Refit 2006-7: volunteers needed (accommodation available)
Thanks to all the people who have worked on the refit since the last newsletter: alongside our staff, Wolf and Dings, we have had help from Geoff Eddy (who has also loaned half his garage for boat equipment storage), Stuart Raynsford, Stuart Leslie, Graeme Cole, Jacki Tapley, Dave Blogg, Rob Harwood, Tim Deverson, Caz, Chris Morris, Chris and Tristan from Contact Marine, and Di Roberts, our surveyor, who has started her survey. In addition, Susan and Peter Hughes have taken away the oilskins to be washed and repaired; Jane Francis (Gizmo's mum) is washing all the sleeping bags, fleeces and sail covers; and Fraser Old has started work on the soleboards.
On 14th November, John Laing was moved round from Ocean Village to Hamble, to get the masts out and lift the boat. To get the masts out, Wolf has to put the boat in a very tight berth - only just big enough to get in, and no room to turn at all. This year, to make it more complex, there was a very shiny £2 million 67-foot Swan in just the place where we would hit if we got the manoeuvre wrong. We used a heaving line to measure the distance between the Swan and the pontoon on the other side: about a foot longer than John Laing's beam. HYS staff started unbolting the pontoon.
Back on board John Laing, a team had started removing the spinnaker pole from its normal stowage place, upright against the mainmast. It stuck half way and would go neither up nor down - with the end sticking out over the side, for ease of piercing large holes in £2 million Swans. We only had a few minutes to move the boat, and if we had missed our slot, the mast lift would have been delayed by a day, and the boat lift likewise - not an affordable option. Eventually, with Dings halfway up the mast wielding a mallet, and the rest of us heaving on the pole, we got it shifted, and warped John Laing into the berth with moments to spare - a perfect manoeuvre with not a scratch on anyone.
The yard team did a very professional job of lifting out the masts and other heavy gear, including the liferafts, while the rest of us worked frantically to get more kit off the boat.
Early next morning, John Laing was lifted out of the water. A team from International Paints came to watch, as we had been testing a new antifoul for them this season. They were very pleased with the results. You can see Geoff Eddy’s pictures of the lift here.
The boat is now completely stripped; the scaffolding is up; and work has started on the frame for the tent, which should be finished next week. Until the tent is complete, it is difficult to be precise about planned jobs, as we are still weather-dependent. But the team has set up the personal protective equipment, got the anchors off the boat, and started exposing tanks and bulkheads. Tim and Stuart R have derigged the masts. Weather / tent permitting, we would like to start getting the hull sanded and the lettering off next week; and we'll be starting to clean the fuel tanks and the grey waste tank.
The team's "weekend" next week, when the boat will be shut, will be Friday 1st and Sat 2nd December. Otherwise, Wolf is still looking for help - most days for those who don't need accommodation, and whenever there is space in the refit house, for everyone else. Call him on 07771 771864 to discuss when you can come along.
For more information on how the refit works, who can come and what volunteers can do, see here.
Thanks to all those who have generously contributed to the refit appeal this year. Particular thanks to the Peter Harrison Foundation for their very generous cheque, which arrived this week, and thanks also to Nick Bonham who introduced us to the Foundation in the first place.
However, we are still some way short of our refit appeal target, so if you haven't already made a contribution, PLEASE help us if you can. It is a very expensive job to keep John Laing in good condition, as well as keeping voyage prices down at a level which our crew members can afford - especially those from deserving or disadvantaged backgrounds.
If everyone who reads this newsletter could afford £25, we would hit our target. Realistically, some readers are as young as 12 while others are students, or otherwise on limited incomes, so we would like to ask those of you with proper jobs to dig a little deeper if you can!
Sea staff who will be paying their £100 fee to sail next year (£30 membership, £70 annual sailing fee): could you pay early, to help us through the winter, rather than paying during the season? And don't forget that our mates fees have not been increased for many years; if you can afford more, please think about increasing your contribution. Any sea staff who plan to sail for more than a weekend next year are getting an incredibly cheap deal from their sailing fees, so please pay more if you can afford it.
Please see here for information on making a donation to OYT South - or call David Salmon on 0870 241 2252 with your credit card handy.
Bosun's leaving present
Two financial appeals in a row...but we all want to give Dinghy Boy a proper send-off after a year as staff bosun, plus several years as a volunteer with us, so if you would like to contribute to his leaving present, please send a cheque to the office or call David Salmon as above - making it clear whether you are contributing to the refit appeal or the Dings appeal!
Sail Training International conference
This time last year I referred to this event as the STI conference, but after receiving a number of emails enquiring sympathetically about embarrassing medical conditions, I shall stick to the full title this year.
It took place last weekend in Szczecin, Poland, one of the host ports for next year's Tall Ships Race series, and there was a great turnout from almost all the Ocean Youth Trust regions, plus other sail training organisations from all over the world. You can download information from some of the presentations and workshops here.
