At sea!


OYT South bulletin 12th October 2017

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

* Voyage news
Last week’s newsletter left our crew from the Prince’s Trust sponsored by HMS President setting off for a big sail all round the Isle of Wight. They found the conditions were quite rough and there was a fair bit of seasickness, but everyone still did the best they could, and really it was a cracking sail. They tacked back through the Needles and found that the wind dropped as they enjoyed a beautiful sunset. The sufferers were all restored and working as a team to sail back into Cowes.

The focus of this voyage was the ASTO Small Ships race on Saturday, competing against other sail training vessels crewed by young people. So on Friday morning after shore leave they went out into the Solent for a day of intensive race training. This involved plenty of tacking and gybing while the whole team were striving to become slick with ropes and winches and getting the best speed out of the boat. Back into Cowes that night and the race fleet had gathered - 20 different vessels of varying sizes, all crewed by young people. Because the boats are so different, this is a handicap race – the boats are obviously competing to do as well as possible against each other on the water, but the final race positions are calculated based on the handicaps which allow smaller boats to compete directly against larger ones, or older traditional designs against modern racing yachts.

On Saturday morning Prolific made an early start and was the first boat in the fleet to be out in the Solent with sails hoisted. They got a great start and were in second place on the water as they crossed the start line. The first leg took them down past Portsmouth, battling hard with other boats including Jolie Brise and Rona II. Prolific was in second place on the water as they rounded the first mark, and then took the lead off Bembridge as they rounded the second mark. The next leg involved tacking into the wind and it was here that the crew had to work really hard – they had two reefs in the main, two in the mizzen, plus the big staysail and another headsail, the ORC. On every tack the huge staysail had to be winched in tight in very windy conditions - more than 30 knots of apparent wind - so this was extremely hard work. All the young people did the very best they possibly could but although the staysail was giving them plenty of boat speed, it was just too much to handle - only a crew who had trained for months in the gym could have reasonably been expected to winch it in at speed on every tack! They kept it up as long as they could but eventually Andy was forced to decide to drop the staysail, which slowed the boat down a bit. However, Prolific was still the fourth boat to cross the finish line, and when the handicaps were calculated, it turned out that the team had come second in their class! They had a great time at the crew party that night with all the young people on a high after their great race result, and it was a really good celebration of teamwork and effort. The second prize turned out to be a red head-torch (which people can use without spoiling their night vision) - by coincidence the boat really needed one and Andy had gone shopping for one only a few days before, only to find that we really couldn’t afford a good-quality one. The prize was exactly the model he’d been looking at so Prolific will now have a really useful and valuable piece of equipment, thanks to the Prince’s Trust crew!

On Sunday the team did some navigation training so that the young people could take charge of the pilotage back to Southampton, completing 144 nautical miles for the voyage. In Southampton they cleaned the boat and did debriefs. The skipper said they really couldn’t have worked harder during the race, and all the group earned their RYA Start Yachting certificates. Big thanks to sea staff Andy V, Andrew W, Emma, Val, Phil, Willoughby, Chris and Glyn, plus Peta and Ollie who joined to help with the race.

This week’s crew has been a return visit for girls from Limes College, a pupil referral unit in Sutton. (You can read more about the work done by the unit here). The group included several of the same girls who sailed last year, but skipper Dougie says it has been a hugely positive and uplifting experience to see the change in them compared with last year. The first time they sailed, these girls showed quite complex behaviour; but this time they arrived with a much better approach, remembering a surprising amount of what they had learned last time and with a much better attitude towards taking part in voyage activities. This is of course their first time in Prolific as opposed to John Laing, and they are evidently enjoying the boat - having more space, and the fact that Prolific doesn’t heel over so much! They sailed to Cowes on the first night and have been day sailing out of Cowes ever since, in windy conditions. They have been working really hard towards completing some RYA qualifications, but they have also had some downtime – including a couple of move nights in the saloon. They have once again come with some fantastic group leaders - Dougie says “just the sort of people we really should be working with”. One illustration of the turnaround in this group compared with last year is that one of the girls is seriously asking about what she would need to do to be considered as a volunteer bosun in future! Huge thanks to our sea staff who have been doing a great job with these complex young people: Dougie, Peta, Martyn, Steve, Lucinda, Allen, Rosalie and Cathy. We certainly hope to be seeing a Limes group again next year.

