OYT South bulletin 16th April 2021

In this Bulletin
Sections which have changed since last time marked *

* Prolific refit news
Big thanks to Holly, Josh, Georgia and Ollie who have been working very hard this week to ensure that Prolific is ready to go sailing!

The last few days have been all about cleaning and putting the boat back together, alongside sorting the rigging and jackstays and completing all the weekly and monthly checks.

We also have our new floorboards – huge thanks to Dave “Tigger” Heffer. Regular readers will remember that the old floorboards were rotten and stuck to the metal underneath so that we couldn’t get at it to tackle the rust, so that has all been sorted and the new boards are a huge improvement:




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* Update on plans for the season

After all these months, it really is beginning to seem as though there is light at the end of the tunnel, as we put ourselves in a position to ensure that we can get back to running voyages again as soon as we can do so safely and within the guidelines.

The first stage is Prolific’s post-refit sea trials, which are happening next week, including the compass swing. This will see Prolific at sea for the first time in thirteen months.

The next stage will be refresher training for staff and volunteers. All first and second mates who were available should have received their dates for refresher training, and third mates, trainee mates and bosuns who had expressed in interest in sailing this year have also been contacted recently to look at options.

We’ve also been contacting all clients and young people whose voyages were cancelled last year to try to agree dates for replacement voyages – the one exception is the people who were booked on adult voyages and day sails last year and you are next on the list to be contacted.

Skipper and first mate bookings for the season are now done and we’re hoping to finalise all other sea staff allocations very shortly.

On the basis of all this, if you think you should have heard from us and you haven’t, please email

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* In this week in previous years
While the charity is unable to sail, it is good to keep reminding ourselves about the value of our charitable work, the life-changing experiences and fantastic fun and friendship on our voyages and at our vessel refits and other activities. If you have a treasured memory of sailing, working or volunteering with us, or a tale of a voyage you will never forget, or a funny story, please send it to and we'll publish the best in future editions of this newsletter.

We have now completed a full twelve months of round-ups on what we would be doing this week in a normal year, so if you want to see what we are normally doing in early April, you can find it here. It’s a great reminder of how much effort so many people have put in over the years to ensure that we can keep helping young people develop the skills to succeed in life!

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* The history of the charity – episode 2: the founding vessels
You can read episode 1 in last week’s newsletter if you missed it, covering the origins of the idea that became the Ocean Youth Club, up to the point when the two founding vessels first sailed together in May 1961. This week we’ll give you some background on those two boats, but first some feedback following last week’s newsletter, from Peter Tracey, who sailed with OYC founder Chris Ellis, as a fourteen-year old in the early 1950s. Peter writes: “I owe so much to Chris Ellis, not just for my first voyage on Cariad but for how he taught me to think. This continued long after his retirement when I would meet up with him on my annual visit to the Isle of Wight to sail in Cowes Week. He was always asking why, questioning my ideas and challenging me. As a result my screen saver quotes John Steinbeck as follows: ‘The ability to think differently today from yesterday distinguishes the wise man from the stubborn’. My life’s continuing discovery has moved on a long way from those days. O what discussions we could have today. I am sure that he would disagree strongly on some issues.”

Most of what follows comes from the brochure printed for our 50th anniversary in 2010, written by Chris Ellis’s daughter Emma – huge thanks to her for all her hard work.

Chris Ellis provided one of the two founding vessels, Theodora; the other, Duet, was loaned by Chris Courtauld.

Theodora was built as a Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter in 1911. Her original name was Kindly Light.


Kindly Light was designed by William Stoba to beat Alpha (a highly successful Newport Bristol Channel pilot cutter of 1904 - also designed by Stoba) for the Barry pilot Lewis Alexander. She represented the final evolution of the pure sailing pilot cutter and was considered to be the fastest and most successful of the one hundred and sixty or so pilot cutters working in the Bristol Channel immediately prior to the First World War. She set many records and made her owner a wealthy man. Kindly Light was recommissioned after the war when almost all the pilots had amalgamated and were working a rota system from a steam cutter. She made as much money for her two pilots, Alexander and Davies, as all the other pilots put together. This created resentment amongst the other pilots and Alexander and Davies were forced to join the amalgamation with the threat of having their licenses revoked if they refused. Kindly Light was the last sailing pilot cutter to work out of Barry. In 1922, she became the yacht Theodora and had an auxiliary engine installed. Her home port became Poole in Dorset until she was sold to the Royal Artillery Yacht Club in 1946 and converted for ocean racing. It was during this time that the author Hammond Innes sailed aboard her in a Fastnet Race and later wrote a story based on his experiences.

