* Important news about plans for the 2016 sailing season
As you know, we have been working hard towards replacing John Laing with our new boat Prolific. Sadly we have just had to take the decision that we are not able to do this in time for the 2016 season, and this year’s voyages will be run in John Laing, with Prolific coming into service for the 2017 season.
The key issue for us has been the safety of everyone on board, and our ability to deliver the quality of voyage that our clients expect from Ocean Youth Trust South. The background is simply that, on expert advice, we have to replace the mizzen mast, and the timescale for designing and building a bespoke mast means that Prolific could not be ready until well into the season. This creates a second issue: we need to provide training for our staff and volunteers so they can run safe voyages for young people in a very different boat; but once we’ve started the season in John Laing, we would struggle to run proper Prolific training - we just don’t have enough staff and volunteers to keep both boats sailing at the same time. Therefore, we have very reluctantly concluded that it would not be safe or sensible to try to bring Prolific into service for the 2016 season.
Andy, Josh and the team have been working miracles to try and get Prolific ready - really no-one could have worked harder, and we can’t thank them enough for their efforts, alongside all those of you who have been along to help. But sadly the timescale for a new mast is out of our control.
The plan now is to run another full season in John Laing, and then complete all the training and preparation required for Prolific over next winter (including weekends and whatever we can do to help volunteers with limited availability), so that by the start of the 2017 season we have everything ready to offer all our clients the quality of experience they should expect from us. You probably know that we have just been awarded the trophy for Sail Training Vessel of the Year by the Maritime & Coastguard Agency and the Association of Sail Training Organisations, which is a wonderful recognition of the standards we offer on board, and we don’t want to let those standards slip by rushing to bring a new boat into service before everything is quite ready.
We are so sorry if this is disappointing for anyone but we do hope you will all feel that we have made the right decision. We bought Prolific with a view to securing the future of the charity in the long term - so we can all still look forward to many years of great sailing in her!
* Core refit team - one more person needed
The refit team would really appreciate one more full-time person to join them, to finish some work on Prolific plus getting John Laing ready to start the season! If you are available from now until March 25th, or at least for a few weeks during that time, we can offer food and accommodation as well as valuable experience in boat maintenance which in previous years has helped many people move into paid sailing work. If you think you might be interested, details and an “expression of interest” form to complete are available here.
* 500th OYT South bulletin!
This is the 500th edition of a newsletter which has been produced regularly on Fridays since 2003 - if you want to see previous issues, they are all on the website here.!
Allocating volunteer mate and bosun berths for the season NOW!
We are deep in the process of allocating volunteer berths for the season, so if you want to sail as a volunteer this year and haven't already been in touch, please send in details of when you are available and how much time you can spare NOW - otherwise you may find that all the voyages you might have wanted have been filled!
If you have NOT yet had a recommendation from our skipper to join our sea staff, you need to do a training/selection voyage first: see below:
If you have had a skipper's recommendation but are not yet an assessed and qualified member of sea staff, your next step is to sail on a youth voyage of four nights or more, for further training and assessment. Not all voyages are suitable for this but please send in details of your availability and we'll aim to match you with an appropriate voyage.
Qualified sea staff (anyone who sailed with us as a watchleader or bosun last year) - ideally please give us voyage numbers of anything you would like to do (see here for voyage numbers); or give me names of any regular clients you'd particularly like to sail with. But if you have really flexible availability, the easiest thing is to tell us the maximum number of days you can offer this year.
Please note that it is much easier for us if you send in details of when you can sail and how much time you can offer, rather than emailing asking what dates are available. The reasons for this are complicated but I will try to explain the process - not to put you off (we do really want people to volunteer) but hopefully to help people understand how difficult it is for us to get the volunteer bookings organised!
