A rogues' gallery of new volunteers


OYT South bulletin 9th May 2008

In this Bulletin

Sections which have changed since last time marked *

* Email problems
Unfortunately I was unable to receive any emails sent to me between 28 April and 5 May inclusive – please would you check and resend if there was anything important? Apologies to anyone who has been expecting a reply to something. Basically the problem was that a number of people very kindly sent me big collections of photos within the same two or three day period, which left my inbox full. Normally I can clear this straight away, but on this occasion I was on board John Laing and couldn’t do anything about it.

I do very much want to get your photos, and I appreciate high-res versions which can be used in our publicity; but perhaps if you are sending large files, you could drop me a short email first to check I’m here to deal with them. Many thanks!

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* June adult sailing weekend
20-22 June (8pm Friday till 5pm Sunday): Southampton, £150, at least 4 places left (over-18s only). Anyone want to come? This should be a relaxed, fun weekend in John Laing. Ideal for anyone who just wants to go for a sail, it would also be a good option for anyone who is thinking of joining our volunteer sea staff and wants to find out more about us (though this is NOT a formal mates’ training weekend). It’s also open to parents of past crew members who want to sample the John Laing experience for yourselves, or any other adult who just wants to enjoy a weekend away and find out a bit more about us. Contact the office for bookings.

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* Tall Ships 2008 – just ONE last place left
Race one and the cruise in company are now fully-booked, but we do have just one space available on Race two: 11-22 August: Bergen to Den Helder, £660 plus travel. Age 15-25. This will be a fabulous voyage, with superb festivals in Norway and the Netherlands, and an exciting race in between. Don’t miss your chance to join the crew! See here for more information.

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* Calling all Tall Ships 2008 crew
If you have booked on any of our overseas Tall Ships voyages this summer and haven’t yet organised your travel, do please get on and do it as soon as possible. The flights are getting booked up and prices are rising. I can always put you in touch with other people on the same voyage if you want advice, or to arrange to travel together. If you use Facebook, or are happy to join, I have set up separate groups for each of the two races and the cruise in company, so you can make contact with others: just join the group “John Laing – Adventure under Sail” and I will give you access to your own voyage group. You can also use these groups to raise any other questions.

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* Two empty voyages in September
There are just two standard local voyages for crew members aged 12-25 still available this year:

8-13 Sept: Southampton, £315, 12 places left.
15-19 September: Southampton, £275, 12 places available.

If your group might be interested in booking either voyage, contact the office as soon as possible.

Duke of Edinburgh Gold Residential projects
Bursary funding
Special funding for crew members from outside the UK.

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* 2009 Tall Ships
There is a new page on this website with details of what looks like a very exciting Tall Ships series in 2009, when we shall be visiting Poland, Russia, Finland and Lithuania. Have a look at some of the voyages that are available, both for the Tall Ships events themselves, and fantastic Baltic Adventure voyages before and after the festivals.

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* June / early July 2009 – youth groups or adult voyages? Give us your views!
In order to take part in the Tall Ships race series 2009, John Laing has to get to the Baltic and back before and after the series; and we have planned two special adventure voyages each side of the festivals in order to do this. The return from Tall Ships, in August, will be set aside for young people, as normal. But we would like some feedback from clients and potential crew about the voyages out to the Baltic, in June and early July. These voyages will still be in term time for many people, and some people may even be doing exams. OYT South’s first priority is to run voyages for young people; but when it is hard to find young crew, we always have the option to run adult voyages.

The voyages in question are:

21-28 June 2009: Ipswich to Kiel (Germany), via the Dutch coast, islands or inland waterways (“Riddle of the Sands” country!), and the Kiel Canal.
28 June to 4 July: Kiel to Gdynia (Poland) – a beautiful Baltic cruise, ending at the fantastic Gdynia Tall Ships festival.

If you are thinking of organising a youth group voyage, would you want either of these? Please start discussing it with us soon, before we advertise the places for adults.

If we don’t sell one or both of these voyages to young people, would you – or anyone you know – like to do either as an adult voyage? Let us know what you think!

