2023 Photo Competition

The Serpent Photo Competition 2023 has been won by Seamus Lalor with 'Contemplative Clyde Seascape.' 



Congratulations to Seamus on his dramatic image. Seamus was unable to attend the Annual Dinner to receive the Turner Prize to keep for a year but arrangements will be made.  Thanks to the voting system it was possible to pick Dugald Glen's 'Heatwave Sailing as a runner up with the entries from Peter Jennett and Don Reid 3rd equal.    

All of the images now have the name of the photographer appended.  If you wish to know how many votes your own image received it is within the realms of possibility that Graham Gillies would be more than delighted to assist.


Autumn Muster 16/17 September


There was a light north -easterly when Tulla Mhor, Silverjack and Lollypop gathered off Kip for the race to Rothesay.  Race Officer Don Gillies with Marge on board Black Pepper chose course 2 - (the familiar trek to Hun 1, Buoy B, Toward Bank with the finish at Ardyne.) meaning a downwind start which, using the available in-situ buoys resulted in an extraordinarily long start line and no incidents. As would be expected Tulla Mhor pulled away strongly but Lollypop was able to maintain distance on them as far as Hun 1 after which the wind filled in to a good sailing breeze and Tulla Mhor found her true stride.  Dugald and Val were joined on this occasion by Stewart and Catherine Toy who were just one day away from no longer being boatless.  Silverjack, with Norena crewing for Graham, was by this time some distance behind Lollypop and there was no change in positions before the finish. Given the wind direction it was a somewhat undemanding reachy course but by midday the sun was blazing, the Clyde was sparkling and with a good sailing wind the conditions were to the enjoyment of all involved.  

Parking up in our reserved berths in Rothesay inner harbour was also uneventful, aided by the always helpful shoreside staff.  Most crews eventually went for a stroll about the town which does show some limited but welcome evidence of regeneration and later on all crews gathered on board Lollypop for the Commodore's drinks reception, it being the final opportunity available to the present Commodore for so doing.  The race results seemed so unexpected when I calculated them on the Excel sheet that I had to triple check everything to ensure there were no errors before presenting them to the assembled party.  The elapsed and corrected times are below. There then followed our annual  visit to the Victoria Hotel, where the ambience continues to resemble a benign version of Fawlty Towers, for what was a perfectly acceptable dinner.  After that, a smaller group of salt encrusted would-be party animals were led by Stewart Toy in search of a performance by the legendary Margaret Zavaroni but ended up having a quiet nightcap in the Black Bull.   

Overnight it was wet and so was the dreich Sunday morning when everyone eventually departed on their separate ways, generally satisfied with the latest Serpent outing.   

Lollypop     elapsed 3hr 5m 29s   corrected  131.45 minutes

Silverjack   elapsed 3hr 15m 26s  corrected 140.85 minutes

Tulla Mhor  elapsed  2hr  39m 00s corrected 141.78 minutes



Scandinavian Cruise - Peter Jennett & Marian Borde

Peter and Marian have kindly agreed to give a brief overview of their fascinating summer trip to Denmark, Sweden and the Baltic.  Their full presentation will be the main feature of next year's Annual General meeting so that's one not to be missed.  

Nearly two thousand memorable miles after leaving Ardrossan on 5th May, Exody was lifted and winterised in southern Sweden near Karlshamn in the last week of July and we flew home on 31st July. Our trip was focused around the eighth anniversary World ARC Reunion timed for the Swedish midsummer celebrations at Karlskrona. We met with six other crews for a convivial weekend of socialising, and touring the historic naval city. We were joined by only one other crew arriving by boat from Germany- the rest flew from Iceland, USA and Portugal, with one couple coming from UK by campervan.

The cruise fell into four main legs

Clyde to Peterhead about two weeks via both canals, a brief detour to Corryvreckan anchorage, a beautifully quiet and flat Loch Ness transit and welcomed by the harbourmaster at Whitehills.

                                        transiting a tranquil Loch Ness

                                                 Exody and Ben Nevis

 North Sea Crossing: Peterhead to Limfjord – 400 miles taking two and half days. After a very pleasant two days weaving through wind and oil installations, we took a bit of a close-hauled, triple- reefed dusting in a near onshore gale eventually diverting 30 miles for safe landfall at Hanstholm commercial fishing harbour.