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* Volunteer sea staff needed - one URGENT vacancy THIS WEEKEND
Following a last-minute cancellation this morning, we have the following vacancy for the weekend voyage starting tomorrow:

13-15 Oct - one more watchleader, trainee watchleader or bosun. The crew are on board from 8pm Friday to 5pm Sunday, so we need an extra member of staff who can join a bit before the crew (any time after 2pm tomorrow) and ideally stay for a couple of hours on Sunday after the crew leave. It should be a really nice crew and a fun weekend.

If you can help, please email

We won’t start thinking about 2018 sea staff bookings until November or December. We’ll announce in the bulletin when we are ready to start taking bids; We like to deal with all our volunteers at the same time so that we can try to be as fair as possible and also end up with the right mix of people on each voyage. By that stage we should have a good idea of client bookings, so we can match people to suitable groups.

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* Staff and volunteer training in November
- NEW details
We're not going to go straight into refit right at the start of November this year, but instead we are going to use some of the time while Andy is still with us for further training using Prolific.

We have now finalised the details for this period. This involves a few changes from the outline plans suggested earlier, so here are the details:

First, some of you will have heard that Ocean Village is being completely rebuilt over the winter and Prolific has to move out - which means that for a while we haven’t been sure where we would be using as a base for November sailing. The good news is that the marina has now confirmed that our pontoon will be one of the last to be taken out, so Prolific can stay in Ocean Village long enough for this training period. It looks as though we’ll probably be moving to the Hamble by the end of November but that won’t affect the sailing – we will be fully in refit by then.

We also won’t need the full period that we initially considered for November training. So here’s the November schedule as now planned, including voyages A and B which still have spaces for sea staff wanting to get involved with the training:

Weds 1st Nov: sponsors’ day sail. Staff and volunteer berths fully-booked.
Thurs 2nd/Fri 3rd Nov: staff team catching up with work on board. No volunteers needed except core refit team.
Sat 4th Nov: AGM and curry night - no volunteers needed on board but of course you are all welcome to book yourself in for the curry.
Sun 5th Nov:  no additional volunteers needed on board.
Mon 6th - Tues 7th Nov:  training voyage A - volunteers needed.
Wed 8th -Fri 10th Nov:  training voyage B - volunteers needed.
Sat 11th-Sun 12th Nov:  free weekend
Mon 13th Nov:  refit starts. Volunteers needed on weekdays from now until early April (apart from a Christmas and New Year break, to be announced).
Sat 25th -Sun 26th Nov: refit weekend - volunteers needed. See below for details of other refit volunteer weekends through the winter.

Please email if you are interested in joining training voyage A or B or both.

Ideally for training voyages A and B we’d prefer to have people who can do the whole of one or both blocks, which would give us the option of going somewhere if the weather is right. However, if you are keen to come along but can’t do a complete voyage, do let us know when you would need to arrive or leave and we’ll have to think about whether that will be possible. Of course if the weather is bad we may end up day sailing in the Solent but at this stage we don’t want to close down the options for something more ambitious which could make mid-voyage crew changes awkward.

In both cases we are thinking of starting at 0900 on the first day and ending at 1700 on the last day. People can join the night before - just let us know.

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Refit plans - NEW details

As you’ll see from the section above, we are announcing a couple of changes for refit timing and location.

The first news is that refit will now start on Monday 13th November, NOT on Monday 20th November as previously announced.

The second thing is that we had expected to have to move out of Ocean Village at the start of November as the marina is being rebuilt, but it has now been agreed that we can stay until the end of the month. We don’t have an exact date for the move, which is likely to be to the Hamble, but there is clearly a chance that the first refit volunteers’ weekend (25-26 November) can take place in Ocean Village. We’ll let you have more details about exactly when the move will take place and where we’ll be going, as soon as we know!

