Meet RG Mowat – owner of the Fulmar

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At the end of November we asked readers for help to unravel the mystery of a yacht log book which was posted to the paper with no clues as to its origin.

And, not for the first time, Argyllshire Advertiser readers have come up trumps and we now know a little more about the boat’s owner, named only as RG Mowat in the log book.

The 1956 log book gives an account of the voyages of the 41-foot gaff cutter ‘Fulmar’ and the adventures of her colourful crew. Its dog-eared pages contain neatly-typed records, precise drawings and fascinating photographs.

The log’s mystery is deepened by the fact no names are given other than the nicknames ‘Tanky’, ‘Bosun’, ‘Skipper’ and ‘Pilot’. The only crew member named is pet dachshund ‘Major’.

The log does record the Fulmar’s home port was Tighnabruaich and the owner was RG Mowat, but few details on Mr Mowat could be found.

Lord Weir of Lochhead, Achahoish, contacted the newspaper to pass on information on Commander Ralph G Mowat.

During the Second World War, Commander Mowat was a Royal Navy Captain, latterly in command of a cruiser. At the end of the war, he and his ship entered Copenhagen, where he took the surrender of the German troops.

Clive Brown from Ardfern added some post-war detail. He revealed: ‘Commander Ralph G Mowat, RN (Rtd), was a distinguished member of Clyde Cruising Club (CCC) best known as being, for 23 years, the honorary editor of the CCC Sailing Directions (1947-1970). These were – and indeed remain – a ‘must have’ for everyone who navigates their way among the many lochs and islands of Scotland’s west coast. They were colloquially known as the ‘Blue Book’ and published at that time as a hardback. He also served as CCC Rear Commodore 1947-1950.’

Mr Brown also provided an extract from the book ‘Clyde Cruising Club, The First One Hundred Years 1909-2009’ which states Ralph Mowat received an RYA Award for services to yachting in 1969 but refused to accept honorary membership of the club. In recompense, his widow Mary was elected an honorary member in 1974, after his death.

Tighnabruaich man Alan Wilson contacted Clyde sailing legend Ian Nicolson, who was fairly sure he recalled racing against the ‘Fulmar’ in the 1960s.

Mr Nicolson said:’Old Man Mowat, as I remember him, was a typical ex Royal Navy officer. He treated me as a young upstart, which I was, but we got on well because I wrote a bit for Clyde Cruising Club publications. He lived in Clarkston on the edge of Glasgow.’

Clyde Cruising Club itself cannot help with information on the Fulmar. Club secretary Jennifer Rollands contacted the Advertiser and confirmed CCC sadly lost all its records when the Carrick, moored on the River Clyde, sank in 1977. At the time, the club’s office was aboard her.

Closer to home, Ardrishaig man Billy Paterson called into the Advertiser offices to say his father, Ardrishaig Primary School headmaster Gilbert Paterson, had crewed the yacht Fulmar.

Mr Paterson still has mementoes from his father’s trips in the form of gifts from Commander Mowat, including a paperweight from 1951, a copper and brass barrel ashtray dated 1953 and a brass model yacht with ‘Fulmar 1954’ engraved on it.

Thanks to everyone who contacted the Advertiser with their memories.

We now know a little more about Commander Ralph G Mowat, RN (Rtd), owner of the Fulmar.

Details about the crew of ‘Tanky’, ‘Bosun’ and ‘Pilot’ remain, however, sketchy, so if anyone out there knows any more…