Recursion - keep going

More than one basin submerges -

vassals take wrong end of ash for ships.

Wit and aspiration, alongside,

hold up to take supper at harbour -

pint (swallowed whole?) gives purpose.

Foremost three first (or four, we hear)

recorded observations a tad misplaced.

A success without us backing admission,

with race of batons racing depositor.

.

(5, 7, 4, 7, 5, 3, 4, 6, 5)

.

(4, 4, 3)

.

(4)

• This is a nice puzzle, but can I just add that after a day or two people will have lost interest so it would be better to add hints after a few hours (if no one has got the answer) when people are still viewing and its still at the top of the 'newest' list Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 13:13
• @BeastlyGerbil I thought an edit bumped the question back to the top? Does that not happen? Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 13:18
• it bumps it to the top of the active list but not the newest list Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 13:52
• @DeveloperInDevelopment, would you mind putting in word lengths? It's standard practice in cryptic clues. Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 14:43
• @RichardRoe I couldn't think of a consistent way to do it without giving too much away... but I think I'll add them anyway. Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 14:52

More than one basin submerges - (5)

SINKS: double def

vassals take wrong end of ash for ships. (7)

VESSELS (æ switch: solved by Richard)

Wit and aspiration, alongside, (4)

WITH (aspirated "wit": thanks, M!)

hold up to take supper at harbour - (7)

SUP + PORT

pint (swallowed whole?) gives purpose. (5)

P[O]INT

Foremost three first (or four, we hear) (3)

FOR(-emost), FOUR homophone (no definition????)

recorded observations a tad misplaced. (4)

DATA* (thanks, Richard)

A success without us backing admission, (6)

A[-su]CCESS (thanks, Richard (again))

with race of batons racing depositor. (5)

LAYER* (or RELAY*) ("racing" indicates anagram - thanks, M!)

Put together, we get

Sinks vessels with support point for data access layer (4,4,3)

Sinks vessels

POTS sinks(v) in billiards,vessels in cooking

(with) support point

SPOT (double def: to "spot" in the military or in water sports is to watch out while someone else is occupied)

for data access layer

• "With and aspiration" is WITH (alongside). I think the last is LAYER, one who deposits; wordplay is anagram (racing) of RELAY (baton race). With all that computer terminology, I guess that the harbour is a PORT, but I have no clue on the wordplay. Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 15:53
• @MOehm: Oh, never expected an indirect anagram.
– Deusovi
Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 15:54
• ships can sometimes be referred to as vessels Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 15:58
• Well, I'm not quite sure it's right. As for the serfs: I guess they may "take the wrong end" and become SERVES, so that something can be inserted to make it services, servers or some such. (The "wrong end" would be the wrong plural form modelled on knives, shelves etc.) These words are no ships, though Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 15:58
• @Deusovi Also spotting in weightlifting is even more precisely support. Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 21:26

Looks like

A three layer cryptic clue, judging by the word lengths given and the title.

The answers to some of the clues

Vassals take wrong end of ash for ships

"Vessels" According to Wikipedia "Ash" can refer to the oddly written AE stuck together, which can be better seen at the link. This means that "Vassals" taking the wrong end of "ash" (the e) can become "vessels", ships

Hold up to take supper at harbour

"Support" = hold up, "sup" = take supper, "port" = harbour (thanks @andenthal)

Recorded observations a tad misplaced

"Data" (recorded observations, anagram of "a tad")

A success without us backing admission

"Access" (admission, "A success" without "us")

So all words together, (with those solved Deusovi and Oehm) make up the phrase:

Sinks vessels with support point for data access layer

Which according to the hint should be a cryptic clue, the answer of which should be three words of 4 letters, 4 letters, and three letters

• As for the "three layer thing", that's what it seemed like to me too.
– Deusovi
Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 15:06
• good job on line 2 :) Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 17:09
• Very good. So I was barking up the wrong ash entirely. :) Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 17:48

Mostly building on @Deusovi answer and comments. Please build off it.

Pretty sure the phrase should be similar to this (using currently known):

Syncs servers with support point for data access layer.

Which will further describe:

either a HW or SW networking/infrastructure device - I'm guessing.

• Ha! I love "syncs"! Sadly, its wrong - but a lovely idea. I'd add an indicator such as "we hear" in that case, but I do like it. Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 16:38
• Thanks, wasn't sure either, figure it couldn't hurt to throw it out there - maybe help someone else. Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 16:43
• "support" has gotta be right anyway, it fits perfectly! Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 16:56
• correct on line 4 :) Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 17:09