MDL Award ceremony 2012


OYT South bulletin 21st September 2012

In this Bulletin

Sections which have changed since last time marked *  

* Voyage news
Three more voyages since the last newsletter. Last week was a mixed group - some from the Wheatsheaf Trust in Southampton, some from Brune Park school in Gosport, and some individual bookings. They sailed from Southampton to Cowes, Lymington, Weymouth, Studland Bay, Cowes again and back to Southampton, They ended in great high spirits with a few crew members talking about helping out with the winter refit and lots of them wanting to sail again. Three people earned an RYA Start Yachting certificate, and six got the more advanced Competent Crew. Many thanks to sea staff Dougie, Vikki, Patrick, Dave and special huge congratulations to Brigid Stoney who succeeded in passing her first mate assessment - a massive achievement as a first mate has to be able to look after everything if a skipper is ill or injured, so it’s not an easy assessment.

Next we had a weekend training and selection voyage for people who might be interested in getting involved as volunteer watchleaders. It turned out to be a great bunch of people with lots of laughs and high spirits but also a genuine interest in learning as much as possible about the boat and what our volunteers will be expected to do. We went to Poole on Saturday with practice at sail hoists, reefing and other exercises. A sociable evening in Poole was followed by a passage back on Sunday in light winds, but we did more exercises, tours of the boat, man overboard recovery drills and much more. A lot of people in the group were recommended to come back for a mate's assessment on a voyage with young people, so hopefully we should get some great new volunteers out of the weekend. Many thanks to sea staff Mark, Sparky, Brigid, Patrick, Dave and Caz.

On Monday we had a big rush to get everything ready for the next voyage – with extra huge thanks to Dave the gas fitter who came and made our cooker safe after some problems, to ensure that this week’s crew could have hot food! The crew were siblings from CHASE children’s hospice in Guildford so we were determined to give them a good voyage. They went to Cowes on the first night and set out for Weymouth the next day. It wasn’t excessively windy but with very strong tides against the wind, the sea got quite lumpy so John Laing diverted to Poole and everyone had some shore leave there. Next day they had a short sail to Swanage and a beach BBQ. Then a late sail back to Yarmouth where they picked up a buoy and enjoyed a beautiful clear night with a great view of the Milky Way. Next day they did some training towards their RYA certificates and sailed off the buoy, practised tacking and gybing, and did man overboard recovery drills under sail and power. Another stop in Cowes and some shore leave, and then the crew took charge of the night pilotage to get John Laing back up to Ocean Village last night.The voyage ended today with two RYA Competent Crew certificates and six RYA Start Yachting certificates. Many thanks to sea staff Mark, Lucy, Frederik, David and more special huge congratulations to Lee Mosscrop for passing his first mate’s assessment! Two new first mates in two weeks must be some kind of record...

Back to index

* MDL Award Winners 2012
This year’s MDL Award winners received their trophies at the Southampton Boat Show yesterday. These awards are made by our sponsors MDL to some exceptionally deserving young people who take part in a voyage on board John Laing. This year’s winners completed their voyage in July and three of them were able to come to the Boat Show to accept their trophies from Lord Iliffe and Jon Eads of MDL, with OYT South volunteers who had been on their voyage there to support them. Congratulations to all involved and huge thanks to MDL who have been running this award scheme for 24 years and brought some exceptional and inspirational young people to sail with us.

Back to index

* Maintenance day THIS Sunday 23rd September
There will be a maintenance day on board John Laing in Ocean Village THIS Sunday 23rd September. Volunteers required, skilled and unskilled - call the boat on 07990 518915 if you can help! 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 on voyages are over-subscribed, people who have helped with refit or maintenance days may be given priority.

Back to index

* Sea staff possibly needed
We have a number of sea staff berths where people have been provisionally booked but we aren’t yet 100% sure if they can come. If anyone would be interested in being reserves for the following dates, able to step in at reasonably short notice, please let me know! All these voyages start and finish in Southampton and all would potentially be suitable for a qualified mate or a trainee mate.

8-11 Oct
12-14 Oct
15-19 Oct
21-26 Oct
26-28 Oct - if the provisional booking isn’t confirmed then we’ll need a female mate
29 Oct-2 Nov - if the provisional booking isn’t confirmed then we’ll need a female mate

Also definitely needed: on Monday 5 and Tuesday 6 November we are running taster day sails for RYA instructors, and we’ll need one more experienced watchleader for these two days.

Please note that dates given are when crew are on board. Except for weekend voyages and other special trips, sea staff will generally be expected to join the day before. If the voyage is immediately before or after a maintenance day, priority will be given to sea staff who can help on the extra day.

Email me if you might be able to help.

