The Serpent Photo Contest 2021

 A good varied bunch of entries has now been received for the photo contest for 2021 which once again, owing to the lack of the Annual Dinner is being held online.   The theme was  'By The Sea' and all entries qualify as the sea is present in them all.  Here they are with titles but the photographer is unattributed - those to be revealed after votes have been counted.  They are of a good standard so please everyone take the time to send in a vote to Graham Gillies 

Remember to click on the photo to appreciate it at full size

No .1   'Not Found His Sea Legs'


 No.2     'Isle of Skye'


No.3      'A beautiful sunset from anchor in Loch Spelve'


No. 4     ‘I wandered lonely…”

No.5     'A Serpent day on Loch Fyne'

No.6    ‘Chilling near the dock of the bay’  

No.7    'Room with a view - Camping on Inchmarnock.'   

No. 8     ’Racing from Tarbert’ 


No.9    ‘At anchor in Wizard Pool’


Frostbite Race

Next event is the Frostbite Race to be held on Saturday 2nd October.  The course, weather permitting will be the familiar figure 8 around the Cumbraes and starting off Largs Marina at 11am.  Climate change makes the likelihood of actual frostbite highly unlikely so pack your shorts. 

Martyn Webster


On behalf of the club, Graham and Don Gillies were delighted to visit Martyn Webster and his wife Shery at their home to present him with the 2020 Commodore’s Trophy. This award was given in recognition of Martyn’s long and active association with the club and his participation in Serpent events and races right up to his recent decision to retire from sailing. Until last year he regularly raced his Scottish Islands yacht Shona at our Musters; both on the Clyde and the West Coast.

Martyn was delighted to receive the award and asked us to pass on his sincere thanks to the club. His beloved Islander yacht Shona is currently for sale but he is continuing his maritime interests as part of a group building a St Ayles Skiff which was launched on Loch Fyne this summer.

Martyn is seen with the award and holding a favourite photo of Shona racing against Bernera and Stroma. 

Autumn Muster 2021

Once again, by popular demand the destination for the muster was Rothesay.  It is perhaps a reflection of the diminished nature of the club that there were only four race entries with one cruising - Seamus and crew in Emma Louise as the 10am start off Kip was just too early for a passage from Ardrosssan.  Don and Marge in Black Pepper formed both the committee boat and in choosing not to race, also the welcoming party in Rothesay  The course selected was the shortened one with the first mark being Hun1 rather than the circumnavigation of the Cumbrae and this proved to be a wise decision as the light breeze from the start was extremely flukey. 

Lollipop with just Charles and Marcus aboard led off the start line but was soon overtaken by Katya, who, once a suitable breeze was found powered away and was to remain invincible. Lollipop held her nerve and managed to squeeze past the old power station pier as did Exody but Silverjack tacked early into a hole from which she was to suffer badly.  

 Katya chases Lollipop from the start


Exody powers up to the start line

However at Hun 1 the wind really picked up and once round we were hard on the wind which was rising to gusts over 20kts.  In that wind Exody, loaded with all her world girdling hardware began to gain ground but Lollipop having managed to put in a mainsail reef held them off to the finish line at Ardyne although it was close. Silverjack trailed in some distance behind.  It was an unusual race with every leg apparently more or less upwind but it was good to get sailing again. Marge and Don had to compete with the Bute Berthing crew in assisting arrivals with helpfulness and banter.   Eventually, after a period of relaxation in various socially distanced cockpits the party moved to the Victoria Hotel for dinner. That comparisons with Fawlty Towers were made can be excused by the present circumstances and staffing difficulties and there were no complaints about the food which was served by most willing Polish waitresses who appeared to have been pressganged into their duties.  Thereafter it was a quiet evening as possibly befitted the age of all participants who would certainly have been out of place along at the Pavilion.   Sunday was completely windless and a unanimous decision was taken to can the proposed pursuit race and just motor back to base. 

Results :  1. Katya

                2. Lollipop

                3. Exody

                4. Silverjack



2021 Opening Muster to Tarbert: 12th-13th June

It can never be assumed that a number of Serpent members will be in wholehearted agreement on any given subject but in regard to the much delayed and long awaited Opening Muster weekend that was indeed the case.  There was joy abundant falling just this side of ecstasy to be out sailing once again and meeting up convivially in circumstances not very different from what used to be considered normal.   

