Calm seas...and rough ones


OYT South bulletin 11th May 2007

In this Bulletin

Guernsey to Southampton, 2-7 June - URGENT

This voyage to bring John Laing back from Guernsey after the ASTO Small Ships Race is still desperately short of bookings. Somehow the voyage has to run as we need to get the boat back! The top priority is to find some more young people to fill the boat, at the Special Offer price of just £180 (and we will consider applications for further bursaries for people who genuinely cannot afford even this reduced price). Please help us to find more young crew - we need bookings as quickly as possible!

However, if by MONDAY 21st MAY we still don't have enough young crew, we shall be looking for additional sea staff to go out and help bring the boat back - which should allow enough time for people to book travel to Guernsey (around £39.50 by ferry). Please let me know NOW if you might be available to help out - then I can confirm your place as soon as the decision is taken that we need people.

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Missing mail - important
The office has recently been receiving a selection of mail postmarked as far back as January! This includes bookings, cheques, etc. It is quite clear that there has been a substantial problem with letters both outgoing and incoming for some time. If you have sent anything to the office and received no acknowledgement, or if you expected something to be sent to you from the office and it hasn't arrived, please contact the office as soon as possible. We do apologise for any inconvenience and have taken the matter up in the strongest possible terms with the Post Office.

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Special Offer voyages
Thanks to generous donors of bursary funding, we are now able to offer a limited number of places at very much reduced prices on a selection of voyages.

Current Special Offer voyages are:

JL07-19, 5 nights, 2-7 June, Guernsey to Poole: DOWN from £290 to £180 (age 12-25)
JL07-21, 6 nights, 12-18 June, Southampton to Ipswich: DOWN from £350 to £240 (age 12-25)
JL07-23, 8 nights, 21-29 June, Ipswich to Kiel (Germany): DOWN from £480 to £280 (age 12-25)
JL07-24, 7 nights, 30 June to 7 July, Kiel to Arhus (Denmark): DOWN from £420 to £260 (age 15-25)
JL07-29, 7 nights, 9-16 Aug, Szczecin (Poland) to Kiel: DOWN from £505 to £280 (age 12-25)

Not all places on each of these voyage are available at the reduced rates, so HURRY - if you want to book a berth at the Special Offer price, contact the office as soon as possible.

This is in addition to other bursary funding which may be available for other voyages or to deserving candidates who cannot afford even the reduced prices: see below ("Want to sail but can't afford it?") or here for details. We also have some special bursary funding for crew members from outside the UK.  

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Want to sail but can't afford it?
We now have a reasonable amount of bursary funding available to help individuals or groups who would like to sail but cannot afford standard crew prices or even Special Offer prices.

Applications for bursary funding can be emailed to me and should include the following information:

  • Name, age and full contact details for applicant(s)
  • Details of availability for any of the vacant voyages listed (there may be more chance of getting a bursary if you are available for a choice of voyages, rather than applying for just one)
  • How much money you are applying for, and how you plan to raise the rest of the funds, including travel costs to and from the boat (the majority of bursaries awarded are likely to be for 50% or less of the voyage fee; a smaller number may be for more than that, but only in very exceptional circumstances will OYT South award a full bursary).
  • A short statement about why you want to sail, what you want to achieve by doing a voyage, and why you would like to be considered for bursary funding.
  • Contact details for an adult (not a family member) who will support your application (e.g. a teacher, youth worker etc.)

We have a variety of general bursaries available for a broad range of people aged 12-25, but specific funding priorities include:

* Young people from disadvantaged and deserving backgrounds
* Young people who genuinely cannot afford to sail
* Young people who can only afford short local voyages but with financial support would be able to take part in longer, more adventurous voyages
* People who have been recommended as future sea staff (bosuns and watch leaders) who need to sail more often in order to gain experience
* People who have sailed with us before and demonstrated that they are enthusiastic, hard-working individuals who will have a positive impact on any voyage
* Non-UK citizens: we have some bursary funding restricted to people from outside the UK. We are particularly keen this year to include people from Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Poland and Germany on Tall Ships and Baltic Challenge voyages, though people of other nationalities are also welcome to apply.

If you are unsure whether you might qualify for a bursary, please ask!

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Voyage news
Four short voyages to report on since the last newsletter, with some very mixed tales of winds ranging from zero to far too much!

