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Two dozen! I've written 23 Newsletters now - with four a year (when I remember) it means that I started around six years ago. And I'm glad with this one to be able to inform the club of real advances in the 'behind the scenes' department. Our Commodore, James Raby, has worked like a hard working thing and has not only evolutionised the database, but is also linking it to a Direct Debit system to ease the work of processing subscriptions. He has also developed an email system to facilitate electronic communications. So well done James - we have been talking about it for several years and am delighted to report such great progress. This Newsletter is the first of the 'new look' format, and it certainly makes it easier for me - one email to send, rather than 7 batches of 50 with lots of cutting and pasting.

The committee is hard at work on the annual mailing - as you might guess, the move towards an electronic mailpack is gathering speed, and we hope to produce both the electronic and snailmail packs to send out after the weekend of 23rd November - apologies that it is not the end of October, but there has been a lot to do! At this point I would like to thank Paul Rose for all his hard work and input as Membership Secretary. He handed in his resignation but is still helping us. With our difficulties in getting out the mailing pack on time last year it has become obvious that the work involved is too much for any one person in full time employment. How Paul, and Paul Fray before the current Paul, managed it is beyond my understanding. We are now preparing the mailing in a team approach which, with the use of email and cloud storage, allows different committee members to complete separate tasks to break the onus of the work. We are working on checking the database as well, so do bear with us if we telephone you to check the details we have on record. This will also allow us to move the Direct Debit system forwards. If you have let us know new membership related details over the last year we hope we have now incorporated them into the database, but may I apologise if we ask you again.

The Ceilidh is planned as per previous years - the date for your diaries is Saturday 18th January 2014. Full details will be in the mailing, but I can confirm the barrel of beer and The Compost Band with Ian Craigan, a great caller who also keeps the decibels under control so conversations can continue whilst watching the dancing.

And we have cruises planned - three, as usual. The details and forms are already on the website (thank you organisers, James, and David) so we are ahead of the game in this respect. The mailing pack this year is not planned to include booking forms - we would like you to download them from the Club Website. Follow the link to Cruises 2014 where all the details, booking forms, and cruise contact details reside. So, as the organisers are all eagerly awaiting your bookings, go ahead! You should be able to fill in the form on line, but please remember that if you do so we would still like a printed copy sent to us for the signature for club insurance records. Alternatively, of course, the forms can be printed and sent by post. However, typing into the forms makes it much easier for the organisers to read the details, especially email addresses and telephone numbers!

First away is the Easter Scotland Cruise, from the 19th to the 24th of April from Isle of Skye Yachts. The itinerary is still unplanned, but Julie has booked good weather. The next cruise is to The Lofoten Islands, as long promised in my newsletters. Two separate weeks are planned between 31st May and 14th June - all the details are in Ian's description. The final cruise is our school holiday special - again to Scotland, but from Alba Yachts at Dunstaffnage to sail the southern Inner Hebrides area. Organiser Cliff Davies has written the details for a cruise that we hope will appeal to families and those dependant on school holidays.

I will send a further newsletter out before the Ceilidh, and you will receive the mailing packs as soon as we can finish their preparation. However, the key issue has always been getting the cruises sorted, so may I take this opportunity to thank all those who have worked so hard to make the details available this early - you know who you are!

Finally - a personal plea. Those of you who read Yachting Monthly may know that I am an occasional contributor (plug for the November issue in which I feature which is on the shelves now...). In researching a new article I realised that neither the club nor I have any pictures from the April 2009 Easter Cruise. It would be lovely to update our website log section - I have a journal written by Ian Rose, but no photographs. I am especially interested in a pictorial record of the three Penguin crews perching on Lady Naomi's bow when we tried to re-enact the old Penguin trick of lifting a Rival 34's propeller clear of the water to unwrap snagged ropes.

Unfortunately on this occasion it failed and we had to engage a diver. If you do have any pictures and were prepared to email them to me, please contact any of the committee members on the 'contacts' section of the website if you don't have my email address on record.

I think I've bored you enough now. So may your lum reek, your shutters not leak, and your candles not gutter as we draw close to the clocks going back and the onset of winter! Keep warm and happy, and dream of all that sunny sailing next year.

Best Wishes