Chris Ellis bought Theodora as a sail training vessel in 1955 and refitted her with a team of young Radley pupils. He wrote in his memoirs: “Theodora was what I always dreamed of owning - a powerful, over-rigged cutter, big enough to take parties of youngsters over the seas to foreign lands. I desired her so strongly that I could find no fault with her in spite of the warning voices - she became like a sin - I was powerless to resist. So I bought her - and the work started. She became a battlefield, and we fought over every inch of her. For two hundred man and woman, boy and girl days during the Easter holidays we burned and scraped and planed and rubbed and scrubbed and brushed and hammered and drilled and hauled and heaved and spliced and knotted and served and seized and sewed and sawed and polished - until instead of a derelict with a monstrous pile of ropes and wires and sails we had something like a ship to play with. I really believe we did almost everything to Theodora that one could do to any boat - from the truck on the topmast (which needed a new sheave) to the bottom of the keel; nothing escaped. We re-stepped the mast, stripped the engine and heads, dressed the wires, planed down the varnish work - and in the end we sailed her. For two days we had the delight of feeling our ship come to life - first as she ghosted down the river, turning to windward over the flood tide with only the faintest breeze - and then pressing forward out to sea as the wind freshened: five, six, seven, eight knots without effort. With regret we laid up again and returned to school.”

Theodora sailed in the first Tall Ships Race to Lisbon in 1956; and beat thirteen yachts including the cutting edge Laurent Giles-designed Myth of Malham in a sail training race to La Coruña in 1958 with Radley pupils on the first leg of a voyage that took her across the Atlantic and back. On his return, Chris became a youth worker in Stevenage and continued to sail Theodora from Ipswich with young people from a variety of backgrounds – the boat proved the most useful and popular asset as a medium for youth work. In 1960, Theodora was the founding vessel of the Ocean Youth Club and continued to take young people to sea until she was sold to the Maritime Trust in 1971 to become a museum exhibit at Cardiff Industrial Maritime Museum and was returned to her original name Kindly Light. Ian Campbell wrote his personal tribute to the vessel in the Ocean Youth Club magazine at the time.

In 1993 the Maritime Trust sold Theodora back into private ownership on the understanding that she would be restored. Owner Malcom McKeand gave a talk about her restoration at our 50th anniversary in 2010.

Our other founding vessel, Duet, was built as a gentleman’s yacht in 1912. Her original name was Gaviota. She was designed by Linton Hope and was built for H.B. Pyne, but he only had her a short time. From 1915 till 1926 she was in Kiel, Germany, in the ownership of Konsul Heinrich Bruns. From 1927 she was based at Burnham and was owned by J.G. Burroughs who lived at Southend. Duet was purchased by Augustine Courtauld in 1931.

Augustine Courtauld was an arctic explorer who in 1930, virtually buried alive under snow in Greenland, kept himself together by dreaming about his ideal boat - which would turn out to be Duet. He was part of an expedition that was trying to find an Arctic air route by taking important weather recordings through the darkness of the Arctic winter. They established a station but, finding themselves short of rations, the others went back to base while August volunteered to man the station alone. He was there for five months, for six weeks of which he was actually trapped and buried in his tent under the snow with just a breather pipe - and running out of food and fuel. Two plans occupied his thoughts; the first to marry his future wife Mollie and the second to design the best cruising yacht in the world. He was eventually rescued and after his safe return to England, found his bride and also the yacht Gaviota which he renamed Duet in honour of his marriage.

