Friday, 10 September 2010

Bernera, yacht no 3

photo by Clive Brown
The first five boats were built together at McGruer's yard at Clynder and launched at the end of May 1929.

Bernera was commissioned by Mr W M Dunn, but it seems he hardly sailed on her, if at all, because within a year she had been bought by Robert K Sharp, who owned her from 1929 to 1950, one of the longest periods of continuous ownership, with just a short break. During the War Mr Sharp served in the Dover Patrol, an extremely dangerous exercise. By 1944, having become very stressed and convinced that he would not survive, he sold Bernera, only to regret his decision immediately. He approached her purchaser, who agreed to sell her back to him. 

Here is an image of Bernera alongside the King's yacht Britannia on the Holy Loch during a Clyde Fortnight in the early 1930s.


In 1950 Mr Sharp sold her again and once again regretted what he had done. Fortunately Sanda was on the market, so he was able to buy her. Bernera remained in the ownership of her new owner D H Taylor until 1956, then she belonged to Mr and Mrs P Simpson until 1959. By the 1960s she belonged to Mr R E Pender, then she was converted for cruising by Terry Wade in the late 1970s. Eventually she was bought by Martyn Webster and reconverted to her original configuration by John Hill at Renfrew in 1997.

Martyn sold her to Arup and Mary Ray, who had further extensive work carried out and she is now berthed at Kilmelford.

Arup Ray and Bernera at Kilmelford
For those who are interested in such matters she had a light green hull originally, subsequently grey, then went through a white period like most old boats and is now light blue.


  1. RK Sharp was my Uncle Bertie, and I spent many school Easter and Summer holidays at his home, Glencorrie, on the shore of the Holy Loch, with Bernera moored just offshore, between 1945 and 1951. His son, my cousin Robert, helming for Glasgow Academy. tied with Loretto for the British Schools yacht racing championship around the late 1940's - sailed in Dragons. I always remember Strone neighbour old Captain Crocker telling us of the time he remembered the great J-class yachts (like Britannia in the photo), being moored stem to stern right up the Holy Loch one Clyde Fortnight.

  2. RK Sharp was my Uncle Bertie, and for much of his life his home was Glencorrie on the shore of the Holy Loch, at Strone (from where he commuted to Glsgow to work, starting on the '7-o'clock boat' - often on the Marchioness of Lorne paddle-steamer). During the racing season he moored Bernera just off-shore from his house. He raced her very keenly every Saturday during the season and in the Clyde Fortnight, (latterly Clyde Week). As a schoolboy, I regularly went on holidays at Easter and Summer to Glencorrie, and sometimes crewed on Bernera, although more often my nearby friend John Isbister and I would sail on one of he Royal Clyde Yacht Club's four cadet boats - 'Loch Longs' Rose, Thistle, Daffodil and Shamrock. John and my cousin Robert, Uncle Bertie's son, both won the British School's Yacht-Racing Championship, helming for Glasgow Academy. Old Captain Crocker, who lived in Crolamo, next to Glencorrie, used to say that the finest sight he ever saw were the great J-class yachts, moored stem-to-stern up the Holy Loch during a Clyde Fortnights - Britannia, photographed above, with Bernera alongside, was one of the leading J-class yacts. I also regularly crewed on Major Cowie's black Dragon 'Jarn'. We were never ever placed, but we had the finest lunches of the Clyde fleet - quite unlike Uncle Bertie who felt that his crew should give 100% attention to the job in hand, with barely a pause for a bite of sandwich. But he often was a class winner! The largest room in Glencorrie was designated the 'sail room', where they were laid out and tended. John Isbister's sisters. Elsa and Claire, who staye a few houses long, were once instrumental in forestalling disaster - when thye happend to note that Bernera had broken loose from her mooring, and was being cast onto the shore. By running extremely swiftly they alerted Bertie in time. The international helmsman of the Island class was Seawanakha Cup competitor Herbert Thom - who always had his Islander painted with clear varnish - so that he could see the condition of the hull.

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