St Gabriels girls wait for their gourmet meal...


OYT South bulletin 20th October 2006

In this Bulletin

Very best wishes to readers who may be celebrating Diwali on 21st October, or Eid on 23rd October!

National Giving Week

This is National Giving Week, which aims to get more people thinking about donating to charities. This seems like an ideal opportunity to tell you – or remind you – about how OYT South works as a charity, and ask you to consider making a donation to us.

The voyage fees paid by John Laing’s crew members cover only half the cost of keeping the boat running; we have to find the rest through fundraising. This means that every single crew member receives at least a 50% subsidy on the cost of their voyage. Some, of course, receive even more, through our bursary scheme.

All of this keeps John Laing available to hundreds of young people who would never otherwise be able to afford a trip – including young people with a variety of physical or learning difficulties; young homeless people; brothers and sisters of life-limited children; young carers; young people experiencing family trauma; young people with very low confidence and self-esteem; young people in care; and countless other highly deserving young individuals.

If you have sailed in John Laing, or know someone who has, you will understand how a voyage can build confidence, teach new skills, encourage teamwork, provide a break from problems at home or at school, broaden horizons and develop self-esteem.

Research shows that the average UK adult gives £14.17 a month to charity. If you can afford to give to charity, would you consider including us in your generosity? Or, if you are one of the many readers of this newsletter who is too young to be earning, could you persuade an adult in your family to make a regular donation to us? You can find a form to set up regular giving here – and taxpayers can also fill in the Gift Aid section to make your donation worth even more. Alternatively, do you work for a company which operates a Payroll Giving Scheme)? Or you can simply send a cheque made payable to “Ocean Youth Trust South” to David Salmon, General Manager, Ocean Youth Trust South, PO Box 203, GOSPORT PO12 9AZ. Thank you very much for thinking about us!

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Refit 2006-7: volunteers needed

John Laing’s winter refit 2006-7 starts on 8th November 2006 and will continue until 15th March 2007.

Subject to agreement from the yard (Hamble Yacht Services, as last year), we hope to be taking the masts out on 15th November and lifting the boat out of the water on 16th November.

This means that from 8th November we need volunteers to help decommission the boat and get all the gear ashore, as well as major cleaning of the bilges and engine room. Please call skipper Wolf on 07771 771864 if you can give a day or more to help. We don’t yet have full details on refit arrangements or accommodation but can start taking names.

The main limitation on this open invitation to volunteers is based on age. Generally, to come to a refit, you should be aged 18+. Volunteers aged 16 and 17 may be allowed to the refit at certain times, at the skipper’s discretion – this is because someone needs to be available to supervise you, for safety reasons; but 16 and 17 year olds who are hoping to be relief bosuns next season should certainly talk to Wolf about coming along.  Sadly health and safety rules mean we are unable to accept refit volunteers under the age of 16.

Refit background
For those of you who aren’t regular refit volunteers, here’s the background on our refits:

As a steel boat, John Laing needs to be lifted out of the water each year and stored in a covered environment so that she can be completely painted, inside and out. Without this work, she would rust. In addition, there is a rolling programme of replacements of major and minor items. A great deal of machinery and equipment needs annual testing and servicing.

If this level of work is not undertaken every year without fail, John Laing will rapidly deteriorate – she needs to pass rigorous inspections every year under the MCA Small Commercial Vessels Code to be allowed to carry out sail training for young people.

A replacement vessel would cost around £2 million, and would have its own refit costs. Therefore, although the Trustees of OYT South are making long-term plans for an eventual replacement vessel, they believe it makes sound financial sense to keep John Laing in good condition for several more years. Failure to maintain John Laing in condition to keep her delivering adventure under sail to young people would be an appalling waste of a valuable resource which has the potential to give hundreds more young people the experience of adventure under sail.

And here’s how it works:

We have teams working on the boat six or seven days a week (but almost always including both Saturdays and Sundays, so we can get as many volunteers as possible) from 8 November 2006 to 15 March 2007, except holidays and other days off which will be announced in this newsletter.

We need both skilled and unskilled volunteers; and we provide accommodation and food for everyone who turns up. You have to book dates with the skipper so that he knows how many people to expect and with what particular skills, on any given day. The main restriction is that we can only have a limited number of people to stay at any one time. We rent a house over the winter and it is important not to have so many people coming and going that the neighbours get unhappy and complain to the lettings agent, otherwise we won’t get a house next year!

