At sea


OYT South bulletin 14th October 2016

In this Bulletin
Sections which have changed since last time marked *

* Prolific refit - lots of help still needed, especially 21-23 Oct
Huge thanks to a fantastic team of people who have been helping with refit and maintenance this week: Andy, Chris, Dougie, Steve Higgs, Nick Steel, Peter Randall, Matt Tozer, Andy Morrill, Lucinda Neall, Andrew Wilkes, Cathy Ayres, Phil Hookham, John Niven, Jack Dignan, Marcus Hardiman, Willoughby Matthews, Jack Arbuckle, Steve Lacey and Mike Bunton - plus Josh and Jack Stray who were working hard on board John Laing during the maintenance day. The team got through huge amounts of work including antifouling Prolific, painting the boom, and putting the shrouds and other kit back on the mast. A new bow thruster control unit is being installed; a fan belt guard has been put on the engine; the fire pump locker has been cleaned out, and much more besides!

We still need more help all through next week but most particularly we need a really big push next Friday, Saturday and Sunday - 21-23 October - please email if you can help! PLEASE come along if you possibly can. Over-18s only.

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* Voyage news

One bit of news that should have been included in last week’s bulletin - big congratulations to Lou Wildblood who successfully completed her second mate’s assessment! Well done also to Andy Morrill who was on his first voyage with young people and made good progress with his third mate’s assessment which hopefully he should be able to complete on his next voyage.

Last weekend we had a crew of Scouts who enjoyed a lovely downwind sail to Poole on Saturday using the mizzen staysail. On Sunday they had a beat back in the sunshine, sailing all the way - they didn’t drop sails until they got to Dock Head. The whole group got RYA Start Yachting certificates and Dougie said it was a really enjoyable weekend. Big thanks to sea staff Dougie, Paul, Matt, Juan, Josh, Val and trainee bosun Jack Stray.

This week’s crew, joining on Tuesday after the maintenance day, was a group from Sherborne Learning Centre - young people not accessing full-time mainstream education. As expected, the voyage had its challenges, but they sailed to Cowes on Tuesday night and had a breezy day of sail training on Wednesday, with tacking and gybing practice and a man overboard recovery exercise. They had a later start on Thursday and sailed up the Solent in company with another sail training vessel, Queen Galadriel, arriving in Warsash last night. The voyage ended today in Ocean Village. Big thanks to sea staff Dougie, Andrew, Lucinda, Chris Hutton, Cathy Ayres who made great progress with her third mate’s assessment, and Jack Stray who had a good week on his first voyage as relief bosun.

Don ’t forget that you can always see where John Laing is sailing using our vessel tracking page, generously sponsored by the Graham High Charity.

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* OYT South AGM 12th November - BOOK NOW for curry night, plus volunteers' weekend

OYT South's AGM will take place on Saturday 12th November - this is normally a VERY short meeting combined with a lively social evening and a weekend of work on the boat for volunteers.

The AGM itself will take place at the Royal Southampton Yacht Club, 1 Channel Way, Ocean Village, Southampton, SO14 3QF - drinks at the bar from 1730, with the meeting itself at 1800. There will then be a review of the year before a curry night. As in previous years, we’ll be going to Kuti’s, Oxford Street (a short walk from the Royal Southampton Yacht Club) for their excellent all-you-can-eat hot buffet. As we need to give numbers to the restaurant in advance, the curry night is ONLY available to those who book and pay in advance: £15.95 per head. Booking and payment link here (you can pay using PayPal or a credit card).. Please note this advance payment is just for food - you will need to pay for any drinks or a tip on the night.

Please note that only paid-up members can vote at the AGM (you can join now here) but all OYT South supporters are very welcome to take part in everything else over the weekend. The official AGM mailing will go out to members in the next few days so if you think you are a member and you don’t get your copy by the middle of next week, please do let us know.

Please also email if you can help with work on the boat on the Saturday and/or Sunday. We need lots of people - this could be a big weekend for clearing kit off John Laing. Priority for accommodation on board after the curry night will go to people who are also there to help!

