The Youth Club
It was David Murray who came up with the idea in that first year of the new Club’s operation. Let’s get some inflatable dinghies, put the young folk in them with oars and see how they get on. A course was set up by David’s house. The starting and finishing line was the beach and there was a buoy to be rounded a hundred yards or so along the shore. Stan provided ‘rescue boat’ cover in an eight-foot fibreglass dinghy with his 2 h.p. outboard.
So was inaugurated the Lochcarron Sailing Club’s Youth Regatta.
With only two inflatables, there were numerous heats to allow an opportunity to all those who wanted to have a go, with a crew of two in each boat. Some of the crews opted to take an oar each. Many just went round in circles. Others worked on the basis of one rower, with a cox to keep him or her on the right course. There were few who had any serious experience of rowing.
Meantime, members of the Sailing Club and parents of the sailors were cooking the hamburgers.
It was a fine night in June. There was great delight in splashing around in the water. Everybody enjoyed themselves, those watching perhaps as much as the youngsters participating. It was an event, which should be repeated, and it was.
The following year, in 1990, the fleet was augmented with the two Mirror dinghies, which the Club had acquired. Masts, spars and sails were stripped out and oars provided for propulsion. The older children were allocated these larger boats, the younger ones competed in the inflatables. A quicker turn-round could be organised, as the Mirrors were prepared and manned while a race was being run for the inflatables.
The mix of messing about on, and in, the water, and enjoying a barbecue, was sheer delight to all and sundry. We did not enquire of parents what they thought at being presented with wet clothes to be washed and dried.
By 1991, we had acquired a fully operational safety boat and we could feel happier looking after the mob on the water. The course could now be set further out into the loch.
Stan and David Murray were the lynch pins of the first two or three of these events, but there was yeoman service from several other members of the Club. The archives report that Sandy MacVarish and Terry Carter were largely responsible in 1992 for helping David. That must have been a year when Stan was away from home on the date set for the Youth Regatta.
Those early Regattas were blessed with good weather – after all we always chose a date in June, or early July. Our luck was not to last. There is no record of a Youth Regatta in 1995. Memory does tell us that some dates had to be abandoned on account of the weather. The last Regatta recorded in the records was in 1996.
The Sailing Club was gradually introducing young folk to the water, something missing from Lochcarron since fishing declined over half a century ago. The Youth Club in the village was on the lookout for activities for the summer holidays. The two clubs got together. In 1990, Youth Club leaders asked if we could provide some sailing experience, ‘a taste of sailing’, for their members during the summer holidays.
The Club’s Mirror dinghies would be excellent for an introduction to sailing. Safety cover was provided by Stan’s inflatable dinghy. With three sessions each week, two dozen youngsters each had three spells of sailing over the summer holidays. Four new members were signed up at the time. New members appeared in quantity over the winter, and during the following season.
Another arrangement with the Youth Club involved our ferrying their members over to the beach at Attadale for a barbecue. David in Elsie Dawn, Roger in Bragela, and Stan in Peggotty managed to cope with quite a party, who had to be taken ashore in dinghies, as the yachts were anchored out in deep water. With good weather, a good time was had by all, including the Sailing Club members.
Again in August 1996, the Sailing Club was roped in to ferry Youth club members to Sgeir Fhada for a barbecue. On this occasion the rescue boat was brought into action, supplementing other small motor boats, for the short run from the new pier. We had most of the youngsters out to the island when a magnificent thunderstorm rolled up the loch. Many drookit kids were quickly returned to the pier. The rain eased, and somehow food and drink was provided on shore.