These days will come again ...


OYT South bulletin 13th November 2020

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

* OYT South
AGM report
We had a great turnout for our AGM by video conference last Saturday: 45 people online for the formal business and at least another seven latecomers and various partners and friends who joined for the social bit.

The formal section approved last year’s accounts; re-appointed our accountants; re-elected Eamonn Feeney, Richard Griffiths and Ed Bishop as Trustees; elected Martyn Powe who had been co-opted to the board since the last AGM; and proposed a vote of thanks to Yvonne Taylor who has retired after two decades on the Board and having been one of the Trustees who first established OYT South as an independent charity.

That was followed by the Chief Executive's speech, reviewing the year and outlining some of our plans for the year ahead. You can watch a recording of the speech (click image below to play video) – there are a few distortions to pictures on the Zoom recording but the sound should be clear:


Then we moved on to the purely social part of the evening, with a fun quiz organised by Peta and then people staying online to chat.

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* Howard Gross Dorset Bursaries Fund
Thanks to everyone who has been contributing to the Howard Gross Dorset Bursaries Fund, which will allow us to support more disadvantaged and vulnerable young people on future voyages, in Howard’s memory. His family has very kindly written the following for this newsletter about Howard and his love of sailing:


At the age of 13 years Howard went on an ‘Able Boys’ holiday in Milford Haven, Wales, to learn to sail a dinghy. It was his first real sailing experience, and he was ‘hooked’, continuing to sail regularly at the Marine Training Centre in Christchurch Harbour. He joined the Ocean Youth Club (OYC) in his mid-teens and went on a cruising holiday out of the River Hamble. On his return he told his family colourful stories about the characters and camaraderie, the ports visited, the watch system and the phosphorescence of the sea at night. Howard then became a member of Parkstone Yacht Club (PYC) in Poole Harbour where he was in demand as crew in dinghy and yacht races. At that time a family friend had bought a Skipper dinghy and Howard undertook to teach him to sail. Further sailing over the next few years continued with the OYC in the South of England, cruising the Channel and visiting Cherbourg and the Channel Islands. Such was his fascination with boats that Howard thought he might become a boat builder, and via a friend helped Martin Sadler at weekends to build the first ever Sadler Yacht.

However another career beckoned and so in his early 20’s Howard bought his first boat, an elderly Enterprise named Nibbler. He raced Nibbler through PYC and cruised with family around Poole Harbour. For a few years work and his young family took priority, and so Nibbler was sold. As soon as these demands diminished there was more time for sailing. Howard bought a Skipper dinghy for its reliability and stability. He later switched to a Laser 16 so more of his family could join him, and grandchildren could also feel the thrill of the wind and waves. Boating became a feature of family days, and on Howard’s 60th birthday we all enjoyed a family ‘regatta’ in Poole Harbour with kayaks and canoes joining the flotilla, followed by a picnic, and later a BBQ.

As well as being a skilful and knowledgeable sailor Howard was kind, calm and an excellent tutor. Without doubt his time with the OYC contributed to his life skills and helped him make his way in life, and encouraged him to help so many others along the way.

Following Howard’s very sudden death at the age of 62, his family have set up the Howard Gross Dorset Bursaries Fund in his honour, to support the OYT charitable work with disadvantaged young people.

Donations made in Howard’s name will make a real difference to disadvantaged and vulnerable young people.

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Refit plans this winter

Normally at this time of year we would be appealing for as many people as possible to help with Prolific’s refit, and you may be wondering about our plans this year!

We are going to be doing a refit because there is some essential work and annual servicing which must be completed in order to pass our coding inspection (effectively our licence to operate next year), as well as some modifications to improve COVID-safety: for example, we are installing new fans and improved ventilation.

However, to help keep things COVID-secure and limit the costs, the refit is being kept as small as possible and the aim is for the staff team to complete it without the usual army of volunteers mixing on board. If it turns out that there are jobs requiring additional help and we are able to manage it safely, we can let you know via this newsletter or by directly contacting individuals who have helped in the past and have appropriate skills. Likewise if there are things which can be taken away from the boat and worked on at home, this newsletter will let you know. But otherwise, and very sadly, we have to say that we cannot ask volunteers to come and mix on board.

