These days will come again ...


OYT South bulletin 16th October 2020

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

Staff Skipper news
– and leaving present!
If you read last week’s newsletter you will know 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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COVID-19 (coronavirus)
Current government guidance states:

“For the time being, holiday providers should not be offering overnight or residential provision for children. The Government will keep this position under review and continue to be guided by the best scientific and medical advice to ensure that the right decisions are taken at the right time."

As long as this is in place, we cannot operate and we face the loss of all our voyage income. We also – in common with other seasonal businesses – face the problem that even in a normal year, we do not earn money in winter.

There are three earlier statements about COVID-19 on our website from Ocean Youth Trust South’s Chief Executive, Mark Todd: an initial statement from 18th March; an update issued on 15th April; and a response on 11th May to a Parliamentary committee report on the crisis - which quoted OYT South

One key message, particularly as evidence grows of the lasting effect that the pandemic is set to have on young people, is about the role we believe we can play in the longer term, using our voyages to help young people recover from the social and psychological impact of COVID-19. We are determined to do all we can to get through this period, when we are enduring the complete loss of all our trading income, in the best possible state so that we can start offering voyages again and helping young people as soon as it is safe to do so.

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OYT South
AGM - all the details you need for our online event
OYT South’s AGM will take place on Saturday 7th November, but this year it will be via video conference.

The formal mailing to members has gone out – if you think you are a member and you haven’t received it, please let us know! But the meeting is open to anyone (and if you are not a member but would like to be, you can join now). Please note that only members can vote at the AGM.

The meeting will be held using Zoom: Video conference link here (Meeting ID: 915 9948 2504, Passcode: 964302).

The Zoom conference will open at 1745 to allow everyone to get the technology working before the meeting formally opens at 1800.

All the details and papers for the meeting are available here. With members’ permission we would like to record the AGM – if you have concerns about this, please contact

It would be helpful if you could email to say whether you are hoping to come and whether you are familiar with using Zoom, including the chat function (which allows people to type short responses and saves the problem of 30 people trying to speak at once). If you have never used Zoom before, you can sign up for free here but you might want to try it out before using it to join the AGM, and if we know in advance who wants to come but isn’t used to the technology, we can give you a bit more support and advice!

There will be the very short formal AGM followed by the Chief Executive’s speech as usual, giving a review of the year and plans going forward; but in normal years this would be followed by a social event and curry evening, so we’d also like to know who might stay on the Zoom call for a social event – which could include a quiz, and people ordering or making their own curry and using the evening as a chance to catch up with OYT South friends you haven’t seen all year.

So: three questions:

  • Who is coming?
  • Are you comfortable with Zoom?
  • Would you stay online for a social event after the meeting?

Anyone who really can’t manage a video call can submit questions in advance, and members can vote by proxy: in both cases, you need to email by 1700 on Thursday 5th November with details of your question or your appointed proxy.

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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 2004, skipper Wolf returned from a break in the Mediterranean and was immediately thrown into a week of Force 7s in the Solent with the 12-year old boys from Parkside School …

In 2005 we were reporting on a return visit for Sunnydown School (for boys with dyslexia and other specific learning difficulties). Exactly the same group had sailed in May but had lost part of their voyage due to gearbox problems so we were lucky to be able to fit them in for an extra two days. It was great to have a full group who had been together on the boat before, and sea staff were amazed by quite how much they remembered from the previous short trip – it was really impressive to see how confident and competent they were. They had an excellent sail on the Saturday, with enough wind to make things interesting and get the boat going well. Sail hoists and drops all went very smoothly, and everyone got a chance to practise steering and tacking. By the end of Sunday, all the boys had completed RYA Start Yachting certificates, and also managed an excellent water-bombing of OYT Ireland’s Lord Rank in Southampton Water. They were in the Solent for the ASTO Small Ships race and although John Laing wasn’t taking part this year, an OYT South team including several of our younger volunteers did the race in a chartered Sun Odyssey 37.

John Laing then had a 16+ voyage including a couple of Lord Rank’s young volunteers, who had a great week sailing to Weymouth, Swanage and back, racing a German adventure sailing ketch. This was the final voyage as Staff Bosun for Craig Dickerson who had initially come for a week or two at a previous refit and ended up staying for several years. To mark the occasion, he and watchleader John Snowden decided to lay down a benchmark for hoisting the mainsail with just two people: 4 minutes and 15 seconds – we’re not sure this time was ever beaten.

