John Laing in harbour - season's end


OYT South bulletin 6th November 2009

In this Bulletin

Sections which have changed since last time marked *

* Training weekend 6th-7th February 2010 - bookings needed
Bookings have been coming in very slowly for the February training weekend – please think NOW if you would like to do any shorebased courses. I know it’s a long way off, but until we get enough interest to make any course cost-effective to run, we can’t book instructors or plan the weekend. If it’s really the case that most of our volunteers have got all the certificates they need, then perhaps there’s no call for a training weekend every year; but we hope there will still be plenty of interest – and we do need to know as soon as possible if the weekend is worth running or not.

If it all goes ahead, the OYT South sea staff training weekend in Gosport will run on the weekend of February 6th and 7th. Depending on demand, we might offer RYA First Aid, GMDSS (the VHF radio qualification), Radar and Diesel Engines, as well as the Food Hygiene certificate, plus the short lifejacket packing course, which is becoming essential for all sea staff and only takes a couple of hours, and maybe a youth work workshop.

This year we are working on an option for very cheap local accommodation to enable people to stay overnight.

Do let me know a.s.a.p. which courses might interest you and we will see how many we can fit in.

Don’t forget that first aid certificates are only valid for three years - do make sure yours isn’t going to run out next season.

Email me to let me know which courses you would like.

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* Voyage news
The sailing season is now over! But we still have the last few voyages to report on.

The first of our half-term voyages was booked by a group organised by second mate Amanda Smith – children who were in the primary school class where she taught last year, but who have now all moved on to secondary schools and are old enough to sail with us. The group was joined by individual bookings including the nephew of Liz the bosun.

They had a week of lovely weather in the Solent, sailing first to Cowes and then on to Yarmouth, where they had a BBQ on the beach despite the fact that the clocks had gone back and it was dark by 5pm. This meant that most people were in bed by 7pm and the sea staff were amazed at how early they woke the following morning!

Next day they sailed up the Beaulieu River to Buckler's Hard where they had a walk ashore before finishing the voyage on Tuesday in Ocean Village. Over just a few days the sea staff believe they played every single game in the OYT repertoire – and all 11 crew members gained their RYA Start Yachting certificates.

Many thanks to sea staff James, Graeme, Sparky Ben, Amanda, Bob and Ruth.

The final youth voyage of the season was for young people booked to sail by our Isle of Wight support group, plus three individual bookings, two of whom were funded by our Hampshire County Council bursaries programme. Though the group included lots of 12 and 13 year olds, they managed a truly adventurous voyage as the winds were right for an ambitious programme. They picked up a buoy outside Yarmouth on the first night and next day set off across Channel in a south-easterly force 5, arriving in Alderney after a challenging passage for many of the crew. They had a day off there, with time to explore the island and play lots of games. The sail back was with good south-westerly winds, and they were able to do lots of sailing exercises – man overboard recovery, blind navigation and first aid practice – before arriving in Cowes. Next morning the winds reached force 8 and they were glad the last passage back up to Ocean Village was a short trip in relatively sheltered waters! The passage was notable for one 12-year old crew member who was put in charge of leaving Cowes, sailing the boat off the pontoon: she stood on the coachroof barking orders like a professional and is evidently a watch leader for the future!

Many thanks to sea staff James, Nick, Clare, Ruth, Liz and especially Ben “Sparky” Whinnett, who successfully passed his first mate’s assessment. Ben joined us at the start of last refit and worked as a volunteer through the whole winter before sailing with us as much as possible through this season – and he is planning to be around for quite a bit of the coming refit, so he has really worked for his first mate’s ticket!