Only 5 boats were entered for the race from Rothesay with Don and Marge in Black Pepper forming the welcoming party at Tarbert.  This was to be the first time for as long as I can recall when all entries were two handed.  The forecast for the weekend was mixed but there was a very light breeze available in Rothesay Bay enabling Graham on Silverjack to get the start underway.  

All but Katya who headed off into what was to prove to be an unassailable lead were struggling to make much of a start but eventually all rounded Ardyne and into the inevitable beat up the East Kyle.  This was the first time that Anne and Charles had been out together on their 'new' (32 year old) First 29 Lollypop  and to begin with were in close contention with Emma Louise but gradually pulled ahead.  Exody was not far behind and after the 10 minute start boat delay Silverjack began to catch up.  The wind had built to a healthy sailing breeze and by the time we had tacked our way through the Burnt Isles everyone was beginning to find all this tacking not a little tedious not least Exody whose mainsheet block exploded - it had after all been round the world.  There was some respite for the fatigued winch monkeys by the time we had finally cleared Kames but by this time Katya, (with the assistance of their 3rd mute crew member) was fully powered up on a reach and disappearing down the west Kyle on what is otherwise known as a horizon job.   Somehow, not least with the energy Anne was putting into the winches, Lollypop managed to pull out some distance on the rest of the pack and held this all the way to a most welcome arrival in Tarbert where with Don and Marge's directions we all tied up in 2 lines along the main east walkway.  

Eventually, the race was followed, once the race results had been announced on the pontoon, by the evening meal in the Starfish where, with 1 metre distancing and table household rules in place we had the additional joy of being able to dine from the a la carte menu as well as being pleased to be joined by John Turner & Winnie.  After the meal there was an invitation for a socially distanced dram in Katya's cockpit where ultimately the present writer struggled to stay awake.  

Addendum. At the time of writing the Club is pleased to announce that no Covid infections appear to have resulted from the weekend activities.   

Saturday results:

Class 2:  corrected times

1. Katya ;  195 mins 47s    (CYCA 12.10)
2. Exody: 244 mins 15 s    (CYCA  13.65)

Class 3: 

1. Lollypop :         216 mins 57s       (CYCA 17.48) 
2. Silverjack:        226 mins 13s       (CYCA  16.67) 
3. Emma Louise : 230mins 47s       (CYCA 18.00)

Sunday dawned sunny with the prospect of a reasonable wind for a reachy course to Ardlamont to form the most basic 'Ladies' Race' this course having been chosen so that Marian could participate before Exody continued southwards.  However with a change of plan on Exody it was left to Catherine and Anne to fight it out.  After a graciously allowed 5 minute delay while a struggle with mainsail sliders proceeded on board Lollypop, Graham started the race as both boats sought to make progress between the catspaws. 

With Lollypop ahead to begin with Katya found a good sailing breeze first and reached away in the same manner as on the previous day. 

There was no possibility of Lollypop catching up and Anne was further handicapped by a large wind hole having formed around the Ardlamont buoy adding a further 10 minutes or so of drifting time.   There was no doubt that Catherine would be taking home the coveted rosebowl along with Saturday's line honours and first in Class 2 pots.   

Ladies Race results:

1. Mrs C. Toy   (Katya)  1hr 36 55s                 Corrected:  66min 14s
2. Mrs A. Sutherland  (Lollypop)  1hr 57 07s  Corrected:  83min 00s 

All photos except last 2 by Graham and Seamus.




The Great Serpent Online Photo Competition with the Winner and captions

Updated 11/11/20

The photo competition is a usual addition to the Annual Dinner goings-on but with the inevitable cancellation of that this year and like so many other things we have moved it online, hopefully for this year only. Despite the limitations on sailing in the season just ended we have 6 entries which are presented unattributed to the photographers and although some have been submitted with titles those have been amended to remove clues to the location in the interests of preserving anonymity. All members are encouraged to vote for their favoured choice and to do so please email Graham Gillies with the number of your selection by Monday 9th November. The winner will be announced as soon as Graham has completed the abacus work and a presentation bottle will be forwarded.  At that time the images will be attributed properly on the website. Here they are for your careful consideration. Remember to click on the image to see it at best resolution. 

and send your choice to Graham :  gwagillies@gmail.com

 And Now -Graham has done the tally and presents the results which are presented here along with the identity of the photographers. 