                                                 Leaving Peterhead

                                           North Sea oil installations


Limfjord to Karlskrona – three weeks in all firstly transiting this shallow (less than 10 metres) inland waterway that bisects Jutland, emerging after Aalborg into the Baltic. 


                                                    Baltic Windfarm

We took in several islands (Anholt, Tuno) and harbours (Ebeltoft, Skaelscor) as we threaded our way south through Denmark’s complex geography, dipping down to Glowe on the German island of Rugen (for economic alcohol supplies). 

Onward northeast to Bornholm, then to charming and well preserved fortified island of Christianso before the final 55 mile crossing to Karlskrona. This last leg saw Exody close reaching at 7 knots into dense mist and crossing a busy shipping lane with unseen vessels passing less than a mile away at nearly 20 knots! We dowsed the genny to slow the boat till clear and then saw the floorboards awash! Culprit found to be our electric bilge pump back-siphoning- first time since fitted 35,000 miles ago: antisiphon valve and non-return valve promptly fitted. 

                                           Christianso fortified harbour

                                                    Utklippan Harbour

                                           Dressed overall in Karlskrona

Island and Archipelago Cruise- Following the reunion event we had crew join us for three weeks heading north about 150 miles in short hops to enter the archipelago complex well south of Stockholm. Translating the Swedish cruising guide and with membership of the local cruising association, we found many delightful spots here to anchor or pick up a buoy. There were a variety of interesting towns and harbours to dock before heading south again via the islands of Gotland and Oland to the city of Kalmar and then southwest (and upwind!) to our pre-arranged yard for slipping.

It was a trip of generally great weather, a whole new vocabulary of docking experiences, flat landscapes, huge maritime wind farms, charming cities towns and villages, superbly clean facilities -all so very well organised and civilised! A great combination of intricate remote archipelagoes to navigate and anchor, busy town centre marinas and small harbours on delightful, mostly carless islands.

Nearer to the war on our European doorstep, we also became acutely aware of the geographic significance of this constrained area of the Baltic as the backdrop to the many belligerent events of the last few centuries: museums everywhere and whole fortified towns and islands.

The general setup for cruising and visiting boats is impressive and we reckon is down to the sheer number of vessels owned by the Danes, Swedes, Germans - mostly under 12 metres due as we learnt to the shallow depths and the compact nature of many of the harbours. Larger boats need to choose their ports and anchorages with great care!

So here we are now boatless in the sunshine in Scotland but also realising that not a jot of boat maintenance will need to be tackled until next spring when we head back for the return trip.



The Summer Cruise in Company

 As recounted by Caroline, Tom, Marje, Don and Graham.

It was still dark at 4am on Monday 10th July as Silverjack and Black Pepper slipped out of Campbeltown taking the morning tide to Gigha and a rendezvous with Aquaholic . Breakfast saw a memorable and windless sunrise over Goat Fell. One of those sailing early mornings you’ll never forget.

Indeed a fast and straightforward rounding under engine saw Black Pepper on a mooring and ashore in Ardminish before lunch while Silverjack, with 4 on board, played with the tide and a cruising chute in the light westerly. It was all a welcome break from the storms of the previous week which had prevented the planned cruise-in-company to Ballycastle and Rathlin.

 Aquaholic arrived in the afternoon after an exhilarating sail from Craobh with Tom, Caroline and Norena on board They hosted the evening meal and completed the fleet of 3 yachts and 9 souls.

We all spent a warm and sunny day exploring Achamore Gardens on Tuesday followed by supper in the Boathouse.


                                                    A brief stop at Achamore Gardens TH

Wednesday saw a short and interesting sail to Craighouse. The wind - initially a gentle 10 knot westerly - gusted to 25 knots off Jura as hurried “oilskins over shorts and t-shirts” saw yachts reefing in the rain and hail squalls in plummeting temperatures.

Aquaholic beating to Craighouse GG

It was to be a foretaste of the unstable weather of the next few weeks which meant taking advantage of any weather window whilst looking over our shoulders (and up and down our screens) for the next low pressure system spinning in from the west.

