John Laing lift-out


OYT South bulletin 11th November 2011

In this Bulletin

Sections which have changed since last time marked *  

* Staff skipper news
Our wonderful Staff Skipper James Boyce has exciting plans for a voyage to the Antarctic and sadly therefore will be leaving us at some point next season. This means that OYT South is looking for an outstanding new Staff Skipper, and we are announcing this early because we are keen to give ourselves every opportunity to meet the right person and give the best candidates a chance to sail in John Laing before James leaves. We will publish a detailed job description in due course but we are looking for someone with a background in sail training, with a commitment to excellence and to delivering high-quality, safe sail training voyages. You should be a Cruising Instructor or capable of achieving that qualification before appointment, and you must have a minimum of 15,000 miles logged offshore, a Commercial Endorsement and an ENG1 medical. If you want to discuss this further, please contact our Chief Executive Mark Todd on 07771 771864 or

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* Refit news
The winter refit has begun, and John Laing is currently out of the water!

It all started on Wednesday 2 November, and since then the team has moved huge amounts of kit off the boat, done masses of cleaning, started the rust-busting, done a full rig-check and much more. They also went to a renaming ceremony for the boat next door in Ocean Village, an old lifeboat who is being restored to her original name - with a ceremony including champagne and singing!

John Laing will be out of the water in Hamble for a couple of weeks and then will be back in the water and round at Ocean Village for the rest of refit. Those of you who have been around for a while will know that we run an alternating pattern of refits: one year we are out of the water for several months and do a lot of work on the hull; the next season we keep John Laing mainly in the water except for essential work, and concentrate on other priorities. This year is an in-water refit.

We have another very strong core team for the refit this year: skipper James Boyce is in charge, supported by the Staff Bosun, who until next Friday is Kirsten Mackay, and thereafter Dave Bland. Dave has already joined us but is off doing his medical and first aid qualification this week. Kirsten’s leaving party is this Wednesday - call James on 07990 518915 if you want to go. And big thanks to Kirsten for all her hard work over the last two years - we wish her all the best for the future.

In addition to the skipper and bosun, the core refit team also includes four volunteers who aim to be with us full-time for the whole refit. Meg Howell has previously sailed with the Jubilee Sailing Trust and Fairbridge, as well as a weekend with us, and is a volunteer bosun with Fairbridge. Patrick Kelly did a leg of the Tall Ships races with us this summer which sparked his interest in further involvement. James Belassie is new to sailing but interested to find out more about working in the industry. And Yves Voinot (who is Scottish) has sailed in other vessels and again is interested in getting into the industry.

In addition to the core team, we need other volunteers who can offer a day or more between now and March. Huge thanks to everyone who has turned up so far: Jon Seddon, Angus Knox, Tim Bailey, Emily Parker, Emmeline Gray, Heather Chamberlain, Michaela Kirchem, Elizabeth Brown, Carrie Potter, Mark Todd, John Niven, Andy Royse, Kate Brennan, Mike Bunton, Ben Whinnett, Annie Holt, Dave Hodgson, Paul Hague, Val Hague and Alison Dewar. If we can manage a list as long as that in future bulletins then we will storm through the work! We are looking for volunteers on weekdays apart from a Christmas / New Year break; and also at specific volunteer weekends: 3/4 December, 7/8 January, 3/4 March. Call James on 07990 518915 or email to book yourself in. Please make refit bookings direct with James and NOT by replying to this bulletin - it gets too confusing otherwise! You should be aged 18+ though it is occasionally possible to take 16 and 17 year olds with the skipper’s permission, especially current or potential relief bosuns. No experience needed as there are plenty of unskilled jobs, though skilled help is always welcome too. Food and accommodation provided for volunteers subject to space in the refit house. See here for more information about helping at refit.

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* Voyage news

Last few voyages to report on as I have been on leave and missed a couple of bulletins. We did a weekend voyage in late October organised by Terry Lane whom we met when he came on an RYA Instructors' day sail at the end of 2010. He brought a superb group of keen young dinghy sailors for a hugely enjoyable Solent weekend (and 9 Start Yachting certificates awarded). The group has already booked again for next year. Many thanks to sea staff Mark, Kirsten, Ben, Andy Royse, Andy Shuttleworth and Andrew Wilkes (we just need a couple more Andy/Andrews to get a full set!)

This was followed by the annual trip organised by our Isle of Wight Support Group. Skipper Nic says they were a nice bunch. They didn’t sail on the first night because of bad weather, but next day they went out into the eastern Solent and practised manoeuvres such as tacking and gybing before spending a night in Gosport. The following day they set off towards Brighton but the sea was building into a big swell which was clearly going to make the entrance into Brighton an unsafe choice, so they turned back and went into Portsmouth instead. On the last day they circumnavigated the Isle of Wight, with a night entry into the western Solent and back up to Ocean Village. Two RYA Competent Crew certificates were awarded and one Start Yachting: several of the others already had their qualifications. Many thanks to Nic, Kirsten, Richard, Terry and Lucinda.

Then we had a weekend adult voyage for 41 Club members: we were the 41 Club National President’s Charity until April. They had a good beat to Poole on Saturday and a lovely downwind sail back again on Sunday. Many thanks to sea staff Nic, Kirsten, Andy, Terry and Lucinda.