Number 1.  Runner-up   'Settled Morning at Ormidale'    This tranquil image is Graham Gillies' submission depicting 'Silverjack' on her mooring.  Modesty allows him to only hint that this is runner up by a narrow margin. 

Number 2. 

This is from Tom Hutchinson. His suggested title is ' ‘Social distancing on the water  - no COVID up here'   Rather him (or whoever it is up there)  than me. Is it another go-fast tweak?  We can only guess. 


Number 3. A pretty 'Sunset on Kilchoan' by Caroline Hutchinson 


Number 4.  'Are you sure this is the way in?'  This nicely detailed and evocative shot was taken by Gavin Kenny on this year's summer cruise and depicts the approach to Tinker's Hole on (he says) a surprisingly sunny day. 


Number 5.  Winner (by a narrow margin).    Acarseid Mhor, North Rona.  This is Charles Sutherland's effort taken with his obsolete phone on an idyllic early evening at the start of the Mhojo Mhor (ex Jomora) boy's cruise this August. 

Number 6.    Seamus Lalor didn't get Emma Louise launched this year hence his boatyard photo entitled Lockdown Blues.  To me the contrasts and hard shadows are in keeping with that lockdown feeling 


Serpent 2020 Covid Compliant Frostbite Race


The Serpent Yacht Club was determined, if it was at all possible, to run at least one event in 2020. It was decided that the Frostbite race was the only possible remaining event as that race does not usually involve any organised apres-sail social activity.  Consequently the date was brought forward to October 3rd and arranged in great detail to be fully compliant with the government guidelines for sporting events as interpreted and promulgated by the RYA.  Stewart Toy was encouraged to volunteer to be the club Covid Officer for the event and this turned out to be a not unduly onerous task given only four entries of lightly crewed yachts. As can be seen from the photos, wind was in short supply.  The post race comments received here were of a general admiration of Tulla Mhor's new post World Arc laminate sails and a unanimous wish that next year we may have sailing with proper Serpent sociability. 

 Tom Hutchinson has kindly written the following race report.   


Frostbite Race 2020

Over the preceding week the weather forecasts alternated between gale force winds and little wind. Luckily the latter prevailed and four boats lined up at 11:00am off Largs sailing club. Three of the boats were crewed by the husband and wife teams of Stewart and Catherine Toy, Peter and Marian Jennett and Dugald and Val Glen, with the Gillies brothers accompanied by Tom Hutchinson, sailing on Silverjack. 


Stewart and Catherine Toy undertook the duty of start boat on Katya and set the most appropriate course round the Cumbrae Island leaving it to port. The start was challenging with little wind and a strong north going tide which caused Silverjack, helmed by Tom Hutchinson, to drift across the line early. After being recalled by the officer of the day Silverjack restarted and with Exody and Tulla Mhor [with a beautiful set of new sails] headed towards HUN1 at a snail’s pace. Tulla Mhor reached the mark first and picked up stronger winds which promptly disappeared as the rest of the fleet struggled on. Katya, having completed duties as start boat, set off 12 minutes later joined the three slower boats as they drifted onwards towards the mark. Katya was forced to take avoiding action to prevent the tide pushing them onto HUN3 as the tide turned at the north end of the island.

Both Exody and Katya then picked up a small breeze and rounded HUN1 shortly followed by Silverjack and the rain.

Tulla Mhor, having disappeared over the horizon, finished racing at the TAN SPIT BUOY with the rest of the fleet arriving considerably later in light winds.

The results were as follows:-



Tulla Mhor

2 hours 9 minutes


3 hours 4 minutes


3 hours 9 minutes


3 hours 12 minutes

All crews expressed their delight at being able to race again in a club event, unfortunately without any social interaction being allowed before or after the race.

Big thanks to Stewart and Catherine for starting the race and providing Covid risk assessments etc. Also to Graham and Charles Sutherland who organised the race and to everyone who turned up on the start line. Let’s hope we can race again soon.

Tom Hutchinson

Committee member and tea maker on Silverjack [promoted after my disastrous start]