Under his ownership the boat had an illustrious career, including significant racing wins and some ‘Riddle of the Sands’ type adventuring. Before World War II, August joined an organisation which later became the Special Operations Executive (SOE), a secret British World War II organisation. In the summer of 1939 he was asked by Naval Intelligence to take Duet up the Norwegian coast from Bergen north to Trondheim, to gather all the information he could about harbours, lengths of quays, sites of factories, etc. He was a brilliant navigator at sea and the return journey across the North Sea to the Shetland Islands provided a remarkable example. As they were leaving the Norwegian coast a thick fog came down, only giving August one short glimpse of a misty sun before it was blotted out. The fog persisted but next day, still in thick visibility, he brought Duet right into Lerwick harbour.

August loved Duet dearly and sailed her until 1955. He died in 1959, when his son Christopher inherited the boat. You can read here “Round the North Atlantic in Theodora, 1958-1959. The Diary of Colin Smith, Mate and surgeon, with additions and comments”. And Kit Power wrote an article for our newsletter last year on Duet’s dismasting in 1958.

In late 1960, Chris Courtauld generously agreed to loan her as a founding vessel of the Ocean Youth Club. She sailed her first season as a sail training vessel in 1961.

Frank Pullen was a young crew member in 1962: “Memories … I arrived by train on a Friday evening and got across to Camper & Nicholson’s yard in Gosport. We were met by Jo Habens who got us to move the sails from a sail loft down to Duet. We stayed on board that night. The following day we sailed across to Cowes. What a super trip. Fine weather and a fresh breeze. I was fine till I went below to the heads. All looked normal till I saw a tea towel hanging at an angle from the galley. Duet was heeling but I just wasn’t expecting that and I ran back up top and was sick as a dog. The sail back was just as good on the Sunday. If it had not been for that original experience I would not be a boat owner now. In addition I have sailed every year since.”

Duet has taken part in numerous Tall Ships and Old Gaffer races over the years and has won many prizes, including 1st overall twice in The Tall Ships Races, in 1983 and in 1994. One highlight of her career was the 50th anniversary Fastnet Race when she won three trophies in the Old Gaffers section. This is a picture from the Daily Telegraph of Duet rounding the Fastnet Rock in 1975:


She had been built to the era’s trend in racing yacht design known as ‘plank on edge’ which meant a narrow beam and a deep lead keel. One interesting modification carried out to an otherwise essentially flush decked Edwardian-era yacht was the addition of a doghouse forward of the cockpit. Making things topical for this week’s newsletter: the laminated teak doghouse came from the Duke of Edinburgh’s yacht Bloodhound. It was added to Duet in the early 1960s when the two yachts were being refitted in Camper & Nicolson’s yard in Gosport.

In October 1981 this appeared in Yachting Monthly magazine: “Duet – 70 years young: … she was a clear line honours winner in the gaff rigged section [of the 1975 50th anniversary Fastnet Race]. She would also be a clear winner were there a competition for the yacht which has contributed most to sailing in this century. In her own quiet way, Duet has had an unrivalled career, and will thoroughly deserve all the honours which come her way this month at the OYC [21st] birthday party.” (Cruising with W M Nixon).

Duet remained on permanent loan as the flagship of the OYC - with the support of the Augustine Courtauld Trust - for thirty-four years. This is a picture from Jonathan Cheshire of Duet on the old OYC mooring in Gosport:


However, by 1994 the OYC were committed to a modern fleet of vessels and so decided to return Duet to her owner. Duet is now operated by the Cirdan Sailing Trust, within a fleet of other historic vessels.

Duet has introduced literally thousands of young people to the sea. Even OYT South’s Business Manager sailed in her as a teenager in the 1980s (before anyone thought that lifejackets and harnesses might be important for bowsprit work):



Duet’s owner Chris Courtauld died in 2014, and Kit Power gave the address at his memorial service.

There will be more chapters of this history in future issues of this newsletter.

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* Financial appeal

Huge thanks this week the D C R Allen Charitable Trust for another very generous donation.

