Snow on deck!


OYT South bulletin 11th April 2008

In this Bulletin

Sections which have changed since last time marked *

* Voyage news
As some of you know, OYT South has a longstanding connection with MDL (Marina Developments Ltd), who have been generous supporters for many years, not least through the provision of our free berth at Ocean Village. Once a year they also run a competition in which schools in the areas around where MDL operates are asked to nominate exceptionally deserving young people, who are given an award and a voyage on board John Laing. Normally they send six young crew members each year: but 2008 is the 20th anniversary of the first MDL Award Winners' voyage, and so they decided this time to book the whole boat and send 12 young people, who have just completed their voyage.

They joined last Friday and did a short passage down to East Cowes for the night. On Saturday they did sail training in the Solent, surrounded by hundreds of race boats, before finishing in Gosport, where they woke next morning to find two inches of snow on deck!

Snow! Snowy bows

Snowy cockpit Snowy mizzen

Undeterred, they waited through the morning for the snow to melt and the weather to improve, and then set off across Channel. In a north westerly Force 6 they made great speed - including 16 knots with the tide under them in the Alderney Race - and got into Guernsey at 4am on Monday. They spent the day in St Peter Port and did some work towards their Royal Yachting Association certificates. On Tuesday they had a gentle passage with no wind to Alderney, where they spent the afternoon playing games on the beach - an extraordinary turnaround given the snow two days earlier!

On Wednesday they motor-sailed back across the Channel in light winds and sunshine, arriving in Ocean Village late at night. MDL staff came down next morning to see the crew, and they had a very positive and enthusiastic end-of-voyage debrief - including the presentation of well-earned RYA Start Yachting certificates to all twelve crew members. The sea staff all said that the MDL Award Winners made a great crew - lovely young people, incredibly deserving award-winners and a fantastic atmosphere on board.

Many thanks to all the sea staff: Dave Carnson, Kerry "Special K" McMillan, Liz, Geoff Eddy, Rosie "Habit" Allen - and special congratulations to Matt Bushby for passing his third mate's assessment to become our first new qualified watch leader of 2008.

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Vessel tracking

John Laing's vessel tracking system is active for the season: just look here for a map showing where John Laing is sailing right now, and click on the vessel icon for extra information such as latitude, longitude and current speed.

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* Refit statistics and thanks
Final figures for the volunteer effort for the 2007-8 winter refit of John Laing show the amazing total of 78 people contributing 458 days of volunteer effort between November and March. This compares with 95 volunteers but only 381 days in the previous year, the difference being that this year we were lucky enough to get more people able to commit to a substantial amount of time, making us less reliant on big teams coming for only a day or so each, and bringing a definite benefit in terms of volunteers becoming increasingly skilled and effective.

These figures include a number of people who took work away from the boat to complete at home. However, the refit house again proved its worth in enabling us to attract volunteers who needed accommodation: a total of 296 volunteer nights were spent in the house - which of course also provided accommodation for the bosun. The volunteer figures above obviously exclude the tremendous effort contributed by our staff: Laura the outgoing bosun, Liz the new bosun, and skipper Wolf.

Enormous thanks to all those who worked so hard to make our refit such a success. It is worth pointing out that not only does this volunteer effort save us a great deal of money, compared with what we would have to spend on a professional refit. It also has a massive impact on potential donors: many of the Trusts, Foundations and other organisations who respond so generously to our refit appeals have said how strongly influenced they are by the evidence of the immense volunteer commitment to OYT South.

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* 2008 bookings - including short notice vacancies
Great news - the voyage 21-24 April, which has been empty for a long time, has now been booked up  - just when we were worried that it might be at risk of cancellation for lack of crew. All twelve places have been taken by a group of young people who are being home-educated, organised by Myra Mclelland, who first came across John Laing by joining one of our marketing day sails last year.

So the complete vacancies list (apart from adult voyages) is now as follows:

16-20 April, Southampton, £255, 1 place now available following a cancellation.
20-22 June (weekend): Southampton, £150, 6 places left (over-18s only).
13-20 July: Falmouth to Liverpool, £420. Up to 4 places left, depending on whether provisional bookings are confirmed.
STOP PRESS: 1 place newly available 20 July - 3 August, Liverpool to Maloy, £840, Tall Ships Race 1
11-22 August: Bergen to Den Helder, £660, 1 place left for Tall Ships Race 2.
8-13 Sept: Southampton, £315, 12 places left.
15-19 September: Southampton, £275, 12 places available.

That's only 36 places left for the whole year - a fantastic effort on the part of all the people who have helped to spread the word and sell our voyages, with 92% of all berths filled already. Now we just need to fill these last few places!

If you can't find what you want on this availability list, do please keep checking the voyage programme as new vacancies keep coming up as provisional reservations aren't confirmed.

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
Special funding for crew members from outside the UK.

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* Volunteer watchleaders needed
Many thanks to those who responded to my urgent request for sea staff to fill a gap on the voyage starting today - and particularly to Julian Jansen van Rensburg and Rosie "Habit" Allen, who have both stepped in at short notice to join the voyage. I have also now filled two vacancies which cropped up for the voyage of 21-24 April.

