2016 Annual Dinner

An excellent night at the Serpent Annual Dinner with guest speaker Tom Cunliffe. What a hugely entertaining and talented man.  The Glasgow Art Club was looking splendid and Stewart Toy presiding did a grand job.

The Prizes

Tom Cunliffe delivering a most entertaining speech

Club Members and Friends

More Club Members and Friends

Even more Club Members and Friends

And, yes, even more Club Members and Friends

2015 Commodore's Trophy
for Outstanding Achievement awarded to
Jim and Lorraine Pollock

2016 Commodore's Trophy
for Outstanding Achievement awarded to
Peter Jennett and Marion Borde

Secretary Graham Gillies, Tom Cunliffe and Commodore Stewart Toy


Frostbite Race

With the daytime temperature in double figures and above the seasonal average there was not the remotest chance of frostbite for the seven contenders in the final race of the Serpent calendar.  Off Largs it was initially cloudy and with winds gusting 24kts, reefing was in order for the more cautious at the start.  Tom Hutchison on Aquaholic was on committee boat duties and was not a little perturbed to find a large motor cruiser driving through the line before the start. Fortunately the race starters were quite well spread out and no collisons ensued but one might expect better behaviour even from Largs motor yacht bertholders. From Tom's photo it looks like Solus was clear first away and leading the fleet at least to begin with.

The course was the full figure eight around both islands so it was through the Tan and keep the wee Cumbrae to port.  Below we see Exody back from her epic World ARC adventure, still with the bimini, solar panels and whatnot and leading Neil in Camus Bosta.

This was a first outing for Stewart and Catherine Toy in their new luxury yacht which is a Bavaria 42 Cruiser.  She has been renamed Katya (Catherine in Russian we believe).  Stewart, who as we know has a fine sense of humour, suggested a handicap of about 20 mins but it is a pretty slippy looking big bus and we expect the CYCA to award a handicap somewhere around 12min/hr. However  today there were the inevitable snags appearing and it will take a wee while before they are leading the fleet

Here's Emma Louise with her cowcatcher still in place, well reefed down while Martin keeps the full mainsail on Pondskater.

In all this was considered perfect sailing weather with brilliant sunshine and with a wind force at some point in the race to suit every yacht.  The wind eventually eased to about 5 knots and so the race was finished by the Committee boat at HUN1.

 Results: corrected finish times

1 Aquaholic         3 hr 21 min
2 Pondskater        3 hr 22 mins
3 Emma Louise   3hr 25 mins
4 Solus                 3hr 26min
5 Silverjack          3hr 28 mins
6 Exody               3hr 43mins
7  Katya               3 hr 50 minutes

Photos by Tom Hutchison and Graham Gillies


Ormidale BBQ 

Martin Yuill reports

This was the first Official Serpent BBQ at Ormidale and although the weather could have been kinder it did not dampen the spirits of all who took part. In the end 9 SYC boats were represented and we were joined by prospective new members, Mairi and Douglas Brown on Mariella, a Nicholson 32.

Commodore Stewart and wife Catherine, had loaned Out of the Blue to their sons. A request was received from them for a berth on Pondskater for the Friday and Saturday.

“Certainly” we said  without realising that he would be arriving after son Douglas, his wife Leo, other son David and a friend  had been ferried on board in the dead of night at 11.00 after travelling from London that afternoon. The SAS should recruit Stewart who is now well practiced in ferrying people around an isolated anchorage at midnight.

Saturday saw Pondskater, now flying the Commodore’s burgee, at Rothesay for the passage in company. With no takers we had a stop in Port Bannatyne  for papers which turned into a lunch break.

Back at the mooring people who had moorings at Ormidale started to arrive and in the end no one had to anchor with Graham and Don on Silverjack rafting up to Black Pepper, Mariella on Stewart’s mooring and Tigerfire also on a spare mooring. Ian and Anne were on Sulaire and Robert on Kelpie-D. Seamus, recovering from the flu, and Marie arrived by car and stayed the night on Emma Louise at Portavadie .

