John Laing has completed her first voyage of the 2005 sailing season!
The crew comprised eight girls and a teacher from St Gabriel’s school, and three boys from Lancing College; sea staff were Skipper Wolf, Helen Acton, Dinghy Boy, Martin Skipper, and ex-refit helpers Kat and Ceri, who don’t seem to have been put off OYT South by the refit experience and are insisting on staying involved.
Wolf says that the crew and sea staff were all exceptional – so much so that the team actually sailed (rather than motored) onto two berths, in Ocean Village and Gunwharf – no mean feat in a 55-ton boat.
It was only a short 3-day voyage so was spent entirely in the Solent; however, the crew made good use of the time and all of them passed their RYA Start Yachting certificates, and got several sections of the Competent Crew certificate signed off (the full Competent Crew certificate requires a minimum of five days on board, but Hels assures me that every single one of this group would have passed if they had had the time). Coming from two different schools, it was great to see the crew gelling so well, with everyone being very supportive. The whole group combined immense enjoyment with a willingness to learn, a determination to do well, and a level of excited enthusiasm which the sea staff said made them a real pleasure to sail with. This included not merely the sailing alongside, but also a great tacking session in Southampton Water, a really good exercise in sailing back to a buoy, and also such things as a game of Malteser Pinball (played on the saloon table when heeling – just get your mouth on a level with the table edge).
Another huge achievement was that Martin Skipper completed his first mate’s assessment, which he started last season. This is fantastic news for us as we really need a bigger pool of senior volunteer sea staff, and it is a very well-deserved achievement for Martin. It can be a highly demanding role, as the first mate would be responsible for the safety of the vessel and crew if the skipper was ill or injured, so the first mate’s assessment is designed to be very testing. However, everyone who knows him will agree that Martin is ideal for the job: a police officer in real life, I’m sure you couldn’t wish for a nicer man to get arrested by.
Kat and Ceri made very successful transitions from refit helpers to sea staff. Kat stepped in as bosun at short notice so that Princess Craig could catch up on some of the many hours of sleep he missed in the latter stages of the refit; and Ceri also was keen to stay and help with the first voyage of the year. Both got several sections signed off on their third mate’s assessments.
Dings spent much of the trip being a brilliant fixy boy, and Wolf was able to be a fixy boy too (he even got his paws dirty!) – thanks very much to Hels who was able to take over and work with the crew while Wolf and Dings were lurking in the engine room. Dings featured quite heavily in the Visitor’s Book comments left by the crew: near-universal opinion is that sideburns were all very well on Elvis, but not so good on Dinghy Boy.
Great news on bookings: last autumn, Customs and Excise instructed Ocean Youth Trust South and some other similar sail training charities to charge VAT on voyages. This was obviously unwelcome because it made the voyages significantly more expensive. However, we are delighted to announce that we have successfully appealed against this ruling, and all prices will now be reduced. Those who have already paid their voyage fees in full will be entitled to a refund (unless you wish to treat the money as a deposit on your next voyage!) Those who have only paid a deposit so far will face a smaller final bill. And some of the berths which are so far unsold will now be significantly cheaper. I’ll do a full list of current vacancies and prices as soon as David Salmon has had a chance to recalculate the costs.
If even the reduced prices are still a problem for you, we still have some bursary funding on offer, particularly for some of the more expensive trips, for deserving candidates who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford to sail – please contact the office for more information, as well as for bookings and general enquiries: 0870 241 2252, email firstname.lastname@example.org .
Sea staff bookings
Email me or call me on 07986 354697 and tell me whether you are looking for first mate, second mate, third mate or an assessment berth, and I’ll send you a list of vacancies.
Please can we find second mates for 25-29 April, 16-22 May, 23-27 May and a third mate for 27-30 May – as well a quite a few first mates. If you can’t do those dates, there are plenty more gaps later in the year. I’ll assume that refit helpers who were entitled to priority booking have had a chance to pick their preferred trips, so even if you couldn’t help over the winter, do please get in touch now to book some sailing.
News and gossip section
Rob Harwood in Mexico took a boat ride down the Cañon del Sumidero and sent us some pictures of a crocodile he met. I don’t like adding photos to this bulletin because some people’s computers take ages to download, but if anyone wants to see Rob’s toothy friend, let me know.
And how many people reading this bulletin took part in the 2000 Tall Ships Race? I had a note this week from Jenni Paradine, who was John Laing’s liaison officer in Bermuda. She says “It was one of the most amazing experiences I have had. I fell in love with the boat and still keep in touch with some of the people that where on board. The tee shirt the crew made me has a special place in my cupboard. I would love to come and sail one year, and it is on my list of trips to take. I will also be a committed supporter as soon as I get my new business up and running to full capacity. Every time I get emails about refits I wish I could be there.”
And Simon Smith, ex-skipper of Greater Manchester Challenge (OYT North West) is now running a sailing school (http://www.safesailing.co.uk/ ). He’s doing 60-mile qualifying passages for prospective yachtmasters: is anyone interested in a 7-day trip, starting April 6th - normally £80 per day, but being offered at £60 per day to OYT members? Call Simon on 07710 127771 for more information.