OYT South bulletin 21st August 2009

In this Bulletin

Sections which have changed since last time marked *


* Voyage news
Last week’s newsletter left John Laing on passage from Den Helder to Ipswich – back in the UK for the first time in eight weeks.

They arrived in Ipswich early on Saturday morning, where the team split into those who slept till lunchtime and those who went off for a truly enormous breakfast.

The rest of the day was spent in RYA training – with all those who needed it earning their Start Yachting certificate - while the sea staff waited for our sidekicks in Pegasus, who were taking a little longer over the North Sea crossing. After almost two months together, the boats had become virtually inseparable so we were keen to see them arrive. Finally in the early evening came a call: they were in the river, just a few miles away, but with engine trouble. Intrepid Wolf and James leapt into the dinghy and went off to tow them home.

All the crews of both boats then went out for an evening together, including an adventurous walk through the woods in the dark to Pin Mill. Next morning Tee Hee’s Doncaster school group cleaned the boat and we said goodbye to them – a great group with some potential future sea staff among them. Thanks to all involved for making this a great voyage despite uncomfortable weather in the early stages – especially sea staff Wolf, James, Tee Hee, Toby, Tony and Jez.

We then had a day and a half for vessel maintenance – chart corrections, lifejacket inflation tests, engine room cleaning, battery checks, sanding, D1, painting and a lot of bits of random fixing – including the skipper’s heads door which last week had James trapped inside! Thanks to all those who helped with maintenance – Wolf, James, Caz, Tee Hee, Toby, Tony, Jez, Phil, Michaela, Brendan and Simon.

All of this was mixed with the last stages of socialising with the Pegasus team – Diggory, Amy and Phil, with their crew of Scouse lads, Wayne, Daryl, Mattie and Ben. We have really enjoyed sailing with them for such a long time, and although we will doubtless sail with Pegasus again in future, it is sad to think that this exact group of people may never sail together again.

However, as one chapter ends, another begins, and the next stage for us was the annual MDL award winners’ voyage, with half the crew selected by our sponsors, Marina Developments Ltd – young people who are doing really well despite substantial personal or family problems. The other half of the crew was made up of individual bookings.

They left Woolverstone on Tuesday night – huge thanks to Woolverstone’s MDL marina for all their help and hospitality – and they just had a short trip down to Harwich for the first night. Harwich was very welcoming and the crew were able to finish some briefings and have a bit of shore leave. Next morning they had an 0600 start, planning to go as far as Ramsgate. But there was a forecast of bad weather later on, so skipper Wolf decided they should make as much progress as possible before things deteriorated. So they motored to a point somewhere between Dungeness and Beachy Head, where they were able to start sailing, and then headed west in building winds. They had considered going as far as Poole but the bad weather came in with other ideas, and clearly the Solent was the safer option. They hove to in order to drop the mizzen and staysail and put a third reef in the main – during which Wolf says that some of the sea staff resembled fish (and please note that the skipper and first mate both got their jeans slightly damp while the watch leaders were virtually under water). With winds of force 7 gusting to 8, they had a bouncy time over the last few miles and were glad to get into Cowes last night. There they had showers, debriefs, dinner and bed.

Yesterday morning they again hoped for Poole, but were again turned back by unfriendly weather, and instead anchored for lunch in Osborne Bay, before a night in Gosport - and finally made Poole today.

Wolf says that all the crew have coped really well, and he hopes to be able to award plenty of RYA certificates by the end of the voyage. Many thanks to skipper Wolf and the other sea staff – a guest appearance by Simon Jinks of the Royal Yachting Association as first mate, plus Andy V, Joe, Michaela and Brendan. We hope to have good news about Michaela’s third mate’s assessment by the end of the trip, and some of the others may be ready for upgrade assessments too.

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

26 Sept: second mate for day sail
1-4 Oct: one female mate or other CRB-checked adult female needed for ASTO Small Ships race
19-23 Oct: one experienced OYT South watch leader for Thermopylae Clipper, and a second mate for John Laing. One or both should be female.
24-27 Oct: bosun needed.
28 Oct - 1 Nov: one more experienced John Laing mate
Email me now if you can help with any of these!

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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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* Lifejackets - essential training for sea staff - IMPORTANT
It is really important that we get some people through the Ocean Safety lifejacket course – it is now becoming an essential safety requirement that all our sea staff and volunteers, especially relief bosuns and anyone who often attends maintenance days, attend a short training course on lifejacket packing. We hope to set up convenient dates to get as many people as possible through this course, but the first one will be on Monday 14 September, 9am to 12 noon, at Ocean Safety in Southampton. There are currently 4 spaces, £20 each, call Wolf on 07771 771864 if you are interested.

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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. RSVP as soon as you can as we need to know numbers.

Whether or not you can make this year’s event, please put next year’s dates in your diary NOW as 16-17 October 2010 will be 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

7-12 Sept, Southampton, £300. Crew aged 12-25. We might have one or two spaces left, depending on whether provisional bookings are confirmed.
27-30 Sept, Southampton, £210 - 1 place left. Ten places on this voyage have been booked for a group of boys aged 12-13, the eleventh is an older boy who hopes to become one of our volunteers – so the last place would suit either another 12-13 year old, or someone older who might be interested in supporting and encouraging the younger ones.
28 Oct - 1 Nov, Southampton, £260. Another half-term voyage, with a mixed crew. Possibly two spaces left, depending on whether or not provisional bookings are confirmed.

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.

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. We are still sorting out group bookings for 2010, but 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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Financial appeal
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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Sea survival course, 6-7 February 2010
We haven’t yet made decisions about the dates or the courses on offer for our traditional February shorebased training; but because of the need to book facilities, 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. Email me if you might be interested.

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Southampton Boat Show - discounted tickets
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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Tall Ships photos - and keep in touch with other John Laing people
Still more photos of our Tall Ships adventures are being posted on Facebook - I recommend that you sign up just to look at them! See here for how to join.

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.

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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