Virtual voyage


OYT South bulletin 1st April 2021

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

* Prolific’s Big Virtual Voyage report

Last week’s newsletter was issued on day 5 of Prolific’s Big Virtual Voyage and people had already walked, run, rowed, cycled, stepped or cross-trained an amazing 1,239 miles, taking us from Southampton to Harlingen in the Netherlands,  via the Kiel Canal to Germany, then visiting Danish islands Gedser and Bornholm before a night in Hel in Poland, and then up to Visby on the Swedish island of Gotland. If you missed last week’s newsletter you can read about the first few days of the Big Virtual Voyage here.

That left us with three days still to go and here’s what happened:

First of all, we had at least 48 phenomenal people contributing to our Virtual Voyage miles – and it all added up to an amazing total of 2,431 miles!


Friday 26th March – Day 5

day 5

The previous newsletter saw us leaving Visby, in Sweden, and we headed to Finland - a relatively short day which finished on the glorious island of Nagu which we have visited three times in recent years. In 2007 the first mate got chatting with the barman in the harbourside bar about local specialities, and ended up with an interesting drink including apple schnapps and grapefruit juice. Two years later, John Laing visited Nagu again with the same first mate who was greeted warmly: “Hello! Your usual drink?”

By 2017 there was a different barman but the welcome was just as warm. Here's Prolific in Nagu in 2017:



Nagu invites interesting visiting vessels to decorate a board and leave it as a permanent record - and we were asked for one! Crew member Henry did the artwork:


And the crew had great times on the beach:


Saturday 27th March – Day 6

day 6

On leaving Nagu, the rest of the day was all about Estonia. This reminds us of the Estonian connection in Prolific's history: in 1948 the original Prolific was sold to Estonian refugees not wanting to be repatriated to Russia in the aftermath of the war. After many struggles, they sailed her to the United States. In 2017 we were in Turku in Finland and a local resident, Hans Andersson, recognised the name Prolific and came to say hello - and it turned out his grandfather had skippered that voyage to the US and his family had a painting of the boat:

Hans Andersson

Original Prolific

The Virtual Voyage called in at Tallinn and then went on to Parnu, a fantastic beach resort which we last visited in 2013 during a cruise in company. The beach has shallow water which seems to go on for miles – you can paddle out into the far distance and still only be up to your knees – a very odd sight for those watching from the sand!

We knew there were plenty of people planning a walk at the weekend to add some miles to the virtual voyage, so Saturday's song of the day from Oysterband was Walking Down the Road With You.

Sunday 28th March – Day 7

day 7

We had a lot of miles in hand today because of people submitting distances completed but not declared during the week!

So the Virtual Voyage went from Parnu in Estonia, across the bay to Riga in Latvia, which we visited for a Tall Ships festival in 2013, then around the corner to Klaipeda in Lithuania, where we last went in 2017. That brings us to an impressive 10 countries visited over the course of the voyage including sailing out of the Solent, through the English Channel, over the North Sea, down the Kiel Canal, and all over the Baltic! But even once we made it to Klaipeda we still had 200+ miles in the bag, so we began the journey west back towards home... with Karlskrona (in Sweden where the original Prolific was built) providing the perfect stopover for our crew to say their goodbyes and fly home.

Sunday’s song of the day from Oysterband was appropriate for the last day of the Virtual Voyage: We Shall Come Home.

Huge thanks to everyone who took part; to Holly for organising it all and skippering it superbly despite having to make complex decisions without really knowing how far we would be able to go the next day. 2,431 miles in 7 days is an average speed of 14.5 knots even if we had never stopped, so given all the nights we spent in beautiful harbours and all the lunchtime stops we clearly must have been averaging over 30 knots when we were sailing – that America’s Cup foiling system which Josh sneakily fitted during refit coming into its own …

Massive thanks also to everyone who sponsored us. At the time of writing, 185 people have donated an amazing £5,758 but we are still open for donations.

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* Prolific refit news
Josh has been busy in the engineering department, including sorting out a bilge pump hose which had sprung a leak and now looking at the engine exhaust. The outboard has gone off to be serviced:


Georgia has continued the work on the capping rail and has also been painting the undersides of the floorboards:


And Holly is in the middle of varnishing the steps!

