Refit volunteers


OYT South bulletin 9th March 2012

In this Bulletin

Sections which have changed since last time marked *  

* Refit news
John Laing is coded! That means she has passed the inspection which enables us to operate as a sail training vessel for the season. Many thanks to everyone whose hard work has made this possible, especially James, Dave and the core refit team.

We had a huge group of helpers at the last refit volunteers’ weekend, and the work has continued all week. All the safety gear is back on board, the mainsail is on, the running rigging is back, the stormboards and floorboards are back, the bunk cushions are back, the saloon and cockpit have been painted, the galley has been torn apart and put together again, and the compass has been swung. Many thanks to James, Dave, James2, Patrick, Yves, Sparky, Harriet Smith, John Niven, Juliet Graham, Kat McNally, Viki Lough, Alex Gee, Vicky Botting, David Blogg, Zoe Auckland, Alistair Jessen, Dave Hodgson, Katie Leedham, Heather Chamberlain, Marcus Hardiman, Jack Trevail, Carrie Potter, Tim Bayley, Jon Seddon, Phil Trevail, Richard Patterson, Mark Boggis and Fraser Old - what an amazing volunteer turnout!

That was the last refit weekend, but we still need people on weekdays up to March 16th. Please make refit bookings direct with James and NOT by replying to this bulletin - it gets too confusing otherwise! Call him on 07990 518915 or email to book yourself in. 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.

Key dates when volunteers are needed include 14th and 15th March, when we have to move out of the rented refit house and get it properly clean and tidy to ensure we get our deposit back - extra help on those days can make a real difference.

Now it’s just 10 days till the first young people of the season join us for a voyage!

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* 2012 sailing programme - weekend voyages available

One priority at the moment is to fill three weekends which at present have no bookings:
18-20 May, weekend voyage out of Southampton, £180pp - full group booking (12 places) available following a cancellation.
6-8 July, weekend voyage out of Poole, £180pp - full group booking (12 places) available.
2-4 Nov, weekend voyage out of Southampton, £180pp - full group booking (12 places) available.

We can be flexible about how any weekend 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). The boat is available from 8pm Friday to 5pm Sunday, but we can always consider running two separate day sails on the Saturday and Sunday. We could run the sailing for an organisation, or just for an informal group of friends. If you have any ideas for filling the places, please let us know!

Other than that, we have the following berths definitely available:

8-12 Oct, Southampton, 4 nights, £320pp - 12 places available (full boat booking). Age 12-25.

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

We've spent a lot of time in recent weeks booking sea staff. Any qualified sea staff who have been in touch about dates but haven't heard back, please let me know now! James is dealing with relief bosun bookings; and we need to save some 3M and 18th berths for training new people, but we still have the following vacancies - can anyone help?

30 April-4 May, Southampton - second mate
6-9 May May, Southampton-Gosport - first mate
10-11 May, Gosport - experienced 3M or additional 2M
18-20 May, Southampton - 1M
21-25 May, Southampton - 1M
18-22 June, Portland to Southampton - 1M
25-30 June, Southampton - experienced 3M or additional 2M
6-8 July, Poole - 3M
16-21 July, Plymouth - 1M and female mate needed, either 3M or additional 2M
22-29 July, Plymouth - female mate needed, either experienced 3M or additional 2M (preferably available to stay on till 31 July to help with Tall Ships prep)
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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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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* Volunteer sea staff training voyages - open to other adults
Training voyages in 2012 - suitable for new potential volunteers but also for qualified sea staff who want some practice:

16-21 April 2012, Southampton, 5 nights, £400pp - 4 places available.
14-16 Sept 2012, Southampton, 2 nights, £180pp - 11 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.

These voyages are also open to adults who might not want to volunteer but would be interested in coming for a sail with us - especially if you don't mind pretending to be a teenager while potential volunteers practise leading a watch!

Email me to book.

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* Ocean Witness
One of our regular sponsors, the Whirlwind Charitable Trust, has asked us to help them with some research into Marine Conservation - another project they are funding. They have been very generous to OYT South and it would be great if our members and supporters could help them in return, by completing this online survey. It only takes five minutes and your help will be much appreciated!

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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