London 2014 - and royalty at the helm!


OYT South bulletin 5th September 2014

In this Bulletin

Sections which have changed since last time marked *  

* Royal visit - and a relief bosun’s speech!
John Laing had royalty on board this morning!

HRH The Countess of Wessex, Patron of the Association of Sail Training Organisations, came on board John Laing this morning at her berth near Tower Bridge, steered us off the berth and down the river towards our berth for the Tall Ships festival in West India Docks. She spent time talking to the young people who were our crew for the Tall Ships race from Falmouth. As the first sail training charity to earn The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, OYT South was delighted to welcome another royal visitor, and her enthusiasm and interest made it a great day for the young crew members, volunteers and staff.

After this short voyage with us, she went on to a reception on board the sail training vessel Tenacious. Before the Tall Ships festival in Greenwich, members of the Association of Sail Training Organisations had been asked to nominate a young person to give a speech at this event to an audience including many other dignitaries as well as HRH The Countess of Wessex. OYT South was very proud that the young person chosen was our own nominee, Jack Dignan, aged 17, who originally sailed in John Laing with a group of young people who were partially-sighted. Jack earned a recommendation to come back as a relief bosun and has since done more voyages in John Laing.

Jack's speech was outstanding, in terms of both content and delivery - so much so that Dr Maggie Atkinson, the Children's Commissioner for England, who was in the audience, told him he should be a future Minister for Education. She also asked him whether, before he got involved in sail training, he would have had the confidence to stand up and speak in front of an audience like that. No, said Jack.

Here's Jack's speech: - please do read it as it deserves a wider audience.

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* Voyage news
Last week’s newsletter saw John Laing in Falmouth at the Tall Ships festival. The crew that sailed her there had a great time taking part in activities and seeing the other vessels, and left on Saturday with nine RYA Competent Crew certificates.

The new crew joined the same day, with a couple of familiar faces and some new individuals as well. Saturday afternoon was spent doing briefings, followed by an early dinner to allow people time to enjoy the festival. The evening ended aboard a neighbouring boat, Tectona, to the music of an Abba tribute band and fireworks. Next morning, the team was up early and set off at 10am for the parade of sail which was an extremely impressive show of boats of all sizes. The race start for class C followed at 16:45. John Laing had an excellent start, crossing the line first out of the class C boats. The first evening of the race saw light easterly winds, and the boat was set up to goose wing with a poled-out head sail. The following day saw more light winds with the occasional rain shower and a lot of games on watch. On Tuesday, the wind built and filled in, coming round to the south west, and the crew had an exciting sail up to the finish line just off St Catherine’s point on the Isle of Wight, finishing early on the Wednesday morning.

The wind died down during Wednesday and a combination of sailing and motoring saw them passing Dungeness early that afternoon, and arriving on the Isle of Sheppey in the Medway a couple of hours later. After a much needed happy hour, the crew played games and had dinner followed by an early night and the first 8 hour sleep in 4 days. On Thursday, we motored up the Thames and through the Thames barrier to a fantastic berth right next to Tower Bridge. As described above, John Laing moved to her berth for the festival in West India Docks this morning with our royal visitor at the helm.

Big thanks to sea staff Andy, Ben, Emma, Martyn, Harri and a special guest appearance for the voyage from our previous staff skipper James!

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* John Laing in London
The Greenwich Tall Ships festival lasts from 5th to 9th September, and there will be plenty to see and do - if you are in London, why not come along? The festival is spread across different sites (see here for details) but John Laing will be in West India Docks - do say hello if you are passing. Our race crew will be on board until lunchtime on Sunday 7th September. That afternoon and all day Monday 8th September we have arranged for a number of visitors to come and see us. Other visitors are welcome during this time but if you are a large group or want to speak to someone in particular, it may be best to phone and arrange a time to come - the boat phone number is 07990 518915.

On Tuesday 9th September we need to move John Laing to a different berth near St Katharine Dock - we’ve got a few volunteers lined up to help with the move but could do with one or two more people, ideally including a qualified OYT first mate - email me if you might be around and able to help.

