Gdynia Tall Ships 2009


OYT South bulletin 10th July 2009

In this Bulletin

Sections which have changed since last time marked *

* Voyages for young people 2009 - new vacancies

13-25 July, St Petersburg to Turku, Tall Ships cruise in company, £720 ONO plus travel and Russian visa, crew aged 15-25 - 3 places left.
25 July - 2 August, Turku to Klaipeda, Tall Ships race 2, £575 ONO plus travel, crew aged 15-25 - 2 places left.
31 Aug-4 Sept, Southampton, £280. Crew aged 12-25. 3 places left.
NEW: 7-12 Sept, Southampton, £300. Crew aged 12-25. Possibly 2 places left.
27-30 Sept, Southampton, £210 - 2 places left. The rest of this voyage has been booked for a group of boys aged 12-13, so they are looking for two others who would fit in and would like to join them.
24-27 Oct, Southampton, £195 - 1 place left. This is a half-term trip, with other crew members aged 12-13, both boys and girls.
28 Oct - 1 Nov, Southampton, £260 - 2 places left. Another half-term voyage, with a mixed crew.

Full 2009 voyage programme.

Contact the office for enquiries or bookings.

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Voyages for adults 2009

18-20 September, Southampton, £150. This voyage is primarily focussed on advanced mate's training, ideal for first mates and experienced second mates; but we can't have eighteen people all wanting to take charge of everything, so we are opening spare places to anyone who wants to come along and see what it's all about - especially if you would like to pretend to be a teenage novice sailor and give the mates someone to practise on! 3 places left. Email me for more information about this weekend.

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* Voyage news
John Laing is now in St Petersburg, after some great adventures on the way!

Two weeks ago when I wrote the last bulletin, John Laing was just coming into the Kiel Canal - a chance for some peaceful time to recover after a challenging voyage from Ipswich. We enjoyed great hospitality from the British Army Sailing Club in Kiel, who opened their bar especially for us, and even drove us to the supermarket to do our shopping. The crew who had been on board since Ipswich left us after a night in Kiel, and the adult crew joined for the next voyage and set off almost immediately - lines were being cast off as the introductory briefings were completed. After a quick stop for (incredibly expensive) fuel - and a very tricky park for Wolf - we were off into the Baltic, and two and half days non-stop travel. A fair amount of decent sailing interspersed with periods of motoring into very light headwinds. Lots of sunshine and only one short spell of fog. Altogether much better than the force 6 headwinds that the forecasts had initially hinted at!

Thanks to the local knowledge of our Polish crew member, Magda, we decided to make a stop in the enticingly-named Hel, north of Gdynia [Navigator: “Go to Hel!” Watch on deck: “OK”] Hel turned out to be a little fishing port with great showers and a main street (disappointingly paved with tarmac, not good intentions) lined with restaurants serving superbly fresh fish. We had a full day and night in Hel, and after dinner a few of us walked through the pine forest to come out on a perfect beach of silver sand just as the dusk fell and the moon rose. Both sky and sea turned deep blue and the horizon vanished altogether. Quite spectacular.

Next day we motored down to Gdynia, where the complexity of berthing over 100 vessels in the right places meant we were asked to anchor outside and wait for a while. Ocean Spirit of Moray, an ex-OYC vessel (Team Spirit of Wight) came alongside and we caught up with some friends on board. Finally we got into Gdynia - a vast festival with huge amounts of shoreside activity, blazing sunshine, music, food, beer, beaches and over two and half million visitors coming to see the ships.

We all enjoyed a couple of days in Gdynia, where the adult crew finally left having earned three RYA Competent Crew certificates (several of the crew were already experienced and highly-qualified sailors). Many thanks to sea staff Wolf, Ben, James, Caz, Chris, Monica and special congratulations to Kirsty, who was upgraded to second mate having passed her third mates’ assessment only on the previous voyage!

The race crew joined last Saturday and had a night to enjoy the festival before setting off for the parade of sail. Apparently over a million visitors turned out to watch this and it was standing room only on every beach in the vicinity. Poland really does love its maritime events, and once again had pulled out all the stops to make the festival really memorable. See here for great pictures of the event - and new pictures are being added all the time.

The first night of the race had practically no wind, with John Laing virtually stationary for three hours; but then the wind kicked in from just the right direction and they took off - eight, nine and ten knots for hours or even days at a time. Sadly this provoked a fair amount of seasickness among some crew members, but for those who were well enough to enjoy it, there was some amazing sailing. At one point they did 250 nautical miles in a day - is there anyone out there who can remember a day in John Laing’s history when she might have beaten this figure?