Those afloat set off to the shore at 5.30 in a damp Scottish mist which was more like rain at times. It did though clear up to give us a dry evening ashore mostly clear of midges.
Somebody stole my burger! I wonder who? Can you spot the culprit?

Everyone brought their disposable BBQs except Don and Graham  who were more traditional and created theirs on the beach in a stones circle  (they did succumb to the use of the blow torch to get it going).

There was so much sharing of facilities that it eventual became a large community self help BBQ with food and cooking resources being shared.

We started to pack up at 8.30 before it got dark with everyone having had their fill . A ‘taxi’ service, for those who needed it, towed them back to their boats.

A big clear up followed with numerous rubbish bags ending up in the back of Stewart & Catherine’s pickup.

 By the time Pondskater stirred on Sunday it was a nice dry and calm day.
 Could  it not have been like that on Saturday!!


Midges? What midges!


Forthcoming events

Next up is the Autumn Muster on 10th/11th September.  We return to Rothesay with a race there from Kip and with a round the cans pursuit race centred on Rothesay Bay on the Sunday.  The inner harbour has been reserved for us and a meal has been arranged at the Victoria Hotel.  It's a good menu but participants will be required to give their menu choices to Seamus on arrival in the marina. The actual menu will be sent out with the race instructions and entry form.  Payment for the meal is directly to the hotel under your boat name. Hopefully we will get suitable  weather and that this will be as successful as previous years. 

Also to note : The so-called 'Frostbite' Race on Sat 8th October - returning again to Largs for we hope a frost-free sail round Cumbrae.

And - advance notice of The Annual Dinner on Saturday 26th November at the Glasgow Art Club.  In this anniversary year it promises to be a very special event. 

We are delighted to announce that we will have as  our very distinguished speaker, Tom Cunliffe who will of course be familiar to anyone who has ever picked up practically any sailing publication.  With numerous books and innumerable magazine articles to his credit, all written in his highly engaging style, Tom is surely the UK's most prominent writer and commentator on practical sailing matters.  The Club will be inviting non members to the Dinner and tickets are likely to be in high demand so be sure to get your request in as soon as the official notification is issued.       


Clyde BBQ and Muster 13th / 14th August at Ormidale or Wreck Bay.

Martin Yuill writes:

We have just had a very successful BBQ at Craobh but for those Members who were stuck on the Clyde and who missed out, the Club is arranging an informal muster and BBQ over the weekend of 13/14th

Nothing could come near the organisation or cooking skills of Steve Pickles and his crew so the format will be very casual. If you want deep fried mars bars bring your own!
This is a free weekend: there will be no racing. Simply come along and meet your fellow club members.
I will be starting a passage in company from the flagpole at Rothesay Sailing Club at approx 11.00 hrs. My boat is Pondskater, a Najad 370 with a red stripe on the hull. I will be flying a very large SYC burgee from the backstay. The passage will be up the Kyles to Ormidale in Loch Riddon or Wreck Bay depending on the wind direction and strength. You can join us anywhere along the course or just arrive at the anchorage whatever suits you. At the anchorage I hope members will engage in a boat hopping session. I enjoy learning how others have solved boating problems. A dinghy taxi service will be available if required. We will then have a DIY BBQ on the beach at 6.30/7.00. Bring your own disposable BBQ, your own food, cutlery, plastic glasses, and tipple of choice. We will bring some midge repellent sticks for the beach (just in case). When you are finished dampen down the BBQs and I will collect and remove them on the Sunday. NB do not put the used hot/warm BBQs in a locker as they may still be producing carbon monoxide and kill you. This weekend is a great opportunity for the non-racing and motor cruiser members to come and meet others in the club, so if you have not attended a muster before, you are especially welcome.
Just turn up and fly the flag.

Martin Yuill

Summer barbeque at Croabh and Shuna Race

It was good to have a fine attendance at the barbeque after its cancellation last year.  Alastair at Croabh had not only done a fine job in decorating the shed but had also provided a brand new barbecue of no oil drum ancestry and over which Steve, Susan and Trevor presided with their customary skill and humour.

