Prolific's first youth voyage!


OYT South bulletin 13th April 2017

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

* Prolific video
To celebrate the true start of Prolific’s career as an OYT South sail training vessel, we have published a video to show people what a fabulous boat we have!

This video is a tribute to all the staff, volunteers, sponsors, donors, suppliers and other supporters who contributed to bringing Prolific to the UK and getting her into such fantastic condition. Big thanks to Andy Bristow for bringing the drone! Please share this video with anyone who might be interested in the charity. It is also on our Facebook page so Facebook users can share it from there.

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Voyage news - Prolific starts sailing with young people!

Prolific has successfully completed her first voyage for OYT South with young people on board!

The crew joined last Saturday: four individual bookings plus six young Award Winners and a return visit for one of last year’s winners selected by our major sponsors, Marina Developments Limited. It was great to have the MDL Award Winners on board for Prolific’s first proper voyage because MDL played such a huge part in helping us buy and refit the boat and providing a berth for her in Ocean Village.

The first passage was from Ocean Village to Shepards Wharf, Cowes, with winch drills and dinner on the way. On Sunday morning, they had showers and brief shore leave and then headed west out of the Solent, with a man overboard recovery drill as they went. Approaching Poole they were met by Joe Macgregor, a previous refit volunteer who also did some fundraising for us, who came out in his Laser dinghy to welcome Prolific to Poole. On Monday the team decided on a big hit, all the way to Dartmouth, and they got some good sailing mixed with a bit of motoring when the wind died, and the crew enjoyed being accompanied by dolphins in Lyme Bay. They arrived in Dartmouth around 8.30pm. Next day they motor-sailed back (more dolphins), passing through the Needles Channel with an amazing moonrise, and ending the day in east Cowes. A more relaxing start on Wednesday and a trip to the fuel berth was followed by moving to Trinity Landing for lunch and shore leave in Cowes, and a pilotage planning session. Then they went out into the Solent for tacking and gybing drills before the young people took charge of the pilotage back to Ocean Village and games before bed. This morning they cleaned the boat and all those who didn’t already have the qualification earned RYA Start Yachting certificates.

Big thanks to sea staff Andy, Andrew, Peta, Josh, Jack, Patrick, Jake and Shernice.

Skipper Andy says “Prolific is turning out to be everything we hoped - we can still offer the best of the traditional OYT South experience but with some fantastic improvements. The accommodation is working really well; our new saloon table which seats the whole crew all together is a brilliant addition for meals, group discussions and games; and Prolific’s sailing performance is excellent.. We can still learn more about how to make the most of the boat to offer the best possible experiences to the young people but this week has been a great start and we are all looking forward to offering more outstanding voyages as the season goes on.”

“This was a lovely group of young people for Prolific’s first youth voyage with the charity, and we were absolutely delighted to have the MDL Award Winners on this first trip. MDL has given us such tremendous support over the years and without them, we wouldn't have this magnificent boat - so it was very fitting that they supplied so many of the young crew members for this voyage. MDL Award Winners are always highly deserving and inspirational young people and this year's winners were no exception."

Crew member Alex (17) said: "Being on this boat is probably the happiest I’ve been in months. I love how every activity we do on the boat is made into something fun". Adam (13) said: "It’s a great experience, absolutely amazing! I enjoyed it because it was really fun being on a big boat." And Ciaran (13) said: "I enjoyed it because it was fun and new. The staff were friendly and welcoming, the voyage was epic and awesome, a great experience!". In fact Ciaran enjoyed it so much that he has already booked to sail with us again in the summer!

There has been a huge amount of hard work since the charity bought Prolific in summer 2015. Everyone involved - staff, volunteers, contractors, donors, sponsors, suppliers and other supporters - should all be enormously proud of what has been achieved. Prolific was a superb vessel when we bought her but at ten years old, she was ready for a significant refit. What we have been able to achieve in terms of maintenance, modifications and new kit has been incredibly impressive. Everyone who has seen the boat recently has been blown away by how she looks, how she sails, how she is equipped and fitted out, and how much she has to offer the thousands of young people who will sail in her in the years to come. To everyone who has contributed in any way: we can't thank you enough!

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* Volunteer sea staff needed
The following dates have not yet been confirmed as bookings for anyone so please let us know if you can help to fill any of the gaps.

