When you arrive, you’ll find your bunk and somewhere to stow your gear, and you’ll meet the staff and other crew members.
Next comes the skipper’s introductory chat. This is designed to make you feel at home on board Prolific, and to tell you some of the basics about living on board. The key thing is to encourage you to make the most of the voyage: whatever energy and enthusiasm you put in, the sea staff will match and beat it.
Then you’ll be divided into teams, or watches, with one of the staff as your watchleader. You’ll be shown around the boat below deck, and given your waterproof gear, lifejacket and safety harness. You’ll learn how they work and how to fit them, and there will be a safety briefing.
By this stage everyone is probably anxious to get sailing. We don’t always set off on the first day – it depends very much on what time it is when we finish the briefings, and on what the weather is like.
We’ll all get together to talk about where we want to go, given the weather, the tide and the strength of the crew. In a weekend trip, it’s probably a short hop down the coast. In a week, we might go further along the English coast, or perhaps we’ll be able to sail to France or the Channel Islands. Of course, if you’ve booked on a leg on the Tall Ships Race, or another special voyage, we may be going a bit further!
We’ll motor out of harbour and then the crew will start getting the sails up. This may happen quite slowly the first time, as most people won’t have done it before. We aim to explain everything, rather than just giving orders.
Unless it’s just a short trip, one watch will now take charge of the boat and the others will be off duty for a few hours. The watch on deck will be steering, adjusting sails, keeping lookout, and helping with navigation. We might keep sailing through the night, which can be an amazing experience under clear starry skies, with each watch taking their turn while the others sleep.
Whether we’re sailing or not, the boat’s daily routines continue. Each meal is normally cooked by two crew members, with the help of one of the sea staff. Don’t panic if you can’t imagine yourself cooking a meal for 18 people – it’s a great way to learn!
Whenever we visit a harbour during the voyage, we’ll aim to give everyone chance to go ashore, look around and buy souvenirs. We might organise a trip to see some local attraction, or we could have a BBQ on the beach.
By the end of the trip, you should be confidently playing your part in the team, helping to sail the boat. You may well have done at least one thing you never thought you’d be able to do; you could have earned a recognised sailing qualification – and you’ll probably have made several good friends.
Many people sail with Ocean Youth Trust South year after year – we hope that you will be one of them!
Crew handbook (pdf)