ASTO Small Ships Race (photo: MAX)


OYT South bulletin 18th October 2007

In this Bulletin

Sections which have changed since last week marked *

2008 bookings – URGENT, please read!

To our delighted amazement, berths on John Laing’s 2008 sailing programme have been selling at an incredible rate, with many repeat bookings and a large number of new clients already filling whole voyages. We are just going through the process of checking whether people can confirm their provisional reservations; but if no-one drops out at that stage, we have potentially sold almost three-quarters of berths already, and several substantial periods of the year will have no berths left at all. This is great news for the organisation but of course we are aware that lots of you (especially individual rather than group bookings) may be used to not having to think about when you want to sail until much nearer the time. PLEASE don’t leave it too late – we don’t want to find that old friends and keen crew members are missing out! If you want to sail in 2008, at least take a look at the programme now and if things are getting booked up at the time of year you’d like to sail, make a reservation as soon as you can. We can also think about setting up reserve lists in case anyone drops out of booked voyages. If you want to book a berth, contact the office as soon as possible.

For additional information about voyages:

UK-based voyages
Tall Ships 2008: Liverpool - Måløy (Norway) - Bergen (Norway) - Den Helder (Netherlands)
Duke of Edinburgh Gold Residential projects
Bursary funding
Small Ships race
Special funding for crew members from outside the UK

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2007 bookings – all FULL
Thank you so much to all those of you who have helped us to fill berths in 2007 – only a couple of voyages to go now and they are all fully-booked. 

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Staff skipper away until November 9th

Our staff skipper, Mark “Wolf” Todd will be away until November 9th. He has given custody of his work phone 07771 771864 to Caz White, so please feel free to call, especially if it is about something useful like volunteering to help with the refit!

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Volunteer s ea staff training ashore (RYA and other courses) – DATES announced
We can now confirm that we will be arranging a full weekend of training courses on the weekend of Saturday and Sunday 2nd and 3rd February. To have two full days of training is a change from previous years, when we have had training on Saturday and the AGM on Sunday. Most courses will be held in Gosport, except for Sea Survival which will be nearer Southampton with access to a swimming pool.

Possible courses for this weekend are:

First aid (regular updates required - check when your certificate goes out of date)
Sea survival - date now confirmed: Saturday 2nd February
Food hygiene
Diesel engine

All of these are full-day courses.

The next step is to work out which courses to offer on the Saturday and which on the Sunday, so I need to know the level of demand – whether all courses have enough applicants to be worth running, and how to allocate dates so the maximum number of people get to do the courses they want.

Can you email me to let me know the course(s) you want to do, in order of priority; and whether you could come for both days or just one (in which case, Saturday or Sunday preferred?) NB we cannot guarantee to have overnight accommodation available though we will of course help where we can. It will really help if you could let me know as soon as possible.

I do have a list of people wanting to do Powerboat Level II, which is a 2-day course, and I’ll get back to you all with dates for this as soon as I possibly can. 

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Volunteer sea staff training (on board John Laing)
2008 training voyages for sea staff and new potential sea staff:

25-27 April 2008 (£150) – potentially full but we are taking names for a reserve list
29 April - 4 May (£275)
19-21 Sept (£150)
6-10 October (£275).

For both existing sea staff and new potential volunteers: if you have the option of taking time off during the week, I would strongly recommend the longer voyages if you can manage it. You'll certainly learn more, partly because each exercise or manoeuvre (such as a sail hoist or a gybe) obviously happens more often on a longer trip, which gives far more people the chance to practise and to have a go at running the exercise in the watch leader role; and partly because we can just cover far more topics on a longer voyage -­ for example, we can work on how each of you as watch leaders could best teach all the elements of the five-day RYA Competent Crew syllabus. In addition, the longer voyage potentially allows us to go somewhere more interesting: weather permitting, France is usually an option. 

Email me to book on any of these voyages. 

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Refit 2007-8
It's that time of year again....we are planning John Laing's winter refit for 2007-8! If you have never been to one of our refits before, you can find more information here. The key thing you need to know is that our refits require an inexhaustible supply of volunteer helpers, both skilled and unskilled. In 2006-7, ninety-five people contributed a total of 381 days of volunteer labour, and we need to match or beat that figure this year.

We’ve had a good initial response and a few dates in November already have all the volunteers we can cope with - thanks very much to those first enthusiasts! But there are still plenty of dates when we need people, so keep calling Laura on 07990 518915 if you can help, or call Caz on 07771 771864.

The refit will start on Wednesday 31st October, and we'll have a busy couple of weeks moving all the kit off the boat into storage or into the refit house (same house as last year). The next stage is to move the boat round from Ocean Village to Hamble - we'll be refitting in Hamble Yacht Services, as last year. The masts will be lifted out on 13th November, and John Laing herself lifted out of the water on 14th November. Then the boat will be closed from 15-18 November while staff attend the Sail Training International conference, and after that, there will be refit work as normal. 

