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Memories from John Whiteford (1957-1963)

Queensland. Australia.  2 January 2011

It was very recently that I googled V.N.S.C. and was delighted with the response. Last year I finally got around to getting my old 1957 to 1963 35mm slides,8mm film  and photos out again and with new technology available decided to try and copy them to my PC.....I had tried this in 1992 with limited success!!
So far have copied the 8mm films which have faded somewhat and no doubt there will be someway of enhancing them.However it is good early history of the Club.
I left Adelaide, South Australia in July 1957 to take up a position in the Uganda Credit and Savings Bank.Kampala. It took some 5 days of flying to reach the capital.
The Bank was a fairly new venture between the Ugandan  and British governments to assist in  development.
Being the only batchelor on the staff I relieved around the countryside and was stationed in Jinja,Gulu,Fort Portal,Masaka,Arua at various times.
Whilst in Fort Portal in 1958 the local medical doctor had started building a Heron dinghy and I was interested so he helped me build my first boat,timber was local helped by the P.W.D!!!his was blue and white and mine red and white.Sails came out from England.A small club,The Saka Sailing Club, had been established on the edge of a volcanic lake about 6 km out of town.An old house was done up as the Clubhouse.I have quite a few slides to be copied of this era. There were 4 International Cadet dinghies 2 Herons plus a couple of other odd sorts.The Lake was in the shape of an E with variable winds.One of our members had sailed at V.N.S.C. and we challenged them to come up for some racing.They duly arrived and we had a great weekend winning all races....... our local wind knowledge helped tremendously.However several months later we went down to Kazi and got soundly thrashed!!!! Local knowledge, plus we had never sailed in such big boats as the sharpie.
Eventually I was stationed in Kampala and joined the V.N.S.C. and purchased E25, a Yachting Monthly Sharpie of which there was a fleet of around 20 plus.This type of 20 foot boat had been there for many years and originally were gaff rigged but non were in existance at this stage and had been modernised.They had a large sail area and a crew of 2 though 3 went on some rough days.There were other designs as well,Jubilee,2 GP 14's,Albacore,Firefly,Enterprise, and a replica of Slocum's boat plus a few others.  There was a fleet of 6 505's sailing out of Mombassa and had decided to upgrade them and we were offered them for a nominal sum.Transporting them to the Lake seemed a problem but one astute fellow did some research and found an old Railway regulation that boats going to Lake Victoria had to go at a very low rate. This was taken up with the Railways who agreed and placed a carriage on for their transport at about a cost of about 10 shillings each. I obtained no. 729.
This increased the fleet of boats considerably and a lot of good sailing was experienced and extremely popular with the spectators as well.
The photo of the shield I won was  a race for anyone who had not won a race that year!!! At last, success!!!!
I had to sell my 505 in 1962 due to a posting to Arua which was to be for an indeterminate time.
I departed Uganda February 1963.
I still have wonderful and fond memories of Uganda.
From your list of past Commodores those mentioned between 1953 and 1968 were all pretty good sailors and people I knew.
John Whiteford

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