                           The Crews at Craighouse before eating ashore GG

The Fleet set off early on the Thursday to catch the tide north. Black Pepper and Aquaholic sailed for Craobh to allow time to shop in Oban for the barbeque while Silverjack bagged one more anchorage at the lagoon in Loch Craignish. They were rewarded with a very settled evening having walked to Ardfern, where they met our Commodore, Charles with Anne and their family off Lollypop which had been on an Ardfern mooring. 


                                                            Morag Dorward enjoying the peace at the lagoon

In the morning, both Silverjack and Lollypop had a good sail in light conditions catching the tide north as the Dorus Mhor opened for the short passage to Craobh.


The Craobh Muster……………

Unfortunately, the fleet woke up to the now familiar unsettled weather on Saturday morning and the planned race still with only two potential entries was cancelled. The barbeque went ahead in the Boatshed as planned with 19 people from 6 boats in attendance. We were pleased to have the company of new members David & Essie Brice from Belfast who were over with friends cruising their Hanse 341 'Cariad'.  The food was bountiful with many an adventure shared over that and a few glasses of wine. Music and dancing returned courtesy of Stewart who, with Catherine, joined Don and Marje on Black Pepper for the evening.

Boatshed barn dance GG


The weather also impacted on the cruise-in-company to Loch Spelve planned for Sunday. With strong winds forecast overnight and with no desire to repeat the anchor drag race of last year, it was decided to cancel the cruise.  In the afternoon Marcus and Charles departed on Lollypop for the Crinan Canal and enjoyed a fast heavily reefed sail to Crinan where they were met by Anne who had driven down and was able to help them through the first few locks. For the determined cruising souls remaining however Inverlussa Mussel Farm came to the rescue on the Mussel Fest and delivered mussels for collection at Oban. These were gratefully received and the Mussel Fest went ahead in the Boatshed on Sunday evening.  

Fingers crossed the weather gods are kinder to us next year and the full planned programme is able to go ahead.

SYC Craobh Muster Cruise in Company Finale

Following the mussel muster in the Craobh boatshed Monday dawned with lighter winds and slightly less rain. Black Pepper, Cariad and Aquaholic set sail for Lochaline. Although a little bouncy around Easdale a good wind held until Firth of Lorne where boats ground to a halt as if brakes had been applied.

Engines were started and the three boats motored on to Lochaline tying up in the Marina for the night. Silverjack left later that day after a change of crew and managed to pick up more wind before gracing Loch Spelve with their company for the evening.


                                                         BP set for Lochaline under threatening skies. CH

All four boats made their way to Tobermory on Tuesday in very light winds from the aft, Silverjack hoisting her colourful cruising chute to gently sail up the sound. The crews from all boats assembled at the Tobermory Hotel for a great meal and a few libations. 


                                              Settled conditions on arrival at Tobermory GG

On Wednesday morning the fleet split with Cariad heading into a moderate head wind to Muck to continue her cruise further north. Silverjack caught the tide south making their way steadily to Loch Tarbert, Jura for the evening before a planned trip to Port Ellen the next day. Aquaholic and Black Pepper remained in Tobermory heading up to the Street Food Festival beside the Smokery.

Thursday’s weather outlook warned of strong winds due later and Silverjack, having made their way to Port Ellen decided that the planned whisky tour should be abandoned in favour of making their way back to the Clyde the next day via Campbeltown. Black Pepper and Aquaholic headed for Kerrera in preparation for Black Pepper starting their journey back to the Clyde via Gigha the following day. Winds built throughout the day which started light with Aquaholic hoisting the asymmetric and turned into a breezy run down the Sound of Mull with a liberal downpour at the entrance to Oban Bay.

                                  Aquaholic under asymmetric spinnaker TH

Cariad travelled on to Rhum on Thursday hoping to pick up one of the 10 new moorings available, only to find 20 other boats had the same idea, so anchored instead. On Friday they enjoyed a sail to Mallaig to drop off crew and began a sail to Raasay with hopes to walk Callum’s Road.  However, the weather once again had plans revising and after making their way to the Kyle of Lochalsh where they were joined by a pod of dolphins for half an hour, plans were changed and Cariad made their way back to Belfast via Tobermory, Ardfern and Gigha.

