Aalborg fireworks and Norwegian cruising


OYT South bulletin 6th August 2010

In this Bulletin

Sections which have changed since last time marked *

* Voyage news
Two voyages to describe this week. The last bulletin saw John Laing safely completing Tall Ships Race 1, and arriving in Aalborg in Denmark, where the crew enjoyed a couple of days of the festival before heading home. They were replaced by a group of Senior Section Girl Guides for the cruise in company to Norway. On their first night they were greeted by the Aalborg fireworks, some of the best we have ever seen, with inspired musical accompaniment - some serious music and some comedy sections: it is quite something to see fireworks going off in perfect time to the Muppets’ “Mnah mnah doo doo do do doo.”

Next day was the parade of sail and out into the Baltic and some challenging headwinds. We were aiming to cruise in company with four friends but two of the boats chose to go east of the island of Laeso and we soon lost touch with them. We beat northwards among a lot of other boats in conditions which were quite tough for a new crew, and there was a fair bit of seasickness. However, as we rounded Skagen headland and were able to lay a course for Norway, things improved - the sun came up and we had a good sail, and people started to settle into the routine. We reached Norway late that afternoon and went into the town of Arendal. It was a big hit - almost two hundred miles in one go - but it was a plan we had deliberately chosen to give us plenty of time to explore Norway and do some really interesting cruising with no pressure.

Arendal was an attractive town, though this part of Norway is more built-up than the west coast where we sailed two years ago. But the narrow channels of deep blue water bordered by smooth grey rocks, with green woodland dotted with red and white houses makes it all very colourful. Our friends Black Diamond, Moosk and, eventually, Pegasus, joined us alongside in Arendal but the fifth of our group, Provident, had given up on the bashing to windward and stopped in Sweden for a night instead! We had time for showers and vast icecreams in Arendal, before leaving around lunchtime to go a few miles down the coast and find a peaceful anchorage for the night. We eventually found it in Grimstad fjord.

Next day the other boats motored down the fjord, but we decided to sail, and had some exciting short tacking with a lot of sail up, and a real chance for some of the crew to start engaging with how to sail and work as a team. The day got gustier and gustier, with some very narrow passages and tricky navigation, so we had to start taking things a bit more slowly. We had a plan for an anchorage that night but in those winds, the approach didn’t seem safe, so we wound our way through the channels to a more sheltered area and anchored in a little bay in the Blindleia - an exceptionally beautiful cruising area. Provident was back with us by now and the crews all went ashore for an evening together.

Next day we wanted to try again for the anchorage we’d given up on the previous night, but the channels were so narrow that everyone but us chickened out! John Laing held her breath and crept into a channel scarcely wider than the boat, and was rewarded with one of the prettiest areas yet and a lovely anchorage for lunch, with time to go ashore.

In the afternoon we caught up with Black Diamond in a place called Korsvik, just three miles from Kristiansand, where we were able to go alongside our sister ship, James Cook, just joining the fleet in time for Race 2. The design - particularly the interior - was modified significantly after she was built, before John Laing was built, so the two crews enjoyed making comparisons. Interestingly both crews insisted that the other boat appeared to have more space than their own!

Next day we went into the festival in Kristiansand, where our crew really came into their own - a very sociable bunch who made the most of every opportunity to meet up with other crews and join in with parties and sporting activities. Nine of them also made time to pass RYA Start Yachting certificates and one Competent Crew (the others had their certificates already from previous voyages). Many thanks to the sea staff for this voyage: James, Ben M, Caz, Andy, Kirsten and Dawn.

They were replaced by another group of Guides for Race 2, back across the North Sea to Hartlepool. John Laing made an excellent start - probably the best of all the Class C boats. It was a very technical race, with complex weather patterns and constant shifts in wind strength and direction. The breeze kept dying away to almost nothing, so that it was a challenge to keep the boat going, and then building up again, with squalls. This required a tremendous commitment from the crew, with dozens of headsail changes and hours of sail tweaking, but the Guides did extremely well and threw themselves into it all with great enthusiasm.