Back to index

* 2012 and 2013 sailing programmes - bookings for young people - NEW 2012 availability
Owing to some cancellations, we now have spaces available on a weekend voyage 12-14 October this year, with bursary funding down to £135 from £180 to help us fill the places. The weekend starts 8pm Friday in Southampton, and ends in the same place at 5pm on Sunday. Email me urgently if you would like to come. If you are interested but £135 is beyond you, we may be able to offer further bursaries if appropriate - just email and tell us what you CAN afford and why you think you might be worth some help with funding.

We are provisionally fully-booked for the rest of this season but we are always happy to have names on a reserve list, especially people who can sail at short notice if someone else has to drop out. Email me if you would like to be on the waiting list for a place this year - see here for voyage dates.

After that we have a great programme for 2013 and we are taking bookings fast, so do have a look and think about when you would like to sail next year. We have a good selection of local voyage ranging from weekends to longer adventure voyages including the Tall Ships series in the gorgeous Baltic - Denmark, Finland, Latvia and Poland. We also have some exciting adventure voyages to get us to Denmark for the start, and back from Poland at the end. See here for details.

Updated voyage availability can also be found here.

Back to index

OYT South AGM and lunch 20th October - book now!
Tickets are now on sale for our annual lunch gathering and a short AGM on Saturday 20th October in the Royal Southern Yacht Club, Hamble. See here for details and how to book. The official AGM paperwork for members will be sent out in the next few days.

Back to index

James - leaving present

You probably all know by now that our lovely Staff Skipper James Boyce is leaving us at the end of this season after four great years. We really want to send him off with a nice leaving present, so please give generously - there is a webpage here with a paypal link and details of other ways of contributing.

Back to index

Refit news
As we have not yet appointed a new Staff Skipper to replace James, we are delighted to announce that Ben “Sparky” Whinnett has been appointed as Refit Manager this winter. Ben joined us for a refit several years ago and has never really left - he is thoroughly experienced with John Laing’s winter refits and those of you who haven’t seen him at refit may well know him as one of our regular first mates.

Sparky will be looking for lots of volunteer help between 7th November 2012 and 15th March 2013, on weekdays or at special volunteer weekends, as well as two or three people to join the full-time core refit team as volunteers.

The volunteer weekends are scheduled to be:

November 10-11 (including James’s leaving party on the Saturday night)
December 8-9
January 19-20
March 9-10

It’ll be a busy winter and there is a lot to do so we really hope to see all sea staff for a day or two at least. (NB There is no volunteer refit weekend in February because of the shorebased training weekend Feb 16-17 - see below). 

Those of you available to help on weekdays might also like to know that the last full working day before Christmas will be Friday 21st December and the first day back Wednesday 2nd January

If you haven’t been to refit before, please note that you should be aged 18+ though it is occasionally possible to take 16 and 17 year olds with the refit manager’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.

If you are taking a gap year, not working over the winter, looking to build your skills, maybe hoping to move into a career in the marine industry - why not think about applying to join our full-time team over the coming winter? Details here. The maintenance day on the boat on 23 September in Southampton would be a good time to come along and find out more about the core refit team, but if that doesn't work for you, we can arrange other opportunities.

If you want to book yourself in for time at refit, please email Sparky at Please make refit bookings direct with him and NOT by replying to this email, otherwise there is a risk of confusion and things may be duplicated or missed!

Sea staff looking to sail next season: please note that where several people apply for berths on the same voyage, people who have been involved over the winter - helping with refit, undertaking training (see below), raising money, finding young people to fill berths etc. - will normally be given priority over people who haven’t been involved.

Back to index

* Winter oilskin care - volunteer(s) needed
We are looking for a volunteer (or a group of people to share the task) who could take away all the waterproof clothing from the boat over the winter, wash and dry everything, and do some repairs as needed. Anyone who might be able to help please email

Back to index

* EBay- volunteer needed
We are in the process of sorting out old equipment between the office and the various stores, some of which is no longer of use to the charity but may be of use to other people. We are looking for someone who could set up an EBay account for OYT South, manage the complete selling process and raise a bit of cash for us. Anyone who might be able to help please email

Back to index

Training weekend 16-17 February and online courses
We will be running our usual shorebased training weekend over the winter, on 16th and 17th February 2013. There will be an RYA Sea Survival course on the Saturday (held just outside Southampton), plus a number of other courses based in the Sea Cadet Unit in Gosport. We can certainly run youthwork, RYA GMDSS and RYA First Aid courses; but apart from that, you need to tell us what other courses you might like and we will book an instructor if there is sufficient interest - RYA Radar, Diesel Maintenance, Lifejacket packing, navigation or anything else! Each course lasts a day so once we have some idea of the demand we will work out which courses to run on each day so that as many people as possible get to do both the courses they want.

There will also be the usual social evening and meal on the Saturday. Details to follow for those of you who have never been to one of those weekends - for now, just put the date in your diary!