Silverjack having foregone their whisky tour and leaving Port Ellen on Friday morning managed to avoid the heavy weather and reach Lochranza with a mixture of sailing and motoring. They then visited Tarbert, dining at the Starfish before concluding their cruise with a sail to St Ninians Bay where they were rewarded with a beautiful sunset.

                                 Settled night at St Ninian’s Bay Bute GG

Aquaholic left Kerrera just before lunch and headed back to Craobh tying up in their berth before the forecast gales arrived.

Friday also saw Black Pepper leave Kerrera quietly before the sun rose, arriving at Gigha early afternoon after spending half an hour with a large Minke whale! Their stay turned into 3 days on a mooring waiting for fresh easterlies to blow through before rounding the Mull. 



Choppy conditions at Ardminish DG  (!)

On Monday, Black Pepper motor sailed to Campbeltown in gentle winds. After a sunny and relaxing day there, the weather gods had one more surprise – on Wednesday, Black Pepper sailed back to Ormidale in an increasingly fresh south-easterly  and on approaching the mooring, it kicked up to 25kn onshore, preventing them from picking up their mooring until it settled a couple of hours later. They packed the car for home in torrential rain with a mixture of relief and joy at surviving the 2023 summer cruise.


Spring Muster and Tarbert Race

It seems a long time now since the opening muster at Tarbert at which numbers were somewhat down with just four boats and 15 persons. It was a good party though with a sociable reception in the marquee followed by the meal in the Starfish which was well up to the expected standard. The race however didn’t amount to much with only Silverjack and Lollypop turning  up to a completely windless Rothesay Bay. Onwards we motored until around the Carry Buoy, race officer Don Gillies on Black Pepper suggested that we attempt a start, which we did. Such was the intensity of the concentration on board Lollypop that the helmsman (me) made an idiotic and near catastrophic error about which the less said the better although Marcus deserves great credit for saving a very difficult situation. That led to the abandonment of the race but thankfully it all turned out ok in the end.  There are a couple of pictures showing members on board Black Pepper but I hesitate to show them here.


Serpent Yacht Club in 2023

The committee has planned a programme for 2023 which in some areas diverges from the usual format, reflecting the changing nature of the club members' activity.

First off we have the Annual General Meeting which is once again in the Mearns Kirk Hall on Wednesday 15th February. The time is 7pm for coffee with the start at 7.30.  This is a good time to catch up with other members and this year our founding Commodore Bobby Corbett, who has recently swallowed the anchor and sold his boat, will be selling some of his sailing kit. Fifty percent of the sale will be donated to the Ocean Youth Trust Scotland charity.

 The proposed committee for 2023 is as follows:

Commodore Charles Sutherland
Vice Commodore Vacant

Rear Commodore Tom Hutchinson

Treasurer & Minute Secretary Caroline Hutchinson

Secretary Graham Gillies

Race Secretary Charles Sutherland

Membership Secretary Catherine Toy

Cup Convenor Don Gillies

Stewards Marcus Stone & Stewart Toy

Marion Borde will be standing down from the committee after many years’ service much of it as Membership Secretary. We much appreciate her work and enthusiasm and look forward to seeing her on the water on Exody. We are fortunate that Dr Norena McAdam who sails Adastra out of Craobh has agreed to be proposed to join the committee and we look forward to welcoming her aboard.

After the business we will have a presentation on the work of the Ocean Youth Trust Scotland by  SYC member and OYT activist Dr David Murray. 


Next the programme begins with a new event dubbed the ‘Fitting Out Supper’ at a restaurant in Glasgow City Centre on the evening of the 19th of April. The name reflects the time of year but is just an excuse for an informal get together for members to socialise over a meal. Full details of this and how to book yourself in are to follow.  

Sailing activity begins later with the familiar and popular Tarbert Race & Muster on 20/21st May with dinner as usual in the Starfish.  Cruising to the venue is most welcome but race participation is encouraged.  

There is no programmed activity for June but there is an opportunity for members to meet up on the water whether this be on the Clyde or further afield making use of the SYC WhatsApp group.  

