When you start thinking about it, avoiding plastic altogether seems almost impossible. Shampoo, cleaning stuff etc.. However small water bottles and other drinks bottles are easily avoided or re-used. We all need to take this seriously and I think especially those of us who go out on the sea should have it in mind. I often end a sailing weekend with a huge mass of crushed single use water bottles for disposal. Next season I am going to ban them from our boat. What about you?

BBC article on plastic waste


Frostbite Race

Jack Frost was definitely not in contention for this the last race of the season for the Serpents.
A fine mixture of conditions was to prevail throughout the race with the only condition not experienced being snow.

Seven yachts lined up for an exciting start with Katya as the committee boat.

Camus Bosta considering tactics
Pondskater whipping the crew into performance mode

There was the odd shout of 'starboard' as Solus approached the line on port, but no other incidents reported.
Solus making life more interesting

Whilst gusting 24 knots in the main channel, the shelter of the Largs Channel gave a false sense of calm and any reefs were shaken out as the fleet headed through the Tan to complete a figure of eight course leaving Little Cumbrae to port.
Full steam ahead

All was comfortable until the full force of the wind hit the fleet as they progressed down the west side of Little Cumbrae. At this point, I believe, questions were being asked on a few yachts as to who's idea was it to shake out the reefs. A few classic broaches ensued providing classic entertainment for others.

Tom in Aquaholic took an early lead and whilst claiming he was sailing with a badly ripped main this did not prevent him from leading the fleet to the finish line. Thanks goes to Tom for then acting as finish boat and taking times. Results to follow.
Stewart Toy


Autumn Muster 2017

It wasn't a good day to be race officer.  With zero wind off Kip a postponement ensued followed by the abandonement of the start line and a search for another one with Warden Bank the chosen unlikely spot. There wasn't any wind there either but adopting a probably ill-advised Show Must Go On mindset,  a race (on Course 3 substituted for the original over-optimistic course 1)was started as competitors drifted slowly backwards from the line.

The wash from passing motor vessels was an annoyance. No comments about the weight on the bow please!
Eventually it became a a slow drift forwards with various patchy zephyrs being picked up from the SW, the forecast NW backing northerly having made a total non-appearance across the upper Clyde.  Progress being so pitifully slow there were various course shortenings and course changes with eventually, the the Ashton safe water buoy chosen in complete desperation as the finish mark.

We wouldn't normally be so irresponsible as to break the rules and choose a buoy in the middle of a shipping channel and with the Clyde having been so relatively deserted we weren't to know that a huge tanker and a container ship were to appear just as we were finishing. Anyway we survived without impeding the commercial traffic in any way and hopefully Clydeport will not be writing to the Commodore.

After that it was a brisk motor up the Holy Loch without getting in the way of the Pipers, Flying Fifteens and dinghies in the Polaris Regatta which were finishing an excellent race in ideal sailing conditions.
We had thought that space had been reserved for the club on the inside of the breakwater but Aquaholic, having arrived first was the only one to finsd a space and the rest of us  found that actually the pontoons opposite had been reserved and Exody was already there having cruised in earlier.  With congestion and the brisk northerly breeze berthing took some of us more than one attempt but eventually all were in and bottles were opened in the early evening sunshine.  Peter Jennett operated a dinghy ferry across to Aquaholic where a gin-fest was proceeding.  Some of us withthe appropriate bonus cards took the bus into Dunoon (the driver was a comedian of the first order and deserves a mention) while the remainder followed in Martin's taxi service to the La Cantina restaurant where the meal had been organised and was served efficiently. 
Much much later, partying from the Polaris regatta yachts carried on past the wee small hours but most of us slept right through it.

Yes it really was that grey as Katya prepares to depart
Next morning with the forecast F7 from the SW  beginning to make an appearance any thought of racing back was abandoned and those who lingered over their breakfasts faced a very wet and bumpy passage back to Kip

The results of Saturday's so-called 'race' are actually slightly different from those announced in the restaurant - as a result of an arithmetical error in the calculation of Aquaholic's time for which the compiler blames variously sunstroke, gin and a party going on in the cockpit.  Troikka recorded the fastest corrected time but the Race Officer is of the opinion that in the circumstances of Saturday the 10 minute allowance routinely accorded to the start boat should not really apply and so Aquaholic remains the winner of Class 2 albeit by a whisker. In the overall rankings the mighty Pondskater actually comes second and of course is the winner of Class 3 followed by Silverjack and Spirit.   