Last winter we had 318 days of volunteer help during the refit and we are incredibly grateful for this amazing support. All that work plus the efforts of Josh and Holly during the year has put us in a position where Prolific is in excellent condition and we can plan a refit which is more affordable following a season in which we lost all our voyage income, and which also allows us to prioritise the safety of our team during the pandemic.

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* Calling all previous core team refit volunteers!

Over the last 20 years or so, we have had more than 50 volunteers on our core refit teams: people who join us full-time for up to five months in the winter, and work on the boat in exchange for accommodation, food, experience and hopefully fun and friendship.

Some of our past core refit team members are still are involved with the charity - and even on the staff! - while others have moved on. But we'd be interested to hear from everyone - what are you doing now? Did your experience with our refit ever help you to get a job or change your plans? (We know of marriages and babies born as a result of people meeting at refit ....) What are your best, worst and most lasting memories?

If you are in touch with past core team members who might not see this, please do pass it on.

Refit team 2012-13

Refit team 2016-17

Refit team 2011-12

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2021 sailing plans

We are determined to do everything possible to sail next season and not spend another year with Prolific in harbour. There are two key reasons for this:

First comes the importance of an activity like sail training for young people, especially the disadvantaged and vulnerable individuals who have been the core of our work for many years, and those who have been particularly hard-hit by COVID-19 and lockdowns. We believe that voyages promoting confidence, resilience, team-working and communication can play a significant role in helping young people recover from the social and psychological impact of the pandemic. In speaking to our regular clients, OYT South has heard many stories of problems exacerbated by coronavirus: foster placements breaking down under pressure of lockdown; families severely affected by stress; young people needing significant extra support as they return to full-time education after a long break, often with major worries about exams and future prospects. Most of our regular clients are keen to sail with us next year if it is possible to do so safely.

Second, it will be important for our staff and volunteers to sail in 2021: the charity benefits from a vast wealth of skills and experience, but most members of the team have not sailed at all in 2020 and will need to get out on the water on board Prolific in order to keep up their skills and familiarity with the vessel.

There are still a lot of unknowns about what might be possible with voyages in 2021. We may lose some clients who would have liked to sail but may decide as next year goes on that it is not an option, particularly if they work with vulnerable young people or those with vulnerable family members. We may need to prioritise clients who can send young people who are already in a bubble. We may need to sail with fewer young people on each voyage, to aid social distancing. We may have to start the season later than usual. And if residentials for under-18s continue to be banned, we may have to look at running day sails instead, for clients who are based close enough to make this possible.

The upshot of all this is that we hope and expect to be needing volunteer sea staff in 2021!

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2021 volunteer training – on board

Because none of our volunteers have sailed Prolific for a year, we will aim to run some refresher trips before the start of the season. 

For those of you who were with us in winter 2016-17 when Prolific was new to the charity, we have something similar in mind: short voyages including weekend options, just so that watchleaders, first mates and skippers are comfortable, confident and safe before we start sailing with young people again. We will publish dates for pre-season training voyages in this newsletter as soon as we can.

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* 2021 volunteer training – shorebased

We are not planning the usual face-to-face February shorebased training weekend in 2021 but we are looking at options for a weekend of online training via Zoom – if you have any ideas for training you could offer or courses you would value, do let us know.

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2021 volunteer bookings

Because we hope to be sailing in 2021 and we know that volunteer sea staff need to have dates in your diaries, we plan to take sea staff bookings as normal. We obviously have to accept that not all voyages will necessarily go ahead exactly as planned, but it is much better to have a team of volunteers provisionally booked and available for each voyage period – it would be quite impossible to put teams together at the last minute.

Therefore, if you want to sail as a volunteer in 2021, you can now start sending in details of when you are available and how much time you can spare, just as you did last year - but please read the rest of this section before doing so!

