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.