Serpent Photo Contest 2022

Voting is for all members and we want as many as possible to cast a vote. The theme this year is 'Coastal Scenes' which is not very different from last year's 'By the Sea' but has given everyone plenty of opportunity provided they've had their box Brownie, iPhone or whatever with them on their travels.  Please study all the entries carefully- there are 12 and decide which you think is the lucky one.  Don't forget to click on the photo to see it at its fullest resolution.  

Send your decision to Graham Gillies who will collate them all and announce the winner.  This is an unmissable opportunity to be able to say that with your photograph you have won the Turner Prize - the new prize being a year's custody of a seascape by the late John Turner which has been donated generously by his family.  (You also get a glass keeper.)    The photos are anonymised at present but even if you can't deduce the photographer the names will be revealed after the judging.   The prize will be awarded at the AGM on 15th February.   

1. 'Calm Seas' by Caroline Hutchinson

2.  'Time for a Dram'  by Norena McAdam


3. The Sleeping Warrior of Arran under the Sunset by Seamus Lalor


4. "Come to St. Kilda !” he said “Marvel at the amazing coastline !” he said…   by Trevor Watson


5. Mull Mountains and Castle Stalker - by Douglas Brown - 1st prize


6.  Crinan Sunset by Mhairi Brown

 7. On Prestwick beach with Obama  (the pony) by Marie McDougall


8. Low tide at Barassie Beach by Dugald Glen

9.  Ripples of time and tide by Val Glen

10. Dark Skies over Drumbuie by Graham Gillies

 11. Breaking waves on the Bass Straight by Marje Gillies

12.  Board  by Charles Sutherland

Dr Ernest Bennie 12.11.1938 - 26.6.2022

 Members will be saddened at the loss of founding member and former commodore, Dr Ernest Bennie, who has died at the age of 83.

46 years ago, in 1976 Ernest was asked by Bobby Corbett to help him form a sailing club for doctors. The Serpent Yacht Club had their first ever muster that year, when 21 yachts raced to Colintraive on a stormy day in May. Ernest, his wife Norma and their young family were one of only a handful to pass the finish line on board their Elizabethan 29, Taal.

Ernest was a colourful character and a prominent consultant psychiatrist. His self-prescribed therapy in the late 1970s was to accept the challenge of building his own boat. He purchased a UFO 34 hull and deck, and fitted it out at Argyll Marine in Renfrew. Launched in 1979, Hulahoop was originally kept at the latest marina on the Clyde - Troon, which is now run by Stephen, Ernest’s eldest son.

Hulahoop was later upgraded to a Sun Fizz, Quechica in 1986, which cruised widely from its base at Largs. The plethora of teenage crew on board still reminisce about some of the best holidays they’ve had. A highlight was the CCC’s 1989 Blue Water Race from Kip to Brest in France, experiencing the 200th anniversary of Bastille Day in Belle Isle.

In 1998, the Sun Fizz was replaced with another Jeanneau, the Sun Odyssey 45 called Benita, returning this time to berth at Troon. Life-long friendships were formed over the years between Serpent Yacht Club participants, and also their children.

 Ernest served as commodore in the 1980s. He and the committee were instrumental in extending and widening the membership to other NHS employees and their families. Supported by his wife, Norma, as social convener for four years, get togethers and BBQs became a fabric of the club.

A regular venue for club dinners was the Carrick - a surviving clipper ship moored at the Broomielaw on the Clyde, but when this became untenable, Ernest’s many and varied tastes came into play. He introduced the membership to the Tuxedo Princess - an iconic, but notorious white vessel that was nicknamed (amongst others) as ‘The Love Boat’. The loyal membership supported his suggestion, despite the unusual venue. Thereafter, club social events reverted to more fitting venues like The Glasgow Art Club and The Western Club.

Ernest’s loyalty to the club and its lively programme of musters and races meant his family endured many long, wet, windy sails. But his seamanship and detailed knowledge of the relevant charts ensured the safety of all concerned. He was a cautious but adventurous sailor - prioritising the safety of crew.

His favourite days on the water were calm seas and strong sunshine. The engine would take the strain and the crew diverted to a quiet anchorage where Ernest would hop on his windsurfer, or dive - lightly clad - into the sea to cool off.

His pleasure at developing a good, all round tan, encouraged him to expand his sailing exploits outwith Scotland and over to the Mediterranean. He explored the waters around Majorca, France and then Spain, where he enjoyed 11 years of warm weather sailing. Following his Mediterranean adventures, Ernest chartered yachts in the Caribbean and assisted his cousin and crew to sail from Largs to Greece, on route to Israel.

Life took a quieter pace after Ernest and Norma’s move from Glasgow to Rhu, with marine exploits confined to motor boating with friends on the Clyde, where he enjoyed many champagne lunches in favourite anchorages.

