Refit team hard at work!


OYT South bulletin 2nd February 2018

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

* Refit news

Huge thanks to everyone involved in the refit over the last couple of weeks: Peta, Holly, Josh, George, Susanna, Georgia, Sookie, Roy Hughes and Allen Swift. The engine is getting there now; the insides of the bulwarks have been painted and the masking tape is coming off; the wooden surrounds for the insides of the windows have been taken off and are being varnished to stop the mould developing; the steering wheel is being prepared for varnishing; the binnacle has been stripped and painting has started; and the team is doing final touch-ups on the exterior paintwork.

We are looking for volunteer help on weekdays from now until early April, and there will be another volunteer weekend 17-18 March. There may not be a February refit weekend as we will have our usual shorebased training weekend instead, with RYA courses etc. on offer - more information below.

Please email if you are interested in coming along for a refit weekend or to help on weekdays. Food and accommodation available on board for refit helpers.If you haven’t previously helped with a vessel refit, there is some general information here.

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* 2018 shorebased training weekend - TWO weeks to go!
OYT South's usual February shorebased training weekend will take place in Gosport on Sat 17th and Sun 18th February.

Most of the courses are now fully-booked and very nearly everyone has confirmed and paid - thank you very much!

The only things still open for bookings, if anyone is interested, are the Youthwork courses on the Sunday, and the dinner on Saturday night.

The Youthwork course is in two parts, with the morning session being run by Robin Douglas from West Berkshire Children in Care; and the afternoon session on Games With Aims with Ollie Bowden. Highly recommended for everyone who sails with us! Anyone else who might be interested, please email now:

The final deadline for booking for the dinner on Saturday night (including Andy Viney’s leaving party) is 5pm on Wednesday 14th February - that’s when we have to give numbers to Tony and Nix who are doing the catering.

All details for the weekend are here. Please check the website if you can’t remember details such as timings and location!

If you have signed up for the RYA Marine Radio Short Range Certificate GMDSS assessment: DON’T FORGET that the online course MUST be completed in advance - hopefully you are all making progress with it already. You should also have details of anything else that needs to be done in advance or brought with you on the day - please check carefully.

Any questions about the weekend: please email

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* Calling all young carers
The following two voyages have each received a number of bookings for young carers, but there are still places available. If you are a young carer or you know a young person who helps to look after a family member with an illness or disability, please do think about booking a place to join one of these voyages:

10-15 April - 5 nights - Southampton -  £480 per person.
16-20 April - 4 nights - Southampton - £385 per person

Bursary funding may be available for young people who genuinely can’t afford the full price - please email for details.

These voyages are not exclusively for young carers - other young people who want to sail with them are very welcome - do come and help us make these into two fantastic voyages which should be loads of fun as well as a proper break for anyone who has to take extra responsibility at home.

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* Volunteer sea staff bookings for 2018 - places being allocated now!
We are just in the process of emailing confirmations to all volunteers who sent in requests for voyage dates - it takes a while as there are more than 80 people needing individual emails. If you have had an offer of voyages, PLEASE REPLY to confirm as soon as possible - there may be others waiting for their own voyage confirmations depending on which voyages you accept!

At this stage we are aiming to confirm at least a voyage or two for everyone who asked for them, plus extra voyages for a number of people who are priorities either because they are working towards an assessment to be upgraded to 2M or above, where we need more qualified volunteers, or because they have earned extra voyages by helping the charity in other ways - raising money, bringing in new clients, giving a lot of time at refit etc. Once this process is over, we will advertise any remaining spaces in future editions of this newsletter. We will aim to keep some berths available for new volunteers who get involved as the season goes on, but there may still be room for people who didn’t bid for anything in the current round, or for people who would like more voyages than we initially allocate. However, some parts of the season, including school/college/uni holidays, are likely to be very full!

Sea staff aged 25 or under: please note that if we have unsold crew berths on any voyages, we would rather offer a free place to someone who will be useful on the voyage - much better than going to sea with an empty, wasted berth! So if you spot empty berths being advertised in the bulletin as we get closer to a voyage and you would be available, do let me know. Please also encourage your friends to think about booking - especially on voyages advertised as open to individuals.

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* Volunteer training and selection voyages in 2018 - do you know Prolific as well as you would like?
If you will be sailing as a member of volunteer sea staff this season, at any level, how well do you know all Prolific’s routines? If you’ve been with the charity for more than a year or two, do you already know Prolific as well as you knew John Laing? Would you be quite comfortable running a mainsail hoist or putting in a reef, with a watch of young people, without needing help or advice?