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* Sea staff bookings 2014 - URGENT VACANCIES
We are getting close to the 18-21 Sept voyage and still really need one more member of sea staff - bosun, watchleader or trainee watchleader - can anyone help?

Please let me know now (email if you can help with any of the following vacancies. Mates' berths are open to qualified OYT South sea staff and bosun berths to anyone aged 16+ who has been told by a skipper that you should come back and volunteer (some voyages do need experienced bosuns, but please ask). Trainee watchleader berths are open to anyone aged 18+ who has been told by one of our skippers that you should come back and volunteer - you must have a DBS check (the new version of the CRB) and have done a quick online child protection course.

18-21 Sept - Southampton - bosun and one more watchleader or trainee watchleader
30 Sept - Southampton - one more watchleader for a day sail with one of our major sponsors
12 Oct (Sunday) - 2M and 3M needed for NEW Gosport day sail.

Dates given are when young people are on board so please bear in mind that sea staff will normally be asked to join the night before, except for weekend voyages.

NEW potential volunteers: please read this information first.

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* Adult voyages - September vacancies!
Are you aged 18+ and interested in an adults-only voyage this month? These voyages are ideal for new potential volunteers who need to get a skipper's recommendation to sail with us on youth voyages, as it allows you to get to know the boat and our routines without the pressure of working with young people at the same time. But they are also open to any adults who want to have a fun voyage, to learn a bit more about sailing, perhaps, or to try a larger boat than you are used to. Available dates are:

11-17 Sept 2014 - London to Southampton - 6 nights - £495pp - a very special adult voyage which begins with sailing down the Thames and might, weather permitting, allow us to cross the Channel on the way back to the Solent. 3 berths available.
26-28 Sept 2014 - Southampton - 2 nights - £195pp. 3 berths available. Ed Green - Yachtmaster Instructor, Yachtmaster Examiner, twice round the world skipper and legendary Ocean Youth Club Staff Skipper, will be running it as a "Thinking Outside the Box" weekend - a chance to examine the way we do things and look at new approaches and different ideas. This will be a brilliant opportunity to look at the way we work, with someone who is a leader in the industry. This weekend is open to all qualified sea staff, trainee mates and bosuns aged 18+, and we can still also include new potential volunteers who want to come along and find out more about us. Email NOW to book!

If you have already had a skipper ’s recommendation to come back as a volunteer then you are welcome to join one of these voyages for extra experience, but otherwise your next steps are described here.

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* MyMDLSelfie - only one more week to go!
MDL marinas are very generously donating £1 for every selfie received via social media using the hashtag #MyMDLSelfie. See here or here for more details - please get your camera or phone out and get snapping! Closing date 12th September.

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* 2014 voyage programme
Full list of current vacancies:

11-17 Sept, London to Southampton - 6 nights - 3 berths available - age 18+ (adult training voyage) - £495.
26-28 Sept, Southampton - 2 nights - 3 berths available - age 18+ (adult training weekend) - £195 pp.
13-17 Oct, Gosport to Southampton - 4 nights - 7 berths available - age 12-25 - £345pp.
21-24 Oct, Southampton - 4 nights - berths possibly available tbc (please ask) - age 12-25 - £260pp.

See here for updated availability or the full 2014 programme. or draft 2015 programme. BOOK NOW, or email if you want to find out more.

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* OYT South 2014 AGM and supper, Saturday 8th November
We’re trying a different approach with this year’s AGM which we hope might make it easier for more people to come along - and cheaper for those who want to stay for a meal together afterwards. The plan this year is that there will be a refit volunteers’ weekend 8th and 9th November in Ocean Village and we’d love to see as many people as possible helping on the boat. Then from 6pm we have a room booked for the AGM at the Royal Southampton Yacht Club (that’s the one in Ocean Village, NOT the Royal Southern Yacht Club in the Hamble where we have held AGMs over the last few years). All welcome - whether or not you can help at the refit!

After the AGM we hope people will join us to go out for a curry - please let me know as we’ll be a big group and we need to give the restaurant an idea of numbers.