Dates marked tbc have been offered to someone but not confirmed (e.g. they may not have got permission from employers to take leave for the voyage) so please bid for them if you wish and we will let you know as soon as possible if there is space for you or not.

28-30 April - one last space on a mates’ training weekend (8pm Friday to 5pm Sunday). Ideal for anyone who didn’t manage to get to Prolific’s winter training, or who would like a little more experience on board.
7-12 May
- 1M or engineer or additional mate
15-19 May - Southampton to Poole - 3M. Preference given to someone who can stay until 21 May to help with Poole Boat Show.
28 May - 1 June - Gosport to Southampton - 2M or experienced 3M
1-4 June - Southampton - additional mate or trainee mate tbc
5-11 June - additional 3M and bosun. Preference given to volunteers who enjoy working with complex young people.
9-15 July - Copenhagen to Stockholm - additional mate
7-14 Aug - Szczecin to Cuxhaven - 3M tbc
23-30 Aug - Ipswich to Southampton - engineer or experienced bosun tbc
31 Aug - 3 Sept - 2M or 3M
11-15 Sept - another mate or trainee mate or bosun
24-29 Sept - 2M
30 Sept - 3 Oct - 1M or engineer, plus additional 3M or trainee mate
4-8 Oct - 3M or additional 2M, and engineer
9-13 Oct - bosun, mate or trainee mate
13-15 Oct - 3M or bosun
16-20 Oct - 3M and trainee mate
20-24 Oct - 2M and additional 3M or trainee mate
25-29 Oct - 2M and additional 3M or trainee mate
30 Oct - experienced watchleaders for day sail

NB dates given are when young people are on board - we generally need sea staff the day before (except for weekend voyages). All voyages start and finish in Southampton unless otherwise stated.

Bear in mind that we are carrying extra sea staff in Prolific's first season so if we appear to be advertising for someone in your role on dates you have already accepted, don't worry - it's unlikely we have forgotten you; but there is space for someone else as well.

If you can help with any of these, please email

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* Lifejacket course 5th May
Many sea staff will know that we have a regular schedule for testing all our lifejackets, ensuring that everything works properly and that they stay inflated without leaking. In order to do this we need volunteers who have been trained in carrying out the required checks, and crucially in re-packing them so that they will inflate properly when needed. As we are now carrying a new and different type of lifejacket, we need to get some people trained as soon as possible. We have arranged a course on 5th May on board Prolific in Ocean Village, starting at 1430. Sea staff please email if you would like to be included.

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* 2017 voyage programme - including Baltic adventure - berths available!
The full sailing programme for 2017 is available here, including latest availability for our Baltic Adventure. If you would like to sail in 2017 as a young crew member, please do think about it NOW and contact

Twenty-eight voyages are already fully-booked this year though there are still some voyages which have been provisionally reserved subject to funding or to a group getting enough people. The current vacancies list is as follows:

28-30 April: Southampton - 2 nights (weekend voyage, 8pm Friday to 5pm Sunday) - 1 berth available - age 18+ (adult voyage, also suitable for training new potential volunteers, or extra Prolific training for existing volunteers) - £200pp. Funding may be available to help a current volunteer who needs more training.
1-4 June (half term): Southampton - 3 nights - age 12-25 - £285pp - 1 or 2 berths possibly available - please ask.
7-14 Aug: Szczecin (Poland) to Cuxhaven (Germany) - 7 nights - 1 or 2 berths possibly available - please ask - age 12-25 - £625pp - starts with a day at a Tall Ships festival.
31 Aug- 3 Sept: Southampton - 3 nights - 4 berths available - age 12-25 - £285pp.
8-10 Sept: Southampton - 2 nights (weekend voyage, 8pm Friday to 5pm Sunday) - at least 4 berths available - age 18+ (adult voyage, also suitable for training new potential volunteers) - £200pp.
25-29 Sept: Southampton - 4 nights - age 12-25 - £375pp - 12 berths available.
25-29 Oct (half term): Southampton to Southampton - 4 nights - 2 berths available - age 12-25 - £380pp.

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Adult voyages

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 would like more Prolific training than they or we were able to manage over the winter); or for anyone who just wants to come for a good sail and to find out a bit about the charity.

