International crew


OYT South bulletin 9th September 2005

Urgent notices

Adult (16+) voyage, 12-16 September
Last-minute opportunity, only a couple of spaces left for sailing next Monday (back on Friday), open to anyone aged 16 or over. Please call 0870 241 2252. Cost only £200.

Southampton Boat Show
If you have offered to help on our stand at the show but haven’t yet finalised details or agreed which day you are coming, please call David Salmon on 0870 241 2252 urgently. Anyone else available between 16-25 September, do let David know!

Annual dinner
Last opportunity to buy tickets for this joint fundraising event for OYT South and two children’s hospices, to be held at the Royal Southern Yacht Club, Hamble, on Friday 16th Sept. Tickets £65 each. Guest speaker Sally Taylor from BBC South Today. Again, call the office as you can pay by credit card over the phone, 0870 241 2252.

Day skipper practical course
Wolf is running a day skipper practical course from Sunday 6th November to Friday 11th and there are two spare places. This will be run in a small yacht, and is a great opportunity to learn about parking and manoeuvres which are difficult to practise in a vessel as big as John Laing. Cost £100 per head, contact Wolf on 07771 771864 for details. It would be preferable though not essential for people to have Day Skipper theory plus Competent Crew certificates before they do this course.

Photos and stories
Thanks for all the photos I’ve been sent from voyages this season – but don’t stop now! We can always use more photos, articles from crew members or even just a short quote about your voyage which can be used in our publicity.

Please help with crew bookings!
We still have three remaining voyages which don’t currently have enough crew to be able to sail the boat: 10-14 Oct (£210); 15-20 Oct (£225) and 1-5 Nov (£160) – please help us to fill some of the remaining spaces! Anyone aged 12-25 is eligible to join one of these trips. If you know an organisation which has never sent a group on the boat, why not recommend that they send one or two people on a “taster” voyage to see if they might like a full group booking next year? 10-14 October currently has no young people booked on it so this could also be sold as an adult group voyage if anyone would be interested.

Voyage news

All the appeals for international crew members which many of you will have read in this bulletin in recent months finally paid off this week as we put to sea with crew from France, Germany, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Latvia, Wales and England. It was an absolutely fantastic experience, with the perfect combination of glorious weather, interesting places to visit, a top-quality crew and a laugh almost every minute.

The trip began in Southampton last Saturday, and the weather conditions looked right for a fast passage across the Channel. Skipper Wolf had been interested for some time in seeing Caen, but had never had the right conditions to get the boat there. We set off in a good breeze, making 10 or 11 knots in a very clear, starry night. Sadly a few of the crew were too seasick to enjoy it, but we reached Ouistreham on Sunday morning and were able to lock in to the canal which runs down to Caen, motoring gently on flat water.

No-one on board had been in this part of France before, and we were all surprised by what a beautiful area it is. The canal is largely peaceful and rural; and in Caen we were able to moor right in the centre of town (and right next to the showers), surrounded by all the shops and bars and restaurants. There are plenty of impressive old buildings, including an abbey and a castle, and it just had a really good atmosphere.

One of the great attractions of Caen is the Caen Memorial, an outstanding war museum which a group of us visited on Monday. This is not a museum concentrating on all the standard artefacts of uniforms and weaponry, but is much more focussed on the details of people’s lives, and their thoughts and feelings – so there are lots of letters and audio-visual presentations making up a compelling picture of what it was like to be there: as an ordinary French civilian, or a member of the resistance, or a serviceman on D-day.

Of course, we checked that our two German crew members were not offended by our interest in the history of the area; but in fact, visiting the museum on this particular voyage really brought home to us how fortunate we are these days: spending a few hours thinking of Europe as it was in 1945, and then going back to the boat where our multi-national crew was getting on so well, with real friendships being forged and so much humour that every briefing took twice as long as it should have done, with all the interruptions for witty comments and laughter.

We spent two nights and a full day in Caen. Unusually for an OYT South voyage, almost all of the crew were aged over 18, so we were able to see something of the town’s nightlife, and all sixteen of us had lunch together in a local restaurant on Monday. Caen is a great place and Wolf is already planning his next trip there.

On Tuesday we set off up the canal again, but stopped by Pegasus Bridge for another war museum. This was the place where the very first allied troops arrived in the early hours of D-day, as it was vital to secure the bridge before the landings began on the beaches. Again, it was an excellent museum, very well-presented, and completely accessible to English as well as French speakers.