If you are not currently a paid-up member of OYT South but would like to vote at the AGM , please contact the office a.s.a.p.

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* Changes to south coast Search and Rescue Co-ordination
Sea staff please note changes affecting Solent and Portland:

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Maintenance days
- change of dates
We are moving the October maintenance day in order to fit in an extra day sail for a client with limited availability. The maintenance day previously scheduled for October 12th in Gosport is now cancelled, and will take place on October 20th in Southampton instead - making that week’s voyage slightly shorter.

Help needed on the following maintenance days on board John Laing this season:

29 Sept - Southampton
20 Oct - Southampton

With John Laing in constant use, it's vital that we make the best possible use of every maintenance day in order to ensure that everything stays in good condition and that no-one has their voyage spoiled by defects or maintenance problems. So we really appreciate anyone who turns up to help on maintenance days! Both skilled and unskilled jobs available. Just call the boat (07990 518915) to book yourself in, so the skipper can plan jobs and make sure there is food for everyone who is coming.

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Core refit team - winter volunteer positions available
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 refit team this winter? Details here including how to apply. Food and accommodation provided.

All of last year’s full-time refit volunteers have gone on to other sailing or boat-related activities. Amy has spent a lot of the season with us, working her way up as bosun, third mate and now second mate. Jack is also still in sail training, with a job on board Ocean Spirit, Gordonstoun school’s boat. George has been all over the world working in yacht delivery. And Dan is currently out in Greece, fitting teak decks.

We have been offering core refit team places for years, and we are still in touch with dozens of past volunteers - both those working in sailing, and those who have gone on to university or other work, many of whom are still sailing with us as volunteers and would say that the refit is a hugely valuable experience, a lot of work but also a lot of fun!

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Training weekend 2015 - advance date for your diary!
We’ve got the option of using the Gosport Sea Cadet unit for the traditional winter shorebased training weekend on 21st and 22nd February 2015 - please keep the date free! We would hope to offer RYA courses including First Aid, Radar, the GMDSS radio exam (which follows an online course), Diesel Engines, and other options such as chart corrections or youthwork, depending on demand. If you want to do one of these courses, let us know and we’ll finalise prices, agree which courses happen on which day, and book instructors as soon as it looks as though we have sufficient interest. If there’s another course you would like to do, let us know and we’ll see whether it’s possible to arrange it.

We won’t be offering RYA Sea Survival over that weekend but we do recommend this course for all OYT South sea staff. KTY Yachts runs the course regularly and will offer good rates to our volunteers - you can book direct with them.

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2015 sailing draft programme now available!
The draft 2015 programme is now available. There's still plenty of time to try and change it if your group needs something which is not currently on offer.

Please also do look through the programme for any mistakes and let us know! If we have one voyage starting before the previous one ends, or a voyage marked as 4 nights when it is really 5, or a price that doesn't seem to make sense compared with other voyages, do let us know before we start taking confirmed bookings!

Email to ask about bookings or with any comments on the programme.

Some people may wonder why we are not planning to take part in the Tall Ships Race series which goes to Norway in 2015. The answer is that Race 1 and the cruise in company both fall in school term-time and, at 13 and 10 nights respectively, would be very expensive for participants - Race 1 over £1,100 per person - and we just didn't think we could sell them. Race 2 is the only one we could be reasonably confident of filling. Plus we would need to get the boat to Belfast for the start (more expensive voyages not only in term-time but actually during the exam season) and back from Aalborg at the end (school holidays but still involving flights). If we got interest from a number of clients able to make group bookings for these voyages, we could still reconsider; but as things stand we are concentrating on some more accessible voyages which hopefully will attract a lot of young people.

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Voyage funding available for members of the Reserve Forces and Cadets
OYT South has been approved as a provider by the Connaught Trust, which can help with voyage funding for members of the Reserve Forces and Cadets in Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and adjoining counties. If you are eligible and would like to sail with us, please contact us for details.

