Sections which have changed since last time marked *
* Apology for missing bulletins
With the 50th anniversary and other events going on lately, the last two or three weeks have been among the busiest we have ever known, and I’m afraid the weekly bulletin was just one of the things that couldn’t be fitted into the hours available. We apologise for this and also to anyone who is waiting for replies to emails. We are just starting to get back to normal and will clear the backlog as fast as possible!
* OYC/T 50th anniversary event report
There came a point last Saturday night when I found myself looking across a room containing 400 people who had all supported the Ocean Youth Club and Ocean Youth Trust at some time over the last half-century, and the scale of our shared achievement really hit home. The commitment, enthusiasm and determination of the people in that room and so many others like them has built something extraordinary and changed the lives of many thousands of young people. It really has been the most amazing journey from an idea in the minds of Chris Ellis and Chris Courtauld in 1960 to the glorious celebration of last weekend.
A theme for the evening emerged almost unbidden: the Club or Trust has seen many changes across our 50-year history, but the core approach, ideals and vision remains the same. Perhaps that accounts, in part, for the atmosphere at the event. A volunteer mate from 1960 and a volunteer mate from 2010 can meet for the first time and develop an instant bond: they have shared the same experiences, seen the same sights, been motivated by the same things.
As soon as time allows, I hope to be able to use our website so that those who couldn’t make it to the event can share in some of what went on: we should be able to give you some of the history and photographs of the club through the years, and perhaps some of the speeches and feedback from the night.
In the meantime, for those of you who missed it, the gathering took place in Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard, with John Laing alongside the original OYC vessel, Duet, open to the public in the shadow of HMS Warrior. Meanwhile, in Boathouse No.7, we had a tremendous display on our history, with thousands of photographs. After a quick formal AGM, we had a full programme of activities during the afternoon. This included two very special musical performances: Phil Beer, acclaimed fiddle and guitar player, reprising many of the songs he performed on board John Laing during the Tall Ships events in St Petersburg last summer; and Hughie Jones of the Spinners, who sailed with OYC in 1978 and made an album of sea shanties with OYC members singing the choruses. We also had two well-attended and highly-acclaimed presentations: Andy Bristow, skipper of the British Army Antarctic Expedition, talking on “John Laing in Antarctica”, and Malcolm McKeand on the restoration of Kindly Light, ex-Theodora, one of OYC’s founding vessels. Meanwhile, in Boathouse No.7, we had slide shows and archive film footage constantly playing; and we were also offering discounted tickets to the dockyard attractions such as HMS Victory and Mary Rose. Through all this, hundreds of guests were gathering and gossiping, and the main drawback of the event rapidly became apparent: there simply wasn’t enough time to meet all the people we wanted to meet, or to spend enough time talking to anyone.
After 5pm the crowds started drifting into Action Stations, the Royal Naval display area filled with interactive equipment such as helicopter simulators, while Boathouse No. 7 was set out for dinner. As all the guests gathered in Action Stations for a drinks reception hosted by International Paint, the size and scale of an event for 400 people really became clear! They were greeted with a welcome and introductory speech from OYT South’s Chief Executive, Mark “Wolf” Todd, in his own inimitable and irreverent style, quoting freely from the joining instructions from 1960s OYC voyages, as follows:
“I understand your boy wants to come on a yachting holiday......
9. I do not hold myself legally responsible for the safety of the ship or her crew.
10. I hold no Board of Trade or other certificate of competence to command or navigate any vessel.
11. The crew are all signed on as personal friends of mine, are under no obligation to me, and all discipline is on a purely voluntary basis.
13. Plans may have to be changed entirely, owing to the weather or other causes. You cannot expect regular letters.
14. Boys are to provide their own clothing....suit, shoes etc for going ashore....”
Then we moved back into Boathouse No. 7, transformed with elegant tables each named after an OYC or OYT vessel or premises, and decorated with balloons. This phase of the evening began with a speech from the broadcaster, journalist and sailor Libby Purves, who moved and inspired us with an impassioned account of the true value of sail training and OYC/T’s place within it. We have had some outstanding feedback regarding this speech and I am hoping Libby will be able to provide a copy to put on our website for others to read.