28-30 April 2017 - Southampton to Southampton - 2 nights (weekend voyage, 8pm Friday to 5pm Sunday) - 1 berth available - age 18+ (adult voyage, also suitable for training new potential volunteers) - £200pp.
8-10 Sept 2017- Southampton to Southampton - 2 nights (weekend voyage, 8pm Friday to 5pm Sunday) - at least 4 berths available - age 18+ (adult voyage, also suitable for training new potential volunteers) - £200pp.

Please email to book.

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Poole Harbour Boat Show and Gosport Marine Festival - help needed!
Prolific will be taking part in the Poole Harbour Boat Show (afternoon Friday 19 May and all day Saturday and Sunday 20 and 21 May) and the Gosport Marine Festival (Saturday 27 May). Both events attract large numbers of visitors and Prolific will be moored alongside and open to the public. We need big teams of volunteers on board for both events - we have to ensure that visitors get safely on and off the boat, run tours above and below decks, and talk about how people can sail with us and support us. If you can help with any of the dates at either event, please email Both events are great opportunities to show off our lovely new boat and get people excited about getting involved with us!

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Financial appeal

We need a regular flow of funds to cover at least three major areas: bursaries for young people who could not otherwise afford to sail; vessel maintenance and equipment; and staff salaries - please help, or pass on our details to anyone you come across who might make a grant, large or small.

See here for how to make a donation - you can contribute by cheque, phone or PayPal, but please do something if you possibly can. Don't forget that if you complete and return a Gift Aid form we can claim back tax on your donation.

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Prolific maintenance days 2017
Please put these dates in your diary and come and help on any of them if you possibly can:

Sunday 7th May - Southampton
Monday 12th June - Southampton (preparation for Baltic voyages)
Tuesday 13th June - Southampton  (preparation for Baltic voyages)
Wednesday 23rd August - Ipswich
Sunday 24th September - Southampton

Email to let us know you are coming so we can plan jobs and make sure there is food on board for all helpers!

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training documents and videos
There is now a good selection of documents and videos in the password-access Members Only section of the website for current active sea staff. Anyone taking part sailing as a member of staff or adult volunteer on voyages this season, please keep an eye on this page. Already posted:

- Fire safety systems and fire pump
- Heads
- Bilge pumps
- Anchor windlass
- Generator start / stop
- Rigging the gangway
- Pinrails
- Winches, jammers and constrictors
- Emergency steering
- Sea staff deck walk and interior refresher
- Muster stations
- and an updated draft for a Prolific Baboon File!

We have been working hard on a complete update of the Voyage Handbook / Baboon File (so called because an early edition some years ago had an ape on the cover). There's still a bit to do but we thought there was enough there now to make it worth letting people have a look. The text is colour-coded. Black text is for things that have changed little if at all compared with John Laing (but please email if you spot anything that you think should have been updated and hasn't been). Blue text is for things that have been substantially updated and should now be broadly correct for Prolific (though we may yet amend them further if we discover better ways of working). Red text is for things which haven't been updated or agreed yet, or for queries and things which need to be settled. There are also some sections yet to be written at all. We'll keep amending this document, removing the red bits and filling in the blanks, so do check back from time to time. And please let us know if you spot anything that isn't right or could be improved!

More to come including sail hoists - new cordage has only just been fitted  and we need a bit more time to get descriptions and photos with the right colour of rope for each sheet, halyard, topping lift, downhaul, outhaul, kicking strap, reefing line and cunningham!

Any active members of sea staff who don't have a login or have forgotten it, email but PLEASE check carefully first to make certain you haven't got the details somewhere already (they will have been emailed to you if you have ever asked for a login before) as we can't cope if 100 volunteers all suddenly email about their logins!

As the webpage says: do bear in mind that the levels of knowledge and skill required to sail in Prolific will vary with your role on board. This training material is available for everyone including skippers and experienced engineers. Especially if you are a newly-qualified third mate or a 17-year old bosun and there are things here that you don't understand, DON'T PANIC ! It may be something you don't need to know; but if it is important for you to understand it, you can be given more training on board. We will be sailing with additional sea staff in Prolific's first season precisely so that there should be someone available to explain, supervise and support you as needed.

Please note that everything here is a work in progress - some things are still being modified as we learn the best ways of working - or the best ways of explaining them. Please look at the videos and documents on the website, and check for new ones being added, but we suggest you don't print them out or save them, at least not at this stage, in case you end up working from an out-of-date document. As we get to the start of the season, systems and procedures will become more fixed, though we may still be making further improvements during the season. We welcome your feedback on any of this training material (email

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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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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