Big thanks also to all our other supporters and friends who have responded with such kindness and generosity to our appeal over the last year. We are not thanking everyone individually in the bulletin only because quite a few people have asked to remain anonymous; but we are truly grateful to all of you. Everyone who has contributed and is still contributing is playing a huge part in getting us through this long period with no voyage income, and ensuring that the charity will be strong enough to do important work with young people who will need us more than ever, as soon as we can safely sail again.

See here for how to make a donation - you can contribute by cheque, phone or PayPal, but please do something if you possibly can. Don't forget that if you complete and return a Gift Aid form (pdf) we can claim back tax on your donation.

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* Trans Awareness – zoom session

On the evening of Wednesday 16th June, we will have a zoom session called Trans Awareness: The Basics, delivered by the charity Gendered Intelligence. This arises out of discussions at the volunteers' training weekend in February where a number of people said this was an area where they would be keen to learn more.

Increasing our knowledge of and language around gender will help us support young people (and each other) better and more confidently whenever this topic arises, importantly leading us to be a more trans-inclusive organisation.

The session will be 1hr45m long, with opportunities to ask questions too. If you haven’t already registered your interest, please email recognition of the lack of voyage income for more than a year, we would encourage those who can afford it to make a voluntary donation toward the cost of the event using this link.

The session will:

  • Explain what ‘trans’ means and describe the diversity of those who might use the term.
  • Introduce key concepts crucial to understanding trans people
  • List the main legislation relating to trans identities
  • Outline ways an organisation can work towards being trans-inclusive
  • Provide links to further resources and help 

Gendered Intelligence says: “We are a trans led charity working directly with some 500 young trans and gender questioning people from diverse backgrounds across the course of a year, primarily through our youth groups and 1:1 mentoring services.  Their experiences inform our wider work. All our trainers are professional trainers/facilitators who are also trans identified, and who have extensive grassroots trans-community experience.”

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Online training courses for volunteers – safeguarding and more

If you know you have certificates which will expire this year (or have already expired), we have new EduCare licences available – if you would like one to complete your courses, either pay through the website link or get in touch with the office and we’ll talk you through what’s needed -  we can tell you what’s expired and what’s still valid, and what dates apply. If would be great if everyone can get on and ensure all qualifications are up to date so we don’t have to chase people for important pieces of paper at the last minute!

See previous issues of this newsletter for details of online RYA training which may be of interest.

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Passports – be prepared

Since 1st January 2021, British passport holders travelling to the EU will need to ensure that on the day you travel, your passport has at least 6 months left, and it must also be less than 10 years old (even if it has 6 months or more left). If you’re planning to sail with us once we get up and running again, do make sure your passport is in order in case your voyage might be able to sail to France. You might find it convenient to get it renewed while travel isn’t possible so that you don’t have to send it off for renewal later on!

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Raise funds for OYT South if you're shopping online!

"What a fool I was!" says Mark Todd.

"For ages I've seen in the bulletin that Easyfundraising is a good way to raise money for charity, but I never got round to doing anything about it, and when Caz told me how easy it was, I didn't listen.

I thought it might be a hassle, or that I'd have to remember to do something when I bought stuff online, or that it probably wasn't really worthwhile.

This week I finally got round to it and it turns out it's a REALLY EASY way to raise money for the charity I care about ... and I definitely should have done it sooner.

It takes a minute or two to sign up; you can do it on a desktop, tablet and/or phone, and you can install a widget that flags up when a donation is available. Once that's done, imagine you're looking to buy - say - a rainbow unicorn: just put "rainbow unicorn" in your usual search box, and the list of results shows you which sites come with donations, and how much. It's up to you what to pick and whether to accept the donation from the site, but a huge choice of sites will offer a donation - and it doesn't cost you a penny.

I don't know why I didn't do it sooner ... but if there's anyone else who has been like me and just not got round to it, PLEASE click the link now and sign up!"


OYT South is also registered with Amazon Smile which makes donations to us when people shop - Amazon will donate 0.5% of the net purchase price on eligible purchases. If you ever shop with Amazon, do have a look - once you pick Ocean Youth Trust South as your chosen charity and start using, you don't need to do anything further, and all your other Amazon account settings remain unchanged.