If you have had a skipper's recommendation (which means that EITHER you have sailed on a youth voyage and been told at the end that you have been recommended to come back for bosun or watchleader training, or you have done an adult voyage and been given a recommendation at the end) but are not yet an assessed and qualified member of sea staff, your next step is to sail on a youth voyage of four nights or more, for further training and assessment. Not all voyages are suitable for this but please send in details of your availability and we'll aim to match you with an appropriate voyage.

Qualified sea staff (anyone who sailed with us as a watchleader, bosun or engineer in 2019 or previously) - ideally please give us voyage numbers of anything you would like to do (see here for voyage numbers); or give us names of any regular clients you'd particularly like to sail with. But if you have really flexible availability, the easiest thing is to tell us the maximum number of days you can offer in 2021.

Please note that we DO need you to send in details of when you can sail (whether specific voyage numbers, or an idea of the times of year you can or can’t do - e.g. if you can only sail in school/college/uni holidays - in which case do give us exact dates) and/or how much time you can offer - please DON'T email to ask what voyage dates are available. The reasons for this are complicated but it’s basically all about the need to put together teams of sea staff with the right blend of experience, qualifications and skills, rather than booking people one-by-one.

We really need to get bids in from as many people as possible before we can start the allocation process and it can take until January before we can start confirming bookings for every voyage. If you really need an answer more quickly than that then please tell us your deadline and we will do our best for you!

Once the main round of allocations is completed we will advertise any remaining gaps, but you may find there's not a lot of choice at that stage. Please send bids or questions to

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* Why we care about sail training - send in your stories!
With no voyage reports for a while, it will be good to keep reminding ourselves about the value of our charitable work, the life-changing experiences and fantastic fun and friendship on our voyages. If you have a treasured memory of sailing with us, or a tale of a voyage you will never forget, or a funny story, please send it to and we'll publish the best in future editions of this newsletter.

In this week in 2006 we were announcing the appointment of Laura Aldrich-Blake who became our Staff Bosun for the 2007 season. But first she had to face a refit:


In 2007 we were starting to put together our core team of full-time winter refit helpers and had appointed Paul “Cakes” Barber.


In 2008 we were reporting on the end of the last voyage of the season, for a crew from a youth club in Kent, sailing to Poole and back in tremendous high spirits. Annie Holt, who has been one of our office volunteers for a long time, started her third mate’s assessment on this voyage.  And we were welcoming the winter’s core refit team of Ben Whinnett, Zoe Ombler, Tom Crockard and Matt Almond. Ben had done a mates’ training voyage in September 2008 and still hasn’t escaped – he’s currently a volunteer first mate and regular refit supporter but has also done time on the charity’s staff.


In this week in 2011 we reported on the last few voyages of the season. Terry Lane, who had come on one of our RYA Instructors’ day sails the previous year, brought a superb group of keen young dinghy sailors for a weekend voyage – and immediately booked again for 2012!

At sea

At sea

Then it was the annual voyage arranged by our support group on the Isle of Wight: They didn’t sail on the first night because of bad weather, but next day they went out into the eastern Solent and practised manoeuvres such as tacking and gybing before spending a night in Gosport. The following day they set off towards Brighton but the sea was building into a big swell which was clearly going to make the entrance into Brighton an unsafe choice, so they turned back and went into Portsmouth instead. On the last day they circumnavigated the Isle of Wight, with a night entry into the western Solent and back up to Ocean Village.

At sea

At sea

That was followed by an adult weekend for 41 Club members - we had been the 41 Club National President’s Charity for a year up to the previous April. They had a good beat to Poole on Saturday and a lovely downwind sail back again on Sunday.

Finally, we ended the 2011 season with a couple of day sails for RYA Instructors, to give them a chance to experience big-boat sailing. We had space to include two of the people who were about to join us as core team refit volunteers – Patrick Kelly and Megan Howell. The team that year was completed by James Belassie and Yves Voinot, but it was Patrick who turned out to be in it for the long haul – he’s now a second mate and has also organised several group voyages.


This time in 2012 we reported that staff bosun Dave Bland had successfully passed his second mate’s assessment at the end of his first full season with us.


