John Laing in Liverpool's Albert Dock


OYT South bulletin 25th July 2008

In this Bulletin

Sections which have changed since last time marked *

* A very difficult week for OYT South
I’m afraid there are a few bits of bad news in this week’s bulletin – a sad thing to report after such a long period when all has been going so well for us. It’s never easy when several troubles come at once, but I’m sure all our friends will rally round, and with your support we can get back to happier and more optimistic newsletters before too long. Now read on…

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* Chris Robinson
As most of you will know, Chris Robinson joined us in May as General Manager-designate, to take over when David Salmon retires later this year. Chris has been doing a superb job and was all that we had hoped for when making this appointment. Unfortunately, with great regret, Chris has decided not to take up the position of General Manager. The change from his previous career is radical and after careful consideration during his probationary period with us, he has realised that he is not the right person to serve OYT South in the long term. He would like to thank everyone at OYT South for their support during his brief time with us and wishes us well for the future.

The Board will be meeting next Thursday to discuss next steps, and a new job advertisement will be placed as soon as practicable.

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* Tall Ships Race 1
As John Laing was preparing to leave Liverpool docks on Monday to head for the race start, she suffered a mechanical problem with the gearbox coupling. This was not something that could have been foreseen or prevented. Thanks to bosun Tristan Caudrey plus a firm of local engineers, a solution to the problem was found; but this kept the boat in Liverpool for an additional two days and ruled us out of Race 1 from Liverpool to Maloy, so John Laing is not currently competing. Instead, she has made her way up to Scotland and, starting today, will be taking a short cut through the Caledonian canal, which should enable her to catch up with the rest of the fleet for the festival in Maloy and ensure that subsequent voyages on the Tall Ships programme are not affected.

This was obviously a great disappointment to the race crew and sea staff; but they are now focussed on having a great time with their Scottish cruise, and we wish them all the best with the rest of the passage.

Although the gearbox problem is now fixed for the time being, our engineer, Chris, has concluded that we must have a new gearbox and propeller shaft during the refit. This will cost in the region of £3,200. At the same time, we face some significant costs with our sails – our second mainsail tore in half last week; and the better of our two mainsails is also quite worn and has only recently been repaired. All this comes at a time when the Trust is extremely short of funds. Any donations would be gratefully received!

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* Southampton Boat Show - volunteers needed in September
This may seem to be a long way away, but we really do need to start organising things now, and we need a better idea of who will be volunteering and which dates you can manage!

The Southampton Boat Show runs from 12-21 September, and OYT South will once again have a stand – which means we need lots of volunteers to staff it! We want a good team of people every day to help enthuse potential clients, crew, parents, volunteers and sponsors. Young people are welcome as well as adult volunteers. You’ll get time to look round the rest of the show and dream about the yacht you’ll buy when you win the lottery….

Please contact the office and let them know the date(s) you might be available to help.

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* MOB Dacon recovery – essential reading for all sea staff
John Laing now has a Dacon recovery system as one of the options available for the skipper to use to recover a man overboard. A document describing how to rig and use the Dacon, with photographs showing an exercise on board John Laing, is in the members-only section of this website. This is essential reading for all sea staff as you need to know how this system works before the next time you sail. If you have forgotten your password to the members-only section, please email me now! Our website analysis system does show me how many people look at any page on our website over a particular period so I am well aware that a lot of people have not yet got around to looking at this!

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* Voyage news
The first stages of the voyage from Falmouth to Liverpool proved distinctly easier than the hard slog to windward of the previous week. We had a crew of six people from Plymouth Foyer, plus six individual bookings, who swiftly bonded into a friendly and effective team. We motored down to Land’s End and then had a good sailing breeze as we headed north into the Irish Sea. We did the whole trip in two long passages, with a day’s stop in the quiet town of Wicklow in between. Crew member Charlie celebrated her 18th birthday in Wicklow with her first ever pint of Guinness. The second stage was trickier, as we had to judge our passage to get the tide right around Anglesey and then attempt to arrive in Liverpool neither too early nor too late for the lock into the docks. The wind increased steadily, and we kept reducing sail; but we still couldn’t help reaching the mouth of the Mersey a couple of hours before we would ideally have liked. By this time we were also facing driving rain, but there was nothing we could do but wait in the river until the lock gates opened. At last we were allowed in – a very tricky entrance with strong winds and tide (well done skipper Wolf for a difficult bit of driving). Then a long wait in the outer dock before were allowed in to our berth in Albert Dock – a busy place full of trendy shops and bars.

Reactions to the Liverpool festival were a bit mixed. On the one hand there was the usual lively atmosphere between crews, a lot of socialising and some good parties. On the other hand, the fleet was split, with almost all the square riggers and most of the traditional boats a good long bus ride away from where we were. Most of the usual festival sights, plus the shanty competition, were all at the other site, and most of us never got to see them at all. However, we did meet lots of old friends, and John Laing’s crew were a great bunch of people, so we all had a good time. Many of this crew are keen to sail with us again, and it would be fantastic to see lots of them back again.