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Winter core team and 2017 volunteers needed
Regular readers will know that for many years, OYT South has taken on a small team of full-time volunteers over the winter to work on vessel refits in exchange for food, accommodation and the chance to develop their boat maintenance skills and experience. Winter 2016-17 will be different as we’ll be moving over to our new boat Prolific. Prolific has been in refit for some time while our current vessel, John Laing, completes the 2016 sailing season. Once the 2016 season is over, attention turns to Prolific: completing any outstanding refit tasks, conducting sea trials and dealing with any issues that arise, establishing new standard operating procedures and then running training voyages and weekends so that all our staff and volunteers can get used to a different boat before we start sailing with young people.

We are recruiting a small team of young people aged 18-25 for full-time volunteer positions over the winter (November to March and possibly beyond). The core team will be involved in maintenance and practical tasks, including helping to keep the vessel clean and tidy, and in all the sea trials and training, in order to provide continuity on board alongside other volunteers who may only be available to sail for a few days at a time. We are looking for people who can quickly become familiar with the boat and her routines and can offer reliable, enthusiastic and hard-working support to our professional skipper and engineer.

The hope is that one or two members of the winter team will excel enough to be invited by the skipper to stay on board for significant periods during the 2017 season and take part in our programme of voyages. This will mean that as our regular volunteers get used to running a very different boat, there will be one or two extra people who are familiar with everything. This will be a great opportunity for young people who wish to develop their sailing skills, qualifying as watchleaders or bosuns and learning from our engineer.

A place on the core team is worth considering if you are between jobs or on a gap year or have recently left school, college or university. It could be ideal for someone considering a career in the marine industry, but is also suitable for anyone who likes the idea of contributing to a good charitable cause.

If you are interested in applying for the core team for the winter, or you just want us to contact you for a chat about what's involved, please complete the form on the website here..

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* 2017 February shorebased training weekend - dates and courses available - more details!
The traditional OYT South winter shorebased training weekend will take place on 25 and 26 February 2017 in and around the Sea Cadet Unit in Gosport. The courses we offer will depend on the level of demand but could include RYA First Aid (recommended for all sea staff, required for second mates and above); RYA Diesel (recommended for bosuns plus second mates and above); Radar (recommended for first and second mates, required for skippers); and GMDSS assessments (this is a practical session following an online course which you can do at home) (recommended for third mates, required for second mates and above). Apart from the shorter GMDSS assessment, all the others are full one-day courses, so you can only do two over the weekend - assuming we can schedule your two chosen courses on different days, which depends on instructor availability and on organising the weekend so that the maximum number of people can do their preferred combination of courses! Prices vary from course to course but average around £75. Please tell us NOW if you would be interested in one or two of these qualifications - we will only book instructors where we are sure we can get enough people to make it cost-effective.

For those who don’t need one of these qualifications this year, the hope is that we can get a berth for Prolific in Gosport and run a full programme of training in anything that can be done alongside rather than sailing. This could include general tours so people know where everything is; daily and weekly checks for bosuns and engineers; fire drills; RIB launches and everything else we can think of that can be fitted into the days! So please put the dates in your diary and make sure you can come along.

First aid should definitely be going ahead - the usual excellent course run by Tony Salmon - as we’ve already had several people asking to do that qualification. We’ve also definitely got one of our usual diesel instructors (Jason or Adam) but we’ll need six bookings to make the course cost-effective. GMDSS assessments can go ahead with either Mark Todd or Lee Mosscrop. And we’ve potentially got a different option for the Radar course. We’ve had an offer from an outstanding instructor, Alan Watson, who has been involved with development and testing of Raymarine’s kit. His suggestion is that instead of running the RYA Radar course, he will instead run a day in two parts: a morning session for people who are new to using radar, and an afternoon practical session both for those who were there in the morning but also for others who have used radar before but want a really good practical session which could be using a professional bridge simulator, or else using the actual equipment on board Prolific. Mark saw Alan deliver a session at the RYA Instructors conference and says it was excellent and he strongly recommends that anyone from novices to experienced radar users should come along. The advantage of running the day in two parts like this is that people who only want to attend the afternoon practical session can also do some Prolific familiarisation in the morning.

There will be the usual very cheap and basic accommodation (boat mattresses on the floor in the Sea Cadet Unit) for those who want, food, and a great social evening on the Saturday.

Email and let us know what you’d like to do.

