Quite a few items of news this week.
It looks as though we may still have one or two vacancies on the weekend trip 22nd – 24th October, Southampton to Southampton, £110, starting at 8pm on Friday and finishing at 4pm on Sunday. This is open to anyone aged 16 or over, including sea staff, potential sea staff and anyone thinking of organising a voyage next year. It might be a good opportunity for some of the people who made contact at the Southampton Boat Show to come and see JOHN LAING in action. Call the office 0870 241 2252 for details.
We are now taking sea staff bookings for 2005. Please check the 2005 sailing programme at www.oytsouth.org and reply to this email as soon as possible if you know when you would like to sail next year. It would be very helpful if you could let me have second preferences in case some trips are over-subscribed. In these cases, priority will generally be given to those who have helped OYT South in various ways: for example, working at the refit, helping with fundraising, or providing contacts which lead to new crew bookings. You will need to let me know if you are a first, second or third mate, as I don’t know everybody. If those who have already booked wouldn't mind confirming when they expect to be sailing, it would be very helpful in avoiding any mix-ups. I would also like to hear from any new potential sea staff who will need to be fitted in for familiarisation or assessment trips, with details of your availability. Relief skipper and bosun bookings will be organised separately once the rotas for the staff skipper and bosun have been finalised.
And OYT Scotland has asked me to advertise two spaces left for their Coastal Skipper course next week (Sun 10th to Sun 17th October, starting and finishing in Largs). If you are free next week, want to do your Coastal Skipper exam and have the pre-course requirements (minimum 30 days sailing, 2 days as skipper, 800 miles and 12 night hours) call Nick Fleming on 07818 002811.
Is anyone out there able to advise us on VAT issues, or does anyone know a good VAT expert? Sail training organisations including OYT South have been informed that we may be forced to add VAT at 17.5% to our voyage fees. Obviously this is something we will be appealing against, along with other sail training organisations plus the Royal Yachting Association and the Association of Sea Training Organisations. Any experts able to help us fight our cause will be warmly welcomed. Again, reply to this email if you can help.
Meanwhile, JOHN LAING has been sailing for the last couple of weeks. We had a crew from Dorset organised by Steve Lacey; sadly this ended up short-staffed as one member of sea staff dropped out at the last minute for personal reasons, and then staff bosun “Princess” Craig succumbed to flu and had to miss the voyage as well. Steve writes: “Dorset Offshore Challenge 2004 proved to be a challenging experience for sea staff and crew. We sailed from Gosport on Tuesday for Studland via St Catherine's, in sloppy conditions with eight out of twelve crew suffering from seasickness. The wind filled in, crew and conditions improved as we reached the Dorset coast and anchored overnight in Studland Bay. Wednesday saw us making passage towards Alderney. Most of the crew had found their sea legs and with encouragement enjoyed and participated in the experience. Fortunately we avoided the worst of the rain squalls as we approached Alderney in a grey light. On Thursday we explored Alderney, some on foot, others on bicycles, with the crew meeting up for lunch, hearty appetites restored and a change from the healthy eating aboard. Crew members were impressed by the soft white sand and the atmosphere of the island, many wishing to return in the future. We managed to keep ahead of the worsening weather for most of the return passage, nevertheless surfing at up to 11 knots at times. Berthed in Ocean Village in the rain - a damp end to the voyage. Feedback from the crew since the voyage has been very positive, with individuals remaining free of substances for the week for the first time in a number of years. All completed the voyage, an achievement in itself, two achieving competent crew. All I have spoken to are looking forward to the follow up weekend in April 2005.”
I also had an enthusiastic email about this trip from some of the crew, sent by Lurch, also writing on behalf of Sparky and Rob, saying: “Cheers for making the trip a good experience, hope Princess Craig feels a bit better! Also cheers to Tony (Whiting, relief skipper), John (Parkin, first mate), Steve (Lacey, second mate and group leader) and Rob (Harwood, who successfully completed his 3rd mate’s assessment) who helped make it a possibility for Rob and I to gain our Competent Crew certificates!....I still haven't stopped swaying, and Rob was ill when he got home. Sparky and I felt really "boat-sick" on the way home, and we missed everyone so bad! Especially a couple of people! I hope we have the same sea staff in April, and it would be great to meet up with everyone again!...Best wishes to everyone and hope Princess Craig gets better soon!”
The next voyage was with our regular clients at Portsmouth Housing Association. Again, it was not an easy voyage but a (fortunately recovered) Craig reports that they had some good sailing despite never leaving the Solent; one of the crew succeeded in completing the RYA Start Yachting Certificate; and two new members of sea staff were recommended for their 3rd mate assessments: Ian Funnell and Jane Francis.
Many thanks to all the sea staff for their efforts on both these voyages, especially to relief skipper Tony Whiting.
A new crew has joined today, 12 and 13 year olds from Parkside School, another regular booking; and staff skipper Mark “Wolf” Todd is back from holiday. Some people have queried the report in last week’s bulletin about Wolf being “definitely not in Corfu”, since that is where he had told everyone he was going. Well, the true story goes something like this…..
Wolf, a qualified ocean navigator, had booked a holiday in a location which he believed to be in Corfu. He then flew to this location, successfully found his hotel, and settled down to enjoy all that Corfu had to offer. It was a couple of days later when a sort of un-Corfu-ish feeling descended. What happened next has never been satisfactorily described, but I like to imagine a conversation which might have gone something like this: Wolf to Fellow Hotel Guest: “So what do you think of Corfu then?” FHG: “I don’t know, I’ve never been there.” Wolf (stunned) “…………!!?? Where’s this then?” FHG: “This is the Greek mainland.”
Following this incident, OYT South is supporting Princess Craig in getting his navigation qualifications as rapidly as possible. Wolf would like to point out in his own defence that he has never been any good at finding his way on land but that this has no impact on his ability to navigate at sea!
Finally, news in brief from a few other OYT South stalwarts:
Congratulations to relief skipper Dave Carnson and his wife Trine on the arrival of baby Eve.
Second mate Alice Poyner is enjoying life as a doctor after long years as a student; she’s shortly off for a holiday in Vietnam with her boyfriend, but hopes to sail with us again next year. In the meantime, if anyone gets sick or injured in the east London / Essex area, don’t forget to ask for Alice.
And Phoebe adds to last week’s news that she survived her skiing trip, at least part (but sadly not all) of which was spent upright and facing forwards (indeed I have photographic evidence, available on request). However, an accident-free email from Phoebe would be too much to ask: “I nearly removed the end of my thumb with a large knife. My Mum volunteered to stick it back together, which should have been fine considering that she’s a nurse, first aid instructor and just doing a course on emergency medicine. But no, my thumb is now stuck together with out of date steri-strips applied by a slightly pissed nurse who couldn’t find her glasses.”