 A new and perhaps dubious addition as far as the health conscious was concerned was the nougat en chocolat tempura or more accurately, deep fried Mars bar as provided by Dr Douglas Gray  but at least it provided an opportunity for those of us who had always been horrified by the concept to try a small sample.    
As usual spirited dancing followed with recorded music provided by Stewart.

Then eventually, at the end of a great night during which much food and drink had been consumed it was time to perform certain rituals, possibly to honour the Commodore although really it should be to the Croabh Marina personnel who do so much to make our annual visit such an enjoyable affair. 

Next day of course was the Round Shuna race.  Troikka had been nominated as committee boat, no doubt with the ulterior motive of keeping us anchored at the start.  A complete lack of wind sufficient to start the race resulted in a rare phenomenon in Serpent races, namely a postponement.  Happily, after 10 minutes of that, a slight breeze filled in with which it was possible to dispel the confusion among the competitors and start the race at 11.15.  

                                          Martin Yuill photo 
Amongst the fleet were three of the Scottish Island classic yachts, Martyn Webster's 'Shona' which appeared well filled with crew, Mr Arup Ray's Bernera and Canna, the helm of which is as yet unknown. 

Also new on the scene was Douglas Gray's potent looking Finngulf 41 'Shenaval' seen here approaching the start line.

It was a well ordered start with everybody more or less on the case but the conditions did not suit those with a low SA/D and sadly Pondskater soon fell behind although Out of the Blue carried on valiantly.

The conditions however suited Troikka perfectly and after the prescribed 10 minutes wait on the line she weighed anchor and proceeded to work her way through most of the fleet, finally overtaking Ataraxia, sailing weighed down with an unspecified proportion of the Pickles wine cellar.

                                           Martin Yuill photo
Rounding the south end of Shuna it was apparent that there was no wind and that a drift would result with the probability of nobody finishing within the time limit and so the race was shortened to an imaginary finish line extending from the white house on Shuna.  So it was only a down one side of Shuna race really but everyone seemed more or less satisfied and happy not to be drifting aimlessly.
Results below. Click the table (or any of the photos) for a clearer view.  I was never given a finish time for Shona or Bernera so they cannot be included at present.


Summer Barbecue at Croabh with Shuna Race

The Serpent Yacht Club Craobh Muster is on the weekend of Sat 23rd/Sun 24th July 2016.

The event will follow the established format of a barbeque on the Saturday with the race on Sunday.  The cost for the BBQ is a very reasonable £10 per person and includes plentiful drinks and food and with the Commodore providing music and encouraging dancing. New this year is an invitation from the Commodore to bring your own tunes (or even instrument?) to perhaps enhance the musical side of things. The venue is just outside the Boatshed at Craobh Marina and if the weather is poor we will be inside the boatshed.
On Sunday we have the ever-popular spinnaker-free Round Shuna Race for which race instructions and entry forms with be available at the Muster on the Saturday.

And if you are not sailing to Craobh that weekend, why not come to the Barbecue anyway and bring your crew and friends. Steve Pickles with his well-trained assistants are once again providing his now-legendary barbecue. If you would like to attend then please contact him with your number of attendees by Saturday 16th July. You can contact him by email on stephen.pickles@btinternet.com or Mobile 07981 443362 so that he has an idea of how much food to provide."


Alternative Portavadie Race

While the Portavadie race was going on another Serpent yacht was taking part in the inaugural St Kilda Challenge. This was Mhojo Mhor, the Starlight 35 formerly known as Jomora and now owned by Dr David Murray of Lochcarron. Amongst the crew of 5 was Dr Charles Sutherland and so this qualifies to be described here as a legitimate Serpent-related exploit.  It is a new event promoted by Comann na Mara of Lochmaddy with the race organisation in the hands of the Clyde Cruising Club and run under IRC handicap.  In the extraordinary sunshine which we had been enjoying, yachts gathered in the tiny marina at Lochmaddy and were given a warm welcome and an impressive reception with unlimited wine and seafood nibbles. Other events and concerts were being held giving a village festival atmosphere. 15 yachts were entered for the non-stop race around the entire archipelago with another 16 registered for the flotilla cruise to Hirta with a proposed landing at Village Bay.