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* Voyage news
Several things to report on this time, as I was away sailing last week. The last weekend of April saw a mates’ training voyage, with a few existing mates, bosuns and group leaders looking to extend their experience, plus a good collection of new volunteers interested in joining our sea staff. We enjoyed a voyage to Poole and back – Wolf’s first time outside the Solent this season, as all the good weather has been hogged by the relief skippers who have been swanning across the Channel while Jonah Wolf’s voyages have mainly been marked by Force 8 gales and sleet.

On this occasion we did manage two good sails, even if we did get driving rain and lightning in the Poole channel on Sunday morning, and we had a chance to practice some sail hoists, as well as time for detailed tours of the boat and explanations of systems and equipment for the new volunteers. We definitely found some promising new mates for the future, and we hope to see many of them back on board again (NB for anyone who thinks they have already volunteered to come back, please see my note above about missing emails). Thanks to the sea staff for the weekend: Wolf, Caz, Andy Royse, Andy Viney, Chris – and a first time on board for Craig Burton, business manager of the Association of Sea Training Organisations. Craig will be doing some relief skippering for us later in the year, if (as a former Sea Cadets skipper) he can get used to the lack of saluting on board John Laing.

This weekend was sandwiched between two days of maintenance and other work on board, on the Friday and the Monday. Many thanks to Wolf, Liz, Andy Viney, Chris Robinson, Caz, Ben Gillett, Karen Harris, Dave “Tigger” Heffer, Jeremy Burnett Rae, Chris from Contact Marine and Julian “Slartibartfast” Jansen van Rensburg. We did a huge assortment of small jobs, including lots of painting, chart corrections and work on planning Tall Ships charts, winch servicing, electrical and generator repairs, guardrail repairs, shopping and much more. We also had a series of visits to the boat: Jane Fletcher from Toynbee Hall, which will be bringing four full groups for voyages this year; Morag Norgan, who is organising a new group of young carers in July; and Naomi House children’s hospice, a regular client, who sent two new group leaders to see what they are letting themselves in for. The final visit was from Paul Karas and a colleague from Fleet Support Limited, to see what help they might be able to offer us during next year’s refit.

This was followed by another adult voyage, again with a mix of qualified mates developing their skills plus new volunteers hoping to join us – as well as David Baker, who last sailed with the Ocean Youth Club in the 1960s and, having discovered that we do occasional adult voyages, came to see how things had changed. It must have worked as he didn’t stop grinning all week.

The voyage started with such torrential, horizontal rain that we couldn’t even complete our normal introductory briefings, and no-one was even slightly tempted to go sailing on the first day. However, we filled the time with a valuable assortment of indoor training sessions. It all picked up on Day Two and we had a breezy day in the western Solent, practising sail hoists and reefing, before ending up in Cowes.

On Thursday we headed west again, hoping to go out through the Needles, but it rapidly became clear that with strong winds against the tide, this would certainly be uncomfortable and potentially even unsafe. So we turned round and sailed right through the Solent to come out at the eastern end, hoping that Cherbourg would still be a possible destination. However, the wind direction proved to be exactly wrong and France unreachably far away; so we turned west round the Isle of Wight instead, and had the pleasure of sitting staring at Ventnor for six hours until the tide changed. However, we were rewarded with a lovely sunset followed by a very swift sail to Weymouth, doing ten knots under starry skies, arriving at 4am.

On Friday we slept in, had bacon sandwiches and then had some more training sessions. One of the things we ask potential mates to do on these voyages is to plan and then deliver a section of the RYA Competent Crew course as if to a group of teenagers, with the challenge being to make it as interesting and engaging as possible. As usual, there were some very imaginative sessions, with Ben’s introduction to collision regulations at sea being one obvious highlight. We were given kitchen utensils designated as different types of vessels, and had to push them across the table towards one another, with someone giving way at the last minute while we all worked out who should have given way and why.