Last year, 62 people contributed a total of 342 days volunteer labour over the refit, so you can get some idea of the scale of the exercise! This basically saves the charity £20,000+ in labour costs.

There is really no need to worry if you have never worked on a refit before, or have limited practical skills – there will nearly always be something you can do. There are also items which can be taken off the boat and worked on at home, in your own time.

This year’s refit will cost up to £60,000, so please read the section above on making a donation – it really would be appreciated!

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Last minute voyage vacancies
Three spaces now available on the voyage 26 - 29 October. Call the office for details - reduced prices may be available!

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Job advertisement: OYT South staff bosun (closing date for applications 25th October)

As reported in this newsletter two weeks ago, our staff bosun, Julian "Dinghy Boy" Watkins, has decided that the time has come to leave the job and move on. OYT South is therefore seeking applications for the role of Staff Bosun.

The staff bosun's role involves boat maintenance under the supervision of the staff skipper. From November to March, the bosun will work on John Laing's annual refit. During the sailing season, the bosun sails on board John Laing on a working pattern of approximately four weeks on and two weeks off.

The successful applicant will be aged 18+ and will have an interest in and empathy for working with young people from a wide variety of backgrounds. The bosun will also be required to work with volunteer watch leaders and other OYT South supporters, including the marine engineer.

An enthusiasm and proven ability for making and fixing things will be essential. Applicants will ideally have some experience of boat maintenance, sail training and sailing generally, and prior experience as a bosun, volunteer bosun or refit volunteer is desirable; but the job will incorporate substantial training and can be used as an entry point to the sail training industry.

The bosun will also be required to keep maintenance records and must therefore have basic numeracy and literacy skills.

We will expect the bosun to qualify as a watch leader fairly quickly and be competent to lead a watch of young people on an occasional basis. RYA cruising qualifications (Competent Crew and above) will be an advantage but not essential.

Salary is expected to be in the range £9,300 to £11,200 depending on age and experience, plus additional benefits.

A satisfactory criminal records bureau enhanced check will be required. A clean driving licence is desirable. The successful candidate will need to pass a medical.

Energy, enthusiasm and a sense of humour will all be real advantages in a demanding and responsible role.

Apply with CV and covering letter, including contact details for at least 2 referees, covering  professional/educational and personal experience over the last 5 years to: David Salmon, OYT South General Manager, preferably by email, or by post to PO Box 203, GOSPORT, PO12 9AZ. Telephone 0870 241 2252 if further information is required. Closing date for applications 25th October 2006. Applicants should ideally be available to start work in mid-November 2006.

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2007 voyage programme
NOW AVAILABLE here. Hundreds of exciting sailing opportunities, from local trips to adventures overseas, including the 2007 Tall Ships race series in the Baltic. Weekends up to 2-week trips; voyages for young people (12-25) or adults (16+); training voyages for prospective volunteer sea staff; opportunities for individuals and groups. Some voyages have already been sold - bookings are being taken NOW so please start making your bookings for next year!

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End of season gathering on the boat - Sunday 5th November

The final voyage of the 2006 sailing season ends on Sunday 5th November. There will be a gathering on the boat that evening for anyone who wants to come along and celebrate another great season - ideal for old friends or new people who want to come along and say hello. It’s going to be a very informal event. If you want to sleep on board that night, let me know by email as I’ll need some idea of numbers!

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Voyage News

Last weekend’s voyage involved a crew of girls from St Gabriel’s School, Newbury – though I understand they had all booked independently rather than as an organised school trip. We’ve had St Gabriel’s girls on the boat before, including for a leg of Tall Ships last summer, and they are always an excellent group. This time they were aged 13 to 16.

They hoped to sail round the Isle of Wight, but when they got down to the eastern Solent, it was foggy so they abandoned that plan and stayed in the Solent instead, eventually ending up in Yarmouth alongside the London Sailing Project’s Donald Searle.

The girls had brought a set of body art pens, so Dinghy Boy was held down by second mate John Snowden so that everyone could draw on him. I am not clear whether this experience brought an added urgency to Dings's impending retirement from sail training, or whether he came close to reconsidering his resignation!

Sunday was a very active day with lots of sail training and tacking, and all the girls joining in with great enthusiasm. The group really did extremely well and it would be great to see them on the boat again in future.

On Monday, we had a day sail in the Solent for staff and clients of the Wheatsheaf Trust, a Southampton-based charity supporting disadvantaged people into productive economic, social, and civic activity. The day was arranged by Jonathan Cheshire, and the Wheatsheaf Trust team threw themselves into the experience and all got involved in sailing the boat. Some might come again on our adult voyages; others were there to see what we do, and will hopefully be putting young people on future voyages with us.

