Our charitable work

Ocean Youth Trust South is a registered charity (no. 1079959) which grew out of the Ocean Youth Club, founded in 1960, and has been recognised for the effectiveness of our work with young people.

Our charitable work

Giving young people the skills to succeed in life

Making a lasting difference

Who can sail with us
History and record of success
Voyages for young people aged 11-25
An award-winning charity
Sailing qualifications and why they matter
Measuring outcomes, providing evidence
Feedback from clients and young people
How you can help
Leaflets about our work
#SailToWellbeing – how sail training contributes to mental wellbeing

Making a lasting difference

A voyage with Ocean Youth Trust South is not just about learning to sail, but about developing qualities which matter in everyday life.

A voyage can focus on:

  • Confidence
  • Working in a team
  • Coping with unfamiliar experiences
  • Communication
  • Taking responsibility
  • Learning new skills
  • Perseverance in the face of challenges
  • Getting on with people
  • Making lasting friendships
  • Mental wellbeing (see #sailtowellbeing)

These are all skills and qualities which individuals, employers, families and communities need.

A voyage with OYT South really can transform a young person’s life – and it can have an impact in so many different ways. This video tells JP’s story:

Some voyages are built around a specific project: for example, in May 2018 the Leading Lights project put girls from Ormiston Academies on board Prolific for voyages alongside adult mentors, in order to inspire them and raise their aspirations:

This message was received in 2016 from a man in his fifties about a voyage he did with us as a teenager in 1979:

“For me, not coming from any sort of nautical background, it provided a complete change from my normal environment, which was exactly what I needed following my mum’s death whilst I was only just 17. I found I had time to reflect especially when I was on the night watch and each of the adult crew was approachable. Not like teachers, more like much older siblings. I had a little tearful moment one morning, it was only a few weeks after she had gone so emotions were raw. One of the crew members noticed. Quietly went and made a couple of cups of tea. And didn’t say anything directly but just stayed with me for a while drinking his tea. And I got through that moment and felt better. It was the year of the Fastnet disaster when a massive storm cost several lives and we were outside the harbour unable to enter until the waves died down a bit. And for a lad who was even a little uncomfortable on a cross channel ferry, I have to say I was one of the only crew that wasn’t sick that night. Everything seemed safe – we had lines to secure us in the event of being swept overboard, and I seem to remember I was positioned as a lookout at the front of the boat being hit by the spray from the waves, and I found it exhilarating. I’ve never had a problem with nervousness since that experience. Now you’re going to think I’m being a bit over dramatic, but I remember thinking I have survived the death of my parent which also meant losing my home and even my dog was given away, that I could deal with any troubles in life. The boat going up and down all over the place became a positive exciting experience, as I was able to rationalise that I’d taken all the safety precautions and our boat was if I remember 75′ long and not some little dinghy. I went home feeling I’d grown up just that little bit more. Truthfully was the best experience at just the right time.

Here’s what someone working in a school, who has been sending people to sail over the last ten years, thinks about the impact of our voyages:

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Who can sail with us
We work with other charities, mainstream and special schools, local authorities, social workers and youth workers, who refer young people to sail with us. Especially in school holidays, these may be mainstream groups from families who can afford a voyage (including young people doing the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Gold Residential); but we also work with young people who are disadvantaged or vulnerable in some way, particularly for term-time voyages. This includes young carers, siblings of life-limited children, young offenders, young people not in education, training or employment, children who have been bullied, abused or neglected, homeless teenagers, victims of crime, young people with physical and/or learning difficulties, children in care and many more.

Some young people and their families pay for their own places; other places are funded by the schools, clubs or charities which arrange the voyage. But OYT South also maintains a bursaries fund for disadvantaged or vulnerable young people who cannot afford even the basic subsidised voyage cost: small sums for people who can raise most of the money for themselves and just need a little help, all the way through to examples of full funding for exceptionally disadvantaged young people in genuine need.

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History and record of success

Ocean Youth Trust South is a registered charity (no. 1079959) which grew out of the Ocean Youth Club, founded in 1960. Ocean Youth Trust South has existed as an independent charity since 2000.

We work with around 450 young people each year, taking them to sea as active crew members in a purpose-built sail training vessel. We have come to be recognised as one of the leaders in the field of sail training, and in recent years our vessel has almost always been filled to capacity – and with a waiting list for sailing volunteers.

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Voyages for young people aged 11-25

Ocean Youth Trust South is a registered charity (no. 1079959) which offers residential sailing opportunities to young people aged 11-25 on board our 30-metre sailing vessel, Prolific.

Voyages can last from two days to two weeks but in general will include four or five nights on board. This allows time for young people to develop familiarity and confidence in sailing the boat; make friends; work as a team; learn new skills; earn recognised qualifications; face new challenges; have a lot of fun; and go home with a real sense of achievement.

We sail with up to 15 young people at a time, as well as up to eight adult staff and volunteers. The young people may come as small groups or individuals prepared to mix with others, or they may come with a full group booking of 15, which can include adult leaders such as teachers or youth workers. This is not always necessary, but many groups bring two leaders and up to 13 young people; and some – particularly when the young people have complex special needs – bring six young people and six adults for one-to-one support.

Young people take part in all activities on board – sail handling, steering, navigation, cooking, keeping watch (including night watches) etc. We don’t even decide in advance where the boat will go: there will be a start and finish port, but what happens in between depends partly on the weather but also on what the young people want to do.

Wherever possible, we aim to explain, listen and offer choices. Some crews will consist of young people who are ready for a challenge, with long passages that will really push them to their limits. Other voyages may involve