Another windy trip back east towards Poole showed the benefits of all the training carried out during the week, with everyone on board running slick sail hoists, drops and reefs as needed. It was fortunate that by this time we had such a highly-trained and efficient crew as both the skipper and the bosun were off watch and in bed when the team on deck spotted a life-ring in the water. We hove-to while Wolf came on deck and organised a perfect man overboard recovery demonstration. We got the life-ring on board and reported it to Portland Coastguard. Fortunately they were later able to tell us that it was not linked to any distress situation, but had fallen off a Spanish war ship passing that way in April. By an odd coincidence, the ship was named after a Spanish Admiral, Blas de Lezo - whose biography is called “The Life of a true Sea Wolf”. So one Wolf recovered a life-ring belonging to another Wolf.

A further distraction during this passage was a call from Jolie Brise, another sail training vessel, calling up to ask us if we would come close enough to take photographs as she was trying out a new sail and wanted to see what it looked like. So we were treated to the sight of a 1913 gaff pilot cutter flying the most enormous spinnaker – a very odd sight

.Jolie Brise

The voyage ended in Poole on Sunday, with a good clean-up and several excellent potential mates receiving recommendations to sail with us again. We also gave out one RYA Competent Crew certificate to Lucinda Neall. Many thanks to the sea staff: Wolf, Liz, Caz, Chris and Dave “Tigger” Heffer.

After the crew left, we had a visit from former relief bosun Laura Brayshaw, who has taken a break from sailing to have a baby, Tyler, who came to inspect John Laing in preparation for the voyage she has booked in 12 years’ time, when she will be old enough to sail with us.

Laura and Tyler

This week’s voyage saw a mixed crew from Cardiff, Dorset and Portsmouth enjoying the sunshine and some good winds, sailing from Poole to Alderney, Guernsey, back to Alderney, Cowes, and finishing in Southampton this morning, with all twelve crew members earning their RYA Start Yachting certificates. Thanks to sea staff Steve Furniss, John Parkin, Steve Lacey, Annant Shah and Liz for a lot of hard work.

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Vessel tracking
John Laing's vessel tracking system is the most popular page on our website: 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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2009 sailing programme 
A draft outline 2009 programme has been published - please do have a look. It is very much NOT set in stone, so if your group was hoping for a voyage with slightly different dates or of a different duration, do please ask (contact the office) and if it is possible to adjust things, we will do our best to help you.

The draft programme does not yet include prices but these will be added as soon as possible.

Large parts of the 2008 programme sold very quickly, mainly due to repeat bookings, so if you want to bring a group in 2009, please do think about it early, while you still have a wide choice of dates, and while we still have some flexibility to adjust the programme to meet your needs!

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* Volunteer watchleaders needed
Sea staff vacancies are as follows:

9-14 June, Southampton to Southampton - second mate needed (this is getting urgent).
20-22 June, Southampton – third mate possibly needed for weekend voyage.
8-12 July, Gosport to Falmouth - second mate possibly needed (I’ve had one good offer but she may end up doing a different voyage).
5-7 September, Southampton - second and/or third mate.
8-13 September, Southampton - second mate.
15-19 September, Southampton - first and second mates.
22-26 September, Southampton - first mate needed, and second mate (tbc)
27 Sept - 1 Oct, Southampton - first mate needed, and second mate (tbc)
2-5 Oct - additional second mate or experienced third mate needed
12-16 Oct - first, second and third or trainee mate.
17-19 Oct - second and third mates.
20-24 Oct - second and third or trainee mate (all tbc)
25-29 Oct - first, second and third or trainee mate (all tbc)
30 Oct-2 Nov - first, second and third or trainee mate (all tbc)

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.

There are a lot of places marked tbc, where provisional bookings have yet to be confirmed, and also where we need to keep options open until we have a clearer idea of the likely demand for training and assessments this season. We also have to get the right balance of sea staff for different voyages or crews with special needs, and we need to make sure there is a balance of male and female sea staff for mixed crews, 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 a.s.a.p. if you want to sail and could help fill any of the listed vacancies if needed.

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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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Office equipment needed
Is anyone able to donate a good quality office desk, for our new General Manager? And we would also like a four-drawer filing cabinet, if anyone has one to spare, and a tall lockable cabinet. Contact the office if you might be able to help.

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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 http://www.oytsouth.org/? 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