If you’re not totally confident, PLEASE think about coming on one of the volunteer training voyages for adults, where you can concentrate on your own learning without having to manage a watch of young people at the same time. In recent years, mates’ training voyages have mainly attracted new volunteers hoping to get involved with the charity for the first time; but we really want to encourage existing volunteers to come along and improve your skills.

If the only thing putting you off doing an adult training voyage is the cost, please do email as we may be able to arrange bursary funding - especially for people who sail regularly and might have the potential to reach second mate standard reasonably quickly.

We have two adult (18+) training weekends and one longer adult voyage scheduled for 2018:

20-22 April 2018 (8pm Friday to 5pm Sunday) - Southampton - 2 nights - age 18+. £200pp.
7-9 Sept 2018 (8pm Friday to 5pm Sunday) - Southampton - 2 nights - age 18+. £200pp.
10-15 Sept 2018 (2pm Monday to 12 noon Saturday) - Southampton - 5 nights age 18+. £480pp.

Any of these voyages would be ideal either for current volunteers who want more experience in Prolific, or for other adults who may be new to the charity and would like to get to know us, our boat and the way we work before considering joining our volunteer team. Anyone wanting to sail as a volunteer on our youth voyages must be recommended as suitable by our skipper, and while under-25s can earn their recommendation on a standard youth voyage, these training voyages are the opportunity for adult potential volunteers to decide whether you like what we do and hopefully earn your recommendation! Voyage prices include a year's annual membership so there is no further cost for anyone returning as a volunteer in the subsequent 12 months. See here for more details on joining the team.

Adults who are not interested in training as volunteers are also welcome on these voyages if there is space - especially if you are willing to play the part of a novice crew member while our volunteers practice their skills in leading and teaching a team!

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* OYT South named among “The 16 best international summer camps for teenagers”!
Big thanks to the local press in Surrey and SW London who have named OYT South as one of the 16 best international summer camps for teenagers - alongside other projects as far afield as Canada and Beijing!

As you’ll see in the next two sections of the newsletter, we do still have some spaces available on summer holiday voyages, so if you want to encourage young people to sign up, or you want to spread the word amongst family, friends, colleagues or anyone else with teenagers, maybe they would like to see the article - please send out the link, or share it on social media - and help us to keep Prolific full!

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* 2018 voyage programme - availability for young people

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 six individual voyages for 2018 (one, from 4-9 April, is fully-booked already) but there will be plenty of others in due course! The voyages which are currently open for individual bookings and have spaces are:

10-15 April, 5 nights, starting and finishing in Southampton, age range 12-25, price £480 per person. At least 2 or 3 berths available.
16-20 April, 4 nights, starting and finishing in Southampton, age range 12-25, price £385 per person. Up to 7 berths available.
24-30 July, 6 nights, starting and finishing in Brixham, age range 12-25, price £550 per person. At least 7 berths available. Ideal for crew members who have a passport as it may well be possible to sail cross-Channel, to France or the Channel Islands. Alternatively the Scillies may be possible, or a Devon and Cornwall cruise - it all depends on wind and weather and on what everyone wants to do!
21-27 August, 6 nights, starting and finishing Brixham, age range 12-25, price £550 per person, 10 berths available. Ideal for crew members who have a passport as it may well be possible to sail cross-Channel, to France or the Channel Islands. Alternatively the Scillies may be possible, or a Devon and Cornwall cruise - it all depends on wind and weather and on what everyone wants to do!
28 Aug to 2 Sept, 5 nights, Brixham to Southampton, age range 12-25, £480 per person. At least 3 berths available. Ideal for crew members who have a passport as it may well be possible to sail cross-Channel.

The following voyages are currently open for group bookings (up to 12 places). (Some of them may be opened to individual bookings at a later date if they are not booked by groups, but at this stage we don't want to have too many voyages with just two or three bookings per voyage - not enough to sail! - so we are trying to focus individual bookings onto a smaller range of voyages so we can get a viable crew for each - which means that at the moment, preference will be given to group bookings for the following voyages).

4-8 June - 4 nights - Southampton - £385 per person
9-15 August - 6 nights - Brixham - £550 per person
16-20 August - 4 nights - Brixham - £385 per person
17-21 Sept - 4 nights - Southampton - £385 per person
15-19 Oct - 4 nights - Southampton - £385 per person

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 season are already filling up very fast, so if you are interested in a group or individual voyage in 2018, 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.

