Mary Barton, wife of Ocean Cruising Club founder Humphrey Barton, has passed away


Mary Barton, Admiral of the Ocean Cruising Club, died on 1 December, a few days before her 95th birthday. Mary was an intrinsic part of the club since its earliest days. The second wife of the club’s founder, Humphrey Barton (they are pictured together, above), she played a leading role in helping it through troubled times in the 1980s.

By the time she became commodore in 1988, the club was insolvent and riven by deep divisions. It was due in large part to her devotion during her six years as commodore that it survived to grow into the vibrant club it is today. She was appointed Admiral in 1994, on completion of her second term as commodore.

Mary Danby was born in Australia. She was a keen sailor throughout her long life, sailing dinghies in wartime Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and later, in the 1950s and 1960s, crewing on ocean passages.

She met Humphrey Barton in Malta. Barton advocated the idea of taking female company, arguing that it promoted a well run ship and amiable company. One his crews was Mary, and he proposed to her after an Atlantic crossing.

They were married in a ceremony in Antigua in 1970 and afterwards the 36ft Giles-designed Rose Rambler became their cruising home. The couple were to cross the Atlantic many times, finally settling on board in the Mediterranean and continuing to sail until Humphrey’s death ten years later.

Over the following decades, Mary sailed enthusiastically with Ocean Cruising Club members all over the globe, as well as attending many club functions, always an honoured guest.