Damp arrival in Cuxhaven - and drying out!


OYT South bulletin 19th August 2011

In this Bulletin

Sections which have changed since last time marked *

* 2011 celebration lunch and AGM - details and how to book

On Saturday 15th October we shall be holding a lunchtime event in the Royal Southern Yacht Club, Hamble, for members, supports, families and friends, to mark OYT South having been given The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service this year. The event will be followed by the 2011 AGM.

Full details here including the lunch menu and how to book and pay.

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Job advertisements - Staff Bosun (applications close 31 Aug) and Refit Volunteers
Information, job descriptions and details of how to apply for the following positions:

Staff Bosun (2-year paid position November 2011-November 2013). Deadline for applications: 31st August.

Core Team Refit Volunteers (voluntary positions for a month or more between November and March). No specific deadline for applications.

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* Voyage news

Two weeks ago John Laing had just arrived in Halmstad, Sweden, at the end of Tall Ships Race 3 - the crew had some time at the festival there before heading for home.

This left a small team to take John Laing our for the Parade of Sail on Skipper Wolf’s birthday, which ended in torrential rain but relieved by the crew of Black Diamond singing “Happy birthday” through their loudspeaker as we came alongside again.

A routine maintenance day in Halmstad revealed a small amount of damage to part of John Laing’s rigging, but as the forecast for our planned departure day was utterly dire, it was no hardship to wait a day for better weather while the rig was fixed. Many thanks to Rupert at Hamble Yacht Services and Fox’s in Ipswich for sorting out replacement parts at very short notice, and especially to Ben “Sparky” Whinnett who had to drive around to collect the parts and then fly out to Sweden to bring them to us.

Reports from the vessels which had left Halmstad ahead of us only proved the wisdom of waiting a day, as they were out in strong winds, big seas and thunderstorms. By the next day it had all blown through and we were able to leave in relatively calm conditions - indeed we had to motor quite a bit due to lack of wind! We went west and then south, through the Belt and under a vast road bridge between the islands of Fyn and Sjaelland, in the middle of the night with a container ship coming up behind us.

As we turned west again towards Kiel, the wind picked up and we had a good sail and were able to do some exercises including a man overboard recovery demonstration before arriving in the British Army Yacht Club in Kiel on the second evening after leaving Sweden. The club was as hospitable as ever and the crew enjoyed showers and an evening ashore.

Next morning we entered the Kiel Canal through the lock, for a 61-mile passage through the most heavily used artificial seaway in the world; over 43,000 vessels passed through in one recent year - excluding small craft. Vessels have to motor in the canal but we had planned lots of activities to make up for the lack of sailing, with RYA training, games and a lot of music (including some memorable dancing from watchleader Glyn). We spent a night in Rendsburg, part-way along the canal, with time to explore ashore as well as dinghy rowing practice for all who needed it. Some of the boys in the crew volunteered to make an apple crumble that evening, which was excellent - many thanks to Jack, James and Jonny!

Next day we were cruising along some way behind our cruising partner Black Diamond when we got a call to say she had engine trouble, so we took her in tow while they sorted things out, and arrived in the Brunsbuttel lock together. Here it started raining like a biblical flood - a cup of tea passed on deck became a cup of rainwater in seconds. This continued through the whole time in the lock and as we motored out into the River Elbe, it brought the visibility right down - with the added joy that if you hung a pair of binoculars round your neck, the eye-pieces instantly filled up with water. We sloshed and squelched and dripped the 17 miles to Cuxhaven, where things finally cleared up - though there was a short delay while the bridge operator insisted there was not enough depth of water for “Long John” while the harbour master, with whom we had booked the berth, assured us there was! Much drying out was followed by shore leave.

Some of the crew left next day, with three RYA Competent Crew and two Start Yachting certificates awarded. With three people staying for the following voyage and several of the new crew joining early, eighteen people went out for dinner in the restaurant overlooking the boat before the last few of the outgoing team left on Tuesday. Many thanks to sea staff Mark, Jon, Amy, Glyn, Kirsten, Caz and special guest star Sparky.

This week’s crew is an all-star cast with the great majority having sailed in John Laing before, including several young bosuns and others who have had sea staff recommendations. As a result James says there are more people wanting to do extra jobs than there are jobs to do! But they sailed to Heligoland on the first evening, and then had the following morning ashore. The next stage was a 24-hour passage to Den Helder, where they arrived last night after a slightly lumpy and uncomfortable trip. They went ashore this morning, and are aiming for Enkhuisen later on. Many thanks this time to sea staff James, Sparky, Amy, Brigid, Terry and Kirsten.

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Vessel tracking
The Tall Ships races may be over but John Laing still has to make her way home – you can follow our progress via the vessel tracking here.

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* Voyages for young people in 2011
We have now had at least provisional bookings for all berths this season, though if bookings aren’t confirmed there may be one or two places left on either of the following voyages - let us know if you would like to be on the reserve list:

5-9 Sept, 4 nights, Southampton to Southampton, £305pp, age 12-25
10-14 Oct, 4 nights, Southampton to Southampton, £305pp, age 12-25

Other spaces may crop up from time to time, so do please keep checking back.

Contact the office with enquiries or to make a booking.

If you can’t find a suitable voyage this year, do look at the 2012 programme.

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2012 sailing programme - now taking bookings!
The 2012 sailing programme is now available. We have tried very hard to contact all our regular group bookings and make sure that the programme includes dates and durations to suit them, which is why a number of voyages are marked “enquiry” as we await confirmation and deposits. If any other group bookings are still hoping for amendments to voyage dates, do let me know as soon as possible. Other than that, we are now able to take bookings for the available voyages - including some exciting adventure voyages to Spain and Dublin, and part of the Tall Ships race series.

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Volunteer training
Our September weekend training voyage is now full and we do currently have a reserve list in case anyone drops out, so anyone else who is hoping to join our team should think about one of the 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 (we will aim to have a training weekend in February).

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* Financial appeal
Many thanks to Mr J Trembath for a generous contribution towards bursaries.

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