Essentially, it's not simply a question of finding dates that work for individuals and then just booking you. What we have to do is put together a TEAM of staff and volunteers for each voyage, with a skipper, 1M, 2M, 3M, bosun and often but not always a trainee mate, and we can't book anyone until we have at least some idea of who else is going to make up each team. For example, at least one adult on each voyage must be a woman, if there are girls in the crew; and then we have to think about special skills if the group includes people with disabilities or challenging behaviour. We also don't want to end up with a voyage where two or three of the mates are all newly-qualified at their particular level - if the second mate has only just passed his or her assessment then they shouldn't be paired with a brand-new first mate...Then sometimes the client will be a school or charity where a staff member has qualified or wants to qualify as a volunteer, so needs a staff berth. Meanwhile, some client groups are just not suited for brand-new trainee mates. Plus we have to think about some priority bookings (e.g. people who have been identified as fast-track first mates or skippers, if I can give them enough time on the boat). And we do promise that people who help the most at refit get priority over anyone who hasn't been along at all! We also give preference to people who raise money for us or introduce us to new clients.....And on top of all that we want to try to be fair to all our volunteers and make sure everyone gets at least a voyage or two!
I hope that explains things for you - so please get your bids in NOW if you possibly can. We are already starting to confirm some bookings and we'll take into account the preferences of as many people as we possibly can. Once the main round of allocations is completed (hopefully by the end of February) we will advertise any remaining gaps, but you may find there's not a lot of choice at that stage.
Please send bids or questions to email@example.com.
* February 2016 training weekend - NEXT WEEKEND
Just a couple of people haven't yet paid for courses or booked meals, accommodation and parking - please do sort this out NOW if you need to! The booking form and payment link is here.
If you have booked and paid, don’t forget that all the details such as address and timings are on the webpage here.
If you are not doing a course but would still like to come for the supper on the Saturday night, you are welcome (just complete the booking form) but we MUST have final numbers for meals by 5pm next Wednesday 17th February so the catering can be organised!
Please note that terms and conditions for shorebased courses are available here.
The Radar and First Aid courses are both FULL. (We had looked into running an additional First Aid course as we had a few reserves, but we have just taken the decision that we don’t have enough interest to run it cost-effectively, so it will be just the one course).
There is ONE space left on the Diesel course - please let’s try and get this filled! Does anyone want it?
We can still fit in extra GMDSS assessments (this is the qualification for using the ship's radio) but please note these follow an online course which MUST be done befoere the training weekend so book NOW if you want to do this! See here for details.
There is no upper limit other than the size of classrooms for the number of people who can do the Chart Corrections or Youthwork courses so we can still add extra names to those lists - see here for details of what these courses involve and email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to book.
We're not 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.
Don't forget that a Child Protection course (updated every three years), and Food Hygiene qualification are both compulsory for all sea staff and can be done quickly and cheaply online here (though we can accept alternative recognised training if you send us the details). The online course page also offers other valuable youthwork courses which you may find interesting - especially as you can do the whole lot for a single payment of £10, so if you are paying for Child Protection, you might as well do other courses while you're there.
We also recommend Powerboat Level 2 for everyone (required to drive Prolific's dinghy with an outboard engine), but we won't be running this at the February weekend - it can be difficult to get a group together for this one (it's a 2-day course). However, we have a volunteer who is a Powerboat instructor so if you want to do this course, email email@example.com and we'll put you in touch in the hope that you can sort out suitable dates between you.
* Refit news
Massive thanks this week to Andy, Josh, Josie, Lou, Ben, Chris, Jack “The Charts” Dignan, Allen Swift, Ian Standish, Harry Warley, John Niven and David “Tigger” Heffer. This has been a week of painting Prolific’s hull so that she now has beautiful shiny topsides - tremendous thanks once again to International Paint for their very generous support and top-quality products and advice. Meanwhile, the new generator is now on board, work on the windlass is finished, and lots of other jobs are going on…
We still need plenty of help over the next few months, on weekdays (weekday volunteers are like gold dust, says Andy) and on a few special volunteer weekends (the next one is 12-13 March). If you can come and help for a day, a weekend, a week or more, please email firstname.lastname@example.org including your phone number and any details of when you are available. Please also let us know if you have any technical skills or boat maintenance experience - these will obviously be useful but not essential as there will also be days when the help needed is more about things like moving gear around! We can usually offer accommodation to helpers, space permitting. See here for more details about our refit.
* Volunteer needed with eBay skills
We have all sorts of bits of kit - mainly taken off Prolific and including a fridge, washing machine, generator and more - which we aren’t going to need and which could be sold on eBay to help the charity’s funds, but we could really do with a volunteer to take the whole thing off our hands and organise all the sales. That means everything from taking photos and doing descriptions of items, putting them on eBay, and arranging sales and collection of items by buyers. Does anyone fancy taking this on? It would be a huge help! Email email@example.com.