Just for once, a great performance by John Laing wasn’t accompanied by all our rivals doing even better. Even with a frustrating three hours of light winds when she was 15 miles short of the finish line, she was the seventh vessel in her class across the line, and on handicap was this morning showing as 10th out of 37 entrants in class C, and 33rd out of 98 overall - an amazing performance which sees her beating numbers of boats who have previously done much better than us. There are a few vessels still to finish, so positions on handicap can still change. You can see details here, both for this race and for race 2 when it starts on 26th July. There is also fleet mapping here during the races.

Once the race was over, there was still 160 miles to go to St Petersburg, and 20-30 knot headwinds, so it was another tough and tiring passage, capped by exceptionally challenging navigation on the approaches to St Petersburg, as the buoys didn’t match the charts, and the datum for the charts, GPS and plotter didn’t match. It sounds as though every skipper so far has arrived at the festival site slightly pale and shaking from the stress of finding the way and not running aground; but all on board John Laing are safe and well, and pleased to be in early with plenty of time both to rest and to explore. Thanks and very well done to the sea staff: Wolf, Nick, Ben, John, Lisa and Tristan.

Now for the cruise in company along the Finnish coast! I’ll be away for a while doing that voyage but Mark Boggis will do one edition of this newsletter while I’m away, to keep you all up to date.

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* Marline spike amnesty
It can easily happen - you’re part-way up the mast, hanging on with one hand, using a marline spike on the halyard shackle, you slip the spike into your pocket - and the next time you remember it, you are at home….However, the boat really can’t afford to keep losing spikes at this rate, so Wolf has announced an amnesty: return our spikes and there will be no blame and no recriminations!

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* Lost property - cameras and a watch
The OYT South office has two cameras and a watch, which were left on board during recent voyages - phone 0845 365 6781 if you think anything might be yours.

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* 2010 voyage programme
We are making good progress sorting out group bookings for 2010, but there are still some negotiations under way when different clients want voyages at around the same time, and we are also still making changes to voyage dates and durations to suit clients. An updated version of the 2010 programme is now available . You can certainly apply for any empty voyages now; and we hope to clarify the status of all the ones marked “enquiry” over the next few weeks, so there may yet be additional voyages open for bookings.

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* Sea staff bookings
Last few sea staff vacancies this year (all Southampton):

13 Sept day sail: one experienced John Laing mate
14-18 Sept: third mate or trainee mate - I’ve had one offer but still waiting to hear if he can get time off work.
26-30 Sept: second mate
19-23 Oct: one experienced OYT South watch leader for Thermopylae Clipper, and a second mate for John Laing.
24-27 Oct: bosun needed.
Email me now if you can help with any of these!

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* Boat phone
While John Laing is overseas, from 22 June to 16 August, please bear in mind that it costs us a great deal of money to use the boat phone. So please don't call unless it is really necessary; and if you must call the boat, please keep it short. You can always contact our office on 0845 365 6781 instead. While in Russia, we have a Russian sim card which makes it free to receive calls (though it will still cost you to call us): +79214180132.

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* Financial appeal
Many thanks to the Whirlwind Charitable Trust, who have just agreed a generous donation.

We are currently running appeals for refit and bursaries - please donate something if you possibly can.

You can find details of the refit appeal here - all the essential work which allows John Laing to keep sailing. The last refit has been funded but now we all need to take a deep breath and start raising money for next winter!

Bursaries: if you would like to help some specific young people to pay for their voyages - perhaps children with physical and learning difficulties, or homeless teenagers, or young people growing up amidst poverty and even violence, or brothers and sisters of children being cared for by a children's hospice, please email me to discuss it.

See here  for how to make a donation - you can contribute by cheque, phone or PayPal, but please do something if you possibly can. Don't forget that if you complete and return a Gift Aid form we can claim back tax on your donation.

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* Cycle to raise funds for OYT South
More details about the proposed cycling tour to raise some funds for OYT South:

Musician and OYT watch leader Joe Parker did an acoustic tour last year by bike, and fancies repeating it again this year with a 'riders of the apocalypse' thing going where he’ll have four riders with him, each one riding for a specific charity.

