Core refit team: meet Joe and Dom!


OYT South bulletin 7th November 2014

In this Bulletin

Sections which have changed since last time marked *  

* Voyage news
The last bulletin ended with the boat in Dieppe and the team eating croissants. They also had lunch in France and left that afternoon for a fantastic sail back across the Channel - at least 7 or 8 knots most of the way, surrounded by stars (and the occasional minesweeper). Dawn broke as they came in sight of the coast and they sailed up the eastern Solent early on Saturday morning, before tying up in Cowes to catch up on some sleep. This was familiar territory for four of our crew who had been chosen and supported by the OYT South Isle of Wight support group - many thanks to them! (And if you live on the Isle of Wight and would like to get involved with the support group, do email and we’ll put you in touch).

The crew got up for lunch, sailed off the pontoon and went out into the Solent for tacking and gybing exercises before sailing back into Cowes for fish and chips.

One crew member had to leave early as she was heading for an event with the UK national dinghy squad, but everyone else enjoyed a great sail back up to Southampton, speeding along under headsail and mobile disco. And there the voyage - and the 2014 sailing season - ended, with three more RYA Start Yachting certificates and nine Competent Crew certificates. Big thanks once more to sea staff Andy, Richard, Di, Holly, Lucinda and Jack – as well as all the other sea staff who have made our voyages possible in 2014!

Back to index

* Season facts and figures
Excluding staff and volunteers, we took 552 people to sea in 2014 - filling 92% of all available berths. Only three berths were never sold or allocated at all - the remaining 45 empty berths either resulted from clients booking the whole boat but then not bringing a full group of 12, or else people dropping out too late to be replaced.

403 of these berths went to people aged 25 or under (the great majority of adults either came for day sails or volunteer training voyages). A further 64 volunteer berths went to people aged 25 or under, almost all former service-users - making a total of 467 berths filled by young people. 70% of the places on voyages for young people went to working with those who may be classed as disadvantaged (either the young people themselves or staff, leaders and carers who were essential for the young people to be able to sail).

During the year, 165 people earned RYA Start Yachting certificates and 102 people got the more advanced Competent Crew qualification.

We signed off 11 new third mates, three second mates and a first mate, as well as successfully training two skippers.

Back to index

* Refit news - introducing the team!
The refit has started!

And there’s only 19 weeks (including Christmas and New Year) to get it all done!

Welcome to this year’s core team: at the moment we have four full-time volunteers joining our staff team of Andy and Harri. Holly Vint is one of our regular volunteers - she first sailed as a crew member in 2012, joining  a Guides crew on a voyage from Plymouth to La Coruna. She has stayed involved and this year qualified as a third mate. Aga Widlak comes from Poland - we met her during the Tall Ships series last summer when she was John Laing’s liaison officer in Szczecin. We had a spare berth on the next voyage so we kidnapped her and she has never looked back, sailing this season as an occasional relief bosun. Dom Ballisat is the brother of Mieles who was one of the core refit team a couple of years ago - he’s been a sports coach and is hoping to get selected for the Royal Marines. And Joe Macgregor has been working for a yacht design company but is now exchanging his desk for some oilskins (or, more immediately, for sandpaper and angle grinders). So that’s the team for now, but if you’re interested in getting involved it’s still worth getting in touch in case other opportunities arise!

This week the team has started stripping the boat and emptying the lockers, as well as working to sort out a refit house. There are lots of people coming to help this weekend so we hope to get through loads of jobs - but do contact us if you would like to come and join in!

See here for information about John Laing’s winter refit and how you can get involved. The 2014-15 refit runs until Friday 20th March 2015.

We have some volunteer weekends arranged so that people who are busy on weekdays can get involved:

8/9 November (THIS weekend)
13/14 December - we are hoping to use this weekend to involve some young people and potential relief bosuns. If you sailed on a voyage this year and were told that you had done really well and should come back and train as a volunteer, this could be the ideal weekend for you. Email for more information.
17/18 January
7/8 March.
(NB There is no volunteer refit weekend in February because there will be a shorebased training weekend instead).

On other weekends the refit is normally closed so that our staff can have time with family and friends! But we can also use volunteers during the working week, Monday-Friday, through most of the winter (Christmas break to be confirmed). Most people come and help for a day or two, but it is possible to come for longer and we can usually offer accommodation.