If you haven’t previously helped with a vessel refit, there is some general information here.

We will mainly be looking for volunteer help on weekdays from 13th November to early April (apart from a Christmas and New Year break, to be announced), but for those of you who can't easily get away from work Mon-Fri, we will have occasional volunteer weekends when we want all the help we can get. Dates are expected to be 25-26 November, 16-17 December, 13-14 January and 17-18 March. There may not be a February refit weekend as we hope to have our usual shorebased training weekend instead, with RYA courses such as first aid, GMDSS, diesel, radar etc. Dates and details to follow in due course.

The December weekend could have a particular focus on junior sea staff and young people who have earned sea staff recommendations recently - it might suit people who are at the end of the school or college term, or just home from uni. We would hope to have a minimum age of 16 for a junior sea staff refit weekend, but we will also need adults (with DBS clearance) to train and supervise junior volunteers at a refit weekend.

Please email if you are interested in coming along for any of the refit weekends. Food and accommodation available on board for refit helpers.

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Winter refit core team needed
Peta, Josh and Holly are going to need lots of help at refit this winter! As well as casual volunteers who help for the odd weekend or for days here and there whenever they can manage, we also need a full-time core team as we have had in recent years. Any members of this core team who are recruited in time can obviously take part in the sailing at the start of November, and we expect there will also be a sailing period for training at the end of refit, before the season begins in April, so full-time core team volunteers should get a good mix of sailing and refit work between November and March.

If you are planning a gap year, or you are between jobs or for any other reason potentially available for several weeks or months this winter, might you be interested in joining our full-time refit team? More details here, including an initial expression of interest form. Plenty of our previous refit volunteers have gone on to great jobs in the marine industry - it really helps to have maintenance experience as well as good sailing skills when applying for sailing jobs! And any refit volunteers who want to sail in Prolific can be offered berths as watchleaders, bosuns, or relief engineers. So it's a great way of developing useful experience, contributing to a good cause, securing free food and accommodation for a few months, and having a positive experience with a fun group of people!

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* OYT South AGM 4th November - formal mailing has gone out, please book NOW for curry

The formal notice of OYT South’s AGM has now been sent out to members, with the agenda, minutes of last meeting, accounts and details of candidates standing for election. If you think you are a member of OYT South and have not received this mailing, please contact

OYT South's AGM will take place on Saturday 4th November - this is normally a VERY short meeting combined with a lively social evening.

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: £16.95 per head. Payment link here.. Please note this advance payment is just for food - you will need to pay for any drinks or a tip on the night. Please book by WEDNESDAY 25th OCTOBER. Any bookings after that date will only be accepted if the restaurant can fit you in!

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.

Now that Prolific will be in Ocean Village after all, on the weekend of the AGM, it is possible that we can offer accommodation on board to people who are staying for the curry. Places are limited but please email if you will be looking for somewhere to stay and we will see how many people we can fit in.

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NEW Trustee standing for election at the AGM - NEW band video

The last couple of bulletins have introduced you to Edward Bishop QC who was co-opted by the Board back in July but now needs to stand for formal election by the membership. We mentioned that Ed also plays fiddle in the band Police Dog Hogan, and they have a new video out last week - enjoy:

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Andy's leaving present - please give generously!
Now that we have appointed Andy’s successor as Staff Skipper, it’s time to focus on raising some money for his leaving present. He’s given us five years, which involved our final seasons with John Laing, plus a major refit and the first season with Prolific. No other Staff Skipper for OYT South has been asked to run a full sailing season in one boat at the same time as managing the biggest refit we have ever done, on another boat, so we really do need to show Andy how much we appreciate all his efforts. Please give generously! There is a webpage here with a paypal link and details of other ways of contributing.

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2017 and 2018 voyage programmes - availability for young people

The remainder of the 2017 programme of voyages for young people is fully-booked at the moment but we do get occasional late cancellations - if you might be available for short-notice sailing, please email ask to be put on the reserve list.