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Voyage funding available for young people living in Surrey
We have a grant from a donor based in Surrey to pay for two young people from the county who could not otherwise afford to sail this summer. We had allocated the places but sadly the young people involved have had to drop out for personal reasons. But we must either spend the grant or return it: so if you know anyone aged 12-18 living in Surrey who is disadvantaged or vulnerable for any reason, or even just from a family which can’t afford a proper holiday, please email me now. And please pass this on to any teachers, youth workers, social workers or other professionals in Surrey!

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Can anyone donate a filing cabinet?
We need a lockable A4 filling cabinet for refit. It must have keys that work. If anyone has one they could donate to us, please email We’ve been offered a 2-drawer cabinet but we need either a four-drawer cabinet, or another two! It’s for keeping the boat’s medical kit, including all the drugs, over the winter.

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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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Chris Ellis Award - win £££s off sailing

If you enjoy a voyage with OYT South and want to come again next year (and are aged 12-25), please think about entering for this award. You can win up to £200 off the price of another voyage, by sending in an account of a voyage you have already done with us. It can be a logbook, diary, story, pictures, video - anything which gives the judges an idea of why you had a good time and would like to come again. The prize is judged at the end of each season and the award can be spent on a voyage the following year. Entries should be emailed to or posted to the office to arrive by Christmas. See here for more details of this award, which was set up in memory of the charity's founder.

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New boat funding ideas
Matt Dewhurst is doing great work in the office researching funding ideas for the new boat, but he needs all the ideas he can get! We are asking everybody to think hard about who we should approach for donations. We are building up lists of companies, wealthy individuals, organisations - and anybody else! - who are potential donors. Please help us with this by thinking as widely as possible and giving us your ideas.

We also need to think of all the people we know and write them down. If there's an important contact and we don't know them, we can probably find somebody that does. Once you start thinking about who you know, and who your families, friends and work colleagues know, a big list can be built. Please build up your list and let us have it. We won't actually approach any of your contacts unless you give us permission.

Sometimes people start this exercise by saying: "I don't know anyone wealthy", but with a bit of thought they realise that their brother-in-law works for a company that sponsored a major event, or that they have a friend from college whose uncle runs a big business. So if you can't think of any good contacts straight away, please don't give up - keep thinking, and keep asking people. When you have an idea, email it to us at Don't worry for the moment if the connection seems to be quite tenuous: it may be that your idea jogs someone else's memory, or that one of our other supporters knows that person better than you do. We just need the ideas!

At the moment, how we approach people is not important. We've got lots of ideas, from letters, to special events such as day sails for high level donors. We will work this out as soon as our lists are built.

Our campaign will take a long time - perhaps two or three years. If we all put our hearts and souls into it, we will succeed. Please help - we can't do it without you.

See here for more about the New Boat Project.

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Has sailing with OYT South changed your life?
Have you done a voyage with OYT South that has made a real difference to you? Have you got a job or a college place because your confidence had improved, or because you talked about your voyage in an interview? Did a voyage change something for you at home or at school? Have you been able to do something you couldn’t do before? Did earning a sailing qualification make a difference to you? Did you make friends who have been important to you? Have you been happier or got on with anyone better since your voyage? If so, we really want to know! Please email and tell us your story. If there’s anything confidential, of course we promise to protect your identity if we ever use anything you tell us.

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Child Protection training

All sailing volunteers must have done some Child Protection training before booking any voyage.

If you have done a course in the last three years, please email us with the name of the course, the awarding body, and the date of the training, and we'll add that to your records.

If you still need training, we recommend Child Protection in Sport and Active Leisure which you can do very cheaply online and in your own time. It's not complicated or time-consuming - you should be able to complete it in a couple of hours and some people are getting through it much faster.

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. We can see at a glance who has signed up and who has completed a course.

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Food hygiene course
Owing to new regulations, it is now important that every voyage should have one or more people on board who has done a food hygiene course. Any sea staff who haven’t done this: please note that we offer a cheap and straightforward online food hygiene course via the same provider as the Child Protection training - in fact, if you paid for the child protection training in the current licence period, all the other courses on the list, including food hygiene, are already paid for! If not, then it’s still only £10 – so please can we encourage all sea staff to get on and do it. If you already have a food hygiene certificate that we don’t know about, please email a copy to the office and we will add it to your records.

