Solent sailing


OYT South bulletin 7th May 2009

In this Bulletin

Sections which have changed since last time marked *

* Apologies for delay
Regular readers please note: if you haven't seen a bulletin for the last couple of weeks, you haven't missed an edition - I missed one when I was on the boat, and then came home to find the broadband cable at the end of my road had failed, which - because of the bank holiday - took several days to fix. This is one of the longest gaps between bulletins since November 2003 and one person has actually been in touch to ask if I was OK (thanks Chris. Out of 1700 people on the mailing list….)!

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* Sea staff needed urgently!!
These voyages are getting very close! Please do think carefully about whether you might be able to help with one or more of these:

25-29 May, Southampton - Herts young carers plus 4 individual bookings, 3M or extra 2M needed, or trainee mate - we've had one offer from someone keen to do this, but we are waiting for his CRB to come through so need a reserve just in case he isn't cleared in time.
2-6 June, Southampton - crew from Cardiff, 3M or extra 2M needed, or trainee mate.
21-28 June, Ipswich to Kiel - Plymouth Foyer plus others - addititional 2M, 3M or trainee mate needed. Preference on this last voyage given to anyone who can also do maintenance days, 19 and 20 June.

Email me now to let me know what you might like!

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* Other sea staff needed
31 Aug - 4 Sept, Southampton - Senior Section Guides group - additional 2M, 3M or trainee mate needed.
14-18 Sept, Southampton - 8 crew from Dorset, 4 from Southampton - 3M or trainee mate needed
26 Sept, Southampton - day sail for RSYC cadets - 2M needed.
27-30 Sept, Southampton - Parkside school - 2M needed.
12-16 Oct, Southampton - Naomi House children's hospice siblings' voyage - 2M or 3M needed.
16-18 Oct, Southampton - Diabetic teenagers - 1M needed.
19-23 Oct, Southampton - Bourne College - 1M, 2M and 3M or trainee mate needed.
24-27 Oct, Southampton - Portsmouth group - addititional 2M, 3M or trainee mate needed.
28 Oct to 1 Nov, Southampton  - Isle of Wight group - 2M and 3M or trainee mate needed.

In addition, we are chartering another boat for 19-23 Oct to accommodate regular clients who can't find berths on board John Laing. We need experienced mates for this.

Email me now to let me know what you might like!

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* Voyage news
Lots of voyages to describe this time!

We began with a six-day training voyage for new prospective volunteer watch leaders - a lively and varied group of people with a very broad range of sailing experience and other skills. We did a night passage across to Cherbourg on the first night, sadly under motor as the wind deserted us, followed by a relaxed morning of sleeping or exploring ashore. Then we spent an afternoon doing a detailed induction tour of the boat and taking everyone through the engine room, all the safety equipment and vessel stowage.

Next day we went to Guernsey, with brief intervals of good winds which died away to nothing every time skipper Wolf mentioned tacking, gybing or man overboard recovery practice. We had a good night in St Peter Port and sailed back to Cherbourg next day, in intermittent fog - which persisted next morning, scuppering an intended early departure as we could barely see the harbour entrance. No sooner had this lifted, leaving us ready to go, when we had a routine boarding and inspection by French Customs, which took a couple of hours as eight of them did a good search of the vessel (of course they didn't find anything of interest).

We finally got some decent winds on the way back across the Channel for a late-night arrival in Ocean Village. This made life much more exciting for trainee first mate Richard, who was given command of the vessel all the way up the Solent and Southampton Water, including some tricky gybing up the North Channel in the gusty darkness.

In between all the sailing and motoring, we got through a good deal of training. As often on these volunteer training voyages, a highlight was getting people to prepare and deliver parts of the RYA Competent Crew syllabus so we could a) start to judge their teaching skills and b) pinch all their best ideas. Marianne's lifelike rabbit impression in bowline-tying class will stay with us for years to come, but is sadly pretty much unrepeatable without her unique acting talent.

Altogether a great group of new volunteers, with lots of people whom we look forward to sailing with again. Many thanks to the sea staff: Wolf, James, Caz, Ben M, Ben "Sparky" W and Chris.

This was followed by a training weekend aimed primarily at current third mates and less experienced second mates. In practice, there was a huge range of experience on the boat, with a centre of gravity around less experienced third mates and people with 3M assessments coming up shortly, but others with rather more experience, right up to a couple of spare skippers. These last two came in handy as Wolf went down with a disease that wasn't Swine Flu, but might have been Wolf Flu - thanks to Nick and Andy for getting the boat safely home and allowing Wolf some time in bed.