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Core refit team - long-term volunteers needed
It looks as though we have recruited one of the core refit volunteers we need (excellent news!) but we are still looking for at least one more.

The idea is that as well as the usual volunteers who come to help with John Laing's refit for a weekend or a few days at a time, we are looking for at least a couple of long-term volunteers to join the core refit team: perhaps to do the whole refit from November 1st 2007 to March 23rd 2008 - or at least to help full-time for a minimum of a month or six weeks during this period.

Volunteers will receive food and accommodation, as well as experience in boat repairs and maintenance.

Ideally volunteers will be aged 18+ although we may consider applications from 17-year olds. No upper age limit.

Practical skills in any aspect of boat maintenance will be an advantage but not essential. What is vital is that core team volunteers should be hard-working, responsible and enthusiastic. The team will all be living together in a rented refit house and it is vital that volunteers are also prepared to take responsibility for a share of cooking and cleaning in the house.

Long-term core-team volunteers are a vital part of the refit effort as they provide continuity against the background of short-term volunteers coming and going. They have time to become familiar with a variety of refit tasks, becoming capable and competent enough to work with minimal supervision, allowing the professional staff to get on with other work.

Core refit volunteers often go on to become bosuns or watch leaders during the sailing season. If they were already members of sea staff, their refit experience can help them make progress and move on to more senior roles.

Previous core team volunteers who have used our refit as a stepping stone to work in sailing have included Craig "Princess" Dickerson, who went on to do several seasons as staff bosun; Kerry "Special K" McMillan, now a first mate with Trinity Sailing; Kathryn "Gizmo" Francis, now mate of Blue Box, one of the fastest boats in the Solent; Julian "Dinghy Boy" Watkins, who also went on to become our staff bosun for a year; and Phoebe (also not her real name), who has just spent part of the summer skippering a 55-foot yacht in the Caribbean, and is also now a member of the Board of Trustees. So the experience gained as part of the refit core team can definitely lead to greater things!

If you are having a gap year or are not working for other reasons, please think about whether you would like to be part of the core team, and email me to express an interest and for more information. 

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Financial appeal
The refit is our current fundraising priority, as there is a great deal to do to keep John Laing in good condition. See here for how to make a donation.

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Voyage news
Lots to say as I wasn’t able to write a bulletin last week (I was sailing).

The ASTO Small Ships Race brought together a good group of sail training vessels which all gathered in Cowes on Friday 5th October. John Laing had a strong crew – a number of people stayed on from the previous voyage, and many of those who just came for the weekend were John Laing regulars. The team all worked hard to get the boat into good racing order, including emptying the fresh water tanks to lighten the boat. In the middle of the night, however, third mate Stuart Raynsford heard a trickling noise and went to investigate – and found Vikki Maxwell and Andy Royse (on this occasion racing in other boats) surreptitiously filling the tanks again! Dastardly behaviour from one of our own first mates and even one of our Trustees and they are hereby named and shamed!

Sadly conditions just weren’t right for John Laing to make a really good showing in the race, but you can find some great pictures of the event on photographer Max Mudie’s website here. Thanks to sea staff for the weekend Martin Clough, John Smith, Matt Bland, Stuart Raynsford and Laura, plus a guest appearance from Matt from OYT Scotland.

The race crew brought John Laing back into Southampton on Sunday night, and on Monday a new crew arrived: several from Devon and Cornwall Foyer, plus the Prince’s Trust and a couple of individual bookings. They stayed in Southampton for the first night and then had a good sail in the Solent on the next day, ending up in Beaulieu for the night. The next day they had an excellent sail right round the Isle of Wight, finishing very late in Gosport, where they had the following morning ashore before another good sail and a late finish back in Ocean Village. The last day of the voyage became extra-busy as the BBC came to do some filming in connection with a documentary being made about one of the girls in the crew. I’ll put the programme name and broadcast date in this bulletin when it’s all finalised. Thanks to the sea staff for this voyage: Martin Clough, Dyfrig Harries, Mike Makepeace and Laura.

The next trip was a weekend voyage for TS Swiftsure from the Nautical Training Corps. This involved ten young people most of whom were on their fourth voyage as a group with us, plus a group leader, Adele, who has also been before. They had one spare space which we were able to fill with yet another John Laing regular. The crew’s familiarity with the boat and ability to work together as a really effective team from the outset meant that we were able to tackle some more advanced training exercises, with lots of interesting navigation and other tasks which could be completed despite the lack of wind. We had young crew members organising sail hoists and putting reefs in and out; they took charge of some pilotage in and out of Beaulieu; some of them were trained in tidal height calculations and the use of clearing lines and clearing bearings; they learned all about light characteristics for buoys and other vessels and then sailed round the Bramble Bank in the dark, identifying lights as they went; and some of them practised boat handling by driving in figure-of-eights around mooring buoys. All in all an excellent weekend with a highly motivated crew, and all the young people were awarded Competent Crew certificates except for the one who had it already.

