Prolific is back in the water!
Huge thanks to everyone who has helped at various times all through the refit; but this week’s team who helped with the major push to get her launched consisted of Steve Higgs, who kindly organised things over the weekend while Andy was away, plus Lou, Jack, Josh, Chris, John, Tom, Jess, Vicky, Marcus, Mark, Andy, Mike, Miranda, Louis, Nick, Willoughby and Vince - massive thanks to everyone. The weekend involved fetching fenders and mooring lines from the store; antifouling the areas of the hull previously covered by the chocks; and lots of tidying of the boat and the yard. On Monday, Prolific was launched and is looking magnificent in the water. Then the mainmast and main and mizzen booms were loaded onto the deck - a long day so special thanks to all involved in making it run smoothly. On Tuesday Prolific was moved from the launch berth to a marina berth in Saxon Wharf.
Even though she is now in the water, there is a still a great deal to do before Prolific is ready to start sailing. The core team has plenty to do next week and we’re not looking for casual volunteers from 31 October to 6 November; but from 7th November we’ll be looking for volunteers on weekdays right up to the Christmas break - as well as the refit volunteers’ weekend 12-13 November. Please email email@example.com if you are able to come and help at any time!
* NEW Sailing Support Officer
OYT South is delighted to welcome Peta Koczy who is joining us for one year as a full-time Sailing Support Officer.
In Prolific’s first year, our team on board faces a very significant additional workload due to things like having to develop completely new standard operating procedures, re-writing the voyage handbook (“baboon file”) and systems manual - and keeping them under review as we run the first year’s youth voyages so that we can develop the best and safest techniques for undertaking every activity on board. We also need to be generating the material to revise every one of the charity’s publications - from website to crew handbooks. In addition, we are looking at one year’s intensive investment in training our volunteers. It’s been fantastic to see so many of our volunteer sea staff putting themselves forward for winter Prolific training - but demand has been so great that clearly many volunteers will only get a few days’ training and some may not manage to get even that much this winter. It’s a real shame that we can’t fit in everyone for all the training they might have liked; but this new appointment is designed to address the evident demand for training. It’s also clear that we’ll keep learning new and better ways of using Prolific as the season goes on, and a volunteer who learns one approach on a training voyage in February may find that things have changed by the time they come back for a youth voyage in June. Appointing an extra member of staff will allow us to offer a much greater level of training and support to our volunteers next season.
These considerations made Peta ideal for the new role. First, she is an extremely experienced Ocean Youth Trust first mate who is thoroughly familiar with the charity’s approach and ethos and thus ideally placed to help us apply all that to the new boat. Second, she is a qualified Yachtmaster Instructor with all the skills to help us deliver high-quality training to our volunteers.
Peta’s OYT experience began with a voyage through the Caledonian Canal with OYT Scotland at the age of 15. The following summer she volunteered as a bosun. In 2011 she joined OYT Scotland’s Cadet training programme, through which she gained her Yachtmaster Offshore qualification, and at the end of the Cadetship she was offered a full-time job as an OYT Scotland first mate. Last winter she was awarded a place on the ASTO International Exchange to spend a few weeks sailing in the three-masted barquentine Spirit of New Zealand. At the beginning of this year, she started working as a freelance first mate, sailing a variety of vessels around the country - including John Laing (in fact it was on one of our summer voyages that Peta celebrated her 22nd birthday this summer).
Peta says she is really looking forward to joining the OYT South team at such an exciting time for the organisation - and we are delighted to be able to strengthen our team in this way for Prolific’s first year. A commitment to safety lies at the heart of everything that OYT South does and we believe that having an extra member of staff with strong qualifications and experience is an important investment in this transition period. At the end of Prolific’s first season with us, we should have all systems in place and volunteers trained so that we can return to previous staffing levels.
* Welcome to the winter core volunteer team
As in previous years, we have taken on a team of full-time volunteers to help us over the winter - initially to work on Prolific’s refit and then to support the sea trials and volunteer training and to help our staff with any work on the boat arising from lessons learned during the winter sailing period. Three volunteers have been recruited for November to March, and a fourth is joining us just for November-December.
Please welcome the following volunteers to the team:
Sophie Palmer (18) - a dinghy instructor who says “I am keen to get more involved in the yachting side of the maritime industry whilst maintaining my interest in working with children, young adults and those with special needs. I am excited by the prospects of being involved with a project from its early stages with the opportunity to develop into the role.”