This includes: latest news on an academic project studying the value of sail training; information on 2006 and 2007 Tall Ships series; studies of training programmes in the UK, Germany, Latvia, Bermuda and Canada (we met a number of people who know our Official Favourite Canadians, Mark, Liz, Veronica, Skye, Melina and Murphy, who have come over to sail with us in the last two years); a session about the work of the RNLI; and safety workshops on liferafts, man overboard, collision, and the relationship between yachts and merchant ships. On top of all that there were social events where we made or renewed contacts from all forms of sail training, and picked up a lot of new ideas.
NEW survey - tell us what you think
Thanks to those of you who have filled in the new web-based survey - we are getting some interesting answers already but it would be good to get a lot more responses - from young crew members, sea staff, parents, group leaders or anyone who has sailed with the Ocean Youth Club or Ocean Youth Trust in any capacity since 1960. It's a very easy and quick survey to complete so please give it a go!
We are also looking for comments on the survey as this is the first time we have tried to do it in this way, so please let us know if you don't find it easy to use, or if you think we should have included different options or a different choice of answers, and we can improve the survey over time.
Thanks to all those who have booked their places on the training courses on Saturday 17th February. I've still got a number of names on the list who expressed interest in courses a while ago, but haven't yet confirmed whether they can do 17th Feb - please let me know ASAP so I know how many spaces I have left. I think there should still be spaces on most if not all courses, but I'll set up reserve lists and we can look at additional dates if there is sufficient demand.
Courses on 17th February will be:
* RYA Sea Survival (recommended for all - this is the course on which you can practise 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)
Apart from the Sea Survival course, the others should be held at the Sea Cadet Unit in Gosport. They are all full-day courses so you can only choose one!
Powerboat level 2, which is a two-day courses, will not be run over the same weekend, but I hope to be able to offer a choice of other dates for the course fairly soon.
OYT South's 2007 AGM will take place on Sunday 18th February (the day after the training courses), also in the Sea Cadet Unit, Gosport. Details to follow but please put the date in your diary!
We've had a little bit of interest from people thinking of standing for election to the Board of Trustees at the AGM, but we are still keen to hear from anyone else who thinks they might have something to offer and would be interested in helping to run the charity. Contact the office at for more information. We are keen to attract people with skills or experience which may be useful in developing the charity and improving our work. In addition, we would like to consider having at least one youth member (aged under 25) standing for election to the Board.
2007 voyage programme
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, so don't leave it too long or your chosen dates may be fully-booked by others!
Tall Ships 2007
Having been to the Sail Training International conference, we are really getting excited about the 2007 Tall Ships Race series in the Baltic, which has some beautiful sailing areas. We have spaces still available on three voyages which are official Tall Ships trips:
7-20 July: Race 1, Arhus, Denmark, to Kotka, Finland (£845)
20-29 July: Cruise in company, Kotka, Finland, to Stockholm, Sweden (£585)
29 July - 7 Aug: Race 2, Stockholm, Sweden, to Szczecin, Poland (£585)
You can find more information about the host ports here.
For Tall Ships voyages, we can take up to four crew members aged 15, and the rest must be aged 16-25.
We also have some exciting voyages to get us to Denmark at the start, and back from Poland at the end (a few of which are open to younger crew members) - please look at the voyage programme for details.
All those hundreds of crew members and sea staff whose voyages in John Laing in recent years have featured a soundtrack by the Oysterband might like to know that they are still taking an interest in us too: band members John and Chopper were particularly enthusiastic about hearing of some of our Tall Ships experiences from last summer. They've been working on new album lately, and lots of the new tracks are sounding great - it'll be out sometime early next year so keep a look out for it!
Voyages for sea staff and new 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) - 4 places left
17-22 April (£275) - 8 places
7-9 Sept (£150) - 12 places
10-14 Sept (£275) - 12 places
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.
Second mate Matt Bland, who is a merchant navy officer in his spare time (i.e. when not sailing with us) has sent a link for anyone interested in finding out what he's going to be up to in the coming months.
And crew member Ben Lee-Cross has been applying for a place at Plumpton College, which does courses in outdoor education. Ben gave me the idea of contacting them to see if they would like to arrange a voyage for their students next season. This is just the sort of new contact we need if we are to keep the boat filled - thanks to Ben for making the suggestion. It would be great if other readers of this newsletter would also let us know of ideas for new voyages!
We are interested in receiving enquiries from anyone interested in adults-only voyages other than the mates training and familiarisation voyages for prospective sea staff. Please contact the office if you (and a group of friends or family, a club, or a workplace teambuilding group) would like to do a fun, adventurous trip in 2007. We will also consider applications for group voyages from disadvantaged or deserving adults.
Adult voyages will only take place at times of year when we have no bookings from young people, and cannot take place during school holidays. Please note that our published voyage prices are subsidised for young people aged 12-25. Adult voyage prices can be negotiated with the office but are likely to be higher.
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.
To help with the winter refit, see 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!