At sea

About OYT South

Ocean Youth Trust South is charity which uses Adventure Under Sail as a personal development opportunity for young people aged 12-25, taking them to sea in our 30-metre vessel Prolific.

See here for more information about our charitable work.

Feedback from people who have sailed with us.

We sail with around 450 young people each year. Roughly two-thirds will be disadvantaged or vulnerable in some way: we work in partnership with other organisations both to select these young people and also to ensure that lessons learned and achievements enjoyed on a voyage are carried through into a long-term programme of work with each young person. These partnerships include mainstream and special schools and youth clubs; other charities; local authorities and social work teams and many more. Examples of young crew members selected in this way might be siblings of life-limited children using a local children's hospice; children who have been bullied or bereaved or the victims of crime; young people who have been homeless; young people affected by family situations such as drug or alcohol abuse; children in local authority care; young carers and many more.

In addition - and particularly during school holidays - we also offer places to young people from more mainstream backgrounds. Sail training brings benefits to all sorts of young people: perhaps their lives are dominated by television and computer games and they really need an active outdoor adventure; maybe they are high achievers who need to broaden their experience beyond endless exams; or they may be doing the Duke of Edinburgh's Gold Award and looking to stretch themselves through a challenging adventure.

For all these young people, a voyage is designed to develop confidence, team-working, the ability to cope with unfamiliar situations, and tolerance and understanding of others. Young crew members not only sail the boat, keep watch and help to navigate; they also learn basic life skills such as cooking and healthy eating.

We run a self-evaluation project which shows remarkable changes in how people feel about themselves over the course of a voyage. We also award in-house certificates which record what young people have achieved; and crew members can work towards recognised Royal Yachting Association sailing qualifications. Even these demonstrate skills which will be valuable when they return home: the award of a certificate shows that a young person can listen, concentrate, persevere with things which initially seem difficult, work with others, and get up on time to go on watch and take their share of the work. Especially for those who struggle with academic qualifications, we aim to provide evidence of achievement which may help them in life and as they try move into employment.

We take twelve to fifteen crew members at a time, depending on the nature of the group, with a sea staff of up to 8 staff and volunteers. Crew members can book as a group, or just come as individuals and make new friends. Voyages generally start on the south coast of England. Some are short local voyages; others may go west to Cornwall or south to France or the Channel Islands. Every season there are a few voyages going much further – perhaps taking part in the Tall Ships Race series.

Most voyages last for a week but it is possible to sail for as little as two days, while some trips last much longer.

Our sea staff make every crew member a promise: whatever effort and enthusiasm you put into the voyage, we will match and beat. Whether the aim is to have the holiday of a lifetime, or to learn more about sailing and seamanship, or to experience the challenge of life at sea, Prolific has something to offer.

There are no compromises on safety, but our next priority is to ensure that everyone has as much fun as possible. There may be parties, trips ashore, beach barbeques or games on board, as well as great sailing! This is not a formal, regimented sail training experience. Crew members are encouraged to ask questions, try different activities and get involved with a wide variety of tasks on board.

Please take the time to look through the site to see further pictures of our boat, find out more about what we can offer, and read comments from previous crew - along with the latest voyage programme 2022, and information on how to book. Do check the voyage programme for age restrictions: most voyages are for age range 12-25, but some are 15+ and some 18+.

There are many explanations of the value of sail traning, but here's a good example: an article written by one of our volunteers who is also an Occupational Therapist.


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“It has been the best time of my life and I enjoyed it so much I didn’t want to leave.” Ashley, 17