In this week we also had a letter from someone who had sailed with the Ocean Youth Club many years earlier on a trip arranged by her social worker. She said: “At the time I was given the opportunity to take part in crewing a yacht to the Channel Islands, my family was going through a difficult time. Never in a million years would I have thought that someone from my background and circumstances would be able to take part in such a venture.  I guess I did not fully appreciate just what an opportunity it was but as I look back on the experience (which is often) it always fills me with a sense of achievement which I draw on at low times.  It certainly was a window of light in dark days and something that has stayed with me even though it must be over 18 years ago since I took part. Not only did it give me a break from the situation at home (holidays were unheard of) it gave me the confidence to know that after taking part in something that required total team work I have been able to use the skills acquired in that area of working life.”

In 2006 we were taking part in the ASTO Small Ships Race with a crew from Cobnor Activities Centre and Chichester High School. Friday's race training was severely hindered by strong winds: Force 8 gusting 9 all day. Nonetheless John Laing did go out - despite meeting the Clipper round the world race fleet heading in under storm sails!

On Saturday morning our team were all up at 0600 and setting off to practise tacking and gybing in much better weather: force 5 to 6 and John Laing in her element. We eventually crossed the line in fifth place on the water. Sail Training International Race Director Paul Bishop had joined our crew for the day and emailed afterwards to say: "Just a brief note to thank you for inviting me onto John Laing for the Small Ships Race last weekend. Having first sailed with the OYC at the age of 14, and having not sailed on an OYT boat since 1992, the experience has lost none of its magic and I had a terrific time! The young crew were great and I was most impressed with your volunteers.”

John Laing

John Laing

John Laing

John Laing

In this week in 2009, we were sailing with siblings from Naomi House Children’s Hospice. They went to East Cowes on Monday night and woke to find a very beautiful morning with incredibly still low-lying banks of fog – very atmospheric but fortunately with enough clear air for the boat to see where they were going! They did some radar pilotage to take them to an anchorage in Swanage and then on into Poole. There they had lots of visitors including a friend of MCA Chief Executive Peter Cardy, who was sailing with us. This friend was in the Royal Marines and remarked that most of the silly games we play on board were also played by the Marines … but our young and flexible crew members were rather better at the cardboard box game! It was a great week only marred by the inexplicable loss of a mobile phone – a particular problem for a crew with sick family members and therefore an urgent need to stay in contact – until the phone turned up in the fridge!

In 2011 we had a weekend voyage with the girls of St Gabriel’s School, in sunshine and wind:


That was followed by a windy trip to Yarmouth, Poole and Lymington with a mixed group


You can spot Josh making an early appearance as a relief bosun:


The Naomi House hospice siblings group did the ASTO race in 2013. Unfortunately there was no wind at all and the excitement came from seeing whether they could make any progress round the course whatsoever! Sadly the answer was no and having drifted with the tide, John Laing enjoyed the unusual distinction of actually being behind the start line when the race ended. (Photo: Andy Wales).

ASTO race

As a result we were awarded a prize for the vessel which would have taken longest to finish the race! There was some memorable karaoke by the crew at the prize-giving party:

Crew party

And skipper Wolf sported some particularly fetching party headgear:

Wolf's hat

The next week’s crew came from the Polygon school in Southampton. At St Albans, on their way to Portland, they came across a small boat with engine and steering problems and ended up towing them all the way to Portland.


Sail training quote of the week: “Why do you want a cloth?” “To clean custard off the fenders.”

In 2014 we were doing the ASTO race with a crew from the Saints Foundation at Southampton Football Club. The start of the race was gipping: force 5 with gusts of 6 or 7, and buckets of rain. John Laing did well on the first upwind leg, and even though the breeze dropped at the windward mark, a lot of hard work meant she made up some places on the downwind leg. The crew did really well on the third leg, tacking like professionals to finish 5th in class.



That night both crew and sea staff threw some interesting shapes on the dancefloor at the crew party, and they celebrated first mate Clare’s birthday.

Then we had two short voyages in a week, starting with Sherborne Learning Centre featuring a 16-year old Georgia Watson.

At sea

At sea

Then it was the Vyne School in Basingstoke - the first time they brought a full group after a few individuals had done a voyage earlier in the year and a couple of staff were inspired after joining an adult day sail with us.