At the end of April there was a weekend voyage for members of Imperial College Underwater Club ("Underwater" in this case meaning diving enthusiasts rather than sailors who haven't quite got it right...), where two of our sea staff, Andy Haynes and Joe Parker, are members - thanks to Andy for organising the group. They had hoped for a proper sail but very sadly there was no wind so they only got as far as Yarmouth, where they picked up a buoy and had some shore leave. A short period of better wind on the second day gave them a taste of sailing but it was disappointing not to be able to do more as this was a great group of people who would certainly have risen to a more challenging short voyage. Thanks to sea staff Wolf, Laura, Brian Eyres, Andy and Joe.

Next came a voyage taken by the Wheatsheaf Trust, in two parts - a day sail and then a three-day trip for a different group. The day sail included a number of their staff and youth leaders who came along for an introduction to sail training and enjoyed a cracking sail on a sunny day in the Solent. Then the weather changed...

The second Wheatsheaf crew - a mix of trainees and leaders - were keen to sail to France, so they took the boat across the Cherbourg on what the skipper describes as a "lively" sail - meaning that the seas became rougher and the winds were stronger - and staying strong for longer - than the forecast had indicated. It was a really challenging trip and all credit goes to the team for coping so well. They had a good break in Cherbourg to recover, and then came back in winds which died off near the end of the crossing, but still left big seas. Fortunately - if unexpectedly - we can show you some evidence of what they went through. Off Pte Barfleur on the way home they passed a yacht called Raparee. One of her crew, Geoff Bell, took some photos of John Laing, and then very kindly tracked us down and sent us copies. He has given us permission to use them on this website, here. Well worth a look as we don’t often get pictures of John Laing in rough seas!

Thanks to sea staff Wolf, Laura, Vikki Maxwell, John Snowden and David d’Costa for surviving the trip and looking after the Wheatsheaf team so well.

The third voyage of the sequence was with our old friends from the Nautical Training Corps, TS Swiftsure, most of them back for their third voyage with us and therefore pretty familiar with John Laing and all our routines. Last time they came, at the end of last season, there was almost no wind at all for much of the trip, but on this occasion we more than made up for it with some steady Force 7 winds at times, and gusts up to Force 8. The first day took us down to Poole with some tacking exercises and man overboard drills off the Poole channel entrance. An early start on the Sunday found a lively breeze to allow a fast passage south of the Isle of Wight, enlivened by an exercise for trainee first mate John Snowden: Wolf stuck sticking plaster across the GPS display and told John all the electronic navigation aids were sick and he would have to navigate us round by traditional means.

Those of you have sailed in John Laing in any kind of bad weather will know that we have a code word, "Gangway", for use in times of seasickness: if anyone shouts "Gangway" then they need to get to the hatchway FAST and woe betide anyone who stands in their way. This voyage saw one of the best-ever demonstrations of the "Gangway" code ever seen on board: the unlucky sufferer was blocked in at the saloon table by three other people: he turned green, shouted "Gangway"and in the blink of an eye three people were out of their seats - one in the galley, one in the saloon and one clinging to the ceiling having leapt straight up into the air - and the victim was on deck with a bucket handy. Spectacular.

A couple of RYA Start Yachting certificates were awarded to those on their first or second voyages - the others already had them, and almost completed their Competent Crew syllabus. Sadly the weather prevented us from finishing entirely and getting their certificates signed off: the necessary four night hours would have had us at sea in the worst of the weather, and safety considerations prevailed, as they also did for the rowing section, where any attempt would have seen the dinghy blown downwind far faster than anyone could have rowed back. However, this was once again an excellent group, with some of the older ones showing clear sea staff potential, and even the youngest 12 and 13-year olds contributing a lively enthusiasm to the voyage - plus a great deal of singing (it took most of the sea staff several days to get the refrains of "Fred the moose" and "Charlie had a pigeon" out of our minds).

Thanks to sea staff Wolf, Laura, Caz, John "Cuddles" Snowden, Rob Dickinson and Rob Harwood, as well as the NTC leaders who did so much to organise the group and assist the sea staff during the voyage.

The final voyage for this newsletter was the annual trip for brothers and sisters from Naomi House Children's Hospice, some of whom have very sick siblings and others who have already been bereaved. As ever, this is an incredibly worthwhile voyage as the young people get so much from the time on board - not least the chance to be with others who share similar experiences and feelings. Seeing lots of people exchanging email addresses and phone numbers at the end of the trip means that there is a chance that lasting friendships will be forged between people who can support each other when times get tough at home. Another purpose of the voyage is to give these young people a really good fun experience, which seems to have worked as some very quiet individuals became quite loud by the end! A highlight was Joe's 13th birthday party, with chocolate cake everywhere and a present of a hand-held foam rocket launcher which turned out to be able to propel a foam rocket from the saloon table right to the front end of the crew quarters. The party got so lively that when the skipper joined a telephone conference meeting with the Board of Trustees, the meeting was temporarily drowned out by the noise on the boat!

