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.