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On this merry day in Colwall it is dark, bleak, and damp, although the daffodils are pushing up and will soon delight us with a show of merry Springness! I can’t wait..   Still, this year we were spared January’s icy grip over the AGM and Ceilidh and enjoyed a mild spell. Which tells me that it is not bad weather that is the cause of slightly lower attendance than years of yore.

The committee holds a meeting the morning after the ceilidh and one of the items I brought up was whether we are providing what the club members want for our annual ‘party’. When I first attended in 2000, the regular band was ‘The Lion Orchestra’ Ceilidh Band – complete with the renowned dancing puppet and less than clear amplification. They were, however, cheaper (by £200) and quieter than the ‘Whole Caboodle’ that we have used for the last two years. I tried to get feedback at the ceilidh and got completely contrasting viewpoints. Some said the band was too loud to talk – and I agree – but some said that they were much better – to which I also agree. So we agreed at the meeting that I would ask you all what you want, the options being

The Lion Orchestra
The Whole Caboodle
A new, different band – suggestions?
A jazz band
No band at all – I can’t see this working.
Entertainment, e.g. Morris Dancing.
Any other entertainment ideas?
Answers on a postcard – or even better, by email, to yours truly. Please do let us know your opinions – this is your club, and the committee is here to represent you.
This brings me on to another aspect discussed at the committee meeting – that the committee was too much of a clique and too distant from your average punter. We discussed this seriously, and felt that it would be a good idea to keep members better informed about committee activity. We do rely on nominations for committee membership and club officers – as you will all have gathered by now I have been sniffing around for the next club commodore, though nominations have been as rare as snowflakes in August. However, I am delighted (and I am sure he is too) to inform you that James Raby has offered to step up from being the club vice commodore to commodore. This leaves the vice commodore job vacant – although we do have a nomination in the form of Julie Sienesi (Ward) who is very keen on ensuring that the committee truly represents its members, if there are any other nominations please do let us know. The fact that I do not recall anyone putting themselves forward as opposed to being asked means that we could very well be regarded as a closed shop. In reality, most committee members have followed the time honoured course of organizing a cruise (which makes them a representative on the committee) before being asked to become an elected committee member. There are similarities to the mate/skipper/cruise commodore pathway, obviously demonstrating that if you put more effort into an organization, you are more likely to be chosen as an ‘officer’. May I also confirm here that mates, skippers, cruise commodores, committee members and club officers get no remuneration, discounts or perks. There is a mechanism where stationary costs can be reclaimed – though I cannot recall any that have been made. The current committee is formed as follows:
1.      Commodore                           Jonty Pearce
2.      Vice Commodore                    James Raby
3.      Treasurer                                Derek Carver (soon to retire)
4.      Club Secretary                        Marian Keall
5.      Membership Secretary (elected)    Paul Rose (2 yrs to go)
6.      Committee Member                  Ian Rose (2 yrs to go)
7.      Committee Member                  Julie Sienesi (1 yr to go)
8.      Committee Member                  Simon Walker (3 yrs to go)
9.      Cruise Organiser for 2012         Ian Rose (duplicate, above)
10.     Cruise Organiser for 2012         Lyn Ballard
11.     Cruise Organiser for 2012         Jonathan Walton
12.     Cruise Organiser for 2012         Graham Room
Thus, when I retire as commodore, and if James is confirmed by the club as my replacement, we need a vice commodore and a committee member for 2013. If Julie is confirmed as Vice, we need one committee member. Incidentally, for my sins, in a moment of weakness I offered to continue doing this newsletter if James was too busy. So you may not have got rid of me yet, though I will have been defused. So nominate away and I hope this clarifies the officialdom.
Another area of committee discussion followed our well attended ‘skipper’s forum’ – misnamed, I feel, as we wish this to be open to all interested. Specifically, one of the areas of discussion was that of training and increasing experience. Several attendees were interested in furthering their skills, be it of progression to mate/skipper/RYA exams, navigation, or victualling and catering.
Whilst it was put forwards that we cannot be a formal RYA training club, and that those experienced sailors who like to teach are also on holiday, it was felt that we could try to keep interested members in contact with each other and even plan a training component in some cruises (or boats within cruises) to satisfy their hunger to learn. I therefore propose to keep a ‘Training Register’ of anyone keen on furthering themselves in any sphere that sailing encompasses. Do please email me with your interest, experience and objectives. While I do not promise to be able to act on all aspects, it will enable us to get a clearer picture of the requirements of the register, and the club can discuss ways of enabling such aspirations and facilitating mutual support. We will also forward the minutes of the ‘skipper’s forum’ to you.