In 2016, Val Hague brought us a group of Scouts who enjoyed a lovely downwind sail to Poole on Saturday using the mizzen staysail, and a beat back in the sunshine on Sunday, sailing all the way - they didn’t drop sails until they got to Dock Head.


We also enjoyed a guest appearance by former OYC skipper Paul Bew.

Sherborne Learning Centre was back the following week for breezy few days during which Cathy Ayres started her third mate’s assessment.

In 2017 a crew from the Prince’s Trust sponsored by HMS President were doing a big sail all round the Isle of Wight as training for the ASTO Small Ships race. They found the conditions were quite rough and there was a fair bit of seasickness, but everyone still did the best they could, and really it was a cracking sail. They tacked back through the Needles and found that the wind dropped as they enjoyed a beautiful sunset. The sufferers were all restored and working as a team to sail back into Cowes.

This was our first ASTO Small Ships race in Prolific, and on Saturday morning we made an early start and was the first boat in the fleet to be out in the Solent with sails hoisted. The team got a great start and were in second place on the water as they crossed the start line. The first leg took them down past Portsmouth, battling hard with other boats including Jolie Brise and Rona II. Prolific was in second place on the water as they rounded the first mark, and then took the lead off Bembridge as they rounded the second mark. The next leg involved tacking into the wind and it was here that the crew had to work really hard – they had two reefs in the main, two in the mizzen, plus the big staysail and another headsail, the ORC. On every tack the huge staysail had to be winched in tight in very windy conditions - more than 30 knots of apparent wind - so this was extremely hard work. All the young people did the very best they possibly could but although the staysail was giving them plenty of boat speed, it was just too much to handle - only a crew who had trained for months in the gym could have reasonably been expected to winch it in at speed on every tack! They kept it up as long as they could but eventually Andy was forced to decide to drop the staysail, which slowed the boat down a bit. However, Prolific was still the fourth boat to cross the finish line, and when the handicaps were calculated, it turned out that the team had come second in their class! They had a great time at the crew party that night with all the young people on a high after their great race result, and it was a really good celebration of teamwork and effort.

At sea


At sea


Next it was Limes College, a pupil referral unit in Sutton, with a group including several of the same girls had who sailed the previous year. Skipper Dougie said it was a hugely positive and uplifting experience to see the change in them compared with last year. The first time they sailed, these girls showed quite complex behaviour; but this time they arrived with a much better approach, remembering a surprising amount of what they had learned last time and with a much better attitude towards taking part in voyage activities. This was of course their first time in Prolific as opposed to John Laing, and they evidently enjoyed having more space, and the fact that Prolific doesn’t heel over so much!

They worked really hard towards completing some RYA qualifications, once again came with some fantastic group leaders - Dougie said “just the sort of people we really should be working with”.


This week’s newsletter in 2018 began with the Vyne School, who as ever were fantastic at picking young people for specific reasons and using the voyage to generate a positive change in each individual which can be built on for the rest of their school career. They told us about one of the previous year’s crew who had had difficulties with engagement, attendance and completing his homework: since the voyage, staff said: "He’s learnt that by putting in effort, whether it be hoisting a sail or prepping the dinner, the pride and sense of achievement is something that he enjoyed and will stay with him. We have spoken about how to turn these triumphs into everyday situations. He seems to be much more engaged, hopefully this will continue."


This year's Vyne crew sailed down to Yarmouth on the first evening and impressed the staff by completing their first sail hoists in the dark. Next morning they had an 0430 start to catch the tide and no-one complained! That gave them the joy of a view of the Needles at sunrise, followed by a lovely sail to Weymouth. They did several man overboard recovery drills and an unexpected fire drill when some enthusiastic cookery set off the alarm. By the time we passed the sail training ship Royalist leaving Weymouth, our crew was having so much fun that they challenged Royalist to a round-the world race, returning to Weymouth: we even offered them a head-start, but they said no!


Next came a crew from New Forest Academy who had a forecast for stronger winds later in the voyage so it was useful to be able to practise some of the basic skills in calm conditions first!


By the end of the week they were heading back to Cowes for the ASTO Small Ships race, meeting up with other vessels:

At sea

It was quite a challenge to start the race in winds of Force 6 having done all their training in much lighter winds. It was also raining and cold, and ours was one of the youngest crews in the fleet. They did very well to complete the first four legs of the race but by that time everyone was very cold and wet and many of the young people were struggling so the skipper took the decision to retire from the race and head for harbour to get everyone warm and dry. People were disappointed not to complete the race but really they should be congratulated for getting so far in genuinely challenging conditions which would have tested an adult crew.


