Ocean Youth Club sailing in the 1960s


OYT South bulletin 11th September 2009

In this Bulletin

Sections which have changed since last time marked *

* Voyage news
Going back two weeks to the last bulletin, we were about to start a voyage for Senior Section Girl Guides, plus a few individual bookings and Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award residentials. This proved to be an extremely windy week, with forecasts up to force 9 confining them to the Solent. Fortunately it was a hugely positive and motivated group who managed to have great fun and lots of laughter despite the weather. They sailed to Cowes; out into the western Solent and then back to Cowes; considered tackling the passage to Poole but were turned back by the weather and ended up in Gosport instead; where they celebrated their safe arrival with a trip to the shops in Gunwharf to buy lots of clothes before sailing back to Ocean Village. The whole group got their RYA Start Yachting certificates, a big achievement in such a challenging week.

Many thanks to sea staff James B, Liz, Fergus, James T, Kirsty and Annant.

The afternoon following this voyage proved to be quite eventful as Liz the bosun, doing the routine rig check, discovered an unexpected problem with one of the fittings on the mainmast. The riggers were called out as it seemed like something potentially serious which might put the mast at risk; and then we had to consider what to do with the weekend crew (who were just setting off) if there was no quick fix and we couldn’t sail. Just as we finished rushing around making all kinds of plans for a shorebased weekend, the riggers announced that they had done a temporary fix and we were safe to sail after all. We are now going to Hamble next week for a permanent fix, which is affecting next week’s voyages a little; but everyone involved has been informed and the most important thing is to keep the vessel safe. Big thanks to Liz for spotting the problem straight away.

The weekend crew were TS Swiftsure, real regulars as the older ones have done at least half a dozen short voyages with us over the last few years. It was lovely to see them again, along with a couple of younger ones on their first voyage. As always, they made an enthusiastic and high-spirited crew, with a good level of competence and an excellent team spirit, as these are young people who are thoroughly used to working and having fun together.

It was very windy on Friday night so we didn’t set off until Saturday morning, when we had a good sail right down to the western Solent, picking up a buoy off Yarmouth and sending the crew ashore for icecream. This allowed us to do a night sail after dinner, arriving in Cowes in time for the After Eight game and bed.

In the morning, those who already had RYA Competent Crew certificates were put in charge of working out how the boat should leave the berth, and getting everything set up, while the others did some RYA training. It all went very smoothly and was a good exercise for all involved. Next, the sea staff practised driving some man overboard recovery exercises, after which some of the crew wanted to have a go – and we saw some really excellent boat handling, even by some of the young ones.

Back up to Ocean Village for mid-afternoon, and a quick clean-up – but next year’s Swiftsure voyage is already booked and one of the group has already reserved a place for Tall Ships 2010!

Many thanks to sea staff James, Liz, Clare (who was practising the first mate’s role), Caz, Geoff and Dave, as well as group leaders Adele, Sam and Sara.

This week’s voyage has been a mixed group: two Duke of Edinburgh gold residential candidates, plus an assortment of young people from Hampshire, many funded or part-funded by the County Council. They sailed to Cowes on the first night, before heading down to Yarmouth on Tuesday. There they enjoyed a barbecue on the beach and played lots of games, providing much amusement to passers-by.

Next morning they had the dinghy out for rowing practice before sailing down to Poole. Next day they left early and had a long sail back to Gosport and a group outing to the Mary Mouse lightship. This morning they are just heading into Cowes again for an hour of shore leave. They plan to anchor for dinner this evening and then have a short night sail back up to Ocean Village before finishing the voyage tomorrow.

They have all been doing lots of RYA training and we hope to be able to award a good mix of Start Yachting and Competent Crew certificates.

Many thanks to sea staff Yvonne, James, Liz, Colin, Emma and Dave.

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* Sea staff bookings - really need to fill last few places
Last few sea staff vacancies this year (all Southampton):

24-27 Oct: first mate and bosun needed.
28 Oct - 1 Nov: first mate and one more experienced John Laing mate
Email me now if you can help with any of these!

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* Refit plans 2009-10 - something different!
In each of the last six years, John Laing has had a major refit every winter, involving a four-month vessel lift and huge demands on our finances and on volunteer time. Our staff and professional experts now believe that the underlying condition of the vessel is in a sufficiently good state that it might be possible to have a really major refit only once every two years, with a much less demanding refit in alternate years. The only way to be certain how this will work is to try it, so 2009-10 will be a different sort of refit. We are planning to have the boat out of the water for only three weeks, in late November and early December, to complete work below the waterline. Otherwise, John Laing will be afloat in Ocean Village through the winter, with the deck tented.

This should save a good deal of money on storage ashore, scaffolding etc., and we should be able to rent a cheaper refit house for staff and volunteers in Southampton than was ever possible in Hamble.

We will, however, still need lots of volunteers! We will probably only have a couple of people in the full-time core team (see below), and we hope that all sea staff who plan to sail next season will come and help for at least a few days or a weekend. The refit starts on Tuesday 3rd November and we will have a busy few days getting lots of kit off the boat. James is in charge, and can start taking bookings for volunteers now, including for the first weekend 7-8 November (when he plans something sociable for Saturday night…) – contact him on the boat phone 07990 518915.

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Refit core team

As in previous years, we are looking to recruit a small number of full-time volunteers to work on our winter refit between November and March. We hope all sea staff will turn up for a weekend or a few days, as normal; but it really helps our professional staff to have a small number of long-term helpers who are there for periods ranging from a month to four months, developing real experience and skills (which can often lead to careers in the marine industry, for those who want). See here for more information. Volunteers receive food and accommodation as well as valuable experience. Our professional staff will hope to meet prospective volunteers over the next few weeks, and will explain more about what is involved before offering places to suitable candidates. If you would be interested, please email me.

