About the Royal Cruising Club

Cruising went almost completely unrecognised 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 Club quickly earned a reputation for helpful competence by obtaining and circulating among members information on a wide variety of subjects such as navigation and local harbourage. Members were encouraged, then as now, to contribute to the enjoyment and safety of others by writing up accounts of their cruises for the Club Journal, publishing coastal guides and many other works of pilotage. Led by the more adventurous, cruising activity expanded rapidly. The first transatlantic crossing, in 1892, was followed by more intrepid explorations culminating in the first complete circumnavigation in 1919. Many names familiar to succeeding generations of yachtsmen have featured in the Club's membership list from Claud Worth to Tilman, from Miles and Beryl Smeeton to that other remarkable couple Eric and Susan Hiscock, whose lifetimes' voyaging served as an inspiration to a growing number of long distance sailors after the war.

Beginning with a get-together in 1894, it seems possible that the RCC may have invented Meets (a borrowed metaphor from hunting) where boats raft up in an anchorage; by tradition this now takes place once a year on the lower reaches of the Beaulieu River, but often also in much more remote corners of the world. The RCC also seems to have influenced the begetting - directly or indirectly or through a quirk of membership - several distinguished clubs like the Cruising Association, the Clyde Cruising Club, the Irish Cruising Club, the Cruising Club of America and even the RORC.

The early commitment to navigation has been maintained.At one time, portfolios of beautifully engraved colour charts were published. Since 1976, thanks to the hard work of many RCC members and other like-minded yachtsmen and women, the RCC Pilotage Foundation has been endeavouring “to advance the education of the public in the science and practice of navigation”. The Foundation publishes a wide range of pilotage information. Details about its books and other products, as well as comprehensive planning information for world-wide cruising and passage making, are available on the separate RCC Pilotage Foundation website.

Each year the RCC presents Cups to its members for outstanding cruising achievements as well as unrestricted awards for feats of outstanding exploration, seamanship and services to cruising. During the winter months dinners are held in London where the Club also maintains a library of charts and reference books; on other shelves are books by members past and present, from Erskine Childers and Arthur Ransome to Hammond Innes.

Over a century after its foundation the RCC's prime objective, the furtherance of cruising under sail, remains much the same though on a more global scale. And the membership of the Club, by invitation only and limited to four hundred, enjoys the same friendly intimacy which started all those years ago with Sir Arthur Underhill's small coterie of eccentrics.