Calm day at the Needles


OYT South bulletin 5th October 2007

In this Bulletin

Sections which have changed since last week marked *

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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Full list of current crew (aged 12-25) vacancies for 2007
Only four places left for young people wishing to sail with us in 2007!

15-19 Oct: Southampton £250 - 4 places left

HURRY - if you want to book a berth, contact the office as soon as possible.

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Crew vacancies 2008
Please see here for the full 2008 programme. You will find that we already have reservations or at least initial enquiries about full-boat bookings listed against quite a number of voyages, so please don't leave it too late to book your preferred voyage.

It might be worth clarifying the way voyages are listed on this programme. Voyages may show the number of berths left: 12 if the whole boat is still available, or a smaller number if some but not all places have already been taken. Where a voyage is marked "reserved", it means someone has made a firm commitment to book the whole boat, and we are no longer advertising places on that voyage. But a trip marked "enquiry" means that someone is considering the possibility of booking the whole boat, but has yet to make a firm commitment. If you want that particular voyage, feel free to ask about it: we'll then go back to the original enquirer and ask them to make a firm decision or else to free up the voyage for you.

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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Sea staff training (RYA and other courses)
We are in the process of arranging training courses to take place over next winter, and it would be helpful to get some idea of the likely demand. Please can you email me if you would be interested in any of the following courses (dates to be confirmed unless otherwise stated):

First aid (regular updates required - check when your certificate goes out of date)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

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Sea staff training (on board John Laing) – change of date
Please note a change of date for the longer of the two autumn 2008 adult training voyages: this will now take place from 6-10 October, NOT 8-13 September. It will now cost £275.

For those wanting training earlier in the year, we have already had a full boat's worth of twelve enquiries for places on the mates' training weekend voyage, 25-27 April 2008 (£150), but I will put additional names on the waiting list for the weekend as it's unlikely all twelve people will definitely confirm their bookings. There will be another adult training weekend 19-21 Sept (£150) which still has plenty of places.

There are still lots of places on both the longer adult training voyage: Tues 29th April to Sun 4th May - 5 nights for just £275; and the new voyage, 6-10 October, also £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 voyage 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. November and December have previously been the period when we have been most short of volunteers, so please start thinking now about whether you can set aside a weekend or a few days to come and help.

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 (great news – it looks as though we have secured the same refit house as last year). Lots of volunteers needed during this period - call 07771 771864 if you can help for a day or longer.

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. We haven't finally confirmed these dates but we would hope to get the masts 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
Thank you very much to Veryan, w hich has chosen OYT South as the company’s “adopted” charity and made a donation of £2,500 towards refit funding.

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
A happy and productive voyage last week with Hamish Lochhead’s group from Parkside School, which always does a voyage with us around this time of year. The school group is made up of boys at the younger end of our age range, and as they hadn’t quite filled all the berths, they were joined by one individual booking from another boy, who was welcomed and successfully made to feel part of the team. They stayed in Ocean Village for the first night, and then headed for Poole, where they spent the night before making a very early start to catch the tide, getting back to the Needles for 10am. After a day’s sailing in the Solent, they spent the night in Yarmouth and then had the following morning ashore before returning to Ocean Village in the afternoon. Hamish was very happy with how the voyage went and has already reserved a voyage for the school next year, with several of the same sea staff expressing an interest in sailing with them again. Thanks to skipper Yvonne Taylor, plus sea staff Laura, John Parkin, Ben Martin, Hamish himself (sailing as third mate) and Katy Womersley from Clyde Marine for making the trip such a success.

This was followed by another short voyage with a very mixed crew. A group of younger pupils from Bourne College were joined by a selection of older individuals, several of whom had sailed with us before. They made the most of a largely windless week by visiting some of the most attractive places in the area and enjoying lots of other activities. They started with an anchorage in Newtown, and then discovered (Laura the bosun did the calculations) that the tide was right to get John Laing up to Beaulieu. The people at Bucklers Hard were slightly surprised to see us, but made the boat extremely welcome, and they now have a lot more space for boats our size, so this may become a more regular port of call when the tide is right. The crew enjoyed a walk in the forest and some squirrel-spotting. Next morning, again with no wind, they made an early start to get out through the Needles and anchored in Freshwater Bay. Most of the crew were put ashore with a couple of sea staff and challenged to find Yarmouth. The remaining sea staff and some of the older crew then moved the boat round, and the shore party got the Yarmouth water taxi out to rejoin them at just the moment when the lunch time jacket potatoes were ready.

Yesterday they tried to sail to Cowes but ended up motoring again, and the voyage ended in Cowes this morning. The Bourne College group are being escorted back to the mainland by ferry but the older crew members are staying on board – to be joined by others – for the ASTO Small Ships race tomorrow. There are at least a couple of potential future sea staff in this group so it will be good to see them again.

Many thanks to the sea staff: skipper Martin Clough, plus Laura, John Smith, Matt Bland and Stuart Raynsford.

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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