Coastguard VHF changes


Ormidale Muster

This was always an informal gathering of those in the area at the time and at this year’s event four Club boats attended, Katya, Pondskater, Troikka, and Emma Louise.

The two non Loch  Riddon boats, Troikka and Emma Louise both found available moorings and a prize should go to Seamus on Emma Louise who single handedly  travelled from Ardrossan to the loch for the BBQ.- 5 Hours into a head wind.

We were joined by Freda and Mike on Mickyfin IV, guests of Charles and Anne who hopefully enjoyed the company and will consider joining the Club.

Also on the shore were Martin Lacey and his children, the son of a neighbour from my early married days who has a mooring next to mine in Loch Riddon but normally keeps his boat on the west coast.

The weather was kinder than last year as a small ridge of high weather passed over the UK.  BBQs were lit, some working better than others but no reports of food poisoning have been received.

The marked breeze died as the evening progressed, to allow the midges a late nibble by the time we retired to sample the commodore’s hospitality onboard Katya.

My thanks to Robert and Audrey Yule and Ian MacLeod for the use of their moorings.

Having come straight from five days of having my granddaughters on board my car was full of toys, games and crab fishing gear so thanks to Stewart and Catherine for tidying the beach on Sunday morning, removing all the old spent BBQ’s and placing the all important Citronella candles by my car so that I would not forget them.

An enjoyable, relaxed get together for those able to come.  

Martin Yuill.

The Happy Campers on the beach 'smoking' well

Commodore's 'Party' boat

Peaceful Loch Riddon the morning after

Emma Louise trying to find a route home.
Is it this way or that way??--mmmmm


More photos from the Croabh weekend 2017

 Tom Hutchinson photos:

 Katya photos:


Croabh weekend 2017

A dismal wet Saturday preceded a brightening by the evening and the annual Serpent BBQ in the Croabh Marina boatshed which once again had been cleared out and tastefully decorated by Alastair and the Croabh staff.  The club is really grateful for this continued support and Steve, Marcus and the indefatigable catering team were much impressed with the addition of the new gas barbecue.  Around 40 persons were booked and after the food had been consumed some still felt fit enough for a bit of dancing.  Maybe some photos of this will be sent in.  Anyway it was a reasonably late night in anticipation of a bright and breezy Sunday for the Shuna race.

Peter and Marion Jennett's Exody had unfortunately come  to a halt in the Crinan Canal with a gearbox problem although better it happened there than somewhere in the Tropics.  Graham Gillies was in attendance with Silverjack along with Don and Marge but they opted not to race, Troikka was still in Kip marina after technical issues so with a few regulars missing the entry list was slightly depleted. A welcome new addition however was Alastair Gardner's doughty little First 21.7 down from Easdale.  Tom Hutchinson on Aquaholic was race officer and the race started on time in a good SW 15 kts on a sparkling Loch Shuna.

With a wee bit of prompting from Troikka's crew guesting for the weekend  Stewart (for once!) brought Katya up to the start line on time and continued to hold the lead right round the course much to the enjoyment of the crew which included a pair of enthusiastic novices.

There was close racing between Dr Douglas Gray's Finngulf 41 'Shenaval' with his crew of nimble young lads and Ataraxia, the Dufour 40 of Steve and Susan Pickles with master tactician Marcus and the irrepressible Trevor on board.  

Pondskater, on this occasion helmed by Julia Scott (who is no mean dinghy sailor) fell behind these faster boats as, not surprisingly, did the little First 21.7 which nonetheless was sailing well.   Committee boat Aquaholic, leaving the start line on the prescribed 10 minutes after the start soon picked up the chase and arrived at the finish uncomfortably close to the three in front.

It was an excellent fast sail, perhaps over rather quickly but that gave time for some boats to catch the tide to return through the Dorus Mhor for Ardfern or the Crinan canal.  All in all a fine weekend.

Provisional results - awaiting final times are below: (click to enlarge & make readable)


Opening Muster 2017

Saturday’s race from Kip to Tarbert proved to have a slow start with very light airs for the first hour or more. Camus Bosta unfortunately hooked a buoy around one of the rudders resulting in them being held up for some time before they could release it.

Thereafter the westerly wind picked up a tad but also brought plentiful rain. It would take more than persistent rain to dampen the spirits of the Serpent fleet as they approached Toward. Instead it took multiple mainsail sliders to fail on Katya and their game was up. They reluctantly dropped sail and retired from the field leaving only Aquaholic and Exodus in class 2. The light conditions of the day, however, favoured Aquaholic.  