However, after this we promised no more war museums, and set off towards Cherbourg in glorious sunshine and a great breeze for mizzen staysail and cruising chute. Seasickness was forgotten and the crew were really starting to get the hang of the boat. Main and mizzen were both hoisted by the crew with no more input from sea staff other than elaborate intakes of breath if they looked like they might be about to do something wrong. And the navigation and pilotage all the way to Cherbourg was run entirely by a small team from the crew led by our 17-year old bosun, Gizmo.

We got into Cherbourg on Tuesday night and spent Wednesday morning there, shopping and seeing the town. We set sail again at lunchtime and, despite initial light winds, managed a good sail back hampered only by the cruising chute getting twisted in its sock, leaving the foredeck team with a battle to get it hoisted which took well over an hour. We came into the Solent via the Needles and were back on our berth in Ocean Village before 1am. The voyage finished at lunchtime on Thursday.

Between them the crew were awarded six Competent Crew certificates and one Start Yachting, an outstanding achievement given that the majority were having to tackle the syllabus in a foreign language. Two of the crew already had their certificates from previous sailing experiences.

Several of the group would certainly have the ability to become watchleaders with us – not only some really strong British contenders, but perhaps also a chance for OYT South to gain some international sea staff, as our German and French crew members all had the potential to become third mates. But in truth, every single person in this crew would be welcome to sail with us again, and the sea staff all agreed that it was only a pity that the trip couldn’t be a few days longer, as by the end, even those who faced the steepest language barriers were making a really good contribution to the team and to the happy atmosphere on board.

It was one of those trips full of in-jokes which kept everyone entertained but will mean very little to those who weren’t there. So purely for the sake of readers who were there and want to be reminded of a few high points, here’s the shorthand version: Happy days, losing the game, velociraptors, Tom’s pussy, Ouistreham, chocolate icecream, wet concrete, Dory and the fact that bus routes run BOTH WAYS.

Finally, two more highlights after the voyage ended. First, Gizmo completed her RYA Watchleader certificate (hurray) and also had her third mate’s assessment signed off (double hurray) even though she can’t officially sail as third mate until after her 18th birthday in November.

Second, one of our crew members, Tom Evans, is the son of the Southampton harbourmaster, who arranged an excellent tour for a few sea staff of Southampton VTS, the people who control and monitor shipping in the Solent. A real eye-opener into the complexity of getting container ships through the area while dealing with all the smaller commercial vessels (including John Laing) plus thousands of pleasure yachts. A really impressive operation and well worth seeing.

Sea staff this week were skipper Wolf, Caz, Trevor, Lucie Williams and Gizmo.

Today (Friday) is a maintenance day on board John Laing. This weekend we have a couple of day sails, followed by an adult familiarisation trip next week.

Sea staff vacancies

Second mates needed on 26-31 Oct and 1-5 Nov. The November trip really needs a female second mate. Email me or call 07986 354697 if you can help!

I can now take provisional sea staff bookings for 2006 – see for the official 2006 voyage programme.

Crew bookings

Current vacancies as follows:

JL05-40: 4 nights, 12-16 Sept, Southampton, £200 – 3 berths left (adults 16+ only)
JL05-42: 4 nights, 19-23 Sep, Southampton, £220 – 4 berths left
JL05-47: 4 nights, 10-14 Oct, Southampton, £210 - whole boat group booking available
JL05-48: 5 nights, 15-20 Oct, Southampton, £225 – 9 berths left
JL05-49: 4 nights, 21-25 Oct, Southampton, £200 – 4 berths left
JL05-51: 4 nights, 1-5 Nov, Southampton, £160 -11 berths left

For information on latest vacancies, please contact the office on 0870 241 2252, or email

We are now taking bookings on the 2006 programme, also available from the office, or on the website at Don’t forget the 2006 Tall Ships races to Spain and Portugal!

Dates for your diaries

Friday 16th Sept: OYT South annual dinner, Royal Southern YC, Hamble, held jointly with two local children’s hospices. Tickets £65 each.

16th – 25th September: Southampton Boat Show: volunteers needed for the OYT South stand.

Saturday 1st October: John Laing maintenance day, Southampton (call Wolf 07771 771864).

Saturday 5th November: End of season party and possible other weekend activities tbc. Individuals welcome aged 18+; crew members under 18 who have sailed this year and would like to keep in touch are welcome to come to the weekend with a parent or group leader.

For more information on any of this, email me or contact the office on 0870 241 2252,

Don’t forget the OYT South link to Amazon!
At the bottom of the OYT South home page ( is a link to Amazon. Use this link whenever you order anything from Amazon and they will give a percentage of the price to OYT South funds.

Credit cards
Don’t forget the office can now take payments over the phone - just call 0870 241 2252 and have your credit card handy.


 Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet.

“This has been one of the best experiences of my life and I will never forget it.” Sam, aged 16