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* Southampton Boat Show
A few people have been asking whether we will need volunteers for a stand at the Southampton Boat Show this year. The answer is that, looking at the cost and the huge demand on staff and volunteer time, we have decided not to have a stand this year. This is not a permanent change – it is likely that we will go back to doing something there next year, especially as it will be our 50th anniversary.

However, the Boat Show is still well worth a visit. Many thanks to John Goode for once again arranging discounted Boat Show tickets for OYT members and their families and friends. The Southampton show runs from 11-20 September this year. If you are an OYT South member who subscribes to this newsletter by email, you will find details of how to get your dicounted ticket there - we can't put them on the website which is accessible to the general public.

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OYT South Open Day, Lunch and AGM 11th October - more details

Please see here for details of this event in Hamble - all invited! Please do come along and hear all about our plans for next year, including some big changes and a chance to look at the design for our proposed new boat. RSVP as soon as you can as we need to know numbers.

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* OYC / OYT 50th anniversary
I have started to collect photographs and tales of the Ocean Youth Club and Ocean Youth Trust since we were founded in 1960, and in due course I will make a special section of the website where we can post all the historical material. Do please email anything to me if you think others might be interested. The web version of this week’s bulletin includes photos sent by David Pettitt, who sailed on board Theodora in the mid to late 1960s – sparking a love of sailing which has stayed with him to this day!

Please put 16-17 October 2010 in your diary NOW for OYT South's 50th anniversary celebration weekend - more details to follow in due course.

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David Salmon retirement present

Despite various changes of plan last time we announced David's retirement as OYT South's General Manager, he really is retiring at the end of this season. We still have some funds in the collection previously set up for his retirement present, but if you would still like to make a contribution, we hope to have it organised for the October 11th event. Cheques to the office, please, or call 0845 365 6781 with a credit card - but please write "DS retirement" on the OUTSIDE of the envelope, so David doesn't open it; and if contributing by credit card, ask to speak to Sally!

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Chris Ellis award - win ££s towards sailing next year!

If you have enjoyed a voyage this year, are aged under 25 and would like to sail again in 2010, don't forget the Chris Ellis award. Chris was one of the founders of the OYC in 1960 and he left a fund to be used to encourage crew members to produce a piece of work based on any OYT voyage. This can be a logbook, a diary, a picture, a story, computer art or whatever. OYT South can award up to £200 a year (to one entrant, or split between two or three individuals) in the form of a discount for a future voyage. Entries need to be in by the end of November - either emailed to me, or by post to the office, marked "Chris Ellis award entry".

Last year's winners, Cami and Seonaid, both had excellent voyages using their winnings - it could be you in 2010!

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* Voyages for young people 2009 - NEW
NEW vacancy - one last place!

1-4 October, Southampton, £210. Crew aged 12-25. Owing to a cancellation, we now have one last place available on the ASTO Small Ships race. Joining on Thursday, you will have a day to get used to the boat and sail down to Cowes. On Saturday you will take part in a race against other sail training boats, all crewed by young people. There will be a party in Cowes on Saturday night and you will sail back to Southampton on Sunday. This is always a popular voyage – contact the office now to book!

Please do contact our office about joining our reserve list if you still want to sail this year. People do sometimes drop out at short notice, and if we know you are interested and we have all your contact details, you might get a last-minute voyage at cheap rates! Failing that, see our 2010 programme (below).

Full 2009 voyage programme.

Contact the office for enquiries or bookings, or to join our reserve list.

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2010 voyage programme
If you can’t find space to sail in 2009, do start looking at 2010. It's not too early to apply now if you want to sail next year.

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Mates' training weekend and new volunteer mates
The 18-20 September weekend is now full, with a reserve list, so it is unlikely that we will be able to take anyone else. Existing mates and new potential volunteers who would like to come and see what we are all about might like to start thinking about next year’s adult training voyages:

26-28 March, £160
21-26 April, £360
10-12 Sept, £160.

All three start and finish in Southampton. If you are new to John Laing and unless you have other experience of sail training or of vessels this size, it is definitely a good idea to book on the longer April voyage if you possibly can. On the weekend voyages, there isn’t really time for everyone on board to practise all the things you have to be familiar with to sail as a watch leader. But if you can’t manage the April dates, we’ll give you as much training as possible on one of the weekends. Email me to book.

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Sea survival course, 6-7 February 2010

The next chance for volunteer sea staff to do the ISAF Sea Survival course has already been set for 6-7 February. This is a really valuable course for all our volunteers, covering use of flares and a practice session in a swimming pool with a liferaft. Strongly recommended. You can do the 2-day course for £150, plus an extra £10 for the handbook if you want to include the First Aid qualification; or you can do the one-day RYA Sea Survival course on the Saturday for just £75. Email me if you might be interested.

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Shorebased training weekend
In previous years we have run other training courses at the same time as the Sea Survival weekend above, but next year we are thinking of separating them and we are just in the process of checking dates, venue and instructor availability. However, assuming we manage to arrange another training weekend at around that time of year, it would be useful to know what the demand is for particular courses. We have previously offered RYA GMDSS, Radar, First Aid, Diesel engines and Food Hygiene, and we have some other plans for useful things we could add to the weekend. Please start letting me know now if you would be interested in these or any other one-day shorebased qualifications – it really helps to have an early impression of the likely demand!

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* Financial appeal
Many thanks this week for a generous donation from a private individual.

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

You can find details of the last refit appeal here (this year's details will be available very soon) - 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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* 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. See here for how to join.

Please note that OYT South has a policy that our adult staff and volunteers should not make or accept individual online friend requests with crew members aged under 18. Young crew members can use the sites to stay in touch with the boat and with each other, but not with individual adults.

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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