Alfreton Park voyage appeal
Many of you will know that among the highlights of each year is our annual voyage with Alfreton Park Special School - young people with conditions such as Down’s, cerebral palsy or global development delay, who sail alongside adult carers. It is always inspiring to see how much these young people can achieve on board, and over many years this voyage has become a very special part of our season. However, the school itself has always struggled to pay for the voyage - not least because they need to pay for the carers as well as the students - and relies on a series of donors. This year we have a couple of significant donors already in place, but with school funding tighter than ever, they need a bit more help - at least for 2016, but even better, a long-term donor or group of donors to help secure this voyage for the future. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to help!
Huge thanks once again to everyone who has been contributing to the Prolific Appeal to ensure that we can do all the work needed to bring our new boat Prolific into service. It has been incredibly heartwarming to see so many people giving what they can afford - some really generous donors making very significant contributions but also some people who genuinely don't have much money putting in £5, £10 or £20 just so they can feel part of the project. If you haven't yet contributed, PLEASE help us now! The new boat project has been going for so long but the end is really in sight, we are so nearly there, and your contribution could just get us over the line.
If you were thinking of donating to OYT South's New Boat Appeal but thought that your contribution couldn't make enough difference to the overall total, or you planned to donate as we came closer to completing, NOW is the moment when we need you to help us complete the work on Prolific. Your contribution, however large or small, is really needed so PLEASE give us whatever you can afford! Prolific needs items ranging from sails at a few thousand pounds each, down to small things costing under a hundred pounds. If you are ever going to make a donation, NOW is the time to do so. If you'd like to see Prolific sailing with an Ocean Youth Trust South crew and be able to feel that you were part of the project, please do give something, however large or small. £1,000, £100, £50 or even £10 will mean that you had a hand in making this work, and even young crew members can be involved! The Ocean Youth Club and Ocean Youth Trust has 55 years' history as a charity to which hundreds and even thousands of individuals have a lasting commitment and an emotional connection. Prolific will be joining this fine tradition so please become a part of it, take your share in the project and welcome Prolific to the OYT family by contributing to the appeal. If you are part of OYT South, Prolific will be YOUR boat so please help us to get her ready! Anything you can give really will make a difference. See here for how to donate, or click below to donate online:
Please donate NOW while you are thinking about it - don’t be left regretting that you weren’t involved in getting this lovely boat working with us!
2016 adult voyages - including training volunteers and selecting potential new volunteers
There are two scheduled adult weekends and one longer adult voyage which can be used for sea staff training, selecting new volunteers - and any other over-18s (no upper limit) who want to find out more about OYT South, or just come for a great sail and some valuable training:
22-24 April (8pm Friday to 5pm Sunday) - Southampton - 2 nights - age 18+. £195pp (ONE place left!)
13-17 June (2pm Monday to 12 noon Friday) - Gosport - 4 nights - age 18+. £355pp
16-18 Sept (8pm Friday to 5pm Sunday) - Southampton - 2 nights - age 18+. £195pp
Please email email@example.com to book.
* Financial appeal
Big thanks to Juan Silveira, Kerry McMillan and Heather White for donations this week!
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.
OYT South branded clothing
T-shirts, hoodies and more are always available here - do have a look!
Raise And Sail - website for anyone looking to raise money to come sailing
Raise And Sail is a section of this 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.
Online navigation training for volunteers and young people
OYT South has been offering basic navigation training through the RYA's Essential Navigation & Seamanship course - do have a look and sign up if you want the qualification.
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. 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.
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.
Keep in touch with other OYT South people
Many of you are already friends with John Laing on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/johnlaingsailing) but we now have a new page: https://www.facebook.com/oytsouth - please do give us a Like! At the moment we are mainly putting posts on both pages but in the long run we will be using the OYT South page more so it would be great if more people started using that page.
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.
We are also on Twitter @oytsouth so please follow us!
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!
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 - sometimes 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. And there is a video here, made by a crew from the Prince's Trust, to give you an idea of what a voyage might be like!
We have a professional staff skipper and engineer, 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.