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2017 voyage programme - including Baltic adventure

The full sailing programme for 2017 is available here, including latest availability for our Baltic Adventure. We have already had some really strong advance bookings for 2017 so if you would like to sail next year as a young crew member, please do think about it NOW and contact

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2017 sea staff bookings and winter Prolific training
We are taking crew bookings for young people now for 2017 but we are NOT yet taking bids for 2017 sea staff berths. Those of you who have been with us for a while will know that we don’t go with first-come, first-served for sea staff - partly because we need to think in terms of putting together teams rather than dealing with individual bookings; partly because we want to make the process as fair as possible. It may help if we explain the sea staff bookings process here:

Sometime in November or December we will ask all qualified sea staff and those who have already earned new sea staff recommendations to look at the voyage programme and send in bids for what you would like to do in 2017. This might be voyage numbers, or the names of any regular clients you’d particularly like to sail with, or - for those who are really flexible - just the maximum number of days you can offer next year and any dates you can’t do. Once bids are in, we then have a mammoth process of trying to fit it all together, and this will go on through January and February. The process is really complicated - it’s not simply a question of finding dates that work for individuals and then 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. 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 we can give them enough time on the boat). We do want to recognise sea staff who give extra help to the charity - raising money, bringing in new clients, giving more refit help than others, or undertaking time-consuming or demanding extra voluntary roles. 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!

Two things will make this even more complicated than usual in 2017. The first is that we haven’t done a big overseas Tall Ships adventure for a while so we anticipate getting more bids for places than we can possibly accommodate, which will be difficult. The second is obviously the transition to Prolific and the need to ensure that we have enough people on each voyage who are familiar with how to sail her. Many thanks to all those who have sent in details of your availability for winter training. It is already clear that we may not be able to fit in everyone who wants to sail over the winter and we hope everyone will understand that we need to prioritise senior sea staff: if skippers, first mates and as many second mates as possible can get themselves comfortable with the boat, then they in turn can train third mates and bosuns as the season goes on. We’ll do our best to fit in as many people as possible for something over the winter, though (and there should be Prolific familiarasation available at the February training weekend), and we expect to be in a position to start allocating training dates very soon! Anyone who hasn’t yet been in touch about winter training should do so NOW or you may miss out.

We hope this explains things sufficiently for now but please do send any comments or questions (but not yet voyage bids, please!) to

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Adult voyages

We have three adult voyages planned for next year:

28-30 April 2017 - Southampton to Southampton - 2 nights (weekend voyage, 8pm Friday to 5pm Sunday) - 11 berths available - age 18+ (adult voyage, also suitable for training new potential volunteers) - £200pp.
23 June - 1 July 2017 - London to Cuxhaven - 8 nights - at least 4 berths available - age 18+ (adult voyage, also suitable for training new potential volunteers) - £645pp. North Sea crossing with cruising options in Holland and the Frisian islands.
8-10 Sept 2017- Southampton to Southampton - 2 nights (weekend voyage, 8pm Friday to 5pm Sunday) - 12 berths available - age 18+ (adult voyage, also suitable for training new potential volunteers) - £200pp.

Any of these voyages would be ideal for people aged 18+ who might be interested in volunteering with us and want to come and see how it all works; or for current volunteers wanting more training; or for anyone who just wants to come for a good sail and to find out a bit about the charity.

Please email to book.

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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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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.

Itextf 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!

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* Financial appeal

Big thanks this week to Kit Power for a very kind donation.

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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OYT South branded clothing - temporary website problem

T-shirts, hoodies and more are normally available here: - but the company involved (which is not part of OYT South) has encountered a major problem with their web hosting and it may take a few weeks to fix it. Do try the link but if it’s not working, you can call Spyprints on 01983 299314 and they can still take an order over the phone.

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Youth Trustee - speaking up for young people

OYT South has a rule that at least one member of the Board of Trustees - which runs the charity - should be in the same age range as the young people who sail with us. The current Youth Trustee is 19-year old student Jack Dignan, who did his first voyage with us a couple of years ago. Jack is in a position to speak up for young crew members, suggest changes in the way the charity operates or to do anything else which will improve the experience of the young people who sail with us. If you are a young person and you have ideas or suggestions for how we can do better, and you want to talk to someone close to your own age, you can contact Jack. If you’re not happy with something and want to know what to do about it, you might want to start by talking to Jack. If you want to get more involved - whether by just doing another voyage, or by training as a volunteer - Jack can point you in the right direction. You can email him at

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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.

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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.

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Keep in touch with other OYT South people
Many of you are already friends with John Laing on Facebook ( but we now have a new page: - 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!

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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 - 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, 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