CRSC sailed into new waters on 13 January 2021 with Eric Schofield’s superb Zoom presentation. Having to re-think how to continue delivering illustrated talks to its members and guests, the Club embraced the necessary technology, and our first-ever ‘virtual’ presentation materialised out of the ether onto the laptop and iPad screens of the 100 who had logged-in to share the experience. Stuart Craig gives his view on the evening.
Our president, Andy Anderson, kicked-off the proceedings in his usual ruminating style; joking (hopefully) that despite the neat shirt, tie and jacket, he was wearing his pyjama-bottoms on the half of him that we fortunately couldn’t see. He gave us a brief biography of Eric: the posts he has held for the club – six in total from 1963 to date, including president in the 1971-72 season and Honorary Secretary since 1993. And to cap it all, Eric was giving his talk on his birthday! I cannot give away his age. Suffice to say he no longer counts the candles on his cake but instead calculates the wattage.
Eric is a seasoned contributor to CRSC presentations and as such showed no nerves, despite this being a ‘live broadcast’ around the steamer world. Under the title ‘Come cruising aboard RMS King George V’ he invited us to ‘imagine we were sailing aboard’ as we were taken on a trip on the 1926 MacBrayne turbine.
We set off from Oban, cruised up Loch Linnhe to Fort William and back, and then round Mull to Staffa and Iona. The steamer came to life in front of our eyes as she re-lived these historic, popular routes. Those watching who had taken these trips for real lapped up the nostalgia, while those of us too young to have sailed on KGV exercised our imaginations.
Anyone watching who hadn’t previously appreciated Eric’s photographic skill was left in no doubt that our man is one of the best photographers around. And one immediate advantage of this new ‘virtual’ medium is the ability to zoom into the photographs to seek the fine detail that Eric so meticulously pointed out. His photographs were, frankly, stunning. I particularly loved the on-deck images, which made me feel like I was ‘sailing aboard’.
How ship decks have changed! Such shots are sadly so often missing from steamer collections. My favourite picture, however, was a shot taken from above Tobermory Bay with our ship passing MacBraynes’ Loch Carron. Can I get a copy, Eric? I didn’t mention your age! Also, the image of two crew members clambering along the belting trying to free a delinquent rope had me gasping at their grasping.
It wasn’t all virtual sailing. Eric gave us an illustrated history lesson along the way. No castle was left unturned as we cruised up the Sound of Mull.
His well-researched account of ‘bloody’ battles and skirmishes and ‘bloody’ bays gave character to his talk – although I think he should moderate his language!
Glancing frequently at the numbers taking part in the evening’s procedures, I noticed that 100 ladies and gentlemen were taking part. Half-way through, this dropped to 99 — probably because someone realised our timing coincided with Coronation Street. But a hundred!
This shows that this kind of technology has to be embraced and is a truly excellent way of being part of the CRSC meeting experience, especially for those previously unable to join meetings, for geographic or other reasons. They can now become involved.
We had a gentleman from Indiana, and another from Los Angeles. We even had a chap from Shawlands – oops sorry, that was our president! Another advantage (I couldn’t have been the only one to recognise this) was being able to put faces to names as I glanced through the images of those who had logged in. I could also have a good look at their sitting-room wallpaper and check that nobody had fallen asleep – not one!
Once Eric’s cruise was over, an informal chat broke out between our members. Andy kept this going very well: half an hour after Eric finished, 59 were still logged in.
So thank you Eric for such a beautiful virtual virtual sail. Thank you also Andy, and Robin Copland who helped make the presentation come alive, or should I say ‘live’. It’s my turn next month – I’ve got a bit of a job on my hands to emulate this….
The title of Stuart Craig’s illustrated talk on Wednesday 10 February is ‘My Top Ten Favourite Steamers’. The relevant Zoom codes will be published on this website nearer the time. All welcome!
Photographs on the CRSC website are protected by copyright law. Do not reproduce them on Facebook, Pinterest or any other public platform.
The Zoom presentation brought together members and friends from a wide range of places, including California, Ohio, Indiana, Aberdeen, Uig, Stornoway, an Ayrshire farm, the Isle of Wight and many English cities. The format gave participants a chance to put names to faces and vice versa. At the end of the talk everyone sang a rousing ‘Happy Birthday to You’ for Eric. Many ‘stayed behind’ to offer their personal congratulations and engage in discussion.
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Published on 14 January 2021