Andy Gissing completed his second mate's assessment on this voyage.

Limes College, Sutton was back the next week and spent the first night at anchor in Osborne Bay which was a big challenge for the young people: several of them were very nervous about being at sea, so spending a night at anchor was really daunting.


A glorious sail to Poole with flat seas and blue skies did wonders for confidence and morale - one of the girls said she loved the boat and wished she could live on board! On the last day of the voyage, back in the Solent, they were rewarded with a fabulous view of a rainbow:


This time last year we were sailing with the Vyne School in Basingstoke who were very proud to tell us about some students who sailed three years ago, aged around 13, when there were serious concerns about whether some of them would even finish their education - but this year they completed Year 11 and left the school with some qualifications! As ever the 2019 crew were really deserving young people who got a huge amount out of their time on board.



They did have one day of terrible weather when sadly it wasn’t possible to do any sailing, with the winds gusting up to force 9. Instead they did lots of training, including a fun dinghy rowing race to collect rubber ducks from around the marina.

Duck racing

The day ended with a film night on board with hot chocolate, marshmallows and popcorn, listening to the wind and rain outside.

But they were able to sail for the rest of the trip, and all earned certificates!


Next we had a Prince's Trust crew, sponsored by HMS President Royal Naval Reserve Unit, who had some training ahead of the ASTO race, and also a chance to visit the maritime museum and the lifeboat station in Cowes. Then Maybe, one of the other sail training vessels which had arrived in Cowes ahead of the race, had a 90th birthday party and our crew were invited!

Saturday was race day in very light winds - a couple of people even had a nap on the bowsprit.


As we turned downwind the mizzen staysail went up. There were lots of gybes so the mizzen staysail had to keep going up and down - must be a new record for mizzen staysail hoists in one voyage! It was a great day with full effort from all the young people. When there was no work, there was lots of dancing on deck - particularly to “We will rock you”. In the evening we attended the prize-giving ceremony where we came 3rd in class.

On Sunday the young people took charge of the navigation to get the boat back to Ocean Village – a great way to finish off the big sense of achievement from the whole trip. The group gelled well together and really excelled themselves during the ASTO race, where they put in maximum effort. They did themselves and us very proud.


The following week was Alfreton Park Community Special School: Cowes for ice-cream, Yarmouth for fish and chips and lots of fun and active sailing for the young people and their carers. They sailed 40 miles in the week, a big achievement for a group with such complex special needs.



Rosie "Habit" Allen re-qualified as a second mate on this voyage after a long time away!

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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* Congratulations Miranda and Mike!
Big congratulations to two of our sea staff, Miranda Camping and Mike Bunton, who got married this month! Miranda did several voyages with us as a young crew member and earned a volunteer recommendation, initially sailing as a bosun and then becoming a third mate in 2010. She’s now a second mate, as is Mike, a merchant navy officer who has been a volunteer watchleader since 2012. They played a big part in the preparations for bringing Prolific into service. Their wedding cake featured a suitably nautical theme:

Miranda and Mike's cake

Miranda felt that this would be the most appropriate photo for the OYT South newsletter, in keeping with the many OYT voyages where cake has been a highlight!

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* Financial appeal

Huge thanks this week to Technip for a generous donation organised by Mike Bunton, and to the Lambert Trust for a fantastic donation following an introduction via our Trustee Ed Bishop.

Big thanks also 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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* Fantastic online exhibition on survival at sea to mark Survitec’s 100th birthday

Survitec, which provides our liferafts and lifejackets and gives us great support, is 100 years old! To mark the occasion, they have put together a great online exhibition on survival at sea and the development of the safety gear we carry today. Do have a look: it's really well done, with lots of videos including historic footage showing what life was like in the days before modern, effective safety gear.

Thanks to Survitec for all your support of OYT South's charitable work!

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2021 draft sailing programme

We are just in the process of making 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. Once that is finalised, we’ll send it to everyone who lost a voyage this year so that clients who want to can pick replacement dates.

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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
Many thanks to all those who have given consent to receiving this newsletter by email. If you are not currently getting it by email and would like to, please just click here Newsletter Subscribe and press "send", or 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