‘A long-awaited reunion of friends’ — full report on Members Night

One of the most unusual photos shown at ‘Members Night’ was Graeme Phanco’s shot of an amphibious bus in the River Clyde on 9 February 2010. The experiment by Stagecoach did not last long, and the Renfrew ferry (left) also departed the scene soon after this photo was taken

CRSC’s first-ever midsummer get-together on Zoom drew a bigger audience than many of our traditional winter meetings in Glasgow, and everyone seemed delighted by the well executed presentations of four of our members. Report by Andrew Clark.

This ‘Members Night’ — attended by a welcome number of non-members — was a shot in the dark for the Club, as summer evenings have hitherto been seen as a fallow period for our activities. However, whether because of a post-lockdown ‘bounce’, or increased familiarity with Zoom, or the simple attraction of watching other enthusiasts’ images from the comfort of your own armchair, our gathering of nearly 90 proved a resounding success, resulting in calls for it to be repeated.

Adapting the format of previous members’ nights in Glasgow, when up to eight speakers would showcase their own photography, the 14 July get-together offered presentations by just four members, and it proved an ideal number. Each turned out to be immaculately prepared. They stuck to their allotted time, with no rambling or technical glitches. Content was surprisingly varied and the quality of photography uniformly excellent. Genially chaired by CRSC president Andrew Anderson and technically anchored by Robin Copland, the evening felt like a long-awaited reunion of friends — an impression underlined by the discussion at the end.

Paid-up CRSC members can see the complete presentation on video by clicking here. Non-members are welcome to join here by paying a £10 introductory fee for one year, with full membership benefits.

Mark’s photographs of Isle of Lewis at the entrance to Stornoway Harbour profiled her characteristic bow wave

Mark Nicolson focused on ‘capturing the Minch scene in Spring 2021’. Resident in Lewis, Mark is one of CRSC’s outliers, perfectly placed to record ship movements in a part of the west coast largely neglected by others. Mark freely admitted that his choice was influenced by his love of MV Isle of Lewis — which was pictured in varying shades of sunlight during her recent spell covering for the regular Stornoway boat.

His presentation also featured an unexpectedly rich gathering of other ferries, which had sailed past his favourite photographic spot at Arnish Point over an eight-week period of hectic CalMac activity.

And so we were treated to Hebridean Isles (‘chastened by locals for her lack of capacity’ but persuasively defended by Mark), Hebrides, Loch Bhrusda and, eventually, Loch Seaforth on her return to duty after lengthy repairs at Greenock.

Mark ended with a panorama of Stornoway Harbour showing four ferries in one frame. Magnificent!

As a regular visitor to Hunter’s Quay, Cameron has developed an eye for making Western Ferries’ vessels look good through the lens of his camera. He certainly made the best of Sound of Shuna in this portrait of her passing Strone en route to a spell of layoff at Kilmun

Cameron Wilson, resident in Peebles, habitué of Hunter’s Quay and Club member from the age of 10, gave us a wide-ranging sample of his exploits over the past two summers, starting with a rare sighting of Isle of Lewis at Craignure, a smokey Hebrides at Tarbert, and Loch Alainn at Eriskay, in a view profiling the turquoise luminescence of the surrounding waters.

I specially liked his description of a sun-blessed Coruisk — ‘not the best looking vessel in the fleet but she looks good here’ — and his inspired idea of interpolating brief ‘interludes’ into his Hoptscotch narrative, showing other forms of transport he had photographed since the start of the pandemic.

There were three knockout shots at the end — Clansman passing Rubha nan Gall lighthouse near Tobermory, Queen Mary and Queen Victoria at Greenock, and a Brodick-bound Hebridean Isles sailing into the setting sun.

Hebridean Princess next to Kisimul Castle at Castlebay, Barra

Kay Hutchison took as her theme the late-career exploits of her well remembered father, Captain Robin Hutchison, centring round Hebridean Princess, the former MacBrayne car ferry Columba.

When the owners inaugurated short luxury cruises in the Firth of Clyde in 1994, Kay explained, they needed a pilot and saw ‘Dad’ as the ideal candidate: it was really a job interview for relief master after retirement, to which Robin applied himself with charm and skill. A born raconteur, ‘he saw his job not just as being in charge of the ship, but enjoying the company of the passengers.’

Favouring us with some magnificent location pictures — St Kilda, Barra, Norway, France — taken by Bryan Kennedy (who was in our audience), Kay spoke of Robin’s conviction that Fairlie was the most suitable terminal for the Arran run, and his realisation that what mattered to cruise clientele was not a fixed timetable but places to land safely morning and afternoon, and an anchorage that would afford a relaxed dinner and a good sleep.

Graeme’s dramatic shot of Juno approaching Wemyss Bay on 2 June 2003 captured the personality of the ‘streakers’

Graeme Phanco served up a mixed grill of scenes from the past 20 years, ranging from a powerful action shot of Pioneer in 2003 (‘for fans of bow waves’) and Pentalina B off Kennacraig in 2009 near the end of her Scottish career (‘as Iona she was the first vessel I sailed on to Islay’), to a remarkable scene from 2010, when Stagecoach trialled an amphibious bus on a route from Braehead to Clydebank: it was pictured in the water next to the soon-to-be-redundant Renfrew ferry, but the experiment never ‘caught on’.

Images that specially caught my eye were Saturn in Brodick Bay, dressed overall for a CRSC charter, a superbly atmospheric capture of Jura ferry Eilean Dhiura in the Sound of Islay, an affectionate portrait of the puffer Vic 32 off Dalmuir, and what Graeme described as ‘Waverley doing a good impersonation of Talisman’ — on 18 June 2020, the one day when she could be photographed with just one funnel while undergoing boiler renovation at the James Watt Dock.

Andrew Anderson led a rousing round of applause for the four presenters, and many in the audience stayed online for a chat. It was good to see Zoom first-timers Kenneth Fraser and Lawrence Macduff on the screen, and to have a strong contingent from south of the border, including James Gallaher, Douglas McGowan, Graeme Roy and John Spain.

Thanks to John Newth and Donald Thomas for technical backup. All images on the CRSC website are protected by copyright law.

Please join us for our next Zoom meeting on Wednesday 8 September, when Past President Roy Paterson will delve into the CRSC photographic archive in search of gems.


Hebridean Isles proudly departing Stornoway Harbour in May this year. Photo by Mark Nicolson

The day Mark captured four in one: Loch Bhrusda, Loch Seaforth, Hebridean Isles and Isle of Lewis at Stornoway on 31 May 2021

Clansman passing Rubha nan Gall lighthouse, Tobermory — a Cameron Wilson class A photograph

Right place at the right time: Cameron was on the spot to capture two Queens — the cruise liner Queen Victoria and the former Clyde steamer Queen Mary — at Greenock on 6 June 2019

Kay Hutchison reminded us of her father’s nickname — Hurricane Hutch, signifying a master of all weathers. Photo by Bryan Kennedy

Hebridean Princess in the Kyles of Bute — a passage of which Captain Robin Hutchison had unrivalled knowledge

Graeme Phanco was present at Keppel on the one and only occasion that Balmoral called there — for the Millport Iluminations on 23 September 2017

Right up to the minute: Graeme attended the successful slipping of Maid of the Loch at Balloch on 14 July 2021 — and showed the evidence during his presentation later that day at the CRSC Members Night

Sign up for CRSC membership here for just £10 and receive all the benefits, including our annual Review of west coast ship movements, our colour magazine, reduced price DVDs and photo offers, and exclusive access to photo-rich ‘members only’ posts on this website.

Published on 16 July 2021