The 2004 sailing season which started with gales and rain has ended in much the same way; but fortunately both ends of the season were marked by lively voyages during which everyone managed to have a good time despite the weather.
The final voyage of the year was with one of our regular group bookings – the Girls of St Trinian’s…oops, sorry, meant to say Bruton School for Girls. Our staff bosun Princess Craig always looks forward to the Bruton trip; but staff skipper Mark “Wolf” Todd was unable to join them this year as he had to spend time on land thinking profound thoughts about the winter refit. (This mainly consists of producing lists full of £££ signs and groaning as the total at the bottom of the page remains stubbornly higher than the money we have available – see Refit Appeal below).
In Wolf’s absence, JOHN LAING was ably skippered by Nick Crawford, who says he had a great time with an enthusiastic crew. They only spent one day storm-bound; and they also had a fantastic, if slightly early, Hallowe’en party at which Nick, Craig and first mate John Smith were persuaded to appear in full make-up.
Thanks to all the sea staff for their efforts in a damp and windy week – as well as Nick, Craig and John, to Karen Marshall (who combines being a teacher at Bruton with being a qualified watchleader), and Peter Simpson (who combines being a qualified watchleader with being married to Karen).
The previous weekend was a mates’ training weekend which was rather thinly-attended as several people had to drop out at the last minute. And they weren’t the only things missing from the trip, as our occasional relief skipper (and round the world sailor) Ru Parkhouse spent the weekend in mourning for his Best Pants, inadvertently left in the Ocean Village marina showers on Friday morning and never seen again.
The weather was grim on Saturday, gusty with driving rain. We spent the morning alongside doing training sessions in how to run crew briefings, plus daily engine checks and passage planning. In the afternoon we sailed to Cowes, and Wolf decided to take the opportunity to practise boat handling under storm sails, which taught everyone quite a lot of things which you wouldn’t want to be learning for the first time in a real storm.
A sociable night out in Cowes was followed by some good sailing on Sunday, as the rain stopped and the sun came out.
Regular sea staff and crew members will know that at the end of a normal voyage, we go round the table asking everyone for the Best Bit, Worst Bit and Most Memorable Bit of the trip. I’d like to take nominations for the Best Bit, Worst Bit and Most Memorable Bit of the entire 2004 sailing season. PLEASE WRITE IN with your suggestions, and I’ll include them in future bulletins. Some good stories about the season’s highlights will help to keep up our morale as we start the winter refit, and remind us why all the hard work is worthwhile!
Decisions about the refit location are being finalised at the moment and we will shortly be letting you know where and when you can come to help. We really will need lots of support this year as we don’t have the full-time volunteers which we’ve been lucky enough to get in recent years to assist our professional staff. As I mentioned last week, we also need considerable financial support for essential work on the boat. Last week we launched a £15,000 REFIT APPEAL, and thanks to some generous early donors we are already well on the way to achieving the first thousand. Your enthusiastic support means an enormous amount to us!
Everyone else, PLEASE send a refit donation if you can – even if it’s only a little. Just £10 from everyone on this mailing list would raise £5,000. Please send cheques payable to OYT South to Spur House, 1 The Spur, Alverstoke, Gosport, Hants PO12 2NA. And PLEASE NOTE: if you are a taxpayer, it makes an enormous difference if you GIFT AID any donations. This means that we can claim back the tax you will have paid on your donation. So if you give £30, it will be worth just under £40 to us; £100 will be worth nearly £130 – without costing you a penny extra. All you need to do is fill in a simple form which you can get by calling David Salmon in our office on 0870 241 2252.
A few more reminders for you:
Don’t forget the END OF SEASON PARTY on Friday November 5th on board JOHN LAING in Southampton. Open to anyone aged 18+ but please bring a bottle as we are not going to spend any of the refit money on beer. Give Wolf a call on 07771 771864 if you are coming, so we have some idea of how many people to expect.
Please also think about CREW BOOKINGS for 2005, especially for the Tall Ships Race (see the 2005 sailing programme with dates and prices at www.oytsouth.org.) Remember that it’s a huge help if you can put us in touch with schools, youth clubs and other organisations which might book a group voyage. And if every crew member who receives this bulletin could get AT LEAST ONE FRIEND to book next year (as well as booking a voyage for yourself), it will be much easier to keep the boat full for every trip. Crew members, group leaders etc. should contact the office on 0870 241 2252 for bookings.
To help promote bookings for next season, there will be OPEN DAYS on board JOHN LAING in Southampton from Tuesday 9th to Sunday 14th November. Prospective crew members, group leaders and organisers are invited to look round the boat and find out more about what we offer. Please encourage anyone who might be interested to book a slot to visit on one of these days - see the website www.oytsouth.org for more information, or call the office on 0870 241 2252, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You are very welcome to visit the boat yourself, and bring a friend!
SEA STAFF, don’t forget to email me as soon as possible with your booking preferences for 2005. I’d also like to know about availability of new prospective sea staff to come and do a voyage, as well as hearing from anyone who wants to do an assessment next year.
I’m sailing next week (yes, I know it'll be November; yes, I agree we must be mad); but I look forward to lots of emails from all of you on my return!