Steering in a straight line!


OYT South bulletin 6th April 2012

In this Bulletin

Sections which have changed since last time marked *  

* BBC Radio Solent TODAY Friday 6th April
Listen out for BBC Radio Solent’s H2O programme at 7 o’clock tonight for an interview with OYT South Chief Executive Mark Todd, plus material recorded on board with the crew at the end of this week’s voyage.

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* Sea staff needed
- some urgent April vacancies!

This is the current vacancies list - can anyone help?

16-21 April - experienced 3M or additional 2M for adult training voyage
30 April-4 May, Southampton - second mate
10-11 May, Gosport - experienced 3M or additional 2M
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
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 voyage vacancies coming up soon!
We have some spaces coming up on an adult (over-18) voyage:

16-21 April 2012, Southampton, 5 nights, £400pp - 4 places available.

This is partly for training new people who might be interested in joining our volunteer team, or giving more experience to current sea staff; but it’s also open to any other adults who just want to come for a good sail. Email me if you might be interested.

The only other adult voyage planned for this year is this:

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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* Boat camera needed
Does anyone have a camera you no longer need that you could donate to us? The boat camera has died! We don’t just need pictures to remind ourselves about voyages: it is often about collecting evidence for clients, supporters and donors whose continued enthusiasm is vital to keeping us going. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, but a simple heard-wearing digital camera would be much appreciated. Email if you can help.

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* Voyage news
A mixed voyage this week - the younger brother and sister of one of our volunteers, with several of their friends; plus a group from a school in Gosport, and another individual booking. They sailed to Lymington on Saturday night; and Sunday’s April Fool was the promise of an 8am start next day - when in fact it had to be 6am to catch the tide! They had a good sail down to Weymouth, especially passing the Needles in the sunrise.

Next day there was time to visit the town and the beach, before entering one of those periods when the weather forecast messes with all the best-laid plans. They had hoped to go to Poole but the forecast said it was going to get really rough and windy, so it made sense to head back for the shelter of the Solent. The bad weather never materialised but they found plenty to do instead. After picking up a buoy outside Yarmouth, Tom’s watch took charge of the night navigation to Cowes. There they did RYA training next morning before going out into the Solent for tacking and gybing practice. It did get windy for a while, but only to the point where the crew really enjoyed the boat heeling over. Arriving in Hamble, they also enjoyed the showers!

More RYA training next morning before Adam’s watch took charge of the navigation to Beaulieu; and then Brigid organised an exercise with cryptic clues for each team to work out the name of a buoy - and then they had to navigate to that buoy. Then there were some exercises - man overboard recovery drill and fire drill - before finishing up in Ocean Village on Wednesday night. Next morning they had a visit from BBC Radio Solent (see above) and the crew left with RYA Competent Crew certificates for all 12 of them, after a week with huge amounts of fun and laughter. Many thanks to sea staff Mark, Sparky, Adam, Tom, Brigid and John.

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* 2012 sailing programme - voyages available including one Tall Ships race berth
We now have one last berth available for a Tall Ships race this summer:
12-25 Aug, La Coruna (Spain) to Dublin, 13 nights, £950 plus travel, age range 15-25. A fabulously exciting voyage sandwiched between two of the best ports for Tall Ships festivals. The experience of a lifetime!

Another priority at the moment is to fill two voyages which at present have no bookings:
6-8 July, weekend voyage out of Poole, £180pp - 12 places available (full boat booking).
8-12 Oct, Southampton, 4 nights, £320pp - 12 places available (full boat booking).

We can be flexible about how any currently-empty voyage is used. Ideally we'd like to run youth voyages (age range 12-25) but 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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* Refit facts and figures
March refit figures: 127 days worked, 29 by staff and 98 by volunteers. 102 nights’ accommodation used in the refit house. That makes a total for the 2011-12 refit of an amazing 620 days worked, 173 by staff and 447 by volunteers; and the refit house provided 542 nights’ accommodation. Huge thanks to everyone involved. This is by far the biggest volunteer effort we have had for an in-water refit.

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Possible Open Day?
If there is sufficient demand, we are looking at the possibility of having a John Laing Open Day in Southampton on Friday 18th May. A great chance for adults or young people to look round the boat in harbour and find out more about our voyages or our charitable work. Ideal for donors, prospective clients or anyone else keen to find out how we work. If you might be interested, email

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Online navigation training - available now!
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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Other online training - coming soon
Those of you who were with us for the presentations at the Gosport training weekend recently will have heard Ben “Sparky” Whinnett talk about another set of courses we will shortly be able to offer online. This will cover 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. We’ve been setting up a webpage so you can book and pay - we’ll let you know as soon as we are ready to start taking bookings.

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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