Despite a few health problems, Ernest’s love of the water drew him to return to motor boating in 2012 on Loch Lomond, where he had his first boat as a student medic. He spent ten enjoyable years exploring the loch. Never content with just a regular boating experience, he insisted on having a paddle board, a kayak, wetsuits, and drysuits all stored in the available locker space, for young and old to enjoy together.

Even until Ernest’s final weeks, he enjoyed pottering on the loch where he had made many friends. He took great pleasure and satisfaction in encouraging his grandchildren to respect and enjoy the water.

Ernest was an adventurous, wise and entertaining character who will be sorely missed.





Autumn Muster 2022


Our Autumn Muster to Rothesay in September involved five yachts racing and 16 members and friends participating. The Saturday race was from Kip to Rothesay via Hun 1, CPA Buoy B and Toward Bank buoy to the finish at the Ardyne buoy.  Lollypop and Silverjack were closely matched on the reach from Kip to Cumbrae but separated after that as Lollypop chose the Cowal shore.  Exody missed one of the marks but that did not help her placing with Tulla Mhor and Katya far ahead.  The day proved to be unsettled and overcast with a good breeze becoming quite gusty at times. Thanks to Stuart Toy for agreeing to be Race officer and start  boat.

The race was fairly brisk with the wind occasionally providing testing conditions and producing some unforced errors and several changes of position. Everyone persevered without reefing and it proved to be a fun outing with minimal rain. Following the race and the customary on board socialising, we all enjoyed a hearty meal at the Victoria Hotel in Rothesay.


The results on corrected time (minutes) were 

:-Class one Katya 131.37,   Tulla Mhor 134.18,      Exody DNF

 Class two Lollypop  - 153.40,     Silverjack - 158.09

The Loch Riddon Barbecue

 This was an enjoyable evening on an idyllic day. Four boats - Silverjack, Black Pepper, Lollypop and Katya were on the moorings to be joined by Norena in her campervan and with a very fine cheesecake. Some of us for one reason or another had not been able to go sailing as we might have wished over the main summer season so it was good to meet up in a convivial setting with plenty of food and drink.  The sail back for this writer was good too.


 Croabh Muster and Shuna Race

The annual Shuna race was somewhat disappointing with just two entries despite the presence of other Serpent yachts although they probably made the right decision. To begin with the breeze varied from non existent to fickle and both Exody and Silverjack, with Roy D'Silva as crew and impeded by the presence of the Commodore on board struggled to reach the south end of the island. However once there some breeze filled in and a more enjoyable downwind passage followed with Exody taking a comfortable lead to the finish.  Thanks are due to the Hutchinsons who having declared a complete retirement from racing were on station on Aquaholic to start and finish the race.   
corr. times  Exody: 2h 9 min 42 sec Silverjack: 2h 10 min 51 sec

The BBQ on Saturday evening proved successful and surprisingly well attended despite the potential presence of Covid. It was a bring your own affair with the BBQ itself ably tended by Tom. The ever supportive Croabh team had provided a spacious gazebo at the door of the boatshed and that proved to be a good alternative to the shed interior.  

An impromptu BBQ was also held on the Sunday night including several visitors and friends and those who were to move on to Loch Spelve for the Mussel muster attended. 

  On the Monday several Serpent boats plus boats from France and Northern Ireland cruised to Loch Spelve. We had a delightful off wind sail in company and fairly creamed up the sound of Luing with the strong tide.

Our Mussel Party on the Monday evening was at the Inverlussa Mussel farm on the north-east arm of Loch Spelve. It was a bumper event attended by 6 Serpent boats and 2 visiting solo sailers from France. A huge thanks to Inverlussa who generously provided the mussels in return for a donation and also provided cooking facilities, a covered area, firewood and toilets. 

Two hot mussel dishes:  moules marinière and moules au piment were served with salad and hot baguettes. There were mussels aplenty and the meal was enjoyed by everyone and much impressed our two French guests. The evening was competed watching the sunset and chatting over a glass of wine around the log fire and thereafter it is rumoured that there was some sort of late night musical evening on Micky Finn IV.   

However strong winds that appeared during the night leading to a couple of boats dragging their anchors in the small hours. Again thanks to Tom and Caroline for organising the event and also to Marje and Norena for their work.

The event was such that it has been agreed to incorporate this event into the programme for next year.




2022 Tarbert Race & Muster


Having hurriedly fitted her new genoa the crew of Lollypop exited Kip for the first time this year into a stiff south westerly with attendant chop.  Sailing was never going to get us to Rothesay in time so motor sailing was obligatory and it was with no little sense of relief that we entered the relative calm of Rothesay Bay where the rest of the Serpent racers were milling around Silverjack.  To our dismay we discovered that the outside course around Garroch Head had been set and being unwilling to endure the pleasure of another morning's upwind thrash the decision to forgo the race and cruise to Tarbert via the Kyles was an easy one agreed by all 3 crew members.  This radical reaction by the new Commodore evidently caused some alarm among the race committee who abruptly changed the course to the familiar more sheltered route, this decision along with the delayed start being communicated to the two other racers by VHF although only one was listening.