The Croabh Weekend on 15th July takes a different format from the time honoured.  Ideally, arriving at Croabh on the Friday, the Round Shuna Race will be on the Saturday to be followed by the Craobh Barbecue as usual on the Saturday evening.  On Sunday the plan is to depart Croabh, to catch the tide for a cruise to Loch Spelve for another musselfest cookout at Inverlussa at the head of the loch.  This was a very successful event last year and well deserves repeating.

Thereafter it is hoped that participants will be able to proceed on to cruising in company further north. 

Back in the Clyde, we have the Summer barbecue at Ormidale in Loch Riddon on the 12th August.  This date does not have to be set in stone and will be finalised with reference to the weather forecasts.   

As the season runs all too quickly towards its close we have the Autumn Muster at Rothesay on the 16th September .  There will be a race to Rothesay from Kip for our enthusiasts but whether racing, cruising or ferrying, there will be sociable gatherings aboard in the harbour, followed by a meal in the Victoria Hotel.   

The Frostbite Race has encountered inclement weather in recent years with a couple of cancellations so this year we are hoping this October event attracts better weather.  Nevertheless we hope to have a race following the previous format with ideally a Cumbrae figure 8 or if too windy a race in the Largs channel. Whatever, sailing or not, the main focus is on a dinner at Largs in the evening.  More detail on that will follow nearer the time. 

This, at least is the proposal but all is subject to final confirmation. The committee will welcome suggestions from members.


The previous post comprises two tributes to the late John Turner.  The first is from his family, written by his daughter Susan and documents what an extraordinarily accomplished man he was.  We encourage you to read it. The second is from his later life friend Winnie Strang who is well known to active SYC members. 



John Turner 30th May 1932 - 29th August 2022


An appreciation by the Turner Family


John Turner was born in West London, in May 1932. He had a happy childhood until WW2 intervened in his life at the age of 8 at which time the bombing of London led to him becoming an evacuee three times.
 On the second time he was evacuated it was to his aunt who lived in the Essex countryside where his uncle Harry showed him how to service his 350 cc Ariel motorbike; this was to prove useful later for him in fixing boat engines.
He loved cycling and while in his teens he and his friend Jack cycled round Ireland. His love of cycling never diminished and he still had a go on his beloved Claude Butler bike at the age of 89.  John was always an adventurous person. He and a group of friends bought an old London taxi and took it to France and toured Europe. He learned to fly a glider and also how to box.  John rarely did things the easy way. So, while studying medicine he also took a Diploma in theology and also learned German.

As was the rule then he was called up for National Service and joined the army, being posted to Gottingen in Germany. As always, he made the most of every opportunity, becoming fluent in German and taking advantage of the close proximity to the Harz mountains to go skiing.
Subsequently he moved to Edinburgh for his surgical training and on starting there he met Audrey, one of the theatre nurses in 1960.  They married in 1962 and settled down in East Barnton in Edinburgh. A year later Susan was born with Simon following 2 years after.
John continued his neurosurgical training under Professor Norman Dott and Professor Francis Gillingham. Prof. Gillingham had an interest in stereotactic neurosurgery and introduced John to this novel technique. At the end of his training he won a Welcome Fellowship which allowed him to travel to leading centres in the USA.  In 1967 John, Audrey and their two young children headed across the Atlantic to live in New Jersey and work at Columbia University, New York and then to Phoenix, Arizona. After a final stint in Seattle he came back to be appointed as a consultant in Glasgow at the Neurosurgical Unit then based at Killearn Hospital but shortly to move to the Southern General.
He was an early pioneer of functional stereotactic neurosurgery which involves the surgeon being guided by complex calculations from x-rays, brain scans and electrical recordings to treat specific parts of the patient’s brain. An example using this technique would be to help eliminate the tremor of Parkinson’s disease. 