Many thanks to sea staff Wolf, Caz, Ben Gillett, Dave “Tigger” Heffer, Kerry “Special K” McMillan and Phil Runchman.

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* 2008 berths – book now or miss out till next year!
If you want to sail this year you need to ring the office NOW on 0845 365 6781 – there are only one or two places left on a couple of voyages. Once those places are gone, we can keep a reserve list in case anyone drops out - email me if you are available at short notice, and make sure we have all your contact details. Sometimes we have only an hour or two to fill a spare space if a crew member falls ill on the day they were due to join, and if you are easy to contact you might get that place.

Otherwise, it’s time to start thinking about 2009 bookings!

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* 2009 bookings
See here for details and prices for 2009 voyages.

Voyages are selling very fast, with around a third of places gone already, and if you want to sail in school holidays (outside the Baltic Tall Ships period in the summer) or at weekends, you really need to look at the programme NOW! There are still hundreds of term time places and plenty of Baltic places available - do talk to us about your requirements. Contact the office.

See here for details of Tall Ships 2009 (Poland, Russia, Finland and Lithuania in July and August), or one of the fantastic Baltic Adventure voyages before and after the festivals.
Duke of Edinburgh Gold Residential projects
Bursary funding
Special funding for crew members from outside the UK.

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Adult adventure voyage 2009
Normally we only have the chance to offer occasional local voyages to adults, but in 2009 we plan to offer one very special adventure voyage to adults:

28 June to 4 July: Kiel to Gdynia (Poland) - a beautiful Baltic cruise, ending at the fantastic Gdynia Tall Ships festival.

Open to anyone aged over 18, this will be a truly special voyage and a rare chance for adults to take John Laing further afield and experience the excitement of a Tall Ships festival port, before handing over to a young race crew.

If there is sufficient demand from adults, we would also consider offering the previous voyage to adults (21-28 June, Ipswich to Kiel).

Please contact the office a.s.a.p. if you might be interested.

While our priority is always to offer sailing to young people aged 12-25, both these voyages fall during school term time and would generally be hard to sell to school-age crews; but a confirmed booking from a young group, if available, would take priority. Crew members of college or university age would of course be eligible to sail whether these become youth or adult voyages (and would be eligible for the Standard Crew price which applies to anyone aged 25 or under. The subsidy involved in this is not available to over-25s, who will be asked to pay rather more – please contact the office for details).

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* Volunteer watch leader vacancies – please help!
Sea staff vacancies (qualified sea staff only) are as follows:

22-27 August, Den Helder to Ipswich – possible first mate vacancy
8-13 September, Southampton - second mate.
15-19 September, Southampton - first mate.
22-26 September, Southampton - first mate.
27 Sept - 1 Oct, Southampton - first mate.
12-16 Oct - first and second mate (tbc) needed, and experienced third mate as reserve (provisional 3M booking won't be sure of her availability till after the start of the autumn university term).
17-19 Oct - second (tbc) and third mates.
20-24 Oct - second mate (tbc).
25-29 Oct - second mate (tbc).
30 Oct-2 Nov - second mate (tbc).

Places marked tbc are where provisional bookings have yet to be confirmed, and also where we need to keep options open, to get the right balance of sea staff for different voyages or crews with special needs, and to make sure there is a balance of male and female sea staff for mixed crews – or to make sure that a range of sea staff get a chance to sail rather than allocating all the voyages to one person with extensive availability, so I can't always confirm bookings straight away; but I would like to know a.s.a.p. who might be available. Let me know if you want to sail and could help fill any of the listed vacancies if needed.

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Mates training 2009
As recently announced, we are changing the way we use mates' training weekends in 2009, in order to offer more training to current sea staff. Voyages in 2009 will be as follows:

24-26 April 2009 (£150): third mates, less experienced second mates, and bosuns’ weekend – 6 places left.
18-20 September 2009 (£150): first mates and more experienced second mates’ weekend – 9 places left.

Email me to reserve a place on the appropriate weekend.

The September 2008 mates training weekend (19-21 September) will not be affected by these changes and will go ahead exactly as planned. It is potentially fully-booked but I am still taking names for a reserve list in case anyone drops out.

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2009 familiarisation voyage for new volunteers

19-24 April 2009 (£300): five day voyage for new prospective volunteers.

With only 12 places now available for new people, we will offer berths to those who seem to have the most potential to contribute to OYT South's work - good youth work skills or other relevant experience, as well as sailing skills, and / or a willingness to be involved in vessel maintenance or other activities, and enough free time to be effective volunteers. We would still like to encourage anyone interested to apply for this voyage, but we won't make firm bookings until early next year - which gives interested volunteers a chance to meet us, come to refit etc., before we allocate places.

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Financial appeal
We have three current fundraising priorities: refit 2008-9, and the new equipment we now need, plus general funds to see us through the winter; bursary funding to help young people who could not otherwise afford to sail; and the New Boat Project! See here  for how to make a donation.

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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: Dave “Tigger” Heffer – just moving to Dorset and swiftly “volunteered” to take over the group!
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