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Commodore’s Newsletter October 2019

Dear Members,

The sailing programme for 2019 comprised three cruises; the traditional Scotland Easter Cruise, a 2-week cruise from Oban to Northern Ireland and back in June and an iconic 2-week cruise to Lake Huron, Canada in September.  

The Easter Cruise proved very popular this year, with 31 participants distributed amongst 4 boats.  Strong easterly winds provided a lively start to the cruise and prompted a change in plan.  We headed north through the Kyle on the first day and hugged the mainland coast to seek some shelter from the winds, stopping off at Plockton and Badachro in Gairloch.  The cruise then headed to the Outer Hebrides, via the Shiants – to see a couple of sea eagles performing a courtship display.  Later in the week we headed back across The Minch to Canna, by which time the weather had mellowed, such that a lunch-time stop at sunny Loch Scavaig on the way back to Mallaig attracted a fair number of ‘wild’ swimmers from each boat.  

We chartered two boats for the mid-summer Dunstaffnage (nr. Oban) to Northern Ireland cruise.  The cruise combined passages through the Argyll islands with passages along the north coast of Northern Ireland.  The landfall on the N Ireland coast was Ratlin Island, which was expected to be and proved to be the highlight of the cruise.  There was a partial crew change at Foyle Port on the middle Saturday.  Favourable wind changes meant that the passages between Argyll and N Ireland were generally downwind for the outbound and return legs and there was memorable reaches along the N Ireland Coast.  A total of 340 nm was logged.  

The 2 week cruise to North Passage, Lake Huron certainly lived up to expectation.  Unseasonably warm & sunny weather, particularly for week 2, together with the fact that most Americans stop sailing after Labor Day (2nd September this year), meant that we were one of the few boats out on the water and had the spectacular anchorages to ourselves.  Water temperature was around 20oC, which allowed plenty of swimming from the boats at the anchorages.  One disappointment was that although initial expressions of interest indicated that three boats would probably be needed, in the end we could only fill one boat for week 1 and two for week 2.  Those who didn’t go missed a treat; maybe we should consider going again sometime in the future.

2020 heralds the 50th Anniversary of the foundation of the Club.  To commemorate this we are planning a 2 week cruise in July from Oban, heading north, with a crew change and ceilidh in Ullapool.  We aim to visit some of the old Penguin haunts and get out to the outlying islands and St Kilda, if weather conditions allow.  There will be the traditional Scottish Easter Cruise and for those seeking to escape a gloomy British November a cruise to the western Canaries.  We are also planning a summer camp by Llangorse Lake, Wales over the August Bank holiday where a variety of water activities are available.  To celebrate the Golden Anniversary of the Club, there will be a different format for the get-together after the AGM on 13th January.  The dinner will include a hog roast during which Jonathan Walton, son of the Club founder Kevin, will give some reminiscences on the early Penguin years.

This year saw the new Club photographic competition in memory of our late Club Commodore, James Raby.  There was a close competition between Roger Shaw’s dynamic shot of ‘Ceilidh on Port Tack’ in Lake Huron and Alan Gilmour’s study of Loch Scavaig (see Photos).  In the end Roger’s entry was judged to be the winner.

On the administration side, we have issued two revised Policies covering Safeguarding and Data Protection.  These were drawn-up with reference to the RYA’s guidelines in these areas and to align with recent legislation.  Both Policies have been placed on the Club’s website.  

As a consequence of the revised policies, we have created two new posts: a Welfare Officer, who is Andy Davey and a Data Protection Officer, Jane Fanshawe.  Many thanks to both of them for agreeing to carry out the roles.  Also, our Legal Adviser, Robin Fry has stepped down; we very much appreciate the advice he has given over the past years, in particular in advising on the new Club Rules.  We are therefore now looking for a new Legal Adviser.  If you have or know anyone with a legal background, who would be prepared to take this on, please contact me and I can provide further details.  We have also two vacancies on the Committee; Andy Davey and Charles Howell will have completed their three-year term at the AGM.  Please send any nominations to our Secretary, Marian Keall before the AGM.

It remains for me to wish you well for the remainder of the year and best wishes for 2020, when I hope to see as many of you as possible on the water on one of our cruises and at our 50th Anniversary get together in January.


Anchors Aweigh!


John Marriott

Club Commodore