We ended the 2012 season with a group of keen and experienced young dinghy sailors who revelled in a windy weekend. They tacked up and down the western Solent and the sea staff at the chart table watched in admiration as the plotter showed a series of perfect tacks and perfectly straight courses - not something often seen on the first day of a sail training voyage!

At sea

At sea

The season ended with two more day sails for RYA instructors.

In 2013 our crew from Community Links faced a forecast of Force 9 so were thrilled to find themselves sailing in (only) Force 6 and no rain! When they got back to Ocean Village they prepared pumpkins for the evening’s Halloween party, where everyone enjoyed popcorn, chocolates and Haribo. Apples were bobbed as well as some orange “flour bobbing” too! Games were played and the banana game brought out some people’s competitive natures....

Andy Viney completed his Part One skipper assessment on this voyage.

We also welcomed the 2013-14 winter refit core team of full-time volunteers: Amy Brown, whom we had found wandering the Baltic during the summer’s Tall Ships races and who had done as many voyages as possible since then; Dan Grinter, nephew of Marcia who works at the Association of Sail Training Organisations, who described himself as “a nomadic philosopher and pole-dancer”; George Hill, who still comes along to help us from time to time; and Jack Frith.

Refit 2013-14

In 2014 the previous newsletter had left the crew eating croissants in Dieppe. They had a fantastic sail back across the Channel - at least 7 or 8 knots most of the way, surrounded by stars (and the occasional minesweeper). 16-year old Jake Clark was part of this crew – now a second mate:


Once the season ended we welcomed the core refit team joining the staff team of Andy and Harri for the winter – among them Joe Macgregor (still involved) and Holly Vint (even more involved!) alongside Dom Ballisat and Aga Widlak.




The bulletin in 2015 was also welcoming the first two members of a new full-time winter team of volunteers: Josie Griffith and Lou Wildblood, both experienced sailors and RYA Cruising Instructors, who had been doing flotilla work or teaching during the season, and now wanted to spend the winter developing their boat maintenance skills. They got more than they bargained for as this was the winter when we had to keep John Laing in condition for one more season as well as tackling some major work on board Prolific!

Refit team

There was no newsletter in this week in 2016 or 2017, and in 2018 the refit was underway with Danny Ballantyne and Ben Mousseaux joining the new core team.

Refit team

Which brings us almost up to the present day! Please send in your contributions for future issues.

We hope these forays into the past are entertaining you while we cannot sail at the moment – and reminding everyone of the value of what we do!

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* Prolific news

Big thanks to Josh for hard work this week looking after Prolific, helped by James Hunter. They have done a deep clean of the boat, including a deck wash and also a thorough clean of the fenders which had weed on the bottoms.


Josh also ran up the engine, generator and fire pump and did some more work on the capping rail as you can see from this before-and-after photo:

Capping rail

Capping rail

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Please contribute to Peta’s leaving present

Big thanks to the people who have contributed! If anyone else is still thinking of contributing, please note that the fund will close at the end of November as we need to have a final figure to spend on her present.

You may have seen from recent newsletters that our wonderful staff skipper Peta Koczy is moving on. We’ll see her again as a relief skipper, and Prolific will be in excellent hands with the return of Holly Vint to OYT South, taking over as Staff Skipper in November. But meanwhile there is a web page for donations to Peta’s leaving present: please help us show our appreciation for Peta’s contribution to the charity over the last four years!

Peta and Holly

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Financial appeal

Big thanks to all our supporters and friends who have responded with such kindness and generosity to our appeal this year. We are not thanking everyone individually in the bulletin only because quite a few people have asked to remain anonymous; but we are truly grateful to all of you. Everyone who has contributed and is still contributing is playing a huge part in getting us through this long period with no voyage income, and ensuring that the charity will be strong enough to do important work with young people who will need us more than ever, as soon as we can safely sail again.

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 (pdf) we can claim back tax on your donation.