Although that was the last youth voyage, it wasn’t quite the end of the season, as Simon Jinks, Chief Cruising Instructor at the RYA, had asked us to run a day sail for RYA Instructors and Examiners, to give them experience of sailing a larger boat than many of them normally use. We were overwhelmed to have 66 applicants for the 12 places on Monday’s day sail, so hurriedly arranged a second day for Tuesday. Sadly we could do no more without undue delay to the start of the refit. I have added all those instructors and examiners to the mailing list for this newsletter so that you will all hear about other opportunities to sail with us, either on day sails or perhaps as watch leaders. I will of course unsubscribe anyone who wishes! But for the people who did make it onto one of the two day sails, we managed two very positive and interesting days (despite the rain on Tuesday), with people very keen to learn and enthusiastic about staying involved. We hope to see a lot of those people again in future.

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* David Salmon
All best wishes to David Salmon, who has finally retired after so many years of sterling service to OYT South. He has now enjoyed a week of freedom from office routines, but we shall be staying in contact and we wish him and Carol all the best for the future.

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* Refit 2009-10
The winter refit is now underway - thanks to everyone who has already been in touch and arranged to come along and help. So far this week we have almost completely emptied the boat, and started moving in to the refit house - many thanks to James, Liz, Ben and Daniel.

We have lots of people coming for the first volunteers’ weekend this weekend, but there is still room for a few more so call James on 07990 518915 if you’d like to come.

The next volunteers’ weekend is 5th-6th December – you can call James to book yourself in for that one. Don’t forget we are having a team outing to an Oysterband gig in Southampton on that Sunday night (see below).

If you are available to help on weekdays, the team is working from Monday to Friday most weeks and there is always room for a couple of extra people, with accommodation if you need it. Again, call James to book yourself in.

In terms of core team volunteers who want to come full-time for the whole refit or longer periods, we have had a decent level of enquiries and James is busy meeting applicants and offering a few taster days at refit to see who might be a good addition to the team. It’ll take a while to work through this but if there is any further need for extra core team members, I’ll let you know in future editions of this newsletter.

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. See here for more detailed refit plans and estimated costs.

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* Refit house furniture - many thanks!
Many thanks to everyone who has been helping us to furnish our rented refit house in Southampton for the winter. We have had lots of generous offers and we are in the process of going round and collecting everything. We’ll let you know in future bulletins if there is still anything else we need!

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2010 voyages for young people

We have already had bookings or provisional reservations for over 370 berths next season, and we still have some funded places to allocate too. Large parts of the season are already fully-booked. If you want to sail next year, do look at the programme as soon as possible, and hurry up and reserve your berth.

If you have made a provisional reservation for next year but have not yet paid a deposit or discussed it with the office, do please contact the office now - we can't keep holding provisional reservations if it means turning other clients away, unless there is a good reason for delay and we know what to expect from you.

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Sea survival courses
We aren’t running the RYA or ISAF Sea Survival courses on the same training weekend as the rest of our courses. If you want to do Sea Survival, there are courses running on March 6/7 or April 17/18. This course is very highly recommended, covering such things as use of distress flares and a session in a swimming pool with a liferaft. Email to book on either of the available dates.

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* Financial appeal
A couple of fantastic major donations this week – more details to follow when we have sorted out the rules on how they like to be acknowledged.

The major appeal at the moment is for the 2009-10 winter refit - please donate something if you possibly can.

We also need bursary funds for next season.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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OYT South is now on the JustGiving website - ideal for any of you who might want to raise money for a sponsored activity or an event as you can put details of your event on the site and the money you raise comes direct to us. You can also make regular donations, or set up a page in memory of someone and invite donations to the charity.

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Oysterband gig, Southampton, 6th December
Those of you who have sailed in John Laing over recent years will know that the Oysterband’s music often features on the ship’s stereo system. We are planning a team outing when the Oysterband play in the Brook, Southampton, on Sunday 6th December. You can get a ticket on the Brook’s website or by phone on 02380 555366 (£15). Don’t leave it too long – their gigs normally sell out. But do let me know if you book so I have an idea of who is coming. Last time they played at the Brook (about four years ago) we were a group of 24 OYT South people + friends and it was a great night…Bring all your friends and let’s try to get another big group together.

For those needing accommodation, I guess priority in the refit house will go to those who come for a day or two to do some work!

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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.

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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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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Mates' training and new volunteer mates

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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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