1955 – 1965
Troon Cruising Club was formed by a number of small boat owners in February 1955. The harbour authorities (British Transport Docks Board) allowed the newly formed club to moor their boats (mainly power boats) along the west wall of the harbour and in the ‘Hole’ (deeper water just inside harbour entrance). They were given the ‘Bethel’ to use as a clubhouse / store, this was the old ‘Seaman’s Mission’, close to the extension of Ailsa Shipyard, which was used by members in the post war period. The main advantage of the club was the avoidance of harbour dues by the harbour authorities which were charged based on tonnage.
At the end of the first year there were 31 members and 26 boats in the Club.
The main activities of the Club during the first ten years were: cruising in company, a fishing competition, the Dinner Dance, the odd night of films, an occasional talk on a nautical theme and much work on petrol paraffin engines.
Cruises organised in 1956 included trips to Millport, Lochranza, Ailsa Craig, Fairlie, Rothesay and Horse Island outside Ardrossan. One of the Club Rules in 1956 stated that:
“All members to help each other and so bring about a good feeling of comradeship in the Club”
During this period Troon Sailing Club (1958 – 1992) was also formed on the foreshore of the North Bay to provide a full racing programme for dinghies and early links were made with Troon Cruising Club and in 1959 they held a joint regatta.
1965 – 1975
The Club had always suffered from a lack of security of tenure in the inner basin of the harbour which limited improvements being made to the moorings and clubhouse. However, in 1972 a lease agreement of three years was made with the Docks Board and this allowed the Club to make plans for developing the facilities, including dredging the Inner Basin and providing an ‘Access Arm or Club Pontoon’.
In the early 1960s various members from both TCC and TSC bought keel boats and it was inevitable that racing would soon become part of the TCC activities and during the early 1970s a full racing programme developed.
The growth of sailing in the area was reflected in the increasing demand for berths and in 1974 there was a waiting list for a wet mooring of 57.
A major part of the Club’s activities (since the late 1960s) was the annual ‘Lift Out and Lift In’ of boats and although some of these were taken away on a trailer after lift out, an increasing number were now parked on the harbour wall near the pilot house over the winter.
In October 1973 Ayrshire County Council were looking at plans for the Inner Basin and the development of a local authority marina, however these plans fell through. In September 1976 it was revealed in the local press that the Docks Board had been negotiating for some time with Robin Knox Johnson and Associates for the development of a new marina.
There then followed a long and hard fight for the survival of the Troon Cruising Club and it was not until the Special General Meeting held at the Walker Hall on 17th May 1977 that the members voted by majority to accept the BTDB proposed agreement that would allow ‘TCC to retain their identity and independence, working within the framework of the Marina‘.
Further negotiations were to follow over the next year and the continual fight to maintain the rights stipulated in the agreement was to continue well into the 1980’s. The lease with The Marina and BTDB was not signed until 1985.
1979 – 1989
The new Clubhouse was built on the present site and this opened in September 1980. In 1981 there were 389 members and provisions had been made for 65 berths along the shipbreaker’s (northeast) seawall and twenty at the head of the basin. A scrubbing grid had also been constructed and further improvements made to the facilities including a launch slip into the basin from the head of the compound. In 1980 after the Club slipway was complete a hoist was constructed for the purpose of launching boats down the slipway, however the Marina raised an objection to this and gained a court interdict preventing use of the slipway and the last boat was launched down the slip in August 1981.
The racing section of the Club continued to go from strength to strength and an Honorary Racing Secretary supported by a Committee were elected and the Club developed one of the most extensive racing programmes in the West of Scotland. The Club hosted the ½ ton Championships and many other events and members and their yachts regularly took part in West Highland Week and other similar events throughout the UK.
The Club continued to benefit from many improvements to the facilities and the compound was upgraded, dinghy cages provided and gates erected.
In 1984 the first ‘Yearbook’ was produced to celebrate the Club’s 30th Anniversary in 1985 and to keep the Club together by keeping members well informed of all the Club activities including cruising, racing and social events.
The Redwing Trophy started in 1962 was awarded to the boat that cruised the furthest distance and large yachts and small have carried the club burgee to the Faeroes, Shetland and Norway in the North to St. Kilda and Ireland in the West and to France, Spain and the Mediterranean in the South.
1990 – 2000
A further ten years of Racing saw many successful events hosted at the Club with ups and downs but the numbers involved with racing steadily reduced from the heady days of the 1980’s and there remained a friendly banter between cruising and racing members. In fact many members both cruised and raced.
Troon Cruising Club Today
“Within our Club are racers, cruisers, potterers, boat builders, boat breakers, good helmsmen, poor helmsmen, good crews, poor crews, sweethearts, wives, lovers, big boat owners, not so big boat owners, willing helpers, not so willing helpers – all together with no exceptions they make up what we know as Troon Cruising Club”
The Club is of course much more than its individual component parts and it is the members that maketh the Club. Hopefully we will be in a position to welcome many more new members to the Club and the joys of sailing in the years to come.