At sea


OYT South bulletin 5th October 2012

In this Bulletin

Sections which have changed since last time marked *  

* Voyage news
An adventurous short voyage starting last weekend for Parkside School, where third mate Hamish Lochhead teaches. They joined in Gosport on Saturday and after safety training and basic drills, set off immediately for Alderney - a challenging passage in quite rough seas, especially given that almost all the crew were just 12 years old! The skipper was really impressed with how they all worked and kept going even with some of them feeling seasick. They had a good run ashore in Alderney, stayed there on Sunday night, and then started back at 10am on Monday. After a very fast passage with no seasickness at all, they were coming through the Needles by 9 o’clock that evening and were alongside in Cowes by 11.30pm. Another early start on Tuesday and they motor-sailed back to Gosport where the voyage ended. All 12 crew members earned their RYA Start Yachting certificates. Big thanks to the skipper Andy Bristow, and to John, Di, Andrew, Hamish and Dave.

The current crew are from the siblings’ programme at Naomi House Children’s Hospice, and they joined us in Gosport on Wednesday and sailed to Hamble on the first night. Yesterday they had a gorgeous sail in beautiful weather, tacking all the way to Lymington, where they played games. Last night they were glad to be safe in harbour because the wind was so strong that James actually though people might be tipped out of their bunks if they weren’t securely strapped in! But they got through the night without mishap, and today they are on their way to Cowes. There they will join a fleet of around 27 boats for the annual Solent Race run by the Association of Sail Training Organisations, which takes place tomorrow. The Naomi House crew are all ready for the race, and for a party in Cowes when it’s over! Many thanks to sea staff James, Andy, Adam, Emily, Kerrin and Dave.

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* OYT South lunch, farewell to James and AGM 20th October - deadline for booking Tuesday 16th October!
Please book NOW for our annual lunch gathering  - and a chance for many of you to say goodbye to James on Saturday 20th October in the Royal Southern Yacht Club, Hamble, before a short AGM. See here for details and how to book. The official AGM paperwork for members has been sent out by email so do let us know if yours hasn't arrived - or if you are not a member but would like to pay a subscription before the AGM! We have to give final numbers to the Club by the end of the day on 16th October, so the very final deadline for anyone wishing to book a ticket will be lunchtime that day.

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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.

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Training weekend 16-17 February - tell us now which courses you want
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 are now hoping to run youthwork, and RYA courses for the GMDSS radio licence. Radar, Diesel Maintenance and First Aid - each of which lasts a full day. There’s also the option of the short lifejacket packing course and the 2-day Essential Navigation course. Tell us now what you would like to do!

Once we have a better 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).

Ther 2-day Essential Navigation course 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.

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* Sea staff needed
We need someone to bosun on Monday 5 and Tuesday 6 November when we are running taster day sails for RYA instructors - a young bosun (16+) would be fine if you have sailed in that role with us before, or any other bosun or qualified mate who can look after the bosun jobs.

Email me if you might be able to help.

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2012 and 2013 sailing programmes - bookings for young people - including ONE last place this year!
Owing to some cancellations, we have at least 1 space available on a weekend voyage 12-14 October this year, with bursary funding down to £135 from £180 to help us fill it. The weekend starts 8pm Friday in Southampton, and ends in the same place at 5pm on Sunday. Age range 12-25. 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.

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Refit news
Refit manager Ben “Sparky” Whinnett 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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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.

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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.

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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