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Prolific in the West Country, summer 2018
For a number of reasons, Prolific tends not to stay in her home port of Southampton in high summer - there aren’t many berths available for a large vessel; the Solent tends to be very crowded which is not ideal when our whole mission is about giving young people and novice sailors the chance to take the helm or get involved in navigation; and of course we like to explore interesting and different sailing areas! Sometimes this means we go abroad to take part in Tall Ships races, but those voyages have a minimum age of 15 which obviously excludes younger crew members, as well as those who can’t afford longer overseas voyages. So sometimes we will spend a summer based in the UK (though this doesn’t exclude sailing to France and back), and this year our generous supporters at Marina Developments Limited have kindly found a berth for us in Brixham for some voyages in July and August. We can use this as a base for exploring Devon and Cornwall, France, the Channel Islands or the Scillies - all depending on the weather and on what young crew members want to do.

Having Prolific in the West Country for an extended period is obviously a chance for us to meet people and make new friends in the area. Do you know any young people who might want to sail with us? Do you know any teachers, youth workers, youth charities, parents, grandparents or anyone else who could spread the word about us? Please help us not only to fill all our summertime voyages but also to ensure that we develop as many new contacts as possible. Voyage details are here - please spread the word yourself, or email if you would like us to contact people in the area. We also have a West Country Support Group - let us know if you would like to get involved with them!

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Andy Viney's leaving party and leaving present fund - TWO WEEKS to go!
Don’t forget that if you want to celebrate Andy’s five years as staff skipper, he’ll be at the February training weekend which will double as a leaving party for Andy with our volunteers. If you haven't yet booked a course at the training weekend, please do so NOW as this will be your chance to have a party with Andy. If you really don't need any of the courses on offer at the training weekend, you will still be welcome at the Saturday night supper anyway.

Andy's leaving present fund is still open - there is a webpage here with a paypal link and details of other ways of contributing. Please give generously!

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* Gig report

At least 14 people from OYT South went to see the band Police Dog Hogan playing in Southampton this week - featuring our Trustee Eddie Bishop on fiddle and mandolin - a great night out!

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* Little Sharers – new partnership with OYT South
OYT South is delighted to have been selected as a charity partner with Little Sharers. This is an online children’s party planning service with a charitable gift giving programme dreamed up by Alexandra Brenninkmeijer, who says: “I was about 3 years old and my parents had organised an Easter egg hunt in our garden. As I was an only child at the time, I had the reasonable expectation that all the chocolate I had spent hours collecting would be mine. Having run round the garden for quite a while (my father was in the habit of re-hiding eggs), I remember all the eggs sitting on a big table. Then, to my horror, my father asked me to pick one. The rest, would be donated to our local children’s home. As can be expected, a full tantrum followed but it was made very clear that if I was not happy with this then even my egg would be given away. Sharing. The hard lesson was learned. Now, over 30 years later, I have daughters of my own whose worlds revolve around birthday parties – a whirlwind of balloons, cakes and lots of presents. The first few presents are torn open in excitement but then the children can soon become overwhelmed. We have all had conversations at the school gate about how we can deal with the gift giving problem. How do we not spoil our children? Do you give one and hold the rest back for throughout the year? What do you do with duplicate toys? And what about us mums who are busy juggling our Saturday mornings and suddenly remember we have to run out to the shops to buy a gift – one we probably know deep down will be a hit or miss success? What if there was another way? Little Sharers is my answer to these questions. It provides parents with an easy way to encourage sharing from a young age without losing any of the childhood joy of receiving a fantastic present.”

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* Financial appeal

Huge thanks this week to Les Chapman and the Trinity House Regional Grants committee (south east) for a fantastic contribution towards staff training. And many thanks also to Rosemary and Mike Martin for a very kind contribution.

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

Many thanks to those who entered for the 2017 Chris Ellis award - there were some excellent entries and people had clearly put in a lot of hard work. This is an award given each year for the best piece of work based on a voyage with OYT South, with the prize being a discount towards the cost of sailing with us again.

Huge congratulations to the 2017 Chris Ellis Award winner: Pearl Harris, who was aged 19 when she sailed on a voyage organised by MACS, the charity for children born without eyes or with underdeveloped eyes. Pearl's account of her voyage can be seen here:

2017 runner up: Jess Collingwood (16) for this voyage account. (pdf).

The Chris Ellis Award will open again for entries once the 2018 sailing season starts. Anyone aged 12-25 who enjoys a voyage with OYT South this year and want to come again in future, 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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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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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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Branded clothing
OYT South branded clothing available - please see here. You can buy hoodies (in a wide range of colours), fleeces, short- and long-sleeved t-shirts, baseball caps, beanie hats, drill shirts, polo shirts and more, all with OYT South's logo!

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From youth crew to volunteer
Have you recently 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!

And one more thing ... if you are mature enough to be thinking about making the step up into volunteering, then you should really be contacting us yourself. It doesn't quite create the same impression if you get your mum to do it ...!

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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. 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, Andy Viney or Peta Koczy 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. 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.

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