Other sea staff vacancies are as follows:

12-17 May, Southampton to Poole - third mate or trainee mate needed
18-22 May, Poole to Poole - third mate needed and space for trainee mate as well
9-14 June, Southampton to Southampton - second mate needed.
28 June to 3 July, Southampton to Southampton - possible space for third mate or trainee mate
8-12 July, Gosport to Falmouth - second mate needed
13-20 July, Falmouth to Liverpool - bosun needed
5-7 September, Southampton - second and/or third mate needed
8-13 September, Southampton - second mate needed
15-19 September, Southampton - first, second and third mate or trainee mate needed

Note on "trainee mates": if you are not yet a qualified OYT South watch leader, but would like to become one, this is the place for you. You do need a recommendation from one of our skippers (contact me if you are not sure if you have a recommendation, or how to get one), and you must also have a Criminal Records Bureau background check, which we will help you to organise.

Other vacancies will be published shortly, when provisional bookings are confirmed (or not), and when I start looking at gaps a bit later in the season - though I don't want to fill all the late-season berths yet as we need to leave room for training and assessment for new volunteers we meet during the year.

Let me know a.s.a.p. if you want to sail and could help fill any of the listed vacancies.

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* Annual Report
If you didn't see last week's newsletter, please note that our new Annual Report is now available here, as a pdf file - please have a look at it! Hard copies are also available on request from the office.

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2009 sailing programme

We are just in the process of preparing our 2009 sailing programme. If you have any very specific requirements for a voyage in 2009 - for example, a school might want a voyage to fit into a scheduled Activities Week - do let us know as soon as possible, and we'll try to write something suitable into the programme.

Just to get you excited in advance for summer 2009: we are hoping to take part in another Tall Ships race series in the Baltic. This will involve a number of voyages in June designed to get us to the start in Poland in early July (crew changeover ports still to be decided). We will then race from Gdynia to St Petersburg, in Russia, followed by a cruise to Turku, Finland, and then another race to Klaipeda, Lithuania, arriving in early August. We will then have a series of voyages in August to bring John Laing back to the UK (again, crew changeover ports still to be decided, though we are tempted by Copenhagen at some point…).

If you might be interested in taking part in any of this - and especially if you might want to make a full group booking - do talk to us now about options. We are also considering making one of the voyages in June, on the way to Poland, an adult voyage - worth considering for over-25s who don't normally get this sort of chance to sail to more exciting places with us!

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* Financial appeal
Once the refit bills are paid, three fundraising priorities remain: bursary funding to help young people who could not otherwise afford to sail; the New Boat Project; and we'll need to start fundraising for refit 2008-9! See here  for how to make a donation.

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* Volunteer sea staff training (on board John Laing)
The mates' training weekend, 25-27 April, is now almost certainly full, with only one booking unconfirmed but a couple of names still on the reserve list. The longer adult training voyage, 29 April to 4 May, is definitely FULL.

However, we do have up to 3 spaces left for the September staff training voyage: 19-21 Sept (£150). Email me for bookings.

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* General Manager recruitment update
The process to find a new General Manager to take over when David Salmon retires is underway; but it turned out that not all the shortlisted candidates were in the UK in the period when we hoped to complete the interviews, so there has been a brief delay - watch this space for further announcements!

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Storage urgently needed

It is becoming increasingly urgent for OYT South to find some new storage space for equipment used during the refit, and spares for the sailing season. We really need a 20-foot container, or similar, and somewhere to put it, preferably in the Hamble or Southampton area if at all possible - can anyone help?

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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.

Andy Brown and David Shannon are making progress with plans for a Plymouth / SW support group: between them they have significant experience, but both work away from home quite a bit and are now looking for someone else, who may be around a bit more, to help them pull things together. If others in the area would like to get involved, email Andy
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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Core refit team - long-term volunteers needed
One of the key factors in the 2007-8 refit was the presence of volunteers who were able to give us several weeks or months - in one case, almost the whole refit - providing vital continuity and developing experience on board. We shall be recruiting at least two full-time volunteers for the next refit, November 2008 to March 2009, so if you are considering a gap year or career break, why not think about joining the team next year?

See here for details. Email me to express an interest and for more information.

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* Keep in touch with other John Laing people - or make new friends
See here for online opportunities to meet other John Laing enthusiasts.

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OYT South leaflet

There is a pdf copy of the very popular Southampton Boat Show leaflet on the website, so that you can download and print it, to give out to people or stick on noticeboards, etc. You can get the front and back covers here and the inside spread here.  

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Website updates
There is an Updates page on this website, so you can see at a glance everything that has recently changed on the site.

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Passwords to members-only website section

Anyone who hasn't received a password to the members-only section of this website and would like one should email me and I can give access to anyone eligible.

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Website - links needed
It’s always good to increase the numbers of people visiting our website – do you have any web page where you could add a link to And let me know so that we can link back to you!

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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.

To help with the annual refit, or with maintenance days spread throughout the year, 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