Although the staff team is back at work, of course we still need to take all necessary precautions against Covid, and so we are keeping the refit as small as possible and we won’t be calling for the usual army of volunteer help. If anything comes up where we do need help and can manage it safely, we will let you know; but in the meantime we want to thank everyone who has worked so hard on Prolific in recent years and ensured that the boat is in such a good condition that we only need to tackle the bare essentials this year.

If you want to support the refit team then the occasional phone call to the boat, an encouraging message on social media or anything else you can think of to boost morale is always welcome!

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* 2021 volunteer bookings
- send in your bids NOW!
Big thanks to everyone who has already sent in voyage dates – we have almost finished allocating first mate berths and we are making good progress with second mates.

At this stage we are not sure how many staff berths we will be allowed to fill on each voyage this year as we may have to reduce numbers to allow for some distancing on board. For the moment we are only allocating five staff and volunteer places per voyage, instead of the usual six or seven. So if any third mates, trainee mates or bosuns want to sail but haven’t sent in your bids yet, please do so straight away! We MAY be able to fit a few more people into the initial allocation of five berths per voyage but we can also keep a reserve list so that if it turns out later on that we are allowed to fill extra places, we will have people in mind for specific voyages.

Some people sent in bids a long time ago when we were still thinking about a full season – if your plans have changed now that we know the earliest possible voyage date is 25th June, please let us know NOW.

What we need to know is when you are available and how much time you can spare - but please read the rest of this section before emailing!

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.

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.

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.

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Online training courses for volunteers – safeguarding and more

If you know you have certificates which will expire this year (or have already expired), we have new EduCare licences available – if you would like one to complete your courses, either pay through the website link or get in touch with the office and we’ll talk you through what’s needed -  we can tell you what’s expired and what’s still valid, and what dates apply. If would be great if everyone can get on and ensure all qualifications are up to date so we don’t have to chase people for important pieces of paper at the last minute!

See previous issues of this newsletter for details of online RYA training which may be of interest.

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* In this week in previous years
While the charity is unable to operate, it is good to keep reminding ourselves about the value of our charitable work, the life-changing experiences and fantastic fun and friendship on our voyages and at our vessel refits and other activities. If you have a treasured memory of sailing, working or volunteering 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.

We have now completed a full twelve months of round-ups of what we would be doing this week in a normal year, so if you want to see how we usually spend the last week of March, you can find it here. It’s a great reminder of how much effort so many people have put in over the years to ensure that we can keep helping young people develop the skills to succeed in life!

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* Financial appeal

Huge thanks this week to Medical Support Offshore Ltd for a very generous donation.

Thanks also to everyone who has been sponsoring the people taking part in our Virtual Voyage; and to the family and friends of Martin Pearson who are continuing to donate generously to the fund in his memory.

Big thanks also to all our other supporters and friends who have responded with such kindness and generosity to our appeal over the last 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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Passports – be prepared

Since 1st January 2021, British passport holders travelling to the EU will need to ensure that on the day you travel, your passport has at least 6 months left, and it must also be less than 10 years old (even if it has 6 months or more left). If you’re planning to sail with us once we get up and running again, do make sure your passport is in order in case your voyage might be able to sail to France. You might find it convenient to get it renewed while travel isn’t possible so that you don’t have to send it off for renewal later on!

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Raise funds for OYT South if you're shopping online!

"What a fool I was!" says Mark Todd.

"For ages I've seen in the bulletin that Easyfundraising is a good way to raise money for charity, but I never got round to doing anything about it, and when Caz told me how easy it was, I didn't listen.

I thought it might be a hassle, or that I'd have to remember to do something when I bought stuff online, or that it probably wasn't really worthwhile.

This week I finally got round to it and it turns out it's a REALLY EASY way to raise money for the charity I care about ... and I definitely should have done it sooner.

It takes a minute or two to sign up; you can do it on a desktop, tablet and/or phone, and you can install a widget that flags up when a donation is available. Once that's done, imagine you're looking to buy - say - a rainbow unicorn: just put "rainbow unicorn" in your usual search box, and the list of results shows you which sites come with donations, and how much. It's up to you what to pick and whether to accept the donation from the site, but a huge choice of sites will offer a donation - and it doesn't cost you a penny.

I don't know why I didn't do it sooner ... but if there's anyone else who has been like me and just not got round to it, PLEASE click the link now and sign up!"


OYT South is also 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.

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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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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