Sea staff for these three days were Brian Eyres (a special guest appearance from a former staff skipper), Graeme Cole, Mike Makepeace, John Snowden, Dinghy Boy and Rosie “Habit” Allen – thanks very much for all their hard work.

The last four days have been devoted to maintenance, with Dinghy Boy and Matt Bland working on board – including Dings updating the Systems Manual.

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Website profiles - competition

Warning to those sea staff who still haven’t submitted a caption for their picture on the volunteer profiles page of this website: you risk having it written for you, and look what happened to Dinghy Boy when his profile was written by other people. So please send me a few lines, informative, descriptive, or witty, about yourself or any members of sea staff you know, to go alongside their photo. I also need photos for those sea staff not yet included - and better pictures of anyone who hates the one I have used! All contributions by email to me.

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Shorebased training for sea staff

We are starting to think about training courses to be run over the winter - either on the AGM weekend in February, or at other times. Before we arrange specific courses, it would be useful to have some idea of the likely level of demand. Please email me if you would be interested in any of the following:

* RYA Powerboat level 2 (two day course, required for driving John Laing's dinghy, especially useful for relief bosuns but valuable for all sea staff)
* RYA Sea Survival (recommended for all - this is the course on which you can practice setting off flares, and try using a liferaft in a swimming pool)
* GMDSS / VHF radio (recommended for all; compulsory for second mates and above)
* First aid (recommended for all; compulsory for second mates and above. NB certificates only valid for three years – will yours expire in the next year?)
* Radar (recommended for 2M and above)
* Food hygiene (recommended for all)

Please also let me know if there are other relevant courses you would like, and I’ll look into organising anything else if there is sufficient interest.

For those who are particularly keen to do the Sea Survival course, Yvonne Taylor occasionally has vacancies on her courses - call her on 07785 335189 for more information.

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Voyages for sea staff and prospective sea staff

For those of you who are new to the organisation, or who have only recently been recommended for sea staff, dates for adult training voyages next season are:

30 Mar-1 April (£150)
17-22 April (£275)
7-9 Sept (£150)
10-14 Sept (£275)

Prices include £30 annual membership and £70 mates sailing fee - which means that any other voyages you do in 2007 would be free! Anyone new to the organisation who wants to get to know the boat, see how we work and find out whether you would enjoy being a member of volunteer sea staff should book on one of these trips - email me to book.

All these training voyages are also open to current qualified sea staff who are looking to make progress, brush up on a few skills or practice something they don’t often get a chance to do - as well as helping us introduce the new people to John Laing and OYT South. Email me to reserve a place.

Prospective sea staff who are hoping to sail next season: please note that to sail with young people, you must complete an OYT South application form, providing references, and have clearance from the Criminal Records Bureau. If you aren't familiar with this system, it is perfectly straightforward but it can take weeks or even a few months for the CRB to deal with your form, so it's well worth starting the process before the end of this year to ensure that you are ready to take up any opportunities to sail from the start of next season. Email Brian Eyres for application forms.

I’ll start taking sea staff bookings for voyages with young people next season once the refit is well under way.

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Funding idea for young people - Youth Opportunity Fund

Don’t forget that groups of young people looking for ways of funding their voyage for next year might like to investigate the Youth Opportunity Fund. This is designed to help projects where young people get together to organise activities for people aged 13-19 in their local area. You can find a factsheet here.

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New readers’ section
If you are reading the OYT South newsletter for the first time, I hope you will find it useful and interesting, and filled with opportunities for things you will want to get involved in. Please feel free to join in any OYT South activities - nothing here is restricted to longstanding members or people who already know one another. New people are always very welcome!

If you feel that you don't yet know much about OYT South, you will learn more by keeping a regular eye on these newsletters; but for a lot of background information, take a look around the rest of this website.
If you are aged 12-25 and hoping to sail as a crew member, take a look here.

Adults interested in joining our volunteer sea staff can check here.

To volunteer for OYT South ashore, please look here.

And if you have any questions, please email me  - or contact the office on 0870 241 2252.

Don't forget the OYT South link to Amazon - click on the Amazon logo here and a proportion of any money you spend will be donated to us - at no extra cost to you!

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“I had a very good time and I learned a lot – nice to meet you all!” Hollie, aged 15