John Laing

Newsletter

OYT South bulletin 23rd April 2004

A very positive voyage last weekend: an adult trip for youth leaders from West Sussex, with a view to encouraging them to book future voyages for young people. They were a very lively group and it was great to watch them gaining confidence on the boat. A few of them felt on Saturday that they were out of their depth both literally and metaphorically; by Sunday some of the same people were cheerfully taking charge of various manoeuvres. We did an exercise where they had to organise and run sail hoists without interference from the watchleaders, and it was great to watch them ordering their colleagues around with huge authority (though the leader of the headsail hoist was heard to say to her team as they sweated on the halyard “You’re all doing very well” – in tones reminiscent of Young Mr Grace from Are You Being Served?)

It was a busy weekend, with lots of short tacking on a blustery Saturday; while on Sunday we spent some time sailing onto and away from mooring buoys. We also tried an exercise in leaving a berth with no-one talking at all, just hand signals, which all agreed was an excellent incentive to have the clearest possible briefings in advance. As Sunday wore on, an icy rain curtailed the activities, but never seemed to dampen the spirits. The West Sussex team proved to be a really nice bunch and we very much hope to see them back on board as group leaders with lots of young crew members.

This week’s crew are students from Harrogate College (part of Leeds Metropolitan University), doing a National Diploma in Outdoor Education. They started the week going from Southampton to Cowes to Poole, and had planned to go on to Weymouth, but the sea state was a bit too lively and several stomachs not quite strong enough to go further – let alone cross Channel which looked like an option at one stage. So they went back to Poole and later round the south of the Isle of Wight to an anchorage in Osborne Bay, followed by a night passage into Portsmouth.

Craig says the engine and coupling are behaving beautifully but since the balance of nature is arranged so that bosuns never get any rest, the mainsail is now playing up and we have lost a few slides. Craig also says he has nearly drowned in his bunk from condensation a couple of times but since his and the third mate’s bunks are the only ones without any head lining, he isn’t getting as much sympathy as he would have liked from all the other dry people. He is consoling himself with his super-warm thermal woolly bear suit (kindly donated by the Little Ship Club of London) which means he is by far the hottest thing on board. Some female crew members have long felt this to be the case….

He says that the crew have been good company and have introduced him to several varieties of sweets which he had never tried before. Apparently fizzy marshmallows are nicer than you would think, but Cheeky Monkeys are disgusting.

This week’s guest skipper is Tony Whiting, and the Quote of the Week is his: “It must be very boring to be eccentric but poor.”

Wolf will be back on Sunday; meanwhile many thanks to all those who have driven the boat in his absence: Brian, Ali, Yvonne, Tony and Helen. Thanks also to the other mates and bosuns who have contributed so much in recent weeks, and to all our other supporters, notably the team from Raymarine, who went down to the boat on Monday to sort out some problems – and, as ever, Chris from Contact Marine, who does so much for us.

There are still sea staff vacancies this season – please call Wolf on 07771 771864 or David on 0870 241 2252 for details if you have time to spare. The most urgent gap is for a first mate for voyages 19A (24th to 29th May) and 20A (30th May to 3rd June).

Even more urgent than that is the maintenance day this Sunday 25th April. Wolf and Craig have a long list of jobs for which they need help. The topping lift winch needs servicing, as does the generator. They need to source and replace some mainsail slides and some hinges for galley cupboard doors. The windex needs replacing, as does the coolant pipe on the engine. The oil filters and the thermostat need checking. We urgently need to do an inventory of our spare sails in the shed, which is a 3 or 4 person job. There are some chart corrections to do. And unless we get more than enough people to do all those jobs, we still won’t be able to paint the cockpit. So please help! Call Wolf urgently and let him know if you can come, so that he can plan all the jobs.

Please also put the next maintenance day into your diaries: Sunday May 23rd. We really do need the maximum possible support, especially from sea staff and trustees, in order to keep up a long record of not having to cancel voyages due to equipment failure.

Meanwhile, don’t forget to let me know if there’s anything you’d like added to next week’s email.





“This has been one of the best experiences of my life and I will never forget it.” Sam, aged 16

Contacts