Eric Forsyth of Brookhaven, New York, has been awarded the Blue Water medal by the Cruising Club of America. Presented annually since 1923 the medal recognizes “a most meritorious example of seamanship, the recipient to be selected among amateurs of all nations”. The famous French sailor, Alain Gerbault, was the first to receive it in 1923. More recent recipients include Eric & Susan Hiscock, Sir Francis Chichester, Eric Tabarly and Hal Roth.
|Forsyth’s citation reads: 2000-THE BLUE WATER MEDAL|
The Blue Water Medal for 2000 is awarded to Eric B. Forsyth for a remarkable voyage in his 42′ sloop to Antarctica from his home port at Patchogue, Long Island via the Panama Canal; Galapagos; Easter Island; Puerto Montt, Chile, and after Port Lockroy on the Antarctic Peninsula to South Georgia Island; Tristan da Cunha; South Africa, and returning home by way of St. Helena, Barbados, St. Martin, and Bermuda. This was a 21,784 mile voyage, completed in ten months with a crew that varied between one and two young men.
Furthermore, Forsyth wrote copious descriptions of his entire cruise including a special guide to the Patagonian passages, including mileage of each segment, fuel consumption, and all the features of the land and nature encountered.
His most recent voyage started in June, 2000, took him from New York to Iceland, the High Arctic (79ºN), Spitzbergen, Norway, Scotland, Ireland, Portugal and a crossing of the Atlantic to the Caribbean where he is now cruising.
Notes from Capt. Eric B. Forsyth on His Blue Water Medal Presentation
Five of us traveled by van from Suffolk County, Long Island to the impressive New York Yacht Club on West 44th Street, New York City. Cocktails were served in the model room upstairs. The afforded the members of the party who had not visited the club before to inspect the numerous models of America’s Cup yachts and the amazing carved balcony. At seven we all trooped downstairs to the dining room. It is built in the style of an old wooden ship, with carved deck beams overhead, connected to ribs on the walls. Reports of various cruises in the planning stages were made, interspersed with the courses of an elegantly prepared dinner. E. Newbold Smith, himself a Blue Water Medallist, presented the medal, mounted on a plaque, to Eric at the conclusion of the ceremony. It was all over by 9:30.
The Blue Water Medal Ceremony
Capt. Eric B. Forsyth is awarded the 2000 Blue Water Medal by Commodore Jim Harvey and awards chairman E. Newbold Smith.
Capt. Eric B. Forsyth prepares to deliver his speech.
Capt. Eric B. Forsyth’s Acceptance Speech
I would like to thank the Awards Committee and the Cruising Club for this medal. I really feel I do not deserve this honor but I appreciate the recognition of my peers. I must also thank several others; first, my late wife Edith, who sometimes endured rather than enjoyed sailing and who, tolerated my indulgences on expensive toys. My daughter, Brenda, who is here tonight runs the website, pays the bills (with my money!) and looked after my house for many years. Next, I must thank Julie and Red Harting, who are also here tonight. In the old days of the East India Company when a ship left London for the long voyage to India a man was left on shore to collect parts and materials for the ship; he was the ‘ship’s wife’. Red is mine, he has taken many phone calls at odd hours with instructions to mail some special part or getting to an obscure address somewhere in the world where I planned to arrive sometime in the future. Finally, I would like to thank Teresa Bazzana, a crew member on our present voyage who flew up with me from Puerto Rico, I hope she will consent to represent all the crews that have sailed with me over the years and have suffered a steady diet of rum and Spam, though not necessarily at the same time.
While sailing I have met several previous recipients of the Blue Water Medal. The Hiscocks, Frank Caspor, and Tim and Pauline Carr in South Georgia. One day, many years ago, I was sitting in the cockpit of Humphrey Barton’s boat, Compass Rose. He had crossed the Atlantic more than twenty times, leaving annually in the spring for Europe and returning in the fall. Someone asked him how he navigated (those were pre-GPS days). “Well”, he said ” I just follow the empty rum bottles from the year before!”
There are people who think it is irrational to cross a large ocean in a small boat. After all, you could cross it for considerably less expense in a Concorde. It has been suggested people do it to chase something, like Captain Ahab. Or, that you are escaping something. Ironically, two fairly young psychiatrists, who had given up their practice to go sailing, accused me of running away as we sat at the bar of the old Yacht Club in Balboa. In fact, we go sailing because it is fun. If we get into trouble now and again the danger adds to the excitement- in retrospect. A strong sense of humor helps, of course. And so, I’ll finish by giving you a toast we usually drink to about five o’clock each day aboard FIONA–‘to the cruising life’