New York, N.Y., USA (January 21, 2010) – The Cruising Club of America has selected Annie Hill and Trevor Robertson to receive its prestigious 2009 Blue Water Medal in recognition of a life of cruising and voyaging that best exemplifies the objects and goals of the CCA. The award will be presented on March 5, 2010 by CCA Commodore Sheila McCurdy (Middletown, R.I.) during the club's annual Awards Dinner at the New York Yacht Club, in New York.
In 1997 Robertson built Iron Bark, a 35-foot steel gaff cutter in Queensland, Australia. In 1998 he single-handed it from New Zealand around Cape Horn to the Antarctic Peninsula where he wintered over, frozen in at Alice Creek, Wiencke Island. On January 4, 2000, Iron Bark broke out of the ice and after cruising for a few weeks in the Antarctic Peninsula Robertson departed for the Falkland Islands and then sailed directly to Trinidad.
Annie Hill joined Iron Bark in 2002 and together they sailed from Trinidad to Labrador, Canada before returning to Baddeck, Nova Scotia. After returning to the U.K. in 2003 and later sailing to Tobago and then Trinidad, they readied Iron Bark for another trip north in 2004. From the U.S. Virgin Islands they passaged to Halifax and loaded provisions for 500 days.
On July 1 they departed and sailed north up the Greenland coast looking for suitable winter quarters. They chose Nako Island, at 72 degrees 40 North. On November 5 Iron Bark was frozen in and by June 8, 2005 they had broken free. After a few weeks they departed for Trinidad. It is believed that Iron Bark is the first vessel to winter unsupported in both the Arctic and Antarctic.
In February 2006 they left for New Zealand via the Panama Canal. With stops in the Galapagos Islands and many Pacific islands, they arrived in New Zealand on November 9 after sailing 10,500 miles.
Annie Hill left England in 1975 on her first Atlantic crossing in a 28-foot Wharram designed catamaran. She has made 17 Atlantic crossings! Her cruising has included Europe, the Caribbean, South America, South Africa, Labrador, Newfoundland, Greenland, and she has also circumnavigated South Georgia. All told, she has sailed approximately 165,000 miles.
Trevor Robertson's cruising also started in 1975 when he did an 8,000 mile cruise in a 34-foot wooden sloop from Western Australia to South Africa. Navigation was by plastic sextant and lead line. He has sailed from Australia to the Caribbean via the Suez Canal in a 30-foot fiberglass sloop with no electronics. In 1989 he returned to Australia via the Panama Canal and New Zealand, a trip of 19,000 miles singlehanded. In total, Trevor Robertson has logged 140,500 miles.
From 2007 to 2009 the couple spent time cruising in New Zealand, Tasmania and Queensland, Australia. In November 2009, Trevor departed from Nelson, New Zealand solo aboard Iron Bark bound for Chile.circumnavigated both east-about and west-about on boats they built themselves, using traditional means of navigation and having no engine or sponsorship.
Photo credit: Courtesy Annie Hill