Matt Warwick (21) did a voyage in John Laing last year, He has recently graduated and is looking forward to spending a few months helping us with Prolific while potentially waiting to join the Royal Navy.
Tom Tindall (24) is another experienced sailor (a day skipper and a dinghy instructor) with significant knowledge of boat maintenance and a very strong practical background in a wide variety of areas
Louis Morrison Last (26) is joining us initially for two months as we don’t have space for a fourth full-time person through all the sea trials and volunteer training. Louis has recently completed his Yachtmaster Offshore qualification (one of his instructors was an OYT South volunteer, Dom Coleman, who recommended that Louis should get involved with us). Louis wants to develop his knowledge and experience in boat maintenance in order to help him move into skippering work somewhere in the sailing industry.
Sophie, Matt, Tom and Louis are all joining us from next week but despite having such a strong core team, we still need all our other volunteers to help out over the winter - not only is there a huge amount still to do, but also winter maintenance is a great way of getting to know the boat. So please do come along - and help to make the core team feel welcome, as their efforts and enthusiasm will be critical to the charity at such a busy time!
* Prolific celebration event 13th May 2017
More details to follow but for now, please put Saturday 13th May in your diaries as a Prolific celebration event (late morning / lunchtime in Ocean Village). At that stage we’ll have run some voyages; some young people and volunteers will have sailed in her; and we’ll be holding the formal celebration event to mark Prolific’s arrival as OYT South’s new sail training vessel.
* Voyage news
Last Friday was the start of half-term and we had a crew joining that evening to make the most of the time. This was a second voyage for the Hackney children in care team, which first sailed with us in 2015, and this group was once again outstanding - lovely young people and fantastic adult leaders. They had lots of briefings on Friday night before bed and were able to get going on a passage to Poole on Saturday, arriving in the dark with a navigation exercise for third mate Jake, followed by a late dinner and bed. On Sunday they did some training towards their RYA certificates before setting off in more challenging conditions - force 6 winds and lots of tacking. The first plan was to stop in Lymington but in the end they went all the way to Cowes and had showers and shore leave. They planned a navigation exercise back to Ocean Village, where the whole group earned their RYA Start Yachting certificates. It was a great voyage with lots of fun and singing, and we very much hope to see another Hackney group on board next year. Big thanks to sea staff Vince, Martyn, Laura, Allen, Jake and Rosalie.
The final voyage of the season - and John Laing’s final voyage with OYT South - started on Wednesday. This was a mixed group involving some of our young trainee sea staff plus a wide variety of individual bookings. They had a light-wind motor-sail to Cowes on the first evening, with dinner on the way. On Thursday they did training, happy hour and showers before sailing out through the forts and ending up in an anchorage in Sandown Bay for dinner and games before bed. After a lovely night at anchor, they had a cracking sail this morning and are heading into Gunwharf tonight for the "Spice Island Press Gang Treasure Trail". The crew are all working hard towards their RYA certificates. Big thanks to sea staff Andy, Rooby, Josh, Jack (who stepped in as second mate at short notice following a cancellation), Andy Morrill who is working hard towards his third mate’s assessment; Paige and Shernice who are sharing the bosun’s duties; Ollie who has bosunned before and is enjoying being more involved on deck this week - and finally Laura, the second mate from the previous voyage who kindly stayed on for a few extra hours at the start of this voyage to help with briefings etc before Jack could get there.
Don't forget that you can always see where we are sailing using our vessel tracking page, generously sponsored by the Graham High Charity.
* OYT South AGM 12th November - PLEASE BOOK for curry night before NEXT FRIDAY
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 has now gone out by email so if you think you are a member and you haven’t received it, please let us know NOW!
* Volunteers' weekend12-13 November
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you can help with work on the boats on Saturday 12th and/or Sunday 13th November. 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!
* 2017 February shorebased training weekend - dates and courses available!
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 (mattresses on the floor in the Sea Cadet Unit) for those who want, food, and a great social evening on the Saturday.
Email email@example.com and let us know what you’d like to do.
If you want to do RYA Sea Survival, this is not being run as part of the training weekend but KTY Yachts will include OYT South volunteers on one of their courses at the discounted price of £80 - contact them direct to arrange a course.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.
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 (especially people who can’t manage Prolific training over the winter, or whom we can’t fit it); or for anyone who just wants to come for a good sail and to find out a bit about the charity.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to book.
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 email@example.com 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.
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!
OYT South branded clothing - temporary website problem
T-shirts, hoodies and more are normally available here: http://www.spyprints.com/shop/oyt-south.html - 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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, 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.