The dinner itself was followed by one more speech, from Merfyn Owen, the designer of OYT South’s proposed new boat, who introduced the design and the associated financial appeal to our members and supporters, and took questions from the floor. This was followed by the raffle, an auction, more music from Hughie Jones and the band Nine Mile Ride, and as much conversation as could possibly be squeezed in before the evening ended.
A vast number of staff and volunteers contributed to making the event such a success, and we would like to thank everyone who was involved. If I start listing individual names, it could go on for hours, so I shall just mention one: Emma Ellis, daughter of our late founder, Chris Ellis, who put in months of work as our volunteer Event Manager. But to everyone else who helped: you know who you are, and we couldn't have done it without you.
The last bulletin left John Laing with a crew from Naomi House Children’s Hospice heading for the ASTO Small Ships race, to compete for a day in the Solent against other sail training vessels crewed by young people. It was a terrific day, with all the young people fully involved and having great fun, capped by coming second in class and doing a lot of singing at the crew party! That voyage ended next day with lots of RYA certificates awarded. Many thanks to the sea staff James, John, Jon, Rachel, Kirsten - and Andy Royse who made a guest appearance for a day just to help out with the race.
The next crew were all pupils at Bourne College, who sailed John Laing to Brighton and spent a day in harbour there while a southerly gale blew through - enjoying a chance to visit the pier and the attractions - before heading back to the Solent on the following day. It was a busy and challenging voyage for the sea staff, especially as two of them were doing assessments: huge congratulations to Andy Viney who has completed his first mate’s assessment after four seasons sailing with us as a watch leader; and to Paul Molyneaux who was new to us at the RYA Instructors’ day sails at the end of last season, and has now qualified as a second mate. Thanks also to James, Sparky, Terry and Viki.
Old friends back again with a short weekend voyage for TS Swiftsure, some of whom now know the boat almost well as a the staff after two voyages a year since they were 12 years old. They tacked down to Yarmouth on Saturday and came back via Cowes on Sunday, and were as delightful company as ever. Many thanks to sea staff James, Clare, Jez, Viki, Paul and special thanks to Ben Martin for standing in as first mate while Caz, who has done every previous Swiftsure voyage, was busy elsewhere (but still finding time to miss them, if any Swiftsure people are reading this!)
This was followed by a rare adult voyage: OYT South is this year’s President’s Charity for the 41 Club, which is hoping to raise some money for us, so we were delighted to be able to offer a week’s sailing to some Club members. They were very anxious to go to France so John Laing crossed the Channel in tough conditions and then gave everyone a day in Cherbourg to recover - with time for some RYA training. The crew also took the sea staff out for dinner - a rare treat!
The weather all week refused to behave anything like the forecast had predicted, so they ended up motoring back, arriving in Yarmouth just in time for last orders - an unfamiliar deadline as we are so used to sailing with under-age crews! Next day they tacked up the Solent and anchored off Lee on Solent, where the staff handed over the boat to the crew and gave them a chance to take charge, sailing off the anchor and into Portsmouth to a berth in Gunwharf. Lots of RYA certificates were awarded and the crew also helped to get the boat into condition to open to visitors at our 50th anniversary events - many thanks for that!. And big thanks to the sea staff: James, Sparky, Joe, Gerry, Viki and Rooby.
John Laing had a day off to recover from the 50th; but for the rest of the week, OYT South has had two boats at sea, as we once again borrowed Thermopylae Clipper from the Discovery Saling Project in order to accommodate a client we couldn’t fit on board John Laing. The two boats ran a cruise in company, with JL’s crew including nine from Mike Bassett’s Kent youth group plus three individual bookings, while TC’s crew included two leaders and nine girls from East London through the charity Community Links. Both groups were apparently lovely: Dave Carnson, who skippered the Thermopylae Clipper voyage, says the two leaders did a vast amount of work both before and during the voyage, and the girls were tremendously enthusiastic and happy and bonded well, though many of them came from very difficult backgrounds. The team on board JL also enjoyed sailing with their group and had a really good time. The voyage started with a tough beat to windward as far as Weymouth, but this gave everyone the luxury of two days returning downwind in the sunshine, via Poole. Ten RYA Start Yachting certificates were awarded, and we hope to see both groups again in future. Huge thanks to the sea staff: Nic, Mattie, Tigger, Dave P, Kirsten and Vikki on board JL, plus Dave C, Kirsty, Terry and Mike on board TC.
