The Reverend Bob Shepton, who has spent decades sailing and climbing in the high latitudes, has been honoured by the Ocean Cruising Club

Bob Shepton, who has spent years sailing and mountain climbing in Greenland and Arctic Canada, has been awarded the Ocean Cruising Club’s Lifetime Award.

The former Royal Marine officer, who is an ordained minister in the Church of England, is no stranger to awards.

He won the Yachting Journalists’ Association’s  Yachtsman of the Year Award in 2013, and is the only sailor to have been awarded the Royal Cruising Club’s Tilman Medal twice.

The Rev Bob Shepton was 79 when he won the Yachting Journalists' Association Yachtsman of the Year Award in 2013. Credit: Barry Pickthall/PPL

The Rev Bob Shepton was 79 when he won the Yachting Journalists’ Association Yachtsman of the Year Award in 2013. Credit: Barry Pickthall/PPL

Bob Shepton has also received the Cruising Club of America’s Blue Water Medal and the Piolet d’Or, an annual mountaineering award given by the French magazine Montaigne.

During his sailing career, he has sailed around the world, via Cape Horn and the Cape of Good Hope, with a group of ex-students in need from Kingham Hill School where he was chaplin, aboard his 33ft Westerly Discus, Dodo’s Delight. 

The yacht was dismasted in the Drake Passage, and Bob Shepton and the crew sailed under jury rig to the Falkland Islands.

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An expert on the waters around Greenland, much of his voyaging was aboard Dodo’s Delight, which was built in 1980. The yacht was destroyed by fire while wintering in ice in Greenland in 2005.

Bob Shepton then bought another Westerly Discus, which he has now sold.*

It was in his second boat that he sailed the North-West Passage east to west in 2012, and then west to east in 2013, at the age of 78.

Now in his 80s, Bob Shepton sails less but is still a consultant and advisor to those sailing or exploring the Arctic.

Other winners in the Ocean Cruising Club annual awards include Rob Barton who was awarded The Barton Cup, and Astrid Clausen-Grube and Martin Grube who received the OCC Seamanship Award for exceptional skill or bravery at sea.

Rob Barton rowed for 86 days to reach Africa

Rob Barton rowed for 86 days to reach Africa

Rob Barton, who is the grandson of Ocean Cruising Club founder, Hum Barton, is the first person to row 4,470 nautical miles from Australia to Tanzania solo.

During his 86-day voyage, Rob Barton encountered multiple storms, strong ocean currents and 10m waves which capsized his 21ft (6.4m) boat, Australia2Africa. He endured months of isolation, severe sea sickness and extreme weight loss but persevered, arriving in Tanzania on 21 July 2023.

Astrid Clausen-Grube and Martin Grube were on their first Atlantic crossing when the port shroud aboard their Jutlandic 37 DS sloop, Pincoya started to part.

Astrid Clausen-Grube and Martin Grube

Astrid Clausen-Grube and Martin Grube

With brisk winds and 3m seas, the couple used Pincoya’s running backstays to stabilise their compromised mast.

While Astrid managed the boat from the deck, Martin climbed to the upper spreaders multiple times to successfully repurpose their running backstays as temporary shrouds, clinging to the mast “like a little monkey” as it swung through a 10m arc.

After 20 days and more than 2100 nautical miles (1,400 of them with a broken shroud), Pincoya arrived in Martinique with her mast still standing.

The additional Ocean Cruising Club award winners for 2023 include:

Vasey Vase: Stephanie Connor and Martin Fuller
Jester Trophy and David Wallis Trophy: Trevor Robertson
Water Music Award: Sherry and Dave McCampbell
OCC Award (members only): John Maddox
OCC Award (open): Peter Mott
Qualifier’s Mug: Reija Treacy Wolnik
Port Officer Service Award: Bill and Joanne Harris / Allan and Cathy Rae
Events & Rallies Award: Dick Morris
Environmental Award: Howard Dryden/Diane Duncan of the GOES Foundation
The Vertue Award: Ted Laurentius
The Australian Trophy: Kayo Oazki

*Note this article was updated to reflect that Bob Shepton did not commission a replica of Dodo’s Delight to be built but bought an almost exact replica, another Westerly Discus

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