With the start being on Friday at 9.30am this meant a very early start to motor the 20 miles or so from Lochmaddy to the start line at the west end of the Sound of Harris. I think sailing to St Kilda is a trip which really calls for a Goldilocks type wind but in the event there really was too little but this was preferable to too much and the calm weather which preceded the event meant that the Atlantic swell was very much less than it might have been.  The fleet comprised a number of pretty serious looking racers with the numbers made up of more pedestrian cruisers of which Mhojo Mhor was the smallest to finish so we were pleased to find ourselves, after a reasonable start, up amongst the leading boats. Once spinnakers were hoisted we gradually fell back from the quicker boats. Others faring more poorly with the fickle breeze retired and in the end there were only 7 finishers.  
 We arrived at St Kilda around 7pm with the archipelago shrouded in mist but as we proceeded around the eerie rocks of the west side of Hirta the spinnaker came own and a stiff beat developed as the wind rose and we headed north east to clear Boreray.  
As darkness fell so did the wind and it was a trying job to keep the boat moving at all in the ever-present swell particularly as fatigue was beginning to set in and making disorientation in the darkness hard to avoid.  With the gradual reappearance of light so appeared the slightest of zephyrs and any thoughts of retiring were put aside.  Boat speed improved and as the hours went by spirits rose as we realised that finishing within the 3pm Saturday time limit was probably possible.  The final leg with the Sound of Harris in sight seemed to take forever and to our chagrin the wind died to just a few knots while on the AIS we could see boats ahead finishing with good boatspeed. Eventually we ghosted over the finish line, last to finish after 28 hours of sailing and to our surprise found ourselves awarded 4th place on handicap.  First place went to Moonstruck Too, a serious racing J122 from Port Edgar. At the prizegiving, medals were awarded to all crew members. 
 Reports from those who had cruised were that they had landed and were delighted to have had some time ashore before the mist came down but then followed an uncomfortable night in Village Bay.  On Mhojo Mhor we were all glad to have taken part but would we do it again? Probably not.    


Portavadie Race and Muster

 There were eight Serpent competitors in the 2016 Portavadie race starting from Rothesay Bay and finishing off Skate Island in Loch Fyne.  Having sailed in winds ranging in force from very little to 17plus knots there was general agreement among all participants that no one could say that this was not a very competitive and close race as the corrected times below will attest.  Tom Hutchinson on Aquaholic was the race officer starting the race and who joined the race at the prescribed 10 minutes after the start.  After his unsuccessful foray at the opening muster it was good to see Martyn Webster and crew on 'Shona', his Scottish Island class design yacht, taking first place on handicap
The race was followed by a reception hosted by the Aquaholic team, who celebrated world gin day with the club members and all then proceeded to the Portavadie restaurant where an excellent meal was enjoyed.
Corrected times
1 SHONA.                2 hr 30min 33s
2 CAMBUS BOSTA 2 hr 33 min 22s
3 EMMA LOUISE     2 hr 35min 24s
4 SILVERJACK         2hr 35 min 49s
5 AQUAHOLIC         2hr 35 min 52s
6 PONDSKATER      2hr 36min 38s
7 BLACK PEPPER    2hr 40min 21s
8 OUT OF THE BLUE 2hr 40min 42s


Spring Muster photos

 Don Gillies as Race Officer on Black Pepper contributed these two shots of the start off Kip. All are heavily reefed and the first shows Troikka and Aquaholic running down the start line. In the second, Out of The Blue looks well powered up despite the tiny sailplan. I think that's Martyn Webster struggling with Shona in the centre distance.

The next  set are from the successful drinks and nibbles party at the gazebo. You can click on any of the photos for a larger version

 And finally the Commodore levitates onto a bench to make the announcement that oor tea is oot at the Starfish.

All of the above photos by Marcus Stone and lifted from the Serpent facebook page

John and Winnie Turner were watching the Ladies Race start from the shore and contributed the above two shots.  Don Gillies doing race officer duty once again took the next one which shows Shona lined up for a well timed start.

Graham Gillies on Silverjack took the following.