Refit team - Dave, Yves, Patrick, James and Meg


OYT South bulletin 2nd December 2011

In this Bulletin

Sections which have changed since last time marked *  

* Shorebased training weekend February 2012 - book now!
We are close to having to make decisions about which instructors to book for which courses for the volunteers’ training weekend 18-19 February 2012. We will definitely have a sea survival course on the Saturday (this is where you get to practise with flares and liferafts) and we should have enough people to run First Aid, also on the Saturday - second mates and above MUST have an in-date certificate (they last 3 years) and it is recommended for everyone else.

It seems likely that we’ll have enough people to run the GMDSS radio course on the Sunday, and we are still hoping to put together a Child Protection course, also for the Sunday.

As things stand, we don’t have enough people to make it affordable to run a Diesel Engine course (which would probably be on the Sunday), or Food Hygiene, or Radar, or lifejacket packing - all useful courses which we would recommend to sea staff. It may be that having run these courses over several years, most people who need them have already done them and we should have a break this year; but if you want one of these courses, shout now - a few more people might make any course viable! Course costs range from around £50 to £75 and we can also provide meals and cheap overnight accommodation (mattresses on the floor) if needed.

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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* Refit news
John Laing came out of the water on November 10th, and while she was out the team antifouled the whole boat apart from the Intersleek (the area we are trialling for International Paint, which doesn’t need replacing every season). A couple of seacocks were taken off and all the others serviced. The anchors and chains were dropped, rust-busted and re-marked, and while they were off the anchor locker was also rust-busted.

We’re now back in the water and round at Ocean Village again, with lots of jobs going on. The black water tank lids came off and everything was cleaned. The water tanks are being done now. The mid-hatch came off and is being replaced - a big job as the holes don’t line up with the new hatch! The tent people have been and put a frame up, so fingers crossed we shall shortly have the tent which turns the deck into a dry working area. So it’s all busy and productive, with a lot going on. In the middle of all this, Kirsten Mackay completed her two years as Staff Bosun and has left us - huge thanks for all her efforts and we wish her the very best of luck for the future. Dave Bland is now in post as our Staff Bosun and those of you reading the web version of this bulletin will see from the picture at the top that we have broken him already. It may have been stuffing him into the tanks that did it.

Otherwise, many thanks to everyone has helped: the core team of James, Dave, Patrick, Meg, the other James and Yves, plus Jon Seddon, Mike Bunton, Pete Brennan, Lene Binnie, Ian Slocombe and Rhys Howell. In total for November we had 153 days worked, 111 by volunteers, and 93 nights used in the refit house, 55 by volunteers. If we can keep up this level of support it will be a great winter.

There’s a volunteers’ weekend THIS weekend (3-4 December) - call James on 07990 518915 if you can come and help. The other volunteer weekends this winter are 14/15 January and 3/4 March, and volunteers are also welcome on weekdays. 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.

The last refit working day before Christmas is Friday 16th December and the first working day back is Tuesday 3rd January.

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* Oilskins washing and drying
Is there anyone who could take all the waterproof clothing off the boat and wash and dry everything? Otherwise we have to wash things in the marina laundrette and it is really hard to get it all properly dry. Looking after the waterproof clothing helps to make it last longer and saves us a lot of money. Call James if you can help: 07990 518915.

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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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* Volunteer sea staff bookings 2012
Qualified OYT South sea staff: do please start emailing me with requests for voyages next year - either particular dates or voyages you would like to do, or groups you would like to sail with. We may not be able to confirm all bids just yet as we do like to ensure that those who help at refit get a chance of their choice of voyages, so we can’t fill all the most popular trips before some people have even had a chance to get to refit. But especially if you have limited availability or particular requests, it is well worth starting to get your bids in now.

If you are hoping to do another assessment in 2012, please do tell me now as not all voyages are suitable for assessment so we will need to make sure we get you slotted in somewhere.

If you are not yet qualified as a member of OYT South sea staff but are doing one of the volunteers’ training voyages: for those who get selected as a result of those adult training voyages, the next stage will be to go on and do an assessment on a voyage with young people. Especially if you have limited availability, it is well worth giving me an idea now of possible dates for assessment voyages (which need to last 4 nights or longer): we can’t confirm these until you have a skipper’s recommendation, but at least we will try to ensure that all your available dates aren’t taken before you have a chance!

The voyage programme is here for you to check possible options. Do please give me the voyage numbers you are interested in, rather than just saying you’re available between certain dates - it saves me a lot of time looking up the voyages that might fit those dates!

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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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* Helena Frost
Very sadly we have to announce the death in November of Helena Frost, one of our most supportive and generous donors. She became involved with OYT South several years ago via two routes: she supported another charity called Toynbee Hall and she helped to fund young people from one of their projects to sail with us; but at the same time she was also a friend of John Boldero from our West Sussex support group. The relationship grew and through the Patrick Frost Foundation she became one of our most committed refit donors. She visited the refit a few years ago and although in her eighties, insisted on climbing up the ladders onto the scaffolding and seeing everything and meeting the team. She also attended our 50th anniversary celebration last year, and she loved to get news of the boat and letters about the young people who were benefitting from her support. Her death at the age of 87 is a sad loss both to OYT South and to the many other good causes she supported, and we send our deepest sympathy to her family. At her funeral this week there were many tales of a life lived to the full. As a press officer at the Savoy hotel, she once got into a lift with Charlie Chaplin, only to see a bombastic newspaper proprietor demanding of his journalists: “Get me Chaplin!” He then marched into the lift, where Mrs Frost made herself look as large as possible and Chaplin huddled in the corner. Only as the man got out did they reveal who had been sharing the lift with him...just as the doors closed and left him frustrated and furious as they sailed on upwards!

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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 Christmas. See here for more details of this award, which was set up in memory of the charity’s founder.

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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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* London Boat Show 6th January
The traditional OYT South team outing to the London Boat Show will take place on Friday 6th January - if you are thinking about visiting the show and can make it on that day, it would be great to see lots of OYT South supporters there. We’ll have the usual codes for booking discounted tickets – hopefully in next week’s bulletin.

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* Financial appeal
Huge thanks to Steven Bond and Videotel Marine International Ltd for very generous donations.

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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* Oysterband & June Tabor, Chichester, 7th February
Regular readers will notice that this bulletin has been a little erratic in recent weeks. When I’m not working for OYT South I do some work for Oysterband and we’ve been on a UK tour with a new album, Ragged Kingdom with June Tabor. The band are great enthusiasts for OYT South’s charitable work; they are playing in Chichester on 7th February and it would be great if any OYT South supporters wanted to come along. Ragged Kingdom is Mojo Music magazine’s Folk Album of the Year 2011; it has four nominations in the BBC Folk Awards (results to be announced on February 8th); and it has had five-star reviews in publications ranging from the Guardian to the New York Daily News.

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New Boat appeal
Those who attended our 50th anniversary celebrations in 2010 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