John Liddy

It is with much sadness that I report the death of John Liddy, on 26 April. He was known with great fondness to many of us. Most recently for the Club he was the Company Secretary until early 2019, when he had to devote himself to treatment and recovery. It was a delight to see him at this year’s AGM.

Tony Riley has written the following appreciation and tribute.

John was an enthusiastic and active member of Phoenix for many years, and will have sailed with many members, who will feel his loss very deeply. Personally, I had known John for nearly 40 years, as a work colleague with BP, a friend and a valued sailing companion.

As a member, John sailed club boats regularly, and served periods as Secretary of both the Sailing and Management Committees. He impressed others with his quiet efficiency, attention to detail and diplomacy, skills that were evident throughout both his career and time as a member of PYC.

He qualified as an MCA/RYA Yachtmaster Offshore in 2014 and was a club Offshore skipper, participating in a variety of club cruising activities, including to many ‘summer cruise’ destinations. In his sailing, he demonstrated a high level of competency and was a calm but authoritative presence, even in challenging conditions. His skills were recognised in 2009 and 2013 when he was awarded the PYC trophy for ‘Meritorious Seamanship’.

He introduced many new members to the club, including myself, and encouraged others to develop their skills, offering advice and coaching where necessary. The photos of John assisting with the development of a MOB ‘handy-billy’ will serve as a reminder to all of us of John’s contribution to PYC.  

 John – you will be much missed by your family and many friends. Bon Voyage

Ted Sankey


John and Crew in Salcombe 2017 from Diana La Rue

3 thoughts on “John Liddy

  1. What a loss to his family and to us in the PYC. John was an inspiration to those of us who worked with him on the committee where he was always clear thinking, sensible and hard working.

    I also still clearly reminisce of him sailing with me out of Falmouth on the West Country summer cruise, when I was a relatively new Club Skipper compared to his many years of Offshore experience. That was the occasion when he took two of the PYC lady members in the dinghy a long way up the River Yealm on a rising tide to watch the sun go down and enjoy the tranquillity of that rather remote part of the Devon coast. Unfortunately, the outboard motor packed up ! John had had the foresight to take the portable radio with him so the harbour-master was able to rescue them! Happy memories of a man who brought much pleasure to those he spent time with. He will be missed.

  2. I’ve sailed with John on eight separate outings, in the Solent and in France, and we shared three years together on the Sailing Committee.

    Memorable outings for me must be Honfleur – where we spent a good half-day unsuccessfully trying to unblock the heads on Spellbinder (including leaning over the side of the dinghy blowing with the dinghy pump through the outlet – a bit messy for Mark!), before returning overnight to Haslar in rough conditions with bucket – which Carole our lady crew member bore stoically!

    John L stailises the dinghy while John H tries to clear the blockage

    Also Littlehampton (little visited by PYC), a spontaneous decision to return from Lymington round the Isle of Wight to Northney marina on Hayling Island in Chichester Harbour, and an evocative visit to the Mulberry Harbours on passage from Ouistreham to Grandcamp.

    John hailed originally from New Zealand and retained a slight antipodean accent. Whether sailing or at committee meetings, he was always a calm, competent and reassuring presence, and always supremely well-prepared. A great character with a dry sense of humour, he was invariably seen in shorts on the boats, whatever the weather!

    A sad loss.

  3. John’s passing is a sad loss to the Club and we will all miss him. He had a lovely calm manner with a great sense of humour and was rarely fazed by the uncertainties of the sea and sailing. I sailed with him on several occasions and was due to enjoy a week in St Malo with him this summer.

    In 2017, as part of the West Country cruise, with John as skipper, Hazel, Robert and Mary Lewcock, Ron Clark and I sailed from/to Plymouth on Spellbinder’s last cruise with the Club. We went via Fowey, Falmouth, River Yealm and Salcombe in search of Poldark and Roskilly’s ice cream, a particular favourite of John’s. John enjoyed sailing in and out of places and being able to explore both on the water and ashore for a good walk especially if there was a beer, a cream tea or an ice cream on offer. Attached are a photo of the crew in Salcombe Yacht club and the ‘tale of the 3 old bags‘.

    In 2018, again in the West Country with John as skipper I enjoyed two weeks aboard RelaX on her first cruise with the Club. For the first week, the crew of John, Hazel, Robert, Chris Garrett and myself met in Milford Haven and we sailed to Falmouth via Padstow and the Isles of Scilly. Arriving in Padstow required some deft pilotage and finding a place to berth involved negotiation with an army of young crabbers. The long passages were memorable for the dolphins, the bright moonlight and unfortunately the lumpy seas. However the Isles of Scilly were beautiful and we did catch a rare sighting of Poldark.

    For the second week we had a crew change in Falmouth and were joined by Yuri, Moira and Chris Watts. Our trip took us from Falmouth – Fowey – Plymouth – Salcombe – Brixham – Portland – Haslar. The week started well with lovely weather but by the time we got to Salcombe it was clear that the weather was going to deteriorate as the week went on with a nasty ‘low’ going through. John was keen for us to press on to Brixham and then to seek some further shelter in Portland. Brixham is a busy fishing port and in true John style we were able to get ashore for a walk, a beer and a meal. The following day we eventually arrived in Portland late at night in rough seas and pouring rain. After some welcome rest and recuperation and the passing of the storm we then headed off towards the Needles enjoying a lovely sunset along the way and home to Haslar.

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