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Article: Charlotte and Dan win the Challenge Cup!

Charlotte and Dan win the Challenge Cup!

On Friday 6th March Charlotte and Dan came to visit Arthur Beale's. They had been attending a prize giving at the Royal Cruising Club and managed to pick up the big trophy. It couldn't have gone to a more deserving couple of sailors! This couple can do almost anything including climbing mountains, felling trees, illustrating Classic Boat magazine every month, mending defunct engines, building their own boat, making jewellery and of course sailing! I bet I've missed out a lot too. Dan is definitely the happiest person I have ever met. The smile on his face is nothing to do with winning a big trophy - it is a permanent feature. There is only one occasion that I can recall when we found Dan without a big smile. That was in Reykjavik when Dan was offered some of the local delicacy - Rotten Shark Meat. Dan does even like fish so it was a daring move to try this highly acquired taste. So there you are a very rare picture of Dan without a smile! Although maybe he is smiling?

Here is a bit about the fantastic award that they have just won written by the Log Judge

The Challenge Cup.

This historic trophy, the world’s most senior cruising award, may well be expected to have an element of the heroic about it, and for 2014 it is awarded for a cruise by a Scots lass and a Shropshire lad which was indeed at times heroic. But it was also great fun. It’s a wonderful tonic to read about the competent ocean voyaging and detailed coastal cruising of a delightful little own-built boat which skips across the ocean like a flying fish, yet when she gets to coastal waters, her masts are so modest in height that she can sail far up rivers where other taller craft would be obstructed by overhead cables. Then too, in some of the more remote and attractive cruising regions of the world where conspicuous affluence has yet to arrive, if you turn up in a shiny big modern boat with all today’s bells and whistles, you might be seen by the locals as an affront to their simple way of life. But this little boat with her minimal carbon footprint is seen as a threat by no-one, and thus her husband-and-wife crew were able to cruise in detail and be made welcome in places where bigger craft just don’t fit in.

Their enthusiasm is particularly notable for cruising in detail along each coastline they reach, as though this section of the voyage was the only cruise they were going to have all year. It’s one of the many endearing features of the 2014 cruise by Charlotte Watters and Dan Johnson in Hestur, a Jay Benford-designed 34ft ‘Badger class’ junk-rigged schooner, which means we’re back in Pete and Annie Hill territory. Charlotte and Dan are also keen climbers if there happens to be a mountain about, and they make a proper job of journeying inland and savouring each country visited. You’ll have met them in 2013’s Journal with the new Hestur– it’s the Icelander’s name for their tough yet fleet-footed little horses – safely arrived in the Canaries. In 2014, they voyaged on south to West Africa and far up the Gambia River, thence it was to Cape Verde before the hop to the Caribbean, then up along the islands before another hop to Bermuda, following which they crossed to the Azores. Then it was northeast to cruise southwest Ireland before visiting north Wales, after which they went gently back home. To Ullapool, of course. Charlotte is an artist and Dan is a master craftsman in wood, and this cruise really is a work of art which is very worthy of the Challenge Cup. Officially, it’s going to Dan Johnson and Charlotte Watters, but we all know it’s really for the three of them – Hestur, Dan and Charlotte – and their inspiring cruise.

WMNixon, Log Judge

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