We spent our time practising manoeuvres in the Solent, with a night in Cowes and more time on boat familiarisation. Lots of new and potential new 3Ms doing really well, so - taken together with the previous voyage - we can be very optimistic about the skills and enthusiasm of the volunteers coming through for us. Many thanks again to sea staff Wolf, Caz, Ben, Sparky, Chris, Nick and Andy.

John Laing had a maintenance day on Monday last week - thanks to Liz, Ben M, Sparky and Nick for lots of hard work.

Next came a short voyage for the Winchester Home Education group. They sailed from Southampton to Poole on the first day, a good sail across Poole Bay involving a 180 degree windshift, arriving in the dark and rain with bosun Liz taking charge of the pilotage. Next day they motored back across the bay in the sunshine, but the wind built up enough to sail by the time they reached the Needles and they had a lovely sunny sail all the way up the Solent to Cowes, reaching against the tide. In Cowes they met up with some other boats. The last day saw a rainy but otherwise good sail under headsail up Southampton Water. Almost all the group earned RYA Start Yachting certificates, and really made progress and learned a lot for such a short voyage. Many thanks to sea staff Wolf, Liz, Nick, James and Sparky.

Last Friday we had a day sail for sponsors, supporters and others who have helped us in various ways. This included Lyn Gough who has recently retired from MDL having run the MDL Award Winners' scheme, selecting some exceptional young people to sail with us, for twelve years. Lyn has brought us some of the most outstanding and inspirational young people we have ever seen on the boat and we were delighted to be able to take her sailing as a small retirement present. As well as Lyn, it was a great group of people, some with years of involvement with OYT South, some much more recent contacts, and a couple more who were new to us but with whom we hope to be able to do a good deal of work in future. We had one of those days when the wind just builds more and more, no matter how much we reduce sail - so the group enjoyed a hilarious lunch at an impossible angle! But it was also a great sailing day which really gave everyone an idea of what John Laing can do. Thanks to sea staff Wolf, Caz, Andy, Sparky and especially Liz for magicking the engine back to life when it was giving us trouble.

Finally, we move on to the current voyage, which ends on Friday, for Toynbee Hall, a Tower Hamlets-based charity, which, for the second year running, is doing a whole series of voyages with us as part of the year-long Aspire Project, for disengaged young people who are not getting the full benefits of formal schooling. Last year, the project as a whole reported significant improvements in confidence and in school engagement. Jane Fletcher, Toynbee's Education Programme Manager, wrote: "The sailing trips our young people took part in were a fantastic culmination of the skills and experiences they had throughout their year with Aspire, and we have booked up to go again in 2009. Many of our participants do not leave London very often (or indeed ever), certainly have never been on a 72' yacht and mostly have not cooked and taken responsibility for themselves and a group in this way ever before." A 15-year old girl said of her voyage: "It was a whole new life experience and was inspiring for us youths who get called yobs!"

This year they sailed from Ocean Village to Cowes, where they enjoyed loads of fun and games. Next day the weather was bad so they only went to Gosport, but the following day sailed to Poole and then Weymouth. Here they had a morning on the beach, having discovered that several members of the group had never been to a beach in their lives before. In both Poole and Weymouth, they sailed off their berth rather than using the engine. Next they visited Portland, where a new marina opened just a month ago. Liz the bosun approved of Portland as they have nice, wide, high, empty pontoons - ideal for her taking mooring lines ashore. But otherwise there is not much in the way of facilities yet!

First mate on this voyage is Andy, whose last extended trip on board John Laing involved skippering her to Antarctica in 2001-2. In his day job he is a very senior army officer, so the sea staff took great glee in telling me of his skills at bedtime reading (Dr Seuss with all the voices), which had everyone in stitches last night.

They are currently heading for an anchorage in Studland this afternoon, so the crew can experience a night sail into Poole later on. Altogether this has been a very good group and the sea staff have high hopes that many people will earn RYA Start Yachting certificates before it ends. Many thanks to sea staff James, Liz, Andy, John and Lisa.

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* Voyages for young people 2009 - new summer holiday availability!
A few changes to the voyage list now, as a few people have dropped out - we now have places on a UK voyage in the school summer holidays, which I know a lot of people have been hoping for!