We finished the season as in previous years with a couple of day sails for RYA Instructors, to give them a chance to experience big-boat sailing (and in some cases to think about whether they might come back to us as volunteers). We had a few spare berths so were able to invite some of the refit team and let them see the boat in action before taking her to bits! Monday’s group tacked down Southampton Water, sailed round the Bramble bank and then back again. Tuesday’s group had light winds in the morning so used the time for boat handling practice before taking a similar route. Many thanks to sea staff James, Kirsten, Ben, Lee, Jon and Terry.

And that was the end of the 2011 sailing season! 508 crew berths were filled and 266 sea staff berths, and John Laing sailed over 7,000 miles. Huge thanks to everyone who helped to make all this possible: staff, volunteers (sea-going and shorebased), sponsors and donors, group organisers and many more. We look forward to the 2012 sailing season!

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2012 sailing programme - please help us fill berths!

We have an excellent set of bookings for 2012, with lots of repeat bookings from many of our regulars, plus some interesting new groups. But now we need to fill the gaps in the programme! Details are here or here. Anything marked "enquiry (group)" on the programme is being held for a full-boat booking, usually to give them time to sort out funding or make sure they can get a full crew. But now we need to get bookings for all the places which are definitely still available. If you are aged 12-25, do you want to sail next year? If you are older, do you know any young people - children, grandchildren, or a school or youth club - who might like to sail? Is anyone looking for a way of doing the Residential for the Duke of Edinburgh's Gold Award? Is anyone interested in putting together an adult group if we have a voyage which doesn't sell to young people? All ideas for filling voyages are welcome!

The selection of voyages still available includes Solent weekends; longer local cruises; and a few special adventure voyages. These include the London-Portland ASTO Small Ships Race from 10-17 June - a race from the heart of London to the Olympic sailing venue, competing against other sail training boats crewed by young people. There’s also a Plymouth-based cruise, 22-29 July, which gives us a chance to see some beautiful places outside our normal sailing area - maybe the Scillies if we are lucky with the weather! The Tall Ships Race 12-25 August takes us from Coruna in northern Spain to Dublin - two of the liveliest festival ports you could hope to see, and a crossing of the Bay of Biscay which would be a real sailing achievement for anyone. Then a Dublin-Plymouth voyage, 25 August-1 September, which also allows the crew to see a Tall Ships festival; and a Plymouth-Southampton leg 2-8 Sept, with another chance to step outside our normal cruising area. So there’s plenty for everyone - see here or here for prices, age restrictions and other details, and contact us for more information or to make a booking.

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Chris Ellis award - win £££s off sailing next year!
If you have enjoyed a voyage with OYT South and want to come again next year (and will be aged 12-25), please think about entering for this award. You can win up to £200 off the price of another voyage, by sending in an account of a voyage you have already done with us. It can be a logbook, diary, story, pictures - anything which gives the judges an idea of why you had a good time and would like to come again. Entries should be emailed to or posted to the office by Friday 16th December. See here for more details of this award, which was set up in memory of the charity’s founder.

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RYA Day Skipper practical course
James is in the process of sorting out details for these courses - he is running one before Christmas and Mark will do another starting on February 26th for five days. If you might be interested in joining a Day Skipper course over the winter, could you email This is the next formal qualification after Competent Crew and is suitable for those with a bit of experience who want to improve their skills and start taking more responsibility. The course takes place on board a small yacht so that people can practise boat handling and other skills that aren’t easy to learn in a boat of John Laing’s size. An ideal opportunity for third mates and bosuns who want to make progress.

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Shorebased training weekend February 2012 - book now!
We will be holding our normal shorebased training weekend in Gosport (except for Sea Survival, which is based nearer Southampton) on the weekend 18-19 February 2012. We hope to offer First Aid and Sea Survival on Saturday, with Radar on Sunday, as well other courses which may include GMDSS radio, Food Hygiene, Diesel engines, lifejacket packing and maybe some form of youthwork or child protection course. We can only book instructors and confirm details once we are sure which subjects will have sufficient demand, setting dates as far as possible to minimise clashes for those who ask to do two qualifications over the weekend, so we really need to know soon which courses you want.

Email me with your requests – and make sure you put the date in your diary. There will be the usual informal supper and social gathering on the Saturday night.

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Volunteer training
Training voyages in 2012:

23-25 March 2012, Southampton, 2 nights, £180pp
16-21 April 2012,Southampton, 5 nights, £400pp
14-16 Sept 2012, Southampton, 2 nights, £180pp.

These are all opportunities for new potential volunteers to come along and see how we work and start developing some familiarity with the boat and our routines, but they also work as selection voyages: the skipper will decide who to invite back as volunteers. This can be about sailing experience, or youthwork skills; but we can also take on a certain number of people who may need quite a lot of training but who are potential assets to our team in terms of personality, willingness to learn, enthusiasm, commitment and interest in working with young people from all backgrounds.

Email me to book.

We would also encourage new volunteers who can’t get on the boat this season to think about visiting us over the winter - helping with the vessel refit, or attending a shorebased training course in February.

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* Financial appeal
Huge thanks this week to the Royal Wedding Charitable Gift Fund whose generous contribution has now reached us!

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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New Boat appeal
Those who attended our 50th anniversary celebrations last October will have heard the talk by renowned yacht designer Merf Owen about our plans for the long-term replacement of John Laing - a new boat for a new generation. Details can be found on the website here - along with a form for making donations. This is a tremendously exciting project and regular readers will be hearing a good deal more about it in the months and years to come - we are just getting started but this is the place where our members and supporters can keep in touch with progress!

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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