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Volunteer berths - how to qualify
It might be worth explaining the process with sea staff bookings for the benefit of new volunteers.

If you haven't yet started the process of becoming a volunteer member of sea staff, you need to get a recommendation from one of our skippers. If you are aged 18+ you can do this on an adult voyage; if you are aged 12-25 you can do it on a standard youth voyage (so if you are 18-25 you have a choice - though it is possibly better to try a youth voyage as this gives the skipper a chance to assess how you work with younger crew members, which puts you one step ahead in the process).

If you have already had a recommendation to sail with us (usually from having taken part in a mates’ training or familiarisation voyage, or from having sailed as a young crew member and being asked to come back for volunteer training, if aged 16 or over), then we would very much like to see you sailing with us. Too often people get a recommendation and we don’t hear from them again! But please understand that with 80-100 active volunteers, it simply isn’t possible for us to contact each of you individually.

What you need to do is send in any bids for voyages, ideally by the end of January each year. We need to sort out the complicated stuff first: specialist sea staff for more challenging voyages; first mates (because there aren’t so many of them); women (we have twice as many male volunteers as female but we must have a female mate if there are girls in the crew, and there almost always are); and then the volunteers with restricted availability (we have numbers of teachers and students, for example, who can only ever sail in school or university holidays). But none of that should stop other people from sending in their bids - we’ll be working on possible allocations all the time. Once the more complicated places are filled, there are gaps for people with more flexible availability. Our job at that stage is to try and give everyone at least one of the voyages they want, and after that to offer more to the people who can give more time. We also aim to get a good mix of people on each trip, and to sort out training / assessment voyages for new mates. By the time we get into February each year, lots of volunteer berths will be filling up, so it's always worth getting your bids in early. After February, there may be a few spaces left - they will be announced in the newsletter as they arise.

Assessment voyages for new people who have recently had a recommendation should run over at least four or five nights. We tend to avoid booking brand-new volunteers on weekend voyages: when time is so short, we need more experienced watchleaders who know the boat and are up to speed from the moment the young people step on board. Not all longer voyages are suitable for assessments, either; but we do aim to fit in as many people as possible. Where there are multiple bids for the same voyage, preference is given to people who have helped out in other ways (at the winter vessel refit, raising money, finding new young people to sail). It also helps if you come to a shorebased training weekend - normally held in February each year.

We hope that is a useful guide, but the key message is to keep in touch - if you have been told that we would like to see you on board, then we really mean it!

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OYT South clothing range
OYT South clothing - hoodies, t-shirts, polo shirts, fleeces, caps, ties and more - is all available through this webpage. A donation will be made to OYT South for every item they sell.

The Slam jackets (which you may have seen sea staff wearing) are also available but they are cheaper in bulk, so they aren't on the webpage just now - if you wanted to order one, email If we only order one or two, they will cost £110 plus postage, but this will be cheaper if we can order five or more at the same time.

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Recycle print cartridges and mobile phones for OYT South!
OYT South has signed up to a recycling scheme that means money is donated to us for any printer cartridges (excepting Epson in general) or mobile phones which are recycled.

You can bring small numbers of cartridges to the boat or the office; but if you know of a company that may be willing to recycle for OYT South then please get in touch! It's really very low effort on your / the company's behalf: Essentially, all we need is an address and an approximate amount of recycling per month and a recycling box will be delivered directly to the company. Once the recycling bin is full, call the number on the box and it's collected for you. More details here.

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Raise And Sail - website for anyone looking to raise money to come sailing
OYT South has recently launched Raise And Sail, a new website full of ideas, information and support for young people who would like to raise money in order to come sailing with us. Huge thanks to Fiona Keen and Emma Burrows for putting Raise And Sail together. We hope you will find it useful - let us know how you get on as we can add success stories and new ideas to the site in due course.

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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. He is also offering a one-day Weather for Sailors course. 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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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