They did managed to get some sailing in despite continuing bad weather, including a spectacular change in conditions from a wind speed of zero knots to 40 knots in less than half an hour. On the first night the skipper did one of his famous bedtime story readings from Ian Whybrow’s "Little Wolf" books and it took more than an hour before people fell asleep at all. The second night, after some hard sailing and lengthy tacking session, they were all asleep ten minutes into the story!

The group came with two excellent leaders, Lionel and Sue, and as usual with Naomi House voyages, it was all a great success - but everyone wished it could have gone on longer.

Thanks to sea staff Wolf, Laura, John Parkin, Cuddles (still going strong with his first mate training) and Dave "Tigger" Heffer, who made good progress towards completing his second mate qualification.

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Financial appeal and thanks
Huge thanks to CHK Charities Ltd for a donation of £2,500 towards bursaries, which arrived this week.

Current fundraising priorities are to start putting together a refit fund for next winter, so that we are better able to plan the jobs and don't face the usual cashflow problems at the last minute. See here  for how to make a donation.

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Does anyone know members of Masonic Lodges?
John Boldero, who does excellent work on our fundraising, has approached the regional HQ of the Masons for support but was advised that their preferred policy was that requests were made through individual Lodges, whereupon funds of the order of £500-£1500 might be available.

We need, therefore, to find individuals in one or more local Lodges who could support our applications; locations of local Lodges are as follows:

Hampshire & IOW: Aldershot, Farnborough, Farnham, Alton, Basingstoke, Bordon, Botley, Woolston, Bournemouth, Chandler's Ford, Eastleigh, Cosham, Havant, Horndean, Petersfield, Fareham, Gosport, West Cowes, East Cowes, Freshwater, Newport, Ryde, Sandown, Seaview, Ventnor, Brockenhurst, Christchurch, Fordingbridge, Lymington, New Milton, Portsmouth, Southampton, Totton, Andover, Hursley, and Winchester. In all there are 256 Lodges in the Masonic Province of Hampshire & Isle of Wight with a total membership of around 12,400 individual brethren.

West Sussex: Chichester, Bognor, Littlehampton,Midhurst, Petworth, Arundel, Horsham,Wisborough Green, Hove, East Grinstead, Brighton,Eastbourne, Bexhill,Worthing.

If anyone knows members of any of these Lodges, would they please email Obviously preferable if the nominated person has some interest in sailing / the sea / young people and could be an ongoing champion for OYT South in a Lodge or among the Masons as a whole; but any leads welcomed.

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Volunteer press officers wanted
More help still needed!

We are keen to get more coverage in local papers for this sailing season, to encourage more crew bookings and donations, and I am looking for someone, or perhaps a team of people, to help with some basic media work.

The idea is that for each voyage, we identify the local paper for the crew's home area, for a group voyage, or pick one or two crew members if it was an individual voyage. I can provide an outline press release with spaces to fill in specific details each week. The volunteers' job will be to get permission from parents/group leaders as needed; fill in the gaps in the outline press release with details of the voyage and quotes from the participants; get a copy of a photo which should have been taken during the voyage; email the text and photo to the relevant newsdesk; and collect a copy of any resulting article for our records. Ideally any press release should go out within a few days of the end of the voyage.

A small team of volunteers would be ideal so that someone takes responsibility for each separate voyage. Good written English essential. Email me if you are interested.

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London Support Group
Following a conversation between a couple of London-based sea staff, there is talk of trying to re-form an OYT South London Support Group, with the aim of forging links with London-based groups which might send young people to sail, and raising a bit of money to help them do so. Anyone in the London area who would be prepared to come and sit in a pub for an evening and discuss what could be done and how to do it, drop me an email, and we’ll see if we can find a convenient date and location for a first get-together.