* Furniture needed
We have once again rented a refit house for staff and volunteers this winter, but it is unfurnished - we are looking for any furniture at all that can be donated or lent between November and March. If you have anything at all to offer, please call James on 07709 346216 or email JamesBoyce@oytsouth.org.
Enjoyed a voyage this year? Want ££s off the cost of sailing again?
If you have enjoyed a voyage this year, are aged under 25 and would like to sail again in 2011, 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".
Shorebased training February 2011
We are planning to run our usual shorebased training weekend on February 5th and 6th 2011, in Gosport. If you would like to do any of the following courses, please let me know soon, as we will book instructors as soon as it looks as though there will be sufficient interest:
First Aid (NB these certificates need renewing every 3 years – check when yours expires)
You will only be able to do two courses over the weekend, and unless we get a lot of interest, many of the courses will only run once, so it is possible that some people will want courses that end up being scheduled at the same time. We’ll try to minimise this but the sooner you let us know what you want, the better the chance that we will be able to organise things to suit you!
We may also run other courses – more details to follow.
Email me to let me know what you want.
Volunteer refit weekends
We will be needing volunteers at the refit from November to March - help always needed on weekdays, but also on specific volunteer weekends. Proposed dates are:
Email JamesBoyce@oytsouth.org to book yourself in for a refit weekend or to discuss weekday volunteering.
However, from experience we know that people do drop out from time to time, so we are putting together a reserve list in case any spaces crop up. Just send me an email if you would like to be alerted to any short-notice vacancies or discounted places.
Apart from that, we are now taking bookings for 2011 - do have a look at our plans, dates and details - including Tall Ships 2011 (Waterford - Greenock - Lerwick - Stavanger - Halmstad). Lots of great voyages available but parts of the programme are already selling fast. Contact the office to discuss sailing next year.
Office volunteer needed
We are looking for a volunteer to join our office team in Gosport to assist with computer based tasks and routine admin during our busy sailing season. Ideal for someone between jobs or looking for experience to add to a CV.
Duties to include:-
Answering telephone calls
General office duties
Skills / experience required:-
Knowledge of MS Word/Excel
Good telephone manner
The ability to work alone with little supervision
Friendly, with a sense of humour
Capable of accurate data entry
Contact the office if you are interested.
Sea survival / ISAF course 13-14 November
Places available on a Sea Survival / ISAF course run by KTY Yachts at Universal Marina on the weekend of 13/14 November. You can just do one-day Sea Survival on Saturday for £75, or the more advanced ISAF course (including first aid) by doing the Sunday as well, for another £75. Email Yvonneandkeith@ktyyachts.freeserve.co.uk for more information or to book - stating that you are from OYT South, as the price is discounted for us.
Free this winter? Taking a gap year, or not working for other reasons?
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. If you would be interested, please email me.
* Financial appeal
Many thanks to the Whirlwind Charitable Trust for another extremely generous donation, and also to Tom Povey, who donated the entire promoter’s proceeds from an Oysterband gig to OYT South.
We need a regular flow of funds to cover at least three major areas: bursaries for young people who could not otherwise afford to sail; vessel maintenance and equipment; and staff salaries - please help, or pass on our details to anyone you come across who might make a grant, large or small.
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.
1-3 April 2011, Southampton, £170
26 April - 1 May 2011, Southampton, £380
9-11 September 2011, Southampton £170
Email me to book.
These voyages are suitable for qualified mates who want a bit more practice; for new volunteers who are hoping to join our sea staff; and for any other adults who just want to see how we work and what is involved in sailing with us.
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.
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!
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.