John Laing

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OYT South bulletin 4th June 2004

As all those of you who got yesterday’s emergency 1st mate request will know, this week has had its fraught moments for OYT South….

By contrast, JOHN LAING and the team at sea had a trouble-free trip much enjoyed by all. Relief skipper Dougie Walker (half Mexican bandit, half squadron leader) says that the crew – several of whom had sailed with us before – were fantastic and he really enjoyed sailing with them. On the first night they had a lovely moonlit sail to Weymouth, only briefly disturbed by trying to help the coastguard investigate reports of a vessel in trouble in the area. One of the coastguards on duty that night was another of our relief skippers, Dave Carnson, which meant he and Dougie had a good chat (of course on the phone not on the VHF….)

After Weymouth the voyage went to Poole and then back to Gosport.

This was Dougie’s first full trip skippering JOHN LAING, but he’s had a long career (for a young skipper!) in other OYT regions and other sail training organisations. So it is great to hear that he was exceptionally impressed with our sea staff: “As good a team as you could have.” Hats off to Helen Acton, Craig, Dinghy Boy and Steve Harman. Dougie’s high opinion is a credit to them all – and also to Wolf, for the training and standards among our staff: both Craig and Dinghy Boy were largely trained by him. Steve deserves additional congratulations as he passed his third mate’s assessment this week.

Thanks to Dougie for running the voyage so smoothly – glad to hear he’s keen to come back!

Those of you who read these bulletins chiefly for updates on Little Princess Craig (I’ve been told that Craig is to these bulletins what David Beckham is to Hello magazine) will be sorry to hear that he has a sore knee acquired on the voyage. Well at least he isn’t playing in Euro 2004…

Meanwhile, a new voyage has just begun, thanks to an amazing mix ‘n match collection of first mates, as we were unable to find one qualified person to do the whole trip. So Dougie is today’s first mate; John Clack will sail tomorrow; and Graeme Cole will take over on Saturday night. Wolf is back in charge, and the rest of the sea staff comprises a refit reunion of Craig, Dinghy Boy, Andy Royse and Phoebe, temporarily back from New Zealand….and still very much the Phoebe we know and love. She arrived in the UK at 0530 on Bank Holiday Monday and I spent the next sixteen hours trying to keep her awake so that she could go to bed at the proper UK time and start getting her body clock reorganised. If this failed she will at least come in handy for night watches!

Several of the crew have sailed before so it should be a good trip. More on their adventures next week.

The first mate situation really highlighted a need for more people who can fill this role – please do everything you can to encourage friends who might be suitable to get in touch. The difficulty is that it is a demanding position which requires highly qualified and experienced volunteers. A first mate needs to be able to run the vessel (with children on board) in the event of accident or injury to the skipper. The standard required is therefore very high - a minimum of coastal skipper practical plus yachtmaster theory, followed by a rigorous internal assessment, looking at both seamanship and youthwork, lasting at least a week. In practice most OYT first mates are experienced yachtmasters with some background as sail training watchleaders. So it’s not easy, but then we have to be able to assure parents that they can trust us with their children. And the vessel is not allowed to go to sea without an approved first mate on board. So if you know a skilled yachtmaster who you think would be good at working with kids, please do encourage them to get in touch with us.

As well as the first mate vacancies advertised yesterday, we do need a few other mates for forthcoming trips.

Wolf is looking for a second or third mate on voyage 27 (Sun 20 June- Fri 25 June Southampton to Poole) and an adult woman – either a qualified mate at any level, or someone who wants to come along for familiarisation - for Fri 2 July to Thur 8 July, Poole to Poole. This is neither sex discrimination nor some dark Wolfish desire, but is a requirement under our child protection rules: we cannot have all-male staff if there are girls in the crew. Any woman who has had a Criminal Records Bureau check would be welcome to join us for this voyage – call Wolf on 07771 771864. As the alternative is letting Wolf and his scalpel make some modifications to one of our male sea staff, we really would appreciate a female volunteer here.

David Salmon also reports that there are still some crew vacancies for voyage 27 (Sun 20th -Fri 25th June) – call 0870 241 2252 for details. And voyages 31 (9-15 July, Poole to Brest) and 32 (16-23 July, Brest to Southampton) are still not full.





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

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