You can find out more about Joe and his music here, where you will also find the following description: “LONELY JOE PARKER is not only one of the founding members of the Sotones co-op label, he is also the label's cider swigging, bike riding, imaginatively attired troubadour of broken hearts and broken strings. An extremely accomplished songsmith and performer, he's honed his sound last year on a busking tour of the States, from Miami to NYC - no mean feat. Intense yet endearing, Joe is a captivating onstage presence as some of the most crafted and lyrically assured guitar pop this side of the Lemonheads springs forth from his blackened soul and fingers. Make sure you witness this battle-scarred scoundrel before he leaps off stage in search of the dregs of someone else's pint...and possibly their girlfriend too.”

Joe’s planned dates are:

26-27 July: Southampton
29 July: Newbury
30 July: Winchester

2 Aug: Oxford
4 Aug: Reading
5-6 Aug: London
7 Aug: Brighton
8 Aug: Southampton

Ideally Joe would like to find people to do the whole tour and get sponsored, plus collecting mony along the route. Or you could just join him for a leg or two. If you want to join Joe, sponsor him, collect sponsorship for him, listen to his music, or help in any other way, email

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Ocean Youth Trust 50th anniversary
A date for your diaries: we have pencilled in the weekend of 16-17 October 2010 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Ocean Youth Trust - hopefully with a dinner on the Saturday and a more casual event on the Sunday. Do keep the date free and we will let you have more details as soon as we can.

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Keep in touch with other John Laing people
We use a number of social networking websites to allow crew members to keep in touch with the boat and with each other. People can swap stories, post photos and more. For some overseas voyages, we will even set up online groups well in advance, restricted only to people who will actually be sailing on that particular voyage, so that people can compare travel plans and arrange to travel together.

Please note that OYT South has introduced a policy that our adult staff and volunteers should not make or accept individual online friend requests with young people aged under 16. Young crew members can use the sites to stay in touch with the boat and with each other, but not with individual adults.

See here for how to join.

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OYT South Open Day, Lunch and AGM 11th October
A date for your diary - OYT South will be holding an Open Day and lunch, followed by our AGM, on Sunday 11th October. It will be held at the Royal Southern Yacht Club, Hamble. John Laing will be berthed on the pontoon immediately outside. There will be an excellent three course Sunday lunch in the Yacht Club for a reasonable price, and we invite all our supporters, volunteers, clients, sponsors, suppliers, parents, past and present crew to come along and see the boat, chat to the team, and hear about some big plans we have for the future of OYT South. Tickets will be on sale shortly but you can email me now if you would like to come, and we’ll send you full details as soon as we have them.

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Survey - tell us what you think
If you have recently completed a voyage, please help us by filling in our web-based survey. It really helps - we use the data to keep improving our voyages, and to help us raise funds!

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 New readers' welcome and introduction
If you have recently registered your interest in OYT South, welcome to our e-newsletter, which is sent out almost every week, normally on a Friday. It includes a wide range of news from the boat and from the charity, including details of voyages available for young people; adult voyages; opportunities for adult volunteers both ashore and afloat, and much more. We find that while some people read the bulletin almost every week, many others dip in and out, and read it when it's convenient - which is why some items are repeated. The new items are marked with an asterisk * so that if you did read it last week, you can see which sections you can safely skip.

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 need an introduction to the work of OYT South, you should find a lot of useful information on our website. But essentially, we are a registered charity (no. 1079959) which exists to offer adventure under sail as a personal development opportunity for young people aged 12-25, from the widest possible range of backgrounds. A high proportion of our young crew members are disadvantaged or deserving in some way: many of these sail in groups organised by other charities, youth clubs, special schools and so on, and will fill the bulk of our term-time voyages. But those from more fortunate backgrounds are also welcome to sail, either in groups or by coming as individuals on a mixed voyage. Every year we run a variety of shorter local voyages plus longer adventure trips – including Tall Ships races during the summer holidays. If you are aged 12-25 and hoping to sail as a crew member, take a look here - and this section is also useful for adults who are thinking of organising a voyage for a young person. Adults planning to organise a full group voyage should also see here. Adults who want to sail themselves should see here.

We have a professional staff skipper and bosun, but our watch leaders are normally all volunteers, who combine sailing skills with an interest in working with young people. You can find more information here - how the system works, how to join, and profiles of existing staff and volunteers.  

To volunteer for OYT South ashore, please see here. To help with the vessel's annual refit, or with maintenance days spread throughout the year, see here.

It is a very expensive business maintaining a boat, running an office and employing staff. If you want to help us, please become a member of OYT South. Or see here for information on making a donation.

If you have any questions, please do email - or contact the office.

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“To be honest I never wanted to come, but I'm glad I did because I have learnt and seen so much!" Charlotte