Calm in Danish waters, and close encounters in the Kiel Canal

How to sail with us

Some common questions and answers

I’ve never been sailing before and I’m worried about not knowing what to do. We have several complete beginners almost every week. The staff will explain things, show you how to join in, and let you practise. There will always be something you can enjoy and which you can get quite good at during a voyage.

What’s the food like? Everyone helps with the cooking but don’t worry if you can’t cook – you won’t have to do it on your own. We eat things like spaghetti bolognese, pasties and beans, pizza or curry. Make sure you tell us in advance if you are allergic to anything, vegetarian/vegan, or can’t eat certain foods for religious reasons.

What about toilets and showers? Boat toilets look just like normal ones but are flushed in a different way to toilets ashore – it will all be explained when you arrive. There are no showers on board but there are showers you can use in many harbours.

What if I get ill? At least one of the staff will be trained in dealing with illness or injury at sea; and we’ll get you to a doctor ashore as quickly as possible if necessary. You do need to tell us in advance about any condition you already have. We’ve had people on the boat with anything from mild asthma to serious disabilities. Bring any medication, inhalers (and spares) which you need - and tell the staff what you are taking.

How fast does the boat go? Our average sailing speed is about 6 knots (nautical miles per hour) – that’s almost 7 land miles per hour. The maximum speed under sail can be over 10 knots. Under engine the maximum is actually less: only 7 or 8 knots. But sailing is more fun than motoring, so even in light winds we often sail – rather slowly!

Where will we go? This totally depends on wind and weather, and what the crew (that’s you) wants to do. It’s no good planning to go somewhere if the wind is in exactly the wrong direction – or if the forecast says the wind would be wrong for coming back!

How can I build up sailing qualifications? Bring your RYA logbook if you have one (if not you can buy one on board for £6). It allows you to keep track of all your sailing and your qualifications. You can work for a Competent Crew or Start Yachting certificate on board Prolific, and the sea staff will be able to advise you on how to go on from there.

I have a special interest in navigation / engines / weather etc. Tell your watchleader at the start of the trip, and we’ll make every effort to help you learn more about anything on board which particularly appeals to you.

Can I work towards my Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award on board? The voyage can count as your residential. Make sure you bring your record book along, and tell the skipper or your watchleader at the start of the trip – then we can set you some goals and watch your progress.

Will I be seasick? Some people may be seasick but it hardly ever lasts beyond the first day or two. If you are worried, bring your own seasick pills (ask your chemist which is the best brand for you, especially if you are taking other medication). Some varieties can make you drowsy. Read the instructions: when to take the pills, how many and how often. And tell the staff on board what you are taking.

Can we go ashore? There are normally opportunities to go ashore in some of the ports we visit, for showers, shopping, beach BBQs or visits to interesting local sights.

Can I smoke on board? Smoking is not allowed below deck. It endangers everyone on board. This is so serious that anyone caught smoking below deck will be sent home with no further warning. If you must smoke, you will be allowed to do so on deck at the skipper’s discretion, in designated areas only.

Alcohol and drugs: There is a no-alcohol policy on board Prolific. Those aged over 18 may only drink ashore at the skipper’s discretion, provided no-one (staff or crew) exceeds the drink-driving limit. No-one should drink alcohol within 8 hours of sailing. Illegal drugs are not acceptable on board. Anyone found with illegal drugs will be sent home, and we will inform the police.

Mobile phones: Whilst mobile phones are allowed on the boat, crew members are not actively encouraged to bring them. They can easily get wet or damaged; OYT South accepts no responsibility for them; and there are limited opportunities to use them, as they will not work when the vessel is offshore. They cannot be used on deck when the vessel is under way – it might prevent you hearing a vital instruction.

Music: You can’t use your iPod or personal stereo on deck when the vessel is underway – it might prevent you hearing a vital instruction. But you can bring CDs if you think anyone else will share your taste in music: the boat has a CD player with speakers in the saloon and on deck, and we can play music when it is safe to do so and when it won’t keep people awake.

Crew handbook (pdf)

Raise And Sail - OYT South's website for young people wanting to raise money in order to sail with us.

“Great! I had a right laugh and made some new friends and learned a lot.” Ricky, aged 15