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2021 draft sailing programme

We have made some revisions to our draft 2021 sailing programme, partly because we now have dates for some races and events which will require changes to the original draft, but also because we want to make sure there is extra time for thorough cleaning of the boat between voyages, which has ruled out those occasions when two voyages were scheduled in quick succession without much of a gap between them. We’re just at the start of the process of contacting everyone who lost a voyage this year to see what we might be able to rearrange for you next year and how it can work  – please bear with us as it will take a while to contact everyone!

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OYT South social media – please get involved
One of the simplest ways you can help us while we can’t sail is to keep looking at our social media pages and share, retweet or like as many posts as possible. This all helps to make sure other people hear about us too – and the more we can keep alive the interest in our charitable work, the more people might help us now or start to think about sailing with us in future. Maybe you’ve got a community group, a local page, even a street WhatsApp where members might like to know that you are involved with a charity that could be of interest to them?

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!

And Instagram @oyt_south

And LinkedIn Ocean Youth Trust South

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, or vulnerable adults. Crew members can use the sites to stay in touch with the boat and with each other, but not with individual staff and volunteers.

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Online training courses for volunteers - why not get qualified and improve your skills now?
If you can't get involved in your normal activities at the moment, maybe it's a good time to think about some qualifications and training? 

Our friends at SeaRegs Training have online distance learning systems for the theory courses for Day Skipper, Coastal/Yachtmaster and Yachtmaster Ocean. And OYT South second mate Dom Coleman also runs an excellent sea school offering RYA online courses fully supported by phone, email or video.

OYT South offers basic navigation training in-house through the RYA's Essential Navigation & Seamanship course - and we can also arrange the PPR course (RYA Professional Practices and Responsibilities) for sea staff. 

Please do ask for advice if you are not sure which courses are right for you.

We also offer a range of courses outside sailing and navigation, for our volunteers - including vital courses on Safeguarding and Food Hygiene, as well as things like Mental Wellbeing in Sport and Physical Activity, Preventing Bullying, Online Safety, Concussion Awareness and all sorts of other things - do have a look. Just one £10 payment (special price available only to our volunteers and prospective volunteers) gives you access to ALL these courses.

It would be great if we could get back up and running with lots of our volunteers having additional skills and knowledge!

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Online fundraising - are you helping us raise funds?

OYT South is registered with Amazon Smile which makes donations to us when people shop - Amazon will donate 0.5% of the net purchase price on eligible purchases. If you ever shop with Amazon, do have a look - once you pick Ocean Youth Trust South as your chosen charity and start using, you don't need to do anything further, and all your other Amazon account settings remain unchanged.

We've also been mentioning Easyfundraising in this newsletter for a while but we know a lot of our supporters haven't tried it, so we just wanted to highlight how easy it is! All it takes is to go to Easyfundraising and sign up (which is extremely quick and simple). If you want (it's entirely up to you) then you can even install a donation reminder on your web browser so that whenever you do a search for online shopping, you'll see whether each seller offers donations and how much (it's still up to you whether to make a donation for any particular transaction) - and it won't cost you a penny. If, instead of doing a search, you go direct to a seller's website, you may get a popup showing that donations are available.

There are really significant donations available for some larger purchases, and it still doesn't cost you anything. Some charities are making substantial amounts of money through easyfundraising, so please try it if you can.

There's no cost to you, and all it does is remind you of donations available so you can't forget it when you shop online - you can still opt out any time you like.

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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, polo shirts and more, all with OYT South's logo!

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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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New readers' welcome and introduction
If you have recently registered your interest in OYT South, welcome to our newsletter, which is sent out almost every week, normally on a Friday, and is also copied onto the website.

If you have just started receiving this newsletter by email, it is because we believe you have signed up and consented to receive it - perhaps by emailing us to ask for it, completing a form on our website, or adding your email address to the book on board where people can sign up to receive news, as well as leaving comments. If this was a mistake or you simply decide you want to stop receiving the newsletter, just press “reply” to the email and write UNSUBSCRIBE at the top, or email webmaster1@oytsouth asking to unsubscribe.

Each week the newsletter 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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Receiving this newsletter by email
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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