 John likened it to sailing where you had to study the charts in detail along with the weather and the tide tables. He loved sailing, which was something that could be enjoyed by the whole family.  His first boat was a Vivacity 24, followed by a Maxi 84 kept on a mooring at Cardwell Bay where he enjoyed racing every Monday evening. In 1981 he then moved on to a Maxi 95 which he later moved to Craobh Haven. All of his boats were named Bright Angel after the location in the Grand Canyon where he and the family had holidayed while he was working in the USA.
He sailed extensively around the West coast of Scotland as well as sailing to
the Scillies, Ireland, France and in Norway. He regularly raced in the Clyde
and on the West Coast. The family spent many summer breaks sailing around
the grandeur of the West Coast of Scotland, getting away from a busy life in
When the winter weather prevented sailing, John and Audrey took to the ice
and thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of curling. He was also creative with a
deep interest and love of art. He went to art classes, joined a couple of
Clubs and became president of Glasgow Southern Art Club. Not content with
developing the different techniques for oils, acrylics, gouache and pastels he
did his A level in Art history. It was fascinating going to a gallery with him as he could explain the history and symbolism of masterpieces, bringing them to life. 

Inevitably he was a founding member of the Serpent Yacht Club and as testament to his racing success his name appears on many of the club trophies. He was a Serpent committee member for many years and served as Commodore between 1987 and 89. Following his beloved Audrey’s passing in 2009 John sold Bright Angel but continued to attend Serpent musters and dinners and enjoyed guest crewing and helming on the round Shuna Race. His active involvement with the club spanned six decades up to 2021.

He had 5 grandchildren and he relished his role as a doting grandfather,
delighting in entertaining them and taking an interest in all they did. He enjoyed
doing all sorts of practical things with them; how to pitch a tent, how to row,
tie knots and catch fish as well as taking them to museums and galleries.
He will be greatly missed by many.

John Turner a personal note from Winnie Strang

I first met John on board a Saga round-the-world cruise ship in 2011. He had
been on board for six weeks before I boarded in Singapore and had already
made a huge number of friends.
He always had a thirst for knowledge and had organised all these friends to
study the Coriolis effect as the ship crossed the equator by watching in which
direction the water flowed down the wash hand basins in their cabins.
I met him in the ballroom dance classes but I loved to see him up on deck
watching the ship manoeuvre into the various ports of call -maybe wondering if he could have done it better?
Up on deck he told me about his wonderful days sailing on the West coast of
Scotland with both the Serpent Yacht Club of which he was a founder
member and the Clyde Cruising Club. I was enchanted to hear names like Tighnabruaich, Kames, Tarbert Loch Fyne, Crinan and the Kyles of Bute, all which I remembered from my days sailing with the Royal College of Science and Technology Sailing Club. We both left the ship in Sydney and went off on separate adventures for the next year.
However, the following year we met again on the same ship and at the end of
the cruise he invited me to visit him in Scotland and he took me to visit all
these magical places where he had sailed with the Serpent Yacht Club.
John’s parents had taken him on holiday to Scotland after WW2 and he had
decided then that he wanted to live there and so the first job he applied for
after having had to do National Service in Germany was in Edinburgh where
he married his theatre sister, Audrey.
They sailed together with the Serpent Yacht Club on many adventures and he
won many trophies which always had pride of place on his sideboard.
He was very proud to have been a founder member of the Serpent Yacht
Club and equally proud of the successful vibrant club that it is today. Thank you all for making him so happy and proud of the Serpent Yacht Club.


Serpent Photo Contest 2022

The calculations were made and the result made apparent on the 29th December but  the webpage editor apologises for the lateness of this posting.  Anyway,  better late than never here is the winner.  It is Douglas Brown with his photograph 'Mull Mountains and Castle Stalker.'  Congratulations to Douglas for this evocative image for which the prize will be awarded at the AGM on 15th February.

 And here is the prize.  The Turner Prize (Serpent) is this painting by the late John Turner and is of course a view of Rhum and Eigg from the mainland.  It has been donated by John's daughter Susan Hendry to whom we are grateful. The seascape  measures 20x17" and is a fitting reminder of a much loved club member.  Temporary custody of the painting is accompanied by a glass keeper. 

In the contest the runner up was a tie between no 1 'Calm Seas' by Caroline Hutchinson and no 9 'Ripples of time and tide' by Val Glen.

Credits for all of the photos have been appended to the listing in the previous posting.