Contrary to the race committee's expectation there was sufficient light breeze to get the race under way in flat water and into a beat up the east Kyle with Lollypop chasing the transom of Exody.  Silverjack, with both Graham and Don on board was expected to join the race but failed to appear due to some anchor difficulties.  By Colintraive Tulla Mhor inevitably had pulled well away and although Lollypop had at one point overtaken Exody, once around Ardlamont and on to a reach where waterline length is everything Exody left Lollypop well behind to the finish. It was a pleasant day out with an easy sail in steady wind but otherwise rather dreary weather and once tied up in Tarbert we were all able to meet up with Robert and Audrey who had cruised in Sulaire and Seamus who had sailed Emma Louise singlehanded from Ardrossan.  

The Commodore's Reception was timed for 6pm and by 6.30pm pretty much everyone had turned up, such is the trepidation in finding oneself the first attender. Organisation of this was directed by Anne who had prepared the nibbles which were well received and once the race results had been revealed by the Race Secretary and suitably fortified with fizz the party proceeded to the Starfish for the 7pm reservation  None of us had ever seen the Starfish quite so packed and consequently the service was extraordinarily slow but once the food arrived, somewhat erratically it must be said, there were few complaints.  It being quite late there was no group soiree although two of Lollypop's crew were invited into the luxurious interior of Tulla Mhor for a nightcap.    

Results:    1.  Lollypop        Finish : 14.51.28   Corrected time:199.47                                     2.  Tulla Mhor    Finish : 14.05.10   Corrected time: 209.70                                    3.  Exody            Finish : 14.43.45   Corrected time: 211.47                


Next morning the weather remained dreary but with a lighter SW breeze and there was a good showing of females for the four vessels which were to indulge in that celebration of gender discrimination that is the Ladies Race.  Once again Graham was on the Committee boat, Don and Marge having stayed ashore in the Starfish rooms.  Unfortunately, due to the present writer being half asleep, Anne suffered a poor start and was quickly blanketed by the larger boats, sailed into a wind hole and was left far behind.  Val on Tulla Mhor had Catherine on Katya close by for a time pulling well ahead of Marian on Exody but from behind we could see a large hole in the vicinity of Ardlamont giving us time to catch up and join in the fun.  On such a small boat as Lollypop the motion in the windless slop was profoundly nauseating and once the mainsheet tackle had given way retirement was by far the best option.  As we motored down the west Kyle we could see Tulla Mhor still racing but we were overtaken by Katya motoring back to her mooring in Loch Riddon.   Hence only two finishers: 

1. Tulla Mhor   Finish: 12.30.22  Corrected : 134.08                       

2. Exody           Finish  13.00.44  Corrected : 139.62

The next Serpent event is Portavadie Muster and race on June 11th.




Report of AGM 2022

The AGM was held on Zoom on 9th February 2022 with 17 participants over Zoom. Retiring Commodore Graham Gillies gave a comprehensive account of the events of 2021.  The financial report was undramatic and accepted without query.  The election of the new committee was formalised as published without dissent and is as follows: 

Commodore - Charles Sutherland
Rear Commodore - Tom Hutchinson

Secretary - Graham Gillies

Treasurer & Minute Secretary - Caroline Hutchinson

Race Secretary - Charles Sutherland

Membership Secretary - Marian Borde

Cup Convenor - Don Gillies

Stewards - Catherine Toy, Marcus Stone, Stewart Toy.

Marie McDougall then presented the club with a new carved trophy in memory of the late and much missed Neil McDougall. It has a distinct advantage in that it will not require polishing.  The conditions for its being awarded are still to be defined.


Following that the winner of the Photo Contest was announced - being Robert Yuill. Thereafter the trophies for the 2021 races were presented virtually - having been distributed in advance.  Retiring Commodore Graham presented the new Commodore with his pennant and the retiring commodore's pennant was handed over to Graham.

Charles Sutherland then thanked Graham for his work as Commodore and went on to outline a few of the proposals for the 2022 season.  The meeting then closed with Zoom left open for a period of informal chat 


The Serpent Photo Contest 2021

Votes are now counted and the winner will be revealed at the Zoom AGM on Wednesday 9th February.  

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'  - Trevor Watson


 No.2     'Isle of Skye'  Marian Borde


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


No. 4     ‘I wandered lonely…”  Robert Yule

No.5     'A Serpent day on Loch Fyne'- Charles Sutherland

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

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

No. 8     ’Racing from Tarbert’  Graham Gillies


No.9    ‘At anchor in Wizard Pool’ - Gavin Kenny