25-29 May, Southampton to Southampton, £280, crew aged 12-25 - we've got one place left following a cancellation but have had a provisional enquiry for it: would you like to be first reserve if that reservation isn't confirmed?
21-28 June, Ipswich to Kiel, £450 plus travel, crew aged 12-25 - 1 place left.
4-13 July, Gdynia to St Petersburg, £650 plus travel. Tall Ships Race 1. Crew aged 15-25. Only 2 places left! See here for details.
13-25 July, St Petersburg to Turku, £720 plus travel. Tall Ships cruise in company. Crew aged 15-25. 4 places left. See here for details.
25 July-2 Aug, Turku to Klaipeda, £575 plus travel. Tall Ships Race 2. Crew aged 15-25. 4 places left. See here for details.
2-9 Aug, Klaipeda to Kiel, £490 plus travel. Crew aged 15-25 - 4 places possibly left though we have had some interest in all four.
25-30 Aug, Southampton, £350, crew aged 12-25 - 7 places available.

See here for a full list of available voyages.
Want to sail but can’t afford it? 
For Duke of Edinburgh Gold Residential projects, see here
Special funding for crew members from outside the UK.
Full 2009 voyage programme.

Do talk to us about your requirements even if you can't find a voyage to suit you. People do drop out, so we can keep you on a reserve list; or give you priority booking for 2010; or even help to recommend an alternative way of getting you afloat this year.

Contact the office for enquiries or bookings.

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* Voyages for adults 2009
28 June - 4 July, Kiel to Gdynia, £490 plus travel, an amazing chance to see the Gdynia Tall Ships festival. See here for details. We really need to fill this voyage - if you would like to come but can't afford the full price, please email me to discuss it.
18-20 September, Southampton, £150. Advanced mate’s training, ideal for first mates and experienced second mates, or anyone who hopes to move in that direction and wants to see what’s involved.

Email me for more information about any of these.

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* An OYT wedding!
Many congratulations to Dougie and Hels, both of whom have skippered John Laing in the past, as they are getting married this weekend. Very best wishes to them both from all at OYT South.

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* Volunteer press officer
With the 50th anniversary of the Ocean Youth Club coming up next year, we would really like to develop the capacity to generate much more publicity for OYT South - both for big projects and events, but also simple regular stories for local papers when a group or individual from their area comes on the boat. We've got one volunteer who is keen to be involved with this and has lots of ideas for stories, but he freely admits that writing and spelling are not his strongest points. So we're looking for one or more additional volunteers with strong writing skills, to set up a small Press Team - which has the additional benefit of ensuring that if any team member goes on holiday or is extra busy at work, we might have someone else in the team to send out stories - meaning there wouldn't be too much pressure on any one individual. Anyone interested? Email me for more information.

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Can you help us find crew?

Please help us to spread the opportunity to sail with us this year way beyond the readership of this newsletter! We have produced two flyers, one about the Baltic voyage series this summer, the other purely for the adults-only voyage in late June/early July. Can you email these links to your friends (even if they aren’t interested themselves, you could ask them to pass the links on to others)? Can you print a flyer and stick it on a notice board? Can you leave a pile of copies anywhere where people pick up leaflets?

Anything you do will be much appreciated – and someone somewhere could have the voyage of a lifetime, which they would never have known about if it hadn’t been for you!

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World Voyage
In 1995-7, John Laing and her sister ship, James Cook, sailed round the world in 13 legs with crews of young people. A number of them are currently trying to track each other down, swap news and maybe even organise a reunion. If you were on the World Voyage, or know anyone who was, please email me – or even better, if you use Facebook, send a request to join the group “Ocean Youth Club World Voyage 1995-7” – people are using the page to post their stories and photos.

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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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* Financial appeal
Huge thanks this week to the Tall Ships Youth Trust for a generous grant towards bursaries.

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 refit has just finished but the bills still keep coming in – and once the 2008-9 refit is fully-funded, we all need to take a deep breath and start raising money for next winter!

Bursaries: we have several groups and individuals needing additional funding in order to be able to take part in a voyage in 2009. 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. We also want to open up the most exciting voyages of 2009 - the Tall Ships series - to young people from a wide range of backgrounds, including some of those who cannot afford the full price.

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 - or make new friends
See here for online opportunities to meet other John Laing enthusiasts. Swap stories, post photos, keep in touch with people you sailed with, track down old friends etc.

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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