If you’re not sure what course(s) would be best for you, here’s the list of recommended / compulsory courses for volunteers:

Bosun: Recommended - diesel engine, sea survival.
Third mate: Recommended - first aid, GMDSS, sea survival
Second mate: Compulsory - first aid, GMDSS. Recommended - sea survival, diesel engine, radar
First mate: Compulsory - first aid, GMDSS. Recommended - sea survival, diesel engine, radar (though in practice it would be rare for first mates not to have the recommended qualifications as well as the compulsory ones).

James, who will have left us as staff skipper by that point, says he would consider coming back for the February weekend to run a 2-day Essential Navigation course if there is enough demand for it. This is the basic introductory course, suitable for bosuns, third mates, anyone hoping to join our sea staff next year, and any other keen sailors if you have little or no navigational experience.

We also recommend Powerboat Level 2 for everyone, which we won’t be running at the February weekend - however, let me know if you would like to do it and if we can get a group together we will look for some possible dates.

Don’t forget first aid certificates need to be updated every three years.

Please also note that it will be compulsory in 2013 for all qualified sea staff to have done some formal Child Protection training. If you haven’t yet done any, we recommend NSPCC Child Protection Awareness in Sport and Active Leisure which you can do very cheaply online and in your own time. (If you have done alternative child protection training, please email us the details). But the online training page not only gives OYT South members access to child protection training at the bargain price of £10: that single one-off payment gives you access to a range of recommended courses. We would very much like all sea staff to do the food hygiene course; and there are several other courses you will find interesting and relevant. The system is very straightforward - each course is broken into a number of short modules and you just have to read each module and then answer some questions about it. 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.

Back to index

* Winter Day Skipper / Coastal Skipper courses
If anyone might be interested in completing a Day Skipper or Coastal Skipper practical qualification over the winter, please let us know. These courses need to be done in a boat smaller than John Laing but we have the possibility of chartering something if enough people might be interested.

Back to index

Online navigation training for volunteers and young people
For some time now OYT South has been offering basic navigation training through the RYA's Essential Navigation & Seamanship course. Now for those of you who want something a little more advanced, one of our relief skippers, Simon Jinks, is offering online distance learning systems for the theory courses for Day Skipper, Coastal/Yachtmaster and Yachtmaster Ocean. Simon is a great sailor and a top instructor so this is very highly recommended. He is very generously offering a 15% discount for OYT South members and volunteers, so do mention your role with us if you get in touch. Details here. Please note that Simon’s website also includes Essential Navigation and the PPI course, both of which OYT South can offer in-house.

Simon has also very kindly offered one course a year as a prize for a promising member of sea staff who genuinely can’t afford to get their next qualification. If you are really keen to climb the sea staff ladder and hoping to do lots of sailing with us, email us or talk to the skipper on your next voyage to see if you can enter for this prize.

With our own courses and Simon’s we now have navigation courses to suit everyone from total beginners right up to the most advanced level - please give it a go and do ask for advice if you are not sure which course is right for you.

Back to index

Adult voyage vacancies
Adult voyages next year will be:

22-24 March 2013, Southampton, 2 nights, £190
21-26 April 2013, Southampton, 5 nights, £400
6-8 Sept 2013, Southampton, 2 nights, £190

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.

But the voyages are also open to other adults who just want to come for a sail or to see what we do.

Email me to book.

Back to index

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

Back to index

Children's hospices - voyage funding
Recently we announced that we were looking for new long-term funding support for our siblings voyages for children's hospices. We have already had one person very kindly setting up a monthly £10 donation which his employer will match. It would be great if other people would see whether their employers have a similar scheme!

In case you didn’t see the initial announcement: regular readers may remember that we started working with various children’s hospices a decade ago, offering voyages for brothers and sisters of life limited children and of children who have died. These voyages are hugely important, allowing young people to have a break while making friends with others who are going through similar experiences. In recent years, we have had one major donor supporting the children’s hospice voyages, but this autumn’s voyages will exhaust that fund and we are looking for new sponsors who can help us keep this project going in the long term. £3,000 supports 24 places each year; £125 (or £10 a month) supports one place. It is really important that we keep the project going, and anyone who hears the stories these young people have to tell couldn’t help being moved - if you can help them in the coming years it would be a certain way to feel good about yourself. Email me if you can help.

Back to index

Legacy leaflets
OYT South has printed some leaflets describing how people can support our charitable work through legacies. If you might want to remember OYT South in your will, please ask the office for a copy. We would also like to ask solicitors, accountants etc. to take a few leaflets - if you could give some leaflets to offices in your local area, contact the OYT South office for copies.

Back to index

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.

Back to index

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!

Back to index

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.

Back to index

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!

Back to index

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.

Back to index


“To be honest I never wanted to come, but I'm glad I did because I have learnt and seen so much!" Charlotte