We need as many volunteers as possible, skilled or unskilled - email to get yourself booked in!

Back to index

* OYT South 2014 AGM and supper, Saturday 8th November (tomorrow)
If you have booked for the AGM and the curry afterwards, we look forward to seeing you - preferably all weekend to help with the refit but failing that, for drinks in the bar at the Royal Southampton Yacht Club, Ocean Village, from 5.30pm (NOT the Royal Southern Yacht Club in the Hamble where we have held AGMs over the last few years). The formal business of the AGM starts at 6pm prompt, and will be followed by a review of the year from Mark, and then more drinks before we head off for curry at around 7.30pm.

Back to index

Shorebased training weekend 21-22 Feb 2015 - replies needed urgently!
We urgently need a rough idea of the level of interest in various courses which we could offer on 21-22 February 2015, in the Sea Cadet Unit in Gosport, so that we know which instructors to confirm and which courses to put on each date to minimise clashes. As things stand, only the first aid course and the GMDSS radio exam look as though there will definitely be enough people for us to go ahead (though neither is full), so if you want to do Radar, Diesel Engines, Chart Corrections or possibly a Disability Awareness course, please let us know NOW. You don't need to commit until after we have confirmed the price, but we don't have up-to-date prices until we have a rough idea of the demand. Email and let us know what you would like.

There will also be the usual social evening and meal, and cheap basic accommodation 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!

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:

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, first aid, 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).

Don’t forget that a Child Protection course (updated every three years) is compulsory for all sea staff and can be done quickly and cheaply online (though we can accept alternative recognised child protection training if you send us the details). The online course page also offers other courses including Food Hygiene which is STRONGLY RECOMMENDED for all sea staff.

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.

Remember that first aid certificates need to be updated every three years - do check when yours expires!

Back to index

* Prince’s Trust Celebrate Success Awards
The Prince’s Trust, with whom OYT South has been working in recent years, held an event on Wednesday to celebrate the success of thousands of young people who have taken part in their programmes in London and the South East this year, and to present awards to the eight most outstanding young people. So it was quite amazing to find that two of the eight winners were John Laing crew members!

Lyle “Ace” Ashun won the Breakthrough Award (“recognising the progress of young people who have developed new skills to enable them to make positive steps in facing their challenges and stabilising their lives”). Lyle sailed with us in September 2013 after a few years in which his life had been really difficult. He found the experience “amazing” and came back to volunteer at last year’s refit. He has now founded his own film and photography business and is looking to return to education.

And Casey Taylor won the Young Achiever of the Year Award which “recognises young people who have struggled through unimaginable difficulties to transform their lives...and are now inspiring others to strive for such success.” Casey sailed with us a few weeks ago on a voyage organised by the Saints Foundation at Southampton Football Club, and is hoping to sail with us again next year.

Huge congratulations to both Lyle and Casey!

Back to index

2015 sailing programme
The 2015 programme is now available. Email to ask about bookings.

Back to index

* RYA practical qualifications for OYT South volunteers - NEW availability for December Day Skipper

Owing to a cancellation, there is now a place available on an RYA Day Skipper practical course as follows:

RYA Day Skipper - 5-10 December
Learn to sail and skipper small yachts in familiar waters by day. Pre-course knowledge required for Day Skipper: basic knowledge of navigation to the level of the Day Skipper Theory Course and basic sailing ability including at least 5 days' sailing, 100 miles and 4 night hours. Courses generally run from 1830 on the start date and finish c.1700 on the end date. Special price for OYT South volunteers: £370 per person.

Email to apply.

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

* Mike James & Associates
A few weeks ago we reported that OYT South had secured a very generous grant of £10,000 from the Openwork Foundation, part of a network of financial advisors. Our bid was very kindly sponsored by Mike James of Mike James & Associates. He would be very happy to talk to any members and supporters of OYT South if you are looking for advice on pensions and retirement planning, investments, mortgages, life insurance, will-writing, and estate planning. He's been in business now for 19 years and he'd love to hear from you:

Obviously OYT South is not in a position to vouch for any particular financial advice so do consider carefully before choosing any advisor!

Back to index

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.

Back to index

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.

Back to index

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.

Back to index

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.

Back to index

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.

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. 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.

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