Thanks to sea staff Martin Clough, Caz, Mark Boggis, Geoff Eddy and Laura. We were also joined for the Saturday by Allen Clarke from Owen Clarke Design, who will be working on the design for our new boat, who wanted to take the chance to observe John Laing in action and get a clearer idea of which elements of her design do or don’t work for young crew members. The Swiftsure group made him really welcome and made a lot of useful suggestions – not just because they know the boat very well by now, but also because the group ranges from small 13-year olds to young adults and it was interesting for Allen to see how the boat works for young people right across this range, taking into account differences of size and strength.

This week’s voyage has headed east to Dover and Brighton. More news next week once this trip has actually finished, but thanks to sea staff Dave Carnson, Matt Bland, John Snowden, Geoff Eddy, David d'Costa and Laura for their work so far. 

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Office move
OYT South will finally be moving into our own office premises on October 27th!

Contact details will remain the same: PO Box 203, Gosport, Hampshire, PO12 9AZ, tel 0845 365 6781, fax 0845 365 6782, email

The new office is in Royal Clarence Yard, Gosport, not far from the ASTO office.

Big thanks to David, Sally and Brian Eyres who have been working hard to ensure a smooth transition. 

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OYT South AGM 2008
Now that we are no longer linking the OYT South AGM to the February training weekend, I can give advance notice of the AGM date: Friday 4th April, 7 for 7.30pm, a short meeting to be followed by a glass of wine in the new office! 

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People News
Skipper Wolf emails from Australia to say he is having a great time and about to go sailing in the Whitsunday islands, which he seems to think might be nicer than sailing in the English Channel in October. There are pictures of the islands here if you want to make up your own minds about that!

Wolf’s email also contained another piece of news: huge congratulations to second mate Dr Alice Poyner, now living in New Zealand, who has just got engaged to Geoff Faulkner! 

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John Laing on MySpace and Facebook
John Laing is on both MySpace and Facebook , both brilliant ways for crew members, sea staff and other friends and supporters to keep in touch, contact each other, or spread the word among other people about OYT South voyages. Have a look, and come and be one of John Laing's friends - and tell all YOUR friends about us!

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Chris Ellis Award
Don't forget to enter for the Chris Ellis Award - you could win up to £200 off the price of your next voyage. This competition is open to any crew members aged 12-25. All you need to do is produce a piece of work based on your last voyage: an essay, diary, logbook, picture, computer art or anything else you like - there are no restrictions as long as your entry gives an idea of what you last voyage meant to you and why you would like to sail again. The closing date for entries is 1 December 2007 but please start sending your entries sooner, while your voyage is fresh in your mind. Electronic entries (preferable) should be emailed to me; hard copies if necessary should be posted to the office: PO Box 203, Gosport, Hampshire PO12 9AZ.

Chris Ellis was one of the founders of the Ocean Youth Club, in 1960. His family is still very interested in seeing any entries.

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FREE women-only self defence course on offer
John Snowden is offering to run a self-defence course for women some time over the winter. Please email me if you might be interested, and if there is sufficient enthusiasm we will put together some details. This should be a really outstanding course - everyone who knows John or has sailed with him will know of his expertise in the field.

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Local support groups
If you live in any of the following areas and would like to help find local young people to come sailing, and raise a bit of money to help them do so, please get involved with one of our local support groups:

London: Rob Dickinson.
Dorset: Martin Skipper.
West Sussex: Chris Lane.
Isle of Wight: Marion Heming.

If you live in any other area and would be interested in helping to set up a local support group, please email me and I’ll try to put you in touch with other people in your area.

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Volunteer press officer news
Don't forget to contact Lizzie Fiddaman, our volunteer press officer, if you think your voyage should be covered in the local press, or if you have any other good story to tell about OYT South: you can email Lizzie. You can also contact her if you want to get involved in getting positive press coverage for us in your local area - the more help she has, the more coverage we might get! Local press coverage will help more people to hear about OYT South - which can mean more crew members and even more donations - so it's well worth helping Lizzie to get us mentioned.

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

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

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New readers’ welcome and introduction
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. The newsletter is sent out virtually every week and contains all you need to know about voyages for young people or adults, becoming a volunteer, OYT South events, etc. 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.

We still need help at maintenance days spread throughout the year, and there will be another winter refit starting in November - see here.

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

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“I have made a bunch of mates that I hope to keep in touch with - would love to come again" Joe, 13