Virtual voyage


OYT South bulletin 26th March 2021

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

* Prolific’s Big Virtual Voyage report
– two days to go – get involved!
In a normal year we would be starting our first voyage of the season this week, but this year, while we wait for proper sailing to be allowed again, we are undertaking a Virtual Voyage, powered by people running, cycling, walking, stepping, rowing and more. Each day skipper Holly adds up the miles and decides where those miles might take Prolific.

It’s not too late to join in: if you are going for a walk this weekend and can email before the end of the day on Friday, Saturday or Sunday with your mileage, we can include you. And if you can't contribute any miles, you can always think about sponsoring someone else (we have £3,905 in sponsorship already). We have set up a Justgiving page - please encourage your friends, family and colleagues to support us!

Virtual Voyage

Here’s the story so far:

Monday 22nd March – Day 1

Day 1

By the end of the first day, 28 people had logged an amazing 359.2 miles - enough to take Prolific all the way from Southampton to Harlingen. A few additional people also completed miles on Monday but didn't log them until after we had calculated the day's journey - those miles are included in the total as we go on.

The honour of being first to start seems to have gone to James Maltby as he logged his five miles for the day before 0720. Biggest distance for the day went to our Youth Trustee Lauren Mackenzie and her dad who both cycled 46 miles. The biggest walk of the day came from John Jones, singer from Oysterband who are supporting the virtual voyage. JJ set out to walk 20 miles on the Welsh border but was having so much fun he didn’t want to stop! Oysterband also provided us with a soundtrack for the week and today’s was the Cornish Farewell Shanty, a song traditionally sung as a vessel leaves port for the start of a voyage.

There were plenty of other impressive efforts - Toni Koczy says: "Ran 10 miles around Highland hills for Prolific’s Big Virtual longest ever run" – but every mile counted and we were thrilled to find ourselves – virtually – in Harlingen. Here we remembered an adult voyage in June 2017 when Prolific’s crew had a day off from sailing and caught a ferry to explore the island of Texel, getting thoroughly lost and only just making it back. You can see more about this on the Virtual Voyage page.

The Virtual Voyage day ended with a movie night, with several people settling down to watch Wonder Woman and all imagining they were together in Prolific’s saloon.

Tuesday 23rd March – Day 2

Day 2

This was another big day with Barry Walker contributing the greatest distance at 21 miles, and 39 people in total having contributed their own miles. Special mention also to all the dogs who kindly accompanied their humans to complete their walks!

People were thinking about classic boat food as the day went on:Fish Finger Wraps - as many as you can manage - and Creme Caramel for dessert, sans spoon (if you know, you know).

Fish finger wraps Creme caramel

Inevitably this would be followed by Extreme Washing Up:

Day 2 ended with a passage through the Kiel Canal. Here's a reminder from 2017 of how Prolific cruises through the canal.

We were also reminded of the time when the British Army kindly offered to host John Laing for a couple of nights at their base in Kiel, as we made our way to the start of the Tall Ships race series. We arrived to find the place deserted apart from two slightly disconsolate soldiers. Everyone else was off at an event, they explained, and they had been left behind to look after us. Why had they been chosen for this honour? we wondered. It turned out they were under punishment! However, once they had opened the bar for us, life didn’t seem so bad …Oysterband’s song of the day was “Over the Water”: “I’ll take you with me over the water, over the water when I go, I’ll take you with me over the water, over the water where the wild winds blow.”

Wednesday 24th March – Day 3

Day 3

Oysterband’s song of the day was “Diamonds on the Water”. By this stage 40 people had contributed some miles and the virtual voyage was able to stock up on local delicacies (salty liquorice? Gammel Dansk?) in the Danish port of Gedser, then sail on to explore the medieval castle ruins on the island of Bornholm. We ended the day in Poland ... in Hel!

We've visited Hel before in 2009 and it is spectacular. We had a Polish crew member, Magda, as we headed towards the Tall Ships festival in Gdynia, and she told us to go to Hel ... for a night. The harbour is on the south side of the peninsula and we found a fantastic fish restaurant; and after dinner we went for a stroll in the dusk through an aromatic pine forest and came out on the north side of the peninsula on a deserted beach of fine silver sand, just as the moon rose.

On the Virtual Voyage, we were lulled to sleep by one of Mark's bedtime stories: a reading from Little Wolf.

Thursday 25th March – Day 4

day 4

We have now walked, run, rowed, cycled and stepped all the way from Southampton to Visby, on the Swedish island of Gotland! Visby is the best-preserved medieval city in Scandinavia is a UNESCO world heritage site.

The virtual Prolific enjoyed a cracking downwind sail straight through the heart of the Baltic Sea yesterday, departing Hel bright and early to fly the mizzen staysail and cruising chute through the daylight hours. We even had dolphins come to cheer us on, only leaving our bow wave just as we hoisted the yellow Q flag once more and berthed alongside in Visby.

The day's track from Oysterband had an appropriate title: "The Boy's Still Running". (And the girls. And the dogs. And walking. And cycling. And stepping. And rowing. And cross-training....):

In the evening several people joined us for Zoom cookalong, trying out a new recipe for future voyages: Saag Aloo Shepherd's Pie. It received a definitive “more, please” from us! ⠀

Friday 26th March - Day 5

The virtual Prolific started the day in Sweden - where the real Prolific was built! We went back there in Prolific's first summer with OYT South, in 2017. As you can see, it's beautiful:



We sailed up to Stockholm and moored in the heart of the city, with wonderful sunsets:


This virtual voyage has had a lot of support from Oysterband and their fans, and a former member of the band, Ray Cooper, lives in Sweden and came to give us a concert on Prolific's deck.

