Prolific at sea


OYT South bulletin 21st April 2017

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

* Emails to
The entire OYT South team is being moved to a new email system - some addresses have been moved already and should be working fine now, but other transfers have yet to be completed and some members of the team are not receiving emails at the moment.. If you email anyone with an address and don’t get a reply, please bear with us - all emails should come through once the transfer is done but of course our team may then be dealing with a backlog. If something is really urgent, or if you become concerned that we may not have received your email at all, please call the office on 02392 602278.

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* New video page on website
We’ve added a new video page to our website and we hope to keep adding videos as the season goes on - do have a look!

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* New crew logbook

This season we are introducing a new crew logbook which will be available on board so that young people can record their experiences and what have they have learned each day, and take it away as a permanent record at the end to show other people what they have achieved. It may not be needed on all voyages but we hope it will be of real value with many groups of young people. You can have a look here (pdf). Big thanks to the group from West Berkshire Virtual School for Children in Care who have been testing it on board this week – apparently they have been having a great time with it, and it is working really well!

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* Vessel tracking
Don’t forget you can always see where Prolific is sailing by using the vessel tracking page on our website, generously sponsored by the Graham High Charity. This updates every few hours. If you are really keen and want up-to-the-minute vessel positions and more information, there are various apps for smartphone users (not always free) - MarineTraffic is a good option.

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* Voyage news

Prolific’s second youth voyage started last Friday with small groups from two different schools plus three individual bookings. Mark the skipper says: “This was a big voyage for this group of young people when you take into account their backgrounds - some of them had very complex home lives and a lot of things to cope with. They joined in Ocean Village and to make the tide out of the Needles we left pretty quickly. The weather and sea state was greater than expected and this day proved to be challenging for many of the young people as they fought seasickness. We anchored in Studland Bay that evening at 2315. The next day we were up 0800, had breakfast and finished off the briefings, winch, constrictor drills etc. We then did a debrief of the day before and some contract building where the young people drew a boat and added the words/concepts that make us sail/float (e.g. teamwork), and the words that could make us “sink” (negativity etc.). We then had a fire drill which the young people did very well. We weighed anchor at 1200 and set sail for Weymouth. We were hard on the wind all day but it was a cracking sail. At Weymouth the young people had shore leave, ice creams, dinner then showers.

The next day there was a visit to the beach for games and then we set off using a great manoeuvre in which the young people played a full part - we motored up into the turning basin, hoisted the headsail at the crucial moment and backed it so that the wind would help bring the bows of the boat round for a tight turn, and then sailed out of the harbour. All of this happened on the bank holiday Sunday in front of crowds which stopped to watch - it was an impressive feat and and many passers-by took photos. The teamwork would have been noteworthy anyway, but is even more so when you know that many of the young people involved had less than two days’ sailing experience! You can see a video of the manoeuvre here:

We then sailed to Poole, this time downwind - another brilliant sail. We got into Poole at 1900 and had shore leave, dinner, games and bed.

On Monday we set off to Cowes. At Poole Bar Buoy we had a man overboard recovery exercise and then as there was no wind we motored to Cowes. There we had shore leave and showers and then came back and the young people planned their night passage to Southampton. The night passage was a great success. We finished the next day with clean up. Most of the young people said they would like to sail with us again, and ten people earned their Royal Yachting Association Start Yachting certificates. We always like to stress that this is a proper recognised qualification which young people can keep in their Record of Achievement. It shows that they mastered some basic sailing skills; but perhaps even more importantly, earning the certificate also provides evidence of transferrable skills. To complete it, they had to be able to listen, concentrate, work in a team, practise things when they initially struggled, until they were able to get them right, take part in routine tasks such as cooking and cleaning as well as the more exciting jobs, cope with living in an entirely unfamiliar situation, cope with being away from home, undertake tasks which some will have found really challenging, take responsibility when asked, and much more. They should all be proud of themselves for doing so well.

Big thanks to sea staff Mark, Brigid, Patrick, Emma, Josh, Peta, James and Will.

The current group joined on Wednesday - a new client, West Berkshire Virtual School for Children in Care. There are six young people and two group leaders and they are having a great time despite a week of very light winds. They anchored outside Yarmouth on the first night and Mark says that Prolific really proves her worth for overnight anchoring as the extra space just makes it really nice to be living on board. They also had a great session with the new Crew Logbooks which they have kindly been testing - the very first group to use them and it has been great to see that that the young people were so engaged and enthusiastic about filling in their books. Yesterday morning they were up at 0630 to catch the tide through the Needles and they headed down to Weymouth, mainly motoring as there was so little wind. Fortunately they were able to get a bit of a sail in Weymouth Bay, with some tacking and man overboard recovery exercises. In Weymouth they had shore leave, icecream, games, showers, and another good session with their logbooks. This morning they cleaned the boat and then went for some time on the beach. The plan is to sail to Poole later today. Mark says this is a lovely crew with really good leaders.

Big thanks to sea staff Mark, Dougie, Graeme, Lucinda, Jack, Josh, Will and Ollie.

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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 any 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.
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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* Prolific celebration in Ocean Village - no longer on 13th May
When we came up with the idea of a celebration event for Prolific in Ocean Village on 13th May, we thought it would be a great opportunity to introduce our members and supporters to our wonderful new boat. However, because we had such a fantastic response to the winter training programme for volunteers and so many other people turning up to help with the vessel refit or to visit the boat over the winter, it is now clear that almost all our members have already been introduced to Prolific and as a result, only a tiny number of people have expressed an interest in coming along on May 13th. This means we really have no choice but to cancel the event. Therefore we have decided it would be more fun to hold an end of season party to celebrate what we have achieved this year. We aim to do this on November 4th so put this date in your diaries! However, if you haven’t yet seen the boat and were looking forward to a tour on May 13th then do let us know as we can arrange a visit at some other time; and there will also be various events you can attend during the year. There are two other opportunities already planned for May: Prolific will be open to the public at the Poole Boat Show on 20th and 21st May, and the Gosport Marine Festival on 27th May, and you would be welcome to come and see us then.

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* 2017 voyage programme -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 - 3 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 (ideally full-boat group booking).
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

Huge thanks this week to the Trinity House Regional Grants committee for a very generous grant towards Prolific’s equipment; to Jackie Bailey for a fantastic contribution towards bursaries for disadvantaged young people; and to Will Collins for a generous regular 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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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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* 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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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