All at sea...


OYT South bulletin 20th April 2012

In this Bulletin

Sections which have changed since last time marked *  

* Online sea staff training - available now!
OYT South is now able to offer a range of online courses for our volunteers, including Child Protection (the NSPCC course), which we want to make compulsory for all sea staff, plus a range of other youthwork courses and a few other important things such as food hygiene. These can all be done online, in your own time: you can save a course at any point and come back later to where you left off. They are all recognised courses and you will get a certificate for each one you complete successfully. OYT South volunteers will pay a bargain price of just £10 for access to this system - that single payment allows you to do up to ten different courses, though you can choose just to do one or two. See here for details and a link to sign up and pay.

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Online navigation training for volunteers and young people
OYT South is now able to offer online navigation training through the RYA's Essential Navigation & Seamanship course. This is an introductory-level course and is ideal for new sea staff or anyone who has done a little navigation but is a bit rusty; for young people looking to make the step up into volunteering; for young crew members who really want to stay involved with sailing and would like to build up their skills; and for those who have done several voyages and want to stretch themselves a little and understand more next time they come on board. It's a proper qualification, it takes around six hours to complete online but you can do it in your own time as it suits you, with the support of online course tutor Brian Eyres, a former John Laing skipper. The course costs £100 (including course pack) to non-members but only £75 to members, including anyone who has paid for a voyage with OYT South this year.

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* 2012 sailing programme - more voyages available
NEW: 18-22 June, Portland to Southampton - see the Olympic sailing venue! 4 nights, £320pp - 12 places available.
6-8 July, weekend voyage out of Poole, £180pp - 12 places possibly available (tbc).
8-12 Oct, Southampton, 4 nights, £320pp - 12 places available.

We can be flexible about how any currently-empty voyage (i.e. anything with 12 places available) is used. Ideally we'd like to run youth voyages (age range 12-25) but they could be an organised group or a mix of separate individual bookings. They could also be adult (over-18) voyages (though the current price is subsidised for young people - we ought to charge a little more for over-25s but this is negotiable - a disadvantaged or unwaged adult group might also be eligible for a subsidy).

In addition, we have a number of voyages where reservations have not finally been confirmed or where funded places are still to be finally allocated. They are listed as possibly available here or marked “tbc - please ask” here. If you would be interested in a place on one of these voyages, do get in touch and we can tell you the latest status of any provisional bookings, and also give you information such as the ages of other people booked on that trip.

Email me if you are looking for a booking or want more information.

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* Sea staff needed

This is the current vacancies list - can anyone help?

12-17 May, Gosport to Southampton - room for one more mate or trainee mate
10-17 June, London to Portland - experienced 2M needed for ASTO Small Ships Race
25-30 June, Southampton - experienced 3M or additional 2M
6-8 July, Poole - 3M
1-12 Aug, Plymouth to La Coruna - experienced 2M possibly needed (the 2M currently booked may need to drop out so we ought to have someone in reserve. Preference given to someone who can join on 30th July to help with maintenance and preparation for Tall Ships).
2-8 Sept, Plymouth-Southampton - 2M

More spaces to be announced in due course!

Email me if you might be able to help.

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* Adult day sails
We have a series of day sails planned this year which are primarily meant for donors, supporters, sponsors, clients and potential clients, journalists or other useful contacts to come out with us and see how we work. If you would like to be invited on one of these day sails, or you can recommend someone else we might invite, please let us know.

These day sails are free for invited guests but if we have any spare places left, we are happy to open them to other adults in exchange for a donation to our charitable funds - please contact us if you might be interested.

Dates for this year’s day sails are Sunday 20th May, Sunday 24th June and Saturday 22nd September.

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* Open Day 18th May
If you are interested in visiting the boat and chatting to the skipper but don’t fancy joining a day sail, or are not available on the dates above, then another option is that John Laing will be in Ocean Village, Southampton, on Friday 18th May, and open to guests from 2pm to 5pm. Please email if you would like to come along.  

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* Adult voyage vacancies
We only have spaces on one adult voyage planned for this year:

14-16 Sept 2012, Southampton, 2 nights, £180pp - 9 places available.

For those who decide they are interested in joining our volunteer team, these trips can 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.

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* Voyage news
The final bit of news from last week’s Dumpton School voyage - all 11 crew completed their RYA Start Yachting certificates, so well done to all involved!

Then on Sunday we had a maintenance day - many thanks to James, Dave, John Niven, Mike Bunton, John Douglas and Cami. They did a complete engine service and some painting, rust-busting and galley repairs. Another work party also took place this week as Mark, Sally and Caz did a grand final clean of the refit house in the hope of making sure there will be no trouble getting the deposit back.

This week’s voyage has been an adult trip for current sea staff plus some people who are thinking about joining our volunteers’ team. It’s been a wet and windy week but at least it means the new people have seen John Laing powered up and developed a healthy respect for our safety systems. They went to Cowes on the first night, and next morning the weather was so horrible that they stayed in harbour doing some boat familiarisation. Later on they went out and did some tacking practice in Osborne Bay before sailing to Gosport. Next morning they again had training sessions in harbour before setting off again and tacking all the way up to Buckler’s Hard. Yesterday was a much better day - still windy but they had a good sail to Poole, again tacking the whole way - they had hoped for Weymouth but abandoned that plan as it was taking too long. A gorgeous sail with the cruising chute brought them back to Lymington today, where this afternoon they were all eating birthday cake and planning a night sail to Southampton later on. Many thanks to sea staff James, Terry, Chris, Dave and special thanks to first mate Graeme for stepping in at short notice - we actually lost two of the original booked team of sea staff for this voyage due to injury (not sustained on the boat, nothing to do with us). If people could stop hurting themselves we would be really pleased - we’ve actually lost four volunteers from voyages this season, so can you please all take good care of yourselves!

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* Maintenance day
The full list of maintenance days to put in your diary for this year:

Saturday 5th May - Southampton
Sunday 27th May - Southampton
Saturday 23rd June - Southampton
Monday 30th and Tuesday 31st July - Plymouth (preparing for the Tall Ships race series)
Sunday 23rd September - Southampton

Call the boat a few days beforehand on 07990 518915 if you can help. Lots of jobs to do, both skilled and unskilled - there's something for everyone. These days are ideal for sea staff who might learn a bit about some part of the boat or equipment they don't always come across in the normal course of a voyage; and maintenance days are also good for new volunteers because you can see the boat and meet the skipper and some of the team. When volunteer places are over-subscribed, people who have helped with refit or maintenance days may be given priority.

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Staff skipper news - job description available
As most of you will know by now, 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. OYT South is therefore looking for an outstanding new Staff Skipper, and we have published a detailed job description. 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 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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Financial appeal
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 - including YouTube video
Check out the video of our new boat design on YouTube!

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 have tried a number of social networking websites to allow crew members to keep in touch with the boat and with each other - Facebook is by far the most active and popular, so that’s the one that now gets updated regularly. 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