Pondskater in class 3 caught up considerably on Silverjack by taking a daring line at Toward by hugging the shore and taking a short tack round the East cardinal Marker. This canny strategy looked to pay off in spades but took a knock as a hole awaited them near the moorings, which ultimately proved costly. 

It was a beat up the East Kyle in light but fairly steady airs. Just as the fleet were contemplating the daunting prospect of beating through the narrows in these light conditions, a decision was made to shorten the race at Rubha A’Bhodaich. Tom on Aquaholic, having set a remarkable pace, despite the light winds, kindly made a finish line and took the times of the fleet as they sequentially drifted over the line.

Curtailing the race saved us from a late showing at Tarbert and the boats arrived just in time for a convivial if rather chilly drinks reception at the marina and 36 sat down to an excellent dinner at the Starfish Restaurant. The racing fleet were joined by Tigerfire, Solus and Emma Louise who had cruised up to be at Tarbert. We were also pleased to be joined at dinner by John Turner and Winnie who had driven up. 

Camus Bosta fighting with a rogue buoy
Silverjack and Exody fighting for position

Aquaholic leading the fleet
Sunday was the day for the Ladies Race from Tarbert to Kames.

With the wind blowing a good 4/5 from the south the Ladies at the helm were working a lot harder than the gents on the Saturday. Katya was on the start line to witness the competitive spirit of the Lady helms on the line followed with a hard beat down to Ardlamont. On rounding the Ardlamont and the wind having eased, a more comfortable run was enjoyed to the finish line. Aquaholic, with Caroline and Linda sharing the helm, proved unbeatable but were very closely followed by Pondskater with Audrey in charge. Jane on Silverjack secured third place with Roemary on Exody and Ruth on Emma Louise following on.
Pondskater powering on

Silverjack enjoying the wind

Emma Louise, with crew stolen from Katya, fighting to the finish


Message from the Secretary

 Hi Serpent members,

I hope you are as excited as I am about the coming sailing season and the prospect of a fun summer on the water.
I have been somewhat tardy this year and am only now ready for going back in the water. Hey - its not a race; enjoy the process. I wish I had remembered that yesterday as I can hardly move my arms today. Our winter visit to Silvers Yard in February was well attended. It was informative, interesting and most enjoyable -especially the bacon rolls. We are grateful to Duncan Chalmers for hosting the tour. As you will see from the Calendar page at the side of your screen we have a full programme of events for the season.

Our Spring Muster is only a few weeks away on 21st and 22nd May, with our usual race to Tarbert on the Saturday and the Ladies Race back to Kames on the Sunday. Dinner will be at the Starfish Restaurant with our sociable pre dinner party at the Marina beforehand. Racing or cruising, it is
our most popular muster - look out for full details and booking form a little nearer the time.

Note that our Craobh Muster will be a week earlier than in the past; it's on 15th/16th July. Many of us will be planning our summer cruise around attending that weekend event.

Our Autumn Muster will be at Holy Loch Marina this year with Saturday dinner at La Cantina Italian restaurant in Dunoon.

Lets hope for a bumper season. I look forward to seeing you on the water very soon. Good sailing and fair winds.



Commodore's Message for 2017

A Happy New Year to one and all. I am looking forward to another exciting year as Commodore of the Serpent Yacht Club.

Last year culminated with the 40th Anniversary Dinner. This proved to be a great success. Returning to the Art Club, with their caterers, Encroute, was a privilege, creating an exciting ambiance for the evening. Tom Cunliffe was inspirational with a fine repertoire of stories and tales of the sea. There seemed to be a smile on everybody's face by the end of the night. It is my pleasure to announce that the final figure achieved from the raffle and donations allowed the club to donate £1750.00 to the RNLI.

The first event in 2017 is the AGM on Wednesday 1st of February. I hope I can welcome many club members and friends as we have an exciting talk from Peter Jennett and Marion Borde of their extension to the World ARC up the east coast of America and Canada to complete a unique trip including Greenland, Iceland and the Faroes. They christened this trip the "ARCtic".

Secretary Graham will be sending notifications of this and all the other events in 2017.

I do hope to see you on the water this season. There will always be a warm welcome on our new yacht 'Katya'.

Stewart Toy
Commodore Serpent Yacht Club