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OYT South social media – please get involved
One of the simplest ways you can help us while we can’t sail is to keep looking at our social media pages and share, retweet or like as many posts as possible. This all helps to make sure other people hear about us too – and the more we can keep alive the interest in our charitable work, the more people might help us now or start to think about sailing with us in future. Maybe you’ve got a community group, a local page, even a street WhatsApp where members might like to know that you are involved with a charity that could be of interest to them?

We are on Facebook at - please do give us a Like! If you were friends with John Laing on our old page ( please do move to the new page now.

We are also on Twitter @oytsouth so please follow us!

And Instagram @oyt_south

And LinkedIn Ocean Youth Trust South

Please note that OYT South has a policy that our adult staff and volunteers should not make or accept individual online friend requests with crew members aged under 18, or vulnerable adults. Crew members can use the sites to stay in touch with the boat and with each other, but not with individual staff and volunteers.

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Branded clothing
OYT South branded clothing available - please see here. You can buy hoodies (in a wide range of colours), fleeces, short- and long-sleeved t-shirts, baseball caps, beanie hats, polo shirts and more, all with OYT South's logo!

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Raise And Sail - website for anyone looking to raise money to come sailing
Raise And Sail is a section of this website full of ideas, information and support for young people who would like to raise money in order to come sailing with us. Huge thanks to Fiona Keen and Emma Burrows for putting Raise And Sail together. We hope you will find it useful - let us know how you get on as we can add success stories and new ideas to the site in due course.

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New readers' welcome and introduction
If you have recently registered your interest in OYT South, welcome to our newsletter, which is sent out almost every week, normally on a Friday, and is also copied onto the website.

If you have just started receiving this newsletter by email, it is because we believe you have signed up and consented to receive it - perhaps by emailing us to ask for it, completing a form on our website, or adding your email address to the book on board where people can sign up to receive news, as well as leaving comments. If this was a mistake or you simply decide you want to stop receiving the newsletter, just press “reply” to the email and write UNSUBSCRIBE at the top, or email webmaster1@oytsouth asking to unsubscribe.

Each week the newsletter includes a wide range of news from the boat and from the charity, including details of voyages available for young people; adult voyages; opportunities for adult volunteers both ashore and afloat, and much more. We find that while some people read the bulletin almost every week, many others dip in and out, and read it when it's convenient - which is why some items are repeated. New items are marked with an asterisk * so that if you did read it last week, you can see which sections you can safely skip.

Please feel free to join in any OYT South activities - nothing here is restricted to long-standing members or people who already know one another. New people are always very welcome!

If you need an introduction to the work of OYT South, you should find a lot of useful information on our website. But essentially, we are a registered charity (no. 1079959) which exists to offer adventure under sail as a personal development opportunity for young people aged 12-25, from the widest possible range of backgrounds. A high proportion of our young crew members are disadvantaged or deserving in some way: many of these sail in groups organised by other charities, youth clubs, special schools and so on, and will fill the bulk of our term-time voyages. But those from more fortunate backgrounds are also welcome to sail, either in groups or by coming as individuals on a mixed voyage. Every year we run a variety of shorter local voyages plus longer adventure trips - sometimes including Tall Ships races during the summer holidays. If you are aged 12-25 and hoping to sail as a crew member, take a look here - and this section is also useful for adults who are thinking of organising a voyage for a young person. Adults planning to organise a full group voyage should also see here. Adults who want to sail themselves should see here.

We have a professional staff skipper and engineer, but our watch leaders are normally all volunteers, who combine sailing skills with an interest in working with young people. You can find more information here - how the system works, how to join, and profiles of existing staff and volunteers.  

To volunteer for OYT South ashore, please see here. To help with the vessel's annual refit, see here.

It is a very expensive business maintaining a boat, running an office and employing staff. If you want to help us, please become a member of OYT South. Or see here for information on making a donation.

If you have any questions, please do email - or contact the office.

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Receiving this newsletter by email
Many thanks to all those who have given consent to receiving this newsletter by email. If you are not currently getting it by email and would like to, please just click here Newsletter Subscribe and press "send", or email

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“To be honest I never wanted to come, but I'm glad I did because I have learnt and seen so much!" Charlotte