They had to race to a turning mark on a latitude similar to Dundee’s, and then turn south to Hartlepool. They converged on the mark at about the same time as James Cook, Mir, the big Russian square rigger, and the Dutch Navy. John Laing did a great racing turn with Glee playing through the speakers and all the crew singing: after 300 miles of racing, the third C-Class boat to round the mark. The leg heading south started really well, but a patch of light winds from astern allowed some of the square riggers (racing in a different class) to overtake. The last stages were really pushing things as John Laing and James Cook raced neck-and-neck. She has a big genoa which we don’t have, and it carried her across the line just 8 minutes in front - but the sail is accounted for in her handicap, so when the results were calculated, we beat her by just over an hour!

We were actually the 11th boat over the line, possibly one of our best race results ever, after a huge amount of effort and commitment. We just await the last few boats to finish and the final handicap calculations to get the official results. But one thing we do know is that our great friends in Black Diamond have come second in class, so well done to them!

The crew are now settling in to enjoy the Hartlepool festival, which is just beginning to get under way. One of the highlights there will undoubtedly be on Sunday night - skipper Wolf’s birthday party! Many thanks to him for such a great race, as well as the other sea staff: Ben M, Ben “Sparky” W, Kirsty, Brigid and Tristan.

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Voyages for young people
We are provisionally fully-booked for the rest of the 2010 season!

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.

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* Adult day sail, Saturday 18th September
Owing to a change of plan, we are now able to offer an adult (16+) day sail on Saturday 18th September, starting and finishing in Southampton, £85 per head including lunch on board, 12 places available. The day will only run if we get enough interest - we still need just a few more!. Email me for more details.

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OYT/OYC 50th anniversary celebrations
Although we are still over-subscribed for our celebration event on 16th October , we have had some tickets back and have been allocating them to people on the waiting list. If you still want to come and don’t have a ticket, do please email me as the waiting list is now short enough that it could be worth adding more names - you just might get a ticket.

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* Sea staff bookings 2010 - full availability
The full list of voyage vacancies is as follows:

13-17 Sept: bosun
24-26 Sept: bosun
28 Sept - 3 Oct: experienced 2M for Small Ships race
4-8 Oct: 3M or trainee mate
18-22 Oct: qualified female watchleader for OYT South voyage using Thermopylae Clipper

Email me if you are interested.

For those of you who are new to OYT South and not yet qualified mates with us, please feel free to apply for anything listed as suitable for a trainee mate.

Please note that you cannot sail until you have completed a mates' application and done a CRB check (see here for details) - and EITHER paid for a mates' training / familiarisation voyage, OR paid your annual membership and sailing donation.

NB mates are allowed to apply for bosun berths - it's good for all mates to have a grasp of some of the technical and maintenance stuff!

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Free next 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.

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John Laing maintenance days
John Laing maintenance days this year:

Tues 10 August - Hartlepool
Mon 27 Sept - Southampton

Call the boat on 07990 518915 if you can help.

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Mates' training voyages
New potential volunteers, or existing mates who want more practice: apply now for the September training weekend 10-12 Sept, £160 - we have had a lot of enquiries but not all have confirmed so there may be one or two places left. If that doesn’t work out, volunteer training voyages for next year are:

1-3 April 2011, Southampton, £170
26 April - 1 May 2011, Southampton, £380
9-11 September 2011, Southampton £170

Email me to book.

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* Financial appeal
Many thanks this week to GlaxoSmithKline for a generous contribution.

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.

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OYT South AGM date 2010
The 2010 OYT South AGM will be held on Saturday 16th October at 1.30pm in Portsmouth. It is open to all members and shouldn’t take very long, so people can attend before joining in our 50th anniversary celebrations that afternoon and evening.

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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