and a range of media accessible via its own website www.rccpf.org.uk. https://www.rcc.org.uk/about.aspx
The Cruising Association (CA)
Largely a British club, the CA offers very useful services in the London base, including overnight accommodation in their clubhouse in Limehouse basin at very reasonable rates for London. The CA publishes the Cruising Almanac for Great Britain and Ireland and has a useful website. They have a robust collection of port representatives around the world and the RATS keep track of topics affecting cruisers worldwide. Sir Robin Knox Johnston, the first solo nonstop circumnavigator, is the patron and many members have sailed in his round the world Clipper Race. http://www.theca.org.uk/pub/
Irish Cruising Club (ICC)
The Irish Cruising Club consists of about 500 avid cruising members. Much like the OCC, the ICC has an annual publication and awards, a Newsletter, website and other resources to support cruising in Ireland and Northern Ireland. The ICC published the definitive guides to Irish waters in two pilots and a cruising guide. Members must be able to demonstrate a high degree of experience, as well as seamanship, sailing skills and competence. It is a requirement that a prospective member should be able to stand watch on a long passage and deal with all the things that happen – sail changes, pilotage, shipping, lights, general management of the vessel, etc. He/she should be someone that an ICC member would take on a cruise without hesitation and the member should be able to sleep when he/she is in charge. Recognition of a certain level of experience and competence is one of the great attractions of membership. http://www.irishcruisingclub.com/
The Cruising Association of Ireland
Around 2002 a few active cruising sailors felt a need for a broadly-based organisation to encourage and support non-competitive sailing at all levels. With the encouragement of the Irish Sailing Association (ISA) they met at Howth Yacht Club, founded an independent voluntary association and devised rules and a constitution. Membership is open to all who share our interests for a subscription of €30 a year. Most members have sailing yachts, but motor yachts and cruising dinghies are welcome. CAI encourages people to go cruising, overnight rallies and longer cruises, and provide a discussion forum for sharing plans. calendars. http://cruisinginireland.weebly.com/
The Swedish Cruising Association
The Swedish Cruising Association was founded in 1923 and has approximately 43,000 individually affiliated members. The Cruising Association is for people who love boats, the sea and archipelagos whether under sail or power. The purpose of the association is to promote interest in long-distance cruising. They publish a magazine På Kryss which generates inspiration, creates community and improves safety through travel reports, articles and factual material. Yearbooks have been issued without interruption since 1923 and contain travel reports from members, factual information about boating and destinations. Books from recent years have been about the coast of Gotland, the coast of Norrland, the North Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. The next yearbook is about the Baltic Sea - Saint Petersburg to Flensburg. The yearbooks are only in Swedish. http://sxk.se/welcome-swedish-cruising-association
Germany's leading cruising organization. http://www.trans-ocean.org/ Trans Ocean was founded in 1968 to promote racing. Since then it has evolved to support bluewater sailing in any form. Recently they held a cruising conference dealing with skills necessary for circumnavigation.
World Cruising Club (WCC)
The WCC is a club for sailors who have completed some form of ARC -- Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, World ARC, etc. World Cruising Club is the world's leading sailing rally specialist, with nine distinct rallies taking place every year - ARC, World ARC, Caribbean 1500, ARC Europe, ARC Portugal, ARC USA, ARC Baltic, ARC DelMarVa and the Malts Cruise. From round-the-world adventures and ocean crossings, to social cruising and island hopping, there is something for everyone.World Cruising Club was born with the very first ARC in 1986, the first-ever ocean crossing rally. They now help more than 450 boats and 1200 people to achieve their sailing dreams every year.
We don't have experience down under, so we'll just offer a list of clubs we know about.Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron
Cruising Yacht Club of Australia http://www.cyca.com.au/ CYCA
Coastal Cruising Club of Australia https://www.coastalcruising.org/
Regional and local sailing and yacht clubs around the world which can be found on this website: http://www.yachtclub.com/. Each has its own distinct burgee which can be found here: http://www.burgees.com/