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Voyages available for people aged 12-25 (*15 to 25 on some restricted voyages)
We really need people to fill a number of voyages this year:

21-25 May: Southampton to Torquay £250 - 2 places left
27 May - 1 June: Torquay to Guernsey £350 - ASTO Small Ships race - 1 place left
2-7 June: Guernsey to Poole £290 (£180 Special Offer price)
12-18 June: Southampton to Ipswich £350 (£240 Special Offer price)
21-29 June: Ipswich to Kiel (Germany) £480 (£280 Special Offer price) - Baltic Challenge
30 June - 7 July: Kiel to Arhus (Denmark) £420 (£260 Special Offer price) - Baltic Challenge*
7-20 July: Arhus to Kotka (Finland) £845 - Tall Ships race*
20-29 July: Kotka to Stockholm (Sweden) £585 - Tall Ships cruise in company* - 4 places
9-16 Aug: Szczecin to Kiel £505 (£280 Special Offer price) - Baltic Challenge
10-14 Sept: Southampton £275
8-12 Oct: Southampton £240
15-19 Oct: Southampton £250
20-24 Oct: Southampton £250

See here for more information:
UK and south coast voyages
Small Ships races (summer half term, or October)
Baltic challenge voyages (July/July, or August)
Tall Ships races (July / August)
Duke of Edinburgh Gold Residential projects

Please book now, or send the links to your friends!

For the full voyage programme, including latest figures on the number of berths available, see here.

We really need some help in filling the empty voyages - please use all your contacts and think whether you know anyone, groups or individuals, who might like to sail. If we get no bookings from young people (aged 12-25) for any particular voyage, we may offer it adult groups; but please note that our published voyage prices are subsidised for young people. Adult voyage prices can be negotiated with the office but are likely to be higher. 

Anyone interested in any voyage, please contact the office

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Voyage posters
Available to download from the website and print out: two posters / flyers which you could hand out to people or put on a school, college or club notice board, to encourage young people to come sailing with us.

One is mainly pictures and is primarily designed to get people looking at our website; the other poster has a bit more text. Both can be printed on ordinary A4 paper so I hope you will find it easy to spread them around!

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Sea staff bookings
I have just emailed a list of people who have been recommended for sea staff assessments this year to try and allocate as many as possible to available trainee mate berths. If you have had a recommendation but haven't received your copy of this email, please let me know a.s.a.p.!

For qualified sea staff, we now have most places allocated up to the end of August, but there are lots of spaces from September onwards, so please get in touch with details of your availability if you are looking for a voyage in that period.

Please note that you should have paid your annual membership (£30) and annual sailing donation (£70) before you can book.

And those over 65 must also now have an ENG1 medical before you can sail - let me know if you need advice or information about arranging this. It does need to be an ENG1 and not any other kind of medical - please don't rush off and spend money on an ML5 or anything else. ENG1s need to be done by an MCA-approved doctor, not by your own GP.

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Training voyages for sea staff and new prospective sea staff
There are two adult training voyages in September for current and prospective sea staff:

3-7 Sept (£275)
7-9 Sept (£150)

The April and May training voyages were extremely successful and popular so don't miss your chance to join one of the September trips!

Prices INCLUDE your £30 annual membership and £70 mates sailing donation - which means that any other voyages you do in 2007 would be free! Email me to book.

Please note that as these voyages are for adults only, you cannot do your watch leader assessment on them - to be assessed, we have to see how you deal with leading and teaching young people. The adult training voyages are designed to give you a chance to get used to things before you take on the responsibility of trying to teach others.

New sea staff and those doing assessments this year MUST have completed an application form and a Criminal Records Bureau background check before you can sail with young people (adult voyages are fine) - details here. But please note that filling in your application form and getting your CRB check done just puts you on the list of people eligible for voyages - you MUST contact me about dates if you want to sail this year.

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Passwords to members-only website section
Most sea staff who are sailing this year should now have working passwords to the members-only section of this website - I have emailed details to a long list of people. If you were on this list, please test your username and password and let me know if you have any problems. Anyone who hasn't received a password and would still like one should email me and I can add you quite easily.

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Website - links needed
With so much work having been done on OYT South's website over recent months, it would be really great if we could increase the numbers of people visiting it. If you have any access to another website - anything from a marine site to a MySpace page - could you include a link to And let me know so that we can link back to you!

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Oysterband Big Session Festival - and new album!
Last year, an OYT South group had a great time at this music festival, and several people are planning to go again this year - it's held in Leicester on June 15-17. Details here. Otherwise, anyone who has enjoyed hearing Oysterband music on board might like to know that the new album "Meet You There" came out on April 23rd and is great.

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Photos needed
Please keep sending photos from John Laing voyages or the refit, and I'll use the best on the website.

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Survey - tell us what you think
Still looking for more responses to the web-based survey - please have a look!

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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 long-standing 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 at 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.

The winter refit 2006-7 is now over, but we need still need help at maintenance days spread throughout the year, and there will be another refit starting in November - see here.

And if you have any questions, please do email me - or contact the office.

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“Please don't make me go home, can I stay and hide in the engine room?" Debbie, 20