The redesigned website is finally here, at our usual address, http://www.oytsouth.org/ - infinitely better than the old out-of-date one, so go and have a look. We are still in the process of making further improvements, so please email me if you spot anything that isn’t working or doesn’t seem quite right. The vessel tracking link is being temperamental, so don’t worry about that yet – we are trying to fix it. You also won’t be able to get into the Sea Staff – Members Only section just yet, either – I’ll be emailing current sea staff with their passwords but it may take a little while as I have to authorise you one by one.
Sea staff also please note – the “Sea staff profiles” section currently only includes our full-time professional staff, Wolf and Dings; but in the long run I want to include a selection of the volunteer staff here – after all, not every crew sails with Wolf and Dings. The volunteer sea staff profiles will have to be shorter as there are lots of us, but if any of you wants to send me a photo of yourself (preferably on board John Laing) plus a short paragraph about yourself – perhaps including why you like sailing with OYT South, or a best moment or classic quote, I’ll start adding to this page. We do of course reserve the right to edit your contributions mercilessly (this may already have happened to Dings’ entry). We may also write our own entries for regular sea staff who don’t send in contributions (pictures of other sea staff always welcome). Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten that one or two people have asked not to be featured for work-related reasons.
Just one space on the familiarisation voyage 30 April – 5 May (£275) – suitable for adults (16+) who want to find out more about OYT South – as potential sea staff, clients etc. Also open to parents of crew members who want to try it for themselves!
Sea staff bookings
Thanks to those who responded to last week’s appeal to fill some urgent sea staff vacancies; it looks as though we’ve solved most of the problems, though it might be good to have another second mate on standby as a reserve for the person who has offered to do 31 May - 4 June, as there is a small possibility he might have to drop out nearer the time.
Other than that, there are really scarcely any sea staff vacancies until September, unless anyone drops out. Quite a number of autumn berths have been booked up too; but I’ll start looking at filling the remaining spaces after the forthcoming mates training and familiarisation voyages, when we know how many good new people from those trips ought to be fitted in for assessments.
Complete list of crew vacancies as of today:
13-19 May Southampton to Poole £375 1 space
19-21 May Poole to Poole £150 11 spaces
22-26 May Poole to Poole £250 4 spaces
6-11 June Poole to Southampton £315 12 spaces (full boat)
8-22 July St Malo to Lisbon £830 6 spaces*
28 Jul-9 Aug Cadiz to La Corunna £700 8 spaces*
9-20 Aug La Corunna to Antwerp £700 7 spaces*
9-15 Sept Southampton £390 11 spaces
9-13 Oct Southampton £250 12 spaces (full boat)
14-20 Oct Southampton £340 12 spaces (full boat)
30 Oct-3 Nov Southampton £200 12 spaces (full boat)
Call 0870 241 2252 for bookings.
* Voyages marked with an asterisk are part of the Tall Ships Race series, for which we can take up to four crew aged 15; all others must be 16-25. Potential crew members who will be aged 15 this summer should contact the office to discuss which legs have not already filled their quota of 15 year olds.
All other voyages can take crew members aged 12-25.
This week was the annual MDL voyage – seven of the crew chosen and funded by our sponsors MDL, all recommended by schools or other organisations for being extremely deserving. Several of this year’s group had physical or learning difficulties. The MDL group were joined by five others from different backgrounds, including two from France. Phoebe says that everyone bonded extremely well and it was a good close-knit crew, with conversations along the lines of “I don’t want this voyage to end” becoming increasingly common as the trip drew to a close.
It all started with a birthday cake for Will, who had turned 17 on the day before the voyage, as the first afternoon was mainly spent doing briefings in port. The next day was spent doing sail training in the Solent, ending up on a buoy outside Yarmouth, where they took the water taxi into town and then went and did some kite-flying.
The following day people were enthusiastic about the idea of a longer sail, so John Laing set off for Brixham. However, by the time they reached Portland, seasickness had dramatically reduced their enthusiasm, and a diversion to Weymouth seemed a better idea – especially when they found themselves along the London Sailing Project’s sail training vessels, Rona II and Helen Mary R, being skippered this week by Yvonne Taylor and her husband Keith. This provided an opportunity for all sorts of beach games, including a tug-of-war allegedly won by John Laing despite the presence of huge strong teenage boys in the opposition – looming over Yvonne, not the tallest of skippers, as she took her place on the rope at the front of her team. There was also a game of rounders, and spacehopper races on the fenders – as well as a lot of rowing practice.
John Laing left Weymouth in the evening, and spent the next night on Swanage Pier, before moving round to Studland Bay and anchoring under sail for a while, and then motoring into Poole. Near the entrance they were called on the VHF by a Sunsail boat with engine failure, so John Laing gave them a tow and Phoebe eventually parked in Poole with them alongside. A very sheepish Sunsail skipper then appeared on deck and confessed that he had discovered that his problem was simply the emergency fuel cut-off. Full marks for honesty – it would have been so easy for him to claim it had been something complex which he had only solved by heroic efforts and advanced engineering skills!
This whole time, from the Studland anchoring to the tow to parking in Poole, multi-tasking Phoebe had been producing a roast dinner and apple crumble, which was much appreciated!
The next day was used for a mix of RYA training and games, including “Kitty in the bucket” – the ship’s stuffed cat was suspended between the masts on main and mizzen halyards, and then with a crew member on each end, it had to be lowered accurately into a bucket on the coachroof.
They left Poole in the evening and sailed towards the Needles with five sails up, including the mizzen staysail, though they had to drop several sails when it began to get dark. Trainee second mate Alex did the pilotage through the Solent, and they ended up back in Ocean Village at 1.30am.
By this time, the crew had become really efficient, with everyone understanding the jobs – Phoebe says that with one more day on board, they should have been putting up sails unaided. Everyone earned their RYA Start Yachting certificate, and a number were very keen to come again.
Many thanks to all the sea staff: skipper Hels, plus Graeme Cole, Phoebe, Alex – with many congratulations for passing his second mate’s assessment – and Laura, who was doing her first trip as official relief bosun and did very well. For a part of the voyage they were also helped by Hels’ friend Hannah.
The voyage ended on Wednesday, and was followed by a maintenance day – many thanks to Phoebe, Laura, Karen, Dawn, Fraser, Chris and Tristan for doing lots of jobs around the boat!
Sea staff training
We are now taking bookings for the autumn mates training weekend 22-24 September (£150) and adult familiarisation voyage 25-30 September (£275). Please email me for places on either trip.
Liz Laan, one of the Canadian crew members who sailed with us on Tall Ships last summer, just emailed to say that she has got a summer job as a volunteer deckhand with the Los Angeles Maritime Institute in California (http://www.lamitopsail.org/) – well done and we hope you have a great time!
Dates for your diaries
5 June: maintenance day, Poole - volunteers needed.
3 and 4 July: Southampton – maintenance and preparation for Tall Ships races – help needed.
15 September: OYT South Annual Dinner
Don't forget the OYT South link to Amazon - click on the Amazon logo at the bottom of the OYT South home page (http://www.oytsouth.org/) and a proportion of any money you spend will be donated to us - at no extra cost to you!