Before you sail …

Information for young people who are about to come sailing in Prolific for the first time

Information for young people before sailing with us for the first time

You should receive a copy of our crew handbook in the post before sailing (unless you booked at the last minute), but you can read it here too.

The handbook tells you what to bring – and a few things not to bring (chewing gum, energy drinks, alcohol, illegal drugs and legal highs, indecent / inappropriate material).

Waterproof clothing, safety harnesses and lifejackets are provded on board. Oilskins look like this: waterproof jacket and trousers which also help to protect you from cold and wind:

Young people wearing oilskins, lifejackets and harnesses

Lifejackets look like this – they will inflate if you fall into the water. But the safety lines (you can see the clips on the lifejackets in this picture) mean you can be securely attached to the boat so you don’t fall in!

What will it be like when you step on board for the first time? A welcome and introduction video by Lauren and Sara:

Who will be on board with you?

There will be adult staff and volunteers to keep you safe, get you involved and show you what to do.

The skipper is in overall charge of the vessel, sea staff and crew, responsible for the safety and success of the voyage.

The engineer is responsible for maintenance, and may be helped by a bosun.

The first mate organises the day-to-day running of the vessel and ensures that the skipper’s decisions are carried out. The first mate is also qualified to get you safely back if the skipper is ill.

The watchleaders each look after a small team of people to do all the jobs on board. You will be assigned to a watch and will work with the same watchleader throughout the voyage.

Together, the skipper, first mate, engineer, bosun and watchleaders are known as the sea staff. Some of them are paid, full-time professionals; others are volunteers who may only sail on a few voyages each year. They are giving up their free time to sail with you and they want to enjoy it just as much as you do!

The crew is you – young people aged 11-25 and sometimes any teachers or group leaders who may be coming with you.

You may be surprised to find that some of the sea staff are quite young. At least a quarter of our sea staff are aged 16-25: any young crew member who really impresses the skipper can be invited back to train as a bosun or watchleader.

You can see the full-time paid staff here – one, two or all three of them may be sailing on your voyage. Other roles are filled by volunteers – which of them will be sailing with you?

Are you feeling anxious about coming on a voyage for the first time?

The first thing to say is that people normally have a fantastic time – and lots of them come back again if they can! Have a look at our feedback page to see what people have said about sailing with us. You’l find that other people have worried about what it would be like but end up saying things like this:

“This voyage has been much better than I ever thought it could be! The mates and crew have been spectacular there was nearly always a laugh and best of all when I first boarded I knew nothing of sailing now it’s all I talk about.”

“The crew and skipper are very nice and very fun and easy to work with !!”

“I loved sailing, at first I was anxious but by the end of the trip I had made friends and don’t want to leave! Can’t wait to come back again.”

“I was pretty nervous as I got on the Prolific but after a day I felt at home because of the people and welcoming and kind atmosphere.”

“My best bit is … just working with everybody who, we were all just strangers about seven days ago. And now we’re a good, solid team, that’s just amazing.”

“The most memorable bit … all the new skills I’ve learnt, all the things that I was really nervous to do and I’ve gone, ‘I’m not doing that,’ and then I end up doing it and it’s been my favourite bit.”

“Not only did I overcome my fear of sailing, but I also met some friends along the way. I was really nervous because I thought nobody was going to talk to me but I was wrong about that. … Looking at the sea was really calming and gave me a lot of time to think. The crew were really nice to me and made sure I was safe. This was a once in a lifetime trip.”

Some people who sail with us have struggled with things like anxiety and mental health. Have a look at our Sail To Wellbeing page and you will see how the activities on board fit with NHS advice on how to improve your wellbeing.


Do have a look at our videos page and you’ll see young crew members taking part in all sorts of activities on board. Most of the young people shown have only been on board for a few days – they are not all expert sailors! You will be shown what to do and it won’t take you long to be able to do it yourself.

Booking a Voyage

Guide to booking a voyage

Tracking our boat

Find out where we are sailing

Prolific bookings

We look forward to seeing as many people as possible on board Prolific. See here for our current sailing programme.


View the current sailing programme

New sailing programmes tend to be published in the early summer each year for the following year, which means we start looking at the next year’s plans in around May each year. If you are involved with a group which would like to book one or more voyages on board Prolific, please contact to discuss your requirements.

How to sail with us

Ocean Youth Trust South is an adventure sail training charity which takes young people aged 11-25 to sea in our 30-metre vessel Prolific.

Individual Voyages

Voyages for people aged 11-25

 Group Voyages

Introduction for adult leaders

Adult Voyages

Voyages for people aged over 18