"With all the sailing we've done over the years, the friends we've made and the scenery we've seen, buying a boat is the best thing I've ever done."
In her 40th year on Troon Marina
Duncan Baillie has had his original Oyster Smack “Rosa & Ada” berthed at Troon Yacht Haven since the early 1980’s. Our longest serving berth holder and currently featured as the cover star of our Marina Guide and Tide Tables 2020, we wanted to find out more about what originally drew Duncan to Troon and why he keeps his beautiful, post-centennial Oyster Smack here.
A vessel with heritage
Rosa & Ada was an Oyster Smack, the last and the biggest built by Collar brothers at Whitstable in 1908. She dredged oysters until the late 1950s although during WWII she was requisitioned by the Admiralty as a service and supply tender in the Thames to vessels searching for magnetic mines.
As Duncan was an art teacher and always practically minded, Rosa & Ada appealed. He explained; “measuring 46ft over the hulls, she was just the size of vessel I could do something with, a boat full of interest and character.”
Here’s a lovely little clip, made by crew member Richard Scarsbrook, of her cruising around the Inner Hebrides, “Caldedonia Cruising”. There’s even archive footage of her (probably from the early 1970’s) competing in the Annual Thames Oyster Smack Race from Gravesend to Billingsgate, re-enacting the oyster fishermen’s upstream dash to get their catch to market.
When asked why he keeps her at Troon, Duncan told me, “having Rosa & Ada here has meant we can do some great sailing. I prefer it here at Troon, we live in nearby Kilmarnock so it’s really convenient. We have sailed around the Irish sea, round Ireland, but mostly up the west coast of Scotland. We can sail around the Firth of Clyde, over to the Isle of Arran, up the coast and out to the Outer Isles and St Kilda.It’s also been really convenient for operating charter trips, close to transport and supplies, with easy access for guests and a good, secure car park.”
“The beauty of Troon is that when we get to the more remote places, we often have them to ourselves, so we’re extremely lucky, the views and wildlife are often amazing. As an artist, sailing has been a great source of material over the years and contributed to several exhibitions of my work.”
With the weather so changeable and more suited to the hardy sailor, Duncan admits “it’s obviously much more susceptible to the weather here and although it’s a big harbour and more exposed, the boats are protected in Troon Marina. The staff have always been very good and there’s plenty of room with the pontoons decently spaced apart. We’re not shoehorned in, so we can easily get in and out. I think that’s why lots of people like it here.”
Duncan and his wife regularly visit from Kilmarnock, after all there’s always a job to be done on a boat of this size and age. Much of her rebuilt over the years, including a new mast from a tree sourced near Fort William.
Memories to last a lifetime
Years ago, she was fitted out for charter trips, and holidays, but as Duncan explains “now we’re retired my wife and I just want to enjoy her for friends and ourselves. Many of our charter guests have become lifelong friends and they often join us on our adventures.”
Duncan recalls Troon before it was a marina, as the old coaling basin, dredged and transformed into the marina it is today, “I remember chatting with Robin Knox Johnston when they opened it, influential at the time in its build.”
Proud that Rosa & Ada is the oldest boat in the marina, Duncan told me “I’d sell Troon Yacht Haven to anyone, any day, it’s a nice marina, I’ve known the staff for years and they’ve always been very helpful and the management great. With all the sailing we’ve done over the years, the friends we’ve made and the scenery we’ve seen, buying a boat is the best thing I’ve ever done.”
If you’d like to hear more about what’s on offer at Troon Yacht Haven call us on 01292 315553 or visit www.yachthavens.com/troon/