Ray Cooper

Today's song of the day from the band shows the parallel lives of sailors and touring musicians ... both often ending up in town for one night only before heading off for their next port of call: "This Town."

Where will Prolific go next on the virtual voyage, which continues until the end of the day on Sunday? You can follow our progress on social media, with a summary on the website; or you can wait for next week's newsletter! But if you have enjoyed it but haven't yet taken part, then please add a few miles if you are going for a walk this weekend (email with your distance) - or sponsor someone else!

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* Prolific refit news
Georgia has been away from refit all week, helping Ollie Bowden deliver a yacht from Cowes to Plockton near Skye. The great news is that Georgia was able to take charge and complete the two 60-mile skippered passages she needs for her next qualification! Here she is with former refit volunteers Oran and Jake, studying the navigation:


Meanwhile back on board Prolific, Josh has been upside down in the engine room most of the week, servicing the engine and doing some painting. Holly has been cleaning all the saloon bilges where she found some nasty surprises, plus five ping pong balls and a knife. The nasty surprises are not a maintenance issue and were resolved by a lot of scrubbing. Under the circumstances the knife was thrown away rather than restored to the stock used for eating dinner!

Meanwhile Dave "Tigger" Heffer has taken all the floorboards away to be worked on:


The gas systems have all been checked and a new certificate issued; and some new charts have been ordered - huge thanks to Martyn Powe who is looking after our chart corrections!

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 but we now want to move towards actually allocating voyages to volunteers from June 21st. So if you have already sent in dates but your plans have changed, or the later season start date affects what you would like to do, please let us know; and if you haven’t yet sent in any bids but would like to sail this season, please email now.

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

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. If you really need an answer quickly 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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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.

In 2006 we had finished the refit and were congratulating ourselves for having the boat ready for the coding inspector without the usual panic which had previously had people working on board until 0230. This year we were really organised and the team were off the boat at 2130 the night before. But we rejoiced too soon … the refit van broke down after ferrying the last lot of gear, and Staff Bosun Dinghy Boy got back with a tow truck after midnight, only to find the skipper and several other team members just finishing printing the vital coding documentation after a titanic struggle with the printer! However, the coding inspector was happy with the boat so it was all worthwhile in the end.

Relief skipper Dave Carnson then ran a shakedown weekend to Gosport and back, and everything worked, and we started the season with a short but excellent voyage for a group of experienced dinghy sailors and instructors from West Sussex - lots of highly competitive inter-watch tacking, and the crew took responsibility for all the navigation for the whole trip.

In 2007 the coding inspector remarked that we had had no defects in our inspection for three years in a row, which was rare in his experience! We also enjoyed the compass swing, which included a detailed explanation from an expert of everything you ever wanted to know about the earth's magnetism. We also noted that over 90 volunteers had worked on the winter 2006-7 refit, which was a record at the time!

Then came a shakedown voyage which certainly saw us properly shaken – by Force 9 winds! We got to Cowes for a convivial evening, and then back to Ocean Village on Sunday, hoping it might be less windy for the rest of the 2007 season ...

At sea

At sea

As the bulletin ended we were waiting for the arrival of a crew from Devon and Cornwall Foyer, a charity for homeless young people. 

In 2010 there was another shakedown voyage which was allegedly very wet and cold but sadly the bulletin’s author found there were some chart corrections still needing to be done and was forced to stay below (in the warm and dry) working hard to complete them! Adjusting the rig in the rain looks like a lot of fun:


In this week 2012 we had another successful shakedown voyage and then a voyage funded by Comic Relief with a crew of disadvantaged young people from three Hampshire charities, who sailed to Brighton and back, and evidently also discovered how to inflate a lifejacket by accident:

at sea

at sea


Also in this week, one of our volunteers, Rachel Wright, had a great article on sail training (pdf) published in Occupational Therapy magazine.

In 2013 we were delighted to report that Marina Developments Limited had chosen OYT South as the charity they would support to mark their 40th anniversary year. We’ve had an excellent partnership with MDL over the years so this was very special! We also announced that the refit that year had involved 707 days’ work over four and a half months, including 534 days by volunteers - the equivalent of one person working a five day week for more than two years (with no holidays!) This was a fantastic effort by a huge number of people (including 65 volunteers), and we gave special thanks to our refit staff, Ben and Dave, and to the core volunteer team, especially Carrie, the only volunteer to do the whole thing from the first day to the last! Based on average wages for general boat maintenance, we reckoned all our volunteers put together did about £50,000-worth of work.

By 2017 we were running training voyages as our staff and volunteers were learning how to handle Prolific. Highlights included a visit from one of our Vice Patrons, Michael Campbell, who took his turn on the helm. The new mainsail had been delivered and was working well. And Mark achieved a record passage by covering 55 miles just to get from Southampton to Cowes - taking in a chance to test the boat outside the Solent in bigger seas. We noted that Prolific was so stable when beating to windward in a force 6-7 that it was still possible to play football on the foredeck and ping-pong on the saloon table!  

In 2019 we reported that we had had an amazing 639.5 days worked on board Prolific over the winter - as well as quite a bit of time given by people working at home. 301 days were worked by paid staff but 338.5 days came from volunteers. We completed sea trials and the first crew of the season were just about to join.

Which brings us full circle as this week last year saw the first of these round-ups from previous seasons as sailing had just been put on hold. Little did we know how long the delay might last.

That 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 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 to the Henry Smith Charity for a very generous donation. And of course thank you to everyone who has been sponsoring the people taking part in our Virtual Voyage!

Grateful thanks also 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
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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