Our work towards more efficient use of emails and keeping our database updated continues, for which I’d like to thank Paul Rose. The annual pack is a particularly onerous task to compile, and really too much for one person. I know Paul has struggled manfully to get the pack out on time, and the time has come for the membership to accept it electronically where possible.  We realise that not all Penguins have access to Emails, and that addresses get changed or ‘spammed’. However I think that the final innovation I will see through as Commodore will be the change to an electronic mailing pack. You will then be able to choose what you print. We can continue to produce a smaller number of paper snailmail packs where needed. We will be able to confirm that the packs have been sent on the website, so if you realise yours has gone astray it will be possible to resend it. An up to date database is essential, so please do keep us updated with any changes. I will, of course, continue with the Newsletters to keep those of you with working emails up to date throughout the year with club news.
Attendees at the AGM were presented with a copy of the new edition of the Penguin Handbook. The original was written by Lester Copestake. My thanks go to Graham Room, Paul Copestake, Jonathan Walton, James Raby, Bill Douglas, Trevor Still, and Quentin Hayes who joined me in writing new sections for the second edition. We have tried to keep as much of the original as was relevant, but have updated some parts, and there are numerous new sections. I was amused that when dealing with our local printer that he remembered Lester as a favoured customer!  The Handbook will be provided free to all new Penguins joining us on cruises. Copies are available from me at a cost of £2.50, or if posted £3.50. Please make cheques payable to Dr J. C. Pearce and I will ensure that they reach the club account. I’m reluctant to give my address out here as the newsletter does get published on the website – do email me at the address on the website This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
We also produced copies of the updated ‘Penguin Trifold Leaflet’ – a one page brochure advertising the club and activities. If you would like copies, contact me.
We have four cruises for 2012 – Easter, from Alba Sailing, Dunstaffnage, round southern Scotland, maybe across to Rathlin Island depending on the wind and the whim of the Cruise Commodore. I’m afraid this cruise is full, and as the Ireland cruise still has places available we do not plan to increase the numbers of boats.
May – Lyn Ballard is planning on taking 2 boats for a fortnight to Brittany.  This, too, is full.
August – Jonathan Walton’s Stockholm Archipelago cruise filled up immediately.
Late August – Graham Room has organised a 2 week (splittable) cruise from Shannon, West Ireland, down to Bantree where crewmembers not doing the 2 weeks can disembark for transport to return from Cork. Two yachts have been reserved, though uptake has been surprisingly low, and we are considering limiting this to one boat. So please, if you can support us, contact Graham Room. Details on the cruise are on the website;view=article&id=20&Itemid=111. This is a fantastic sailing area, and I would have loved to go on this cruise if personal complications did not prevent us. However, and regretfully, if we do not get enough support in the next few weeks, the cruise will be reduced to one boat for 2 weeks.
I am glad to see that our new ‘Subsidised’ places in addition to the traditional Sponsored Place has had a good uptake – reportedly four £100 discounts have been allocated for the Easter cruise. This was started in memory of Kevin, using the excess from his memorial Cruise, allowing us to help those in full time education to enjoy the cruising world at a discounted price.
Penultimately, March 2013 is the 25th Anniversary of the official founding of The Penguin Cruising Club. In 2008 we had the LLangorse shore based weekend to celebrate Kevin’s 90th Birthday. It seems appropriate to plan a camping weekend on May 25-27 (Bank Holiday Weekend) 2013 at the Orchard Paddock, Llangorse, as before. Llangorse is near Brecon and Hay in South Wales, and offered huge enjoyment in a private camping area with canoeing and sailing on the lake, rock climbing in the rope centre, and pony trekking. Put the date in your diaries!
Finally, The Penguin Cruising Club did get a one line mention in Yachting Monthly’s March issue (current). On page 50 ‘Me and My Boat’ is all about Dick Durham coming to sail for a weekend on my Southerly 105 Ketch, Aurial. Do go out and buy it!!
I’m sorry this has been such a marathon Newsletter – there was a lot to communicate this time. Thanks for reading, and wrap up warm till the daffodils herald spring and the defrosting of boats for the 2012 season!
Jonty Pearce