Otherwise, please see here for a 2018 sailing programme. We are busy confirming group bookings but there will also be places for individuals - that means voyages where the young people generally don't know each other but want to come sailing and hopefully make new friends. We can accept bookings from people on their own or from two or three friends who know each other; but individual voyages are obviously not open to a school group booking, for example. So far we have confirmed dates for two individual voyages for 2018 but there will be others in due course! The voyages which have currently been confirmed as open for individual bookings are:

4-9 April 2018, 5 nights, starting and finishing in Southampton, age range 12-25, price £480 per person, 5 berths available.
21-27 August 2018, 6 nights, starting and finishing in ports in the west country (to be confirmed), age range 12-25, price £550 per person, 10 berths available.

Contact the office to book, or to enquire about other availablity for individual or group bookings. At this stage it is still potentially possible to amend parts of the 2018 programme to provide voyage dates and durations to suit your group, so please ask! But some periods of the 2018 season are already filling up very fast, so if you are interested in a group or individual voyage next year, do please email and let us know what you want, so that we can see what might be fitted around clients who have already put in their voyage requests.

Please note that we are NOT looking for volunteer sea staff bids yet! That process will start in November or December.

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Colin Baxter prints and postcard of Prolific for sale
We have a limited number of A4 prints and postcards of Prolific by the renowned marine artist Colin Baxter for sale - postcards cost £1 each and prints £6 each, including postage and packaging. Email to order.

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Mainsail hoist video

See here for a step-by-step video showing how to hoist Prolific’s mainsail safely - a useful reminder for less experienced or trainee watchleaders!


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Day Skipper practical course
Does anyone want to do an RYA Day Skipper practical qualification this winter? This needs to be completed in a smaller boat than Prolific and we will run one if we can get enough people. The date will depend on when people are available, and the price will depend on numbers on board, but if you might be interested, please email with any information about your availability, and we’ll put together a mailing list of people who would like to be kept informed as we get closer to being able to firm up any details.

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* Financial appeal

Huge thanks this week to Judi Brown for a donation in memory of her late husband Richard Brown, who used to bring groups of adults with learning difficulties on voyages with the Ocean Youth Club in the 1990s on board John Laing, Team Spirit of Wight and Duet.

Thanks also to Simon Jinks for a 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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* Easyfundraising - raise money for OYT South when you shop online
OYT South is now registered with Easyfundraising - you can raise money for the charity when you shop online. Easyfundraising says: “It doesn't cost you a penny extra. When you shop the easyfundraising way with one of our 3,241 shops and sites they give us a commission for your purchase. We turn that into a donation and give it to your good cause. Easy!”

If you ever shop online, do have a look!

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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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From youth crew to volunteer
Have you just done a voyage as a young crew member, enjoyed it, and been told by the skipper or any of the other sea staff to think about coming back as a volunteer on board? This is how many of our watchleaders and bosuns started, and it’s a great opportunity for getting years of very cheap sailing, plus something impressive to add to your CV, college or job applications. If you start volunteering with us and do well, you could gain invaluable experience in leading and motivating teams, looking after safety issues, taking responsibility and more - especially if you end up volunteering on some of our voyages with highly disadvantaged and vulnerable young people.

If you’ve had a recommendation from the skipper, it’s still really up to you to decide whether you are keen and ready to take this step - moving from being a young crew member who can be looked after and supported by the sea staff, into a position of responsibility where you will be looking after other people and responsible for helping to deliver a successful voyage to others, and accepting that this can involve hard work - though we hope our volunteers also have plenty of fun! Junior volunteers will still get support and advice from more experienced sea staff, but you really have to be ready to get stuck in when there are things to do and your effort can help make the difference to keeping the boat working smoothly and ensuring that another group of young people has the best possible experience!

But the next stage is really up to you. There are plenty of young people who impress us on voyages each year, but the ones who get to come back for more voyages, training and qualifications are the ones who show a real interest and make the effort to keep in touch - we simply don’t have the time to chase all of you individually if we don’t hear from you. Reading this weekly newsletter is vital - you will see when we are advertising for trainee mates or bosuns, or offering courses, or asking for help with maintenance or other events. You may also sometimes see that we have a short-notice vacancy for a crew berth - if we can’t fill the place with a paying customer, offering it as a cut-price or even free place to a new potential volunteer whom we know will be an asset to the team is much better than sailing with an empty berth. So if you are keen, PLEASE read the bulletin and don’t be afraid to reply and ask questions - if you’re not sure whether an opportunity is suitable for you or not, or if there might be age restrictions, just ask. We really do want to hear from you!

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Small boat training opportunities for sea staff
A while ago we consulted sea staff about the need for a small boat so that people can practise skills which aren’t easily learned in Prolific. While we have concluded, that - for the time being - the cost and workload of having a training boat of our own didn’t make that a good option, there was nevertheless a clear demand for access to a small boat. We have therefore made an arrangement with our good friends at the Discovery Sailing Project for the occasional use of their 34-foot Alexander Fairey. The yacht is currently having work done and will be lifted at the end of January and back in service around mid February. She can be chartered by OYT South sea staff on the following conditions:

The person in charge must have a full Day Skipper qualification and a recommendation from Mark Todd or Andy Viney confirming that you are an active member of OYT South sea staff with an appropriate level of competence; and there must be a second person on board with Day Skipper or suitable experience in case the skipper is incapacitated. Additionally someone must have RYA First Aid (or equivalent) and hold a valid VHF Radio Licence. At the moment the price is £250 for a weekend (Friday evening to Sunday afternoon) and £100 per day mid-week. This cost is ‘bare boat’. Cost for gas is included and diesel is charged at an hourly rate, deducted from a £20 cash deposit paid before takeover. The balance will be fully refunded if the vessel is left clean - if not, a deduction will be made for cleaning. Cleaning materials are provided.

Alexander Fairey sleeps a maximum of 8 people so might be suitable for a group of OYT South sea staff to get together and develop boat handling skills and command experience. Anyone interested should contact Clive Fisher at with preferred dates - obviously the boat is used for their own sea staff so the issue will always be about making sure they can fit everyone in.

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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
We are on Facebook at - please do give us a Like! if you were friends with John Laing on our old page ( please do move to the new page now.

We are also on Twitter @oytsouth so please follow us!

Please note that OYT South has a policy that our adult staff and volunteers should not make or accept individual online friend requests with crew members aged under 18. Young crew members can use the sites to stay in touch with the boat and with each other, but not with individual adults.

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Survey - tell us what you think
If you have recently completed a voyage, please help us by filling in our web-based survey. It really helps - we use the data to keep improving our voyages, and to help us raise funds!

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New readers' welcome and introduction
If you have recently registered your interest in OYT South, welcome to our e-newsletter, which is sent out almost every week, normally on a Friday. It includes a wide range of news from the boat and from the charity, including details of voyages available for young people; adult voyages; opportunities for adult volunteers both ashore and afloat, and much more. We find that while some people read the bulletin almost every week, many others dip in and out, and read it when it's convenient - which is why some items are repeated. The new items are marked with an asterisk * so that if you did read it last week, you can see which sections you can safely skip.

Please feel free to join in any OYT South activities - nothing here is restricted to long-standing members or people who already know one another. New people are always very welcome!

If you need an introduction to the work of OYT South, you should find a lot of useful information on our website. But essentially, we are a registered charity (no. 1079959) which exists to offer adventure under sail as a personal development opportunity for young people aged 12-25, from the widest possible range of backgrounds. A high proportion of our young crew members are disadvantaged or deserving in some way: many of these sail in groups organised by other charities, youth clubs, special schools and so on, and will fill the bulk of our term-time voyages. But those from more fortunate backgrounds are also welcome to sail, either in groups or by coming as individuals on a mixed voyage. Every year we run a variety of shorter local voyages plus longer adventure trips - 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