Patrick hard at work - and John Laing's tent


OYT South bulletin 20th January 2012

In this Bulletin

Sections which have changed since last time marked *  

* Shorebased training weekend February 2012 - please confirm and pay now!
Places still available at the volunteers' training weekend 18-19 February 2012:

Diesel engines
- £75. Recommended for bosuns plus second mates and above. We are now running two courses, one on Saturday and one on Sunday, and there is at least one spare place - at the moment it looks as though it will need to be on the Saturday.
Child Protection - Sun 19th Feb (morning only) - £10, Recommended for all sea staff. At least 4 places left.
Lifejacket packing - Sun 19th Feb (afternoon only) - £25. Recommended for all sea staff. At least 1 place left.

The Sea Survival and First Aid courses on the Saturday, and the GMDSS course on Sunday all seem to be full at the moment though we are waiting for some payments. Do let me know if you’d like to be on a reserve list in case anyone drops out. The Sea Survival instructor runs courses at regular intervals so if we can’t fit you on in February we can put you in touch to discuss alternative dates.

The last few people who haven’t confirmed and paid - please can you do so as soon as possible, using this form, or let me know if you can no longer come so I can give your place to a reserve.

More details here; but if you haven't already done so, please email me and get confirmation that there is a place available for you before completing a booking form and paying.

We can provide meals and cheap overnight accommodation (mattresses on the floor) if needed.

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* Training weekend supper - book now!
Anyone is welcome to join us for supper and a social evening on the Saturday of the training weekend, 18th February, in the Gosport Sea Cadet Unit. £10 for the meal, the bar will be open and we should have some music. It would be great to see lots of people there - use the booking form here to reserve a place, and follow the payment link. For all those of our volunteers who haven’t had a chance to celebrate our Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, this is the chance to get together and congratulate each other!

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* Navigation training - new!

OYT South will shortly be able to start offering online navigation training through the RYA’s Essential Navigation & Seamanship course. This is an introductory-level course and will be 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. OYT South is now an official training centre but we are just testing the course using some of the refit team as guinea-pigs - once we are happy that everything works, the course will be open for bookings! It’ll cost £100 (including course pack) to non-members but only £75 to members, including anyone who has paid for a voyage this year.

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* Volunteer sea staff bookings 2012 - book now
ALL qualified OYT South sea staff: please let me know now if there are any voyages you would particularly like to do, or groups you would particularly like to sail with. I am just starting to make some firm bookings so don’t leave it too long or you may find the voyages you wanted have been filled.

I am hoping to have a clear picture of all early booking requests by the February 18th-19th training weekend as I will see a lot of people there and hopefully resolve some competing bids and fill some gaps. But I’d like to make a bit more progress with the very early-season voyages before then. Here are some dates which no-one has yet definitely bid for:

19-23 March: 1st mate, 3rd mate or additional 2nd mate
23-25 March (mates’ training weekend): 3rd mate or additional 2nd mate
26-30 March: 1st mate, 3rd mate or additional 2nd mate
31 March-5 April: 1st mate
6-10 April: 1st mate
11-14 April: 1st mate

Let me know a.s.a.p. if you can help. Plenty more left after the early voyages are sorted!

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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Volunteer sea staff training voyages
Training voyages in 2012 - suitable for new potential volunteers but also for qualified sea staff who want some practice :

23-25 March 2012, Southampton, 2 nights, £180pp - 4 places available.
16-21 April 2012, Southampton, 5 nights, £400pp - 8 places available.
14-16 Sept 2012, Southampton, 2 nights, £180pp - 12 places available.

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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* Refit news
A busy volunteers’ weekend just after the last bulletin, and lots more happening during the week. The team has painted the scuppers and is working on the coach roof and the dorade boxes; there has been more filling and repairs to the deck; the deck fittings have been painted; they have been rust-busting and painting around the tops of the water tanks, and painting the engine room; the forehatch is going back on; the dinghy supports are being repaired; lights and electric sockets have been fitted in our Ocean Village store so it can be used as a workshop; the store itself has been re-organised and tidied; the chart room is being cleaned; and the crew quarters have been cleaned and sealed off from the rest of the ongoing refit dirt and dust.

Many thanks to James, Dave, Patrick, Meg, the other James, Yves, Carrie, Michaela, Hannah, Fiona, Audrey, Emily, Mark, John, Ian, Roger and Terry for all their hard work - and to Jenny King for a delivery of biscuits!

The last volunteer weekend is 3/4 March - and we also welcome help from anyone available 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 - just ask James. 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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Staff skipper news - job description now 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 now published a detailed job description. 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 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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Day Skipper course - book NOW!
Mark Todd is running an RYA Day Skipper course from 26 Feb to 2 March and really needs another two people so we can fill a second boat, with Lee Mosscrop as the instructor. 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, or anyone else who wants to develop their skills. Contact James urgently on 07990 518915 or email if you might be interested.

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* 2012 sailing programme - berths available
We are just in the process of allocating a very large number of provisional bookings who were flexible about their sailing dates - it’s now just a question of putting together compatible groups.But it does mean that a majority of the berths still listed as available on the programme could soon be filled. The voyages which are NOT going to be affected by this process and therefore definitely still have spaces are as follows:

22-29 July, Plymouth, 7 nights, £525pp - at least 3 places available. Age 12-25.
12-25 August, La Coruna, Spain, to Dublin, Ireland, 13 nights, £950pp - up to 7 places available. Age 15-25 but with a maximum of four 15-year olds. Tall Ships Race 3.
25 Aug - 1 Sept, Dublin to Plymouth, £525pp - up to 9 places available. Age 15-25. Take part in the Tall Ships festival in Dublin.
2-4 Nov, Southampton, 2 nights (weekend voyage starting Friday evening), £180pp - full group booking (12 places) available. Age 12-25.

Other places will be advertised once the allocation of all the flexible bookings is complete, and also once we have final decisions on some other provisional bookings which may or may not be confirmed.

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

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* Financial appeal
Huge thanks this week to the Peter Dixon Trust who have confirmed some more very generous bursaries funding through the Peter Dixon Mohawk Voyage Programme.

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 - and Spiral Awards
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. If you happen to like the music, we’d be grateful for your vote for Best Album in the Spiral Awards - this recognises some of the best folk music of 2011.

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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