MACS voyage


OYT South bulletin 31st August 2017

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

* 2017 voyage programme - LAST FEW berths available this year - including NEXT WEEK!
Owing to a cancellation, we now have TWO berths available on a voyage NEXT WEEK:

4-8 Sept  - Southampton - 4 nights - 2 berths available. This has become a slightly unusual voyage based around the first few people who have stepped in over the last few days since the original client cancelled. It is now being planned around a group of 16-25 year olds with some sailing experience, so it will be run at a slightly more advanced level than some of our other voyages - with more navigation training, vessel manoeuvres etc. Anyone who would enjoy this is very welcome but it might not be the ideal voyage for younger crew members, people with no sailing experience, or anyone who needs youthwork support. It would be perfect for anyone interested in seeing if they could join our volunteer team. The basic price has been subsidised to make it just £185, but there is further funding available for those who really need it and it could even be completely free - please email for more details.

The other voyage with spaces this year is a standard youth voyage suitable for anyone including novice sailors and crew members as young as 12.

16-20 Oct - Southampton - 4 nights - 8 berths available - age 12-25 - £285pp. This voyage has had an unavoidable cancellation by a group which had already paid a non-refundable 25% deposit, so the price has now been reduced from £375 per person.

Other than that, anyone who wants to sail should let us know, especially if you might be available at short notice - then if we get any cancellations on any voyages this autumn, we will let you know straight away. Please email

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* Voyage news
It is almost two weeks since the last bulletin, when we left Prolific in the Netherlands and planning a passage to Amsterdam. This was an eventful passage - at one stage they had to pass under two successive bridges with only a couple of boat lengths between them, each of which had to be opened in succession for Prolific to pass through, which meant holding station in a tiny space after the first bridge while waiting for the second bridge to be opened, all the while coping with the wind and with the tour boats who are low enough not to need to wait for a bridge opening and were zooming past with inches to spare! Big thanks to Roger Murray who helped to find Prolific a berth in Amsterdam, where the crew enjoyed time ashore.

Next day they sailed back into the North Sea via Ijmuiden and found bouncy and challenging conditions, but a combination of sail and motor got them through the crossing back to the UK where they passed Harwich and anchored in the River Stour. Prolific was evidently a very impressive sight as she came in, since the press office of Associated British Ports called us up to arrange a press release about Prolific’s first visit to the harbour as an OYT South vessel! The crew watched a movie on board while at anchor and then planned a night navigation exercise up to Ipswich where the voyage ended last Wednesday. Skipper James says this was a great crew, with 7 people earning RYA Start Yachting certificates and others working on watchleader qualifications, depending on their level of experience. Big thanks to sea staff James, Andy, Lee, Josh, Sally, Steve, Hannah, Dave and Lauren.

That left Prolific back in the UK after 56 days overseas, during which time she visited 8 countries (Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and the Netherlands). 80 young crew members took part, as well as 9 staff and 39 adult volunteers, 10 of whom were aged 25 or under.

The next crew joined on Thursday, from the MACS charity which supports children born without eyes or with underdeveloped eyes. Six of the crew and two of our own sea staff on this voyage were partially-sighted. They had briefings on the first afternoon and then faced a difficult choice owing to restricted opening times for the lock out of Ipswich. In the end they agreed it was worth getting out at 1am in order to have more options next day, so they had a short passage out in the middle of the night and anchored in the River Stour at 0130. This proved to be an amazing bonding session for the crew. They were up again at 7am to catch the tide and made their way round to Ramsgate under engine with no wind at all. In Ramsgate they had time for showers, dinner and bed, and woke next day to more glorious sunshine and a visit to the beach before Prolific set off once again.

They timed their passage in order to get a fair tide past Dover around 9-10pm and enjoyed seeing all the ferries. Once again there was no wind and they made excellent time under engine to arrive in the Solent at 7am and enter through the forts. They had planned an anchorage but soon realised their arrival had coincided with the start of the big Cowes-Torquay powerboat race, so they went to watch that amazing spectacle first before dropping the anchor in Stanswood bay for some downtime, games and lots of singing. Then into Cowes where they tied up first at Trinity Landing so the crew could have some shore leave while the staff moved the boat round to Shepards Wharf - where the staff were amazing and found Prolific a berth on one of the busiest days of the year - we really are incredibly grateful!

Next day there was some wind at last - not much but just enough to sail. The crew did a mainsail hoist which was filmed for a live posting on Facebook, and then everyone got involved in steering and tacking towards Portsmouth. They got into Haslar that night, and next day were able to go up to the top of the harbour for a look at the Royal Navy’s vast new aircraft carrier. Back out into the Solent and two teams of crew members took charge of different stages of navigation back to Southampton. Pearl, who probably had the least vision of anyone on board, was only the helm all the way from Hook, with someone reading the compass out to her.

Finally Prolific reached her home port in Ocean Village in time for icecream and more games. Big thanks to sea staff Andy, Ben, Jack, Mark plus Shernice and Niamh who did a fantastic job of getting through all the bosun’s tasks, and special congratulations to THREE people who successfully passed third mate assessments on this voyage: Robbie Crow, Trish Henderson and Will Pascoe!

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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. Although we are running with extra sea staff this year, we definitely want to fill any spaces - please don't think we might not really need you if we already have a good team on board, because we definitely do need you!

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.

24-29 Sept - possible vacancy for 2M or additional 3M
13-15 Oct (weekend voyage)
- possible vacancy tbc for another watchleader
16-20 Oct - 3M
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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Winter refit core team needed
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 interest 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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Andy’s leaving present - please give generously!
You probably all know by now that our lovely Staff Skipper Andy Viney is leaving us at the end of this season after five great years, which involved our final seasons with John Laing, plus a major refit and the first season with Prolific. We really want to send him off with a nice leaving present, so please give generously ! There is a webpage here with a paypal link and details of other ways of contributing.

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DRAFT 2018 sailing programme
We have published a draft 2018 programme based on spending the summer in the west country (specific ports yet to be decided). We are taking bookings for next year, which sometimes involves shuffling things around to get dates and voyage durations to suit as many people as possible. This means that parts of the programme are not yet set in stone; 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!

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maintenance days 2017 - help needed
Just one planned maintenance day left this seaosn - please put the date in your diary and come and help if you possibly can:

Sunday 24th September - Southampton

Email or phone the boat on 07990 518915 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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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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Southampton Boat Show 2017 - special offer
The Southampton Boat Show will run from 15th to 24th September 2017. John Goode has again kindly arranged for discounted Boat Show tickets for OYT South members, families and friends. If you receive the email version of this newsletter, you can see the discount details, which we can't put on a public website.

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OYT South AGM 4th November– save the date!
OYT South’s AGM will be held on 4th November at the Royal Southampton Yacht Club, 1730 onwards. We will aim to follow it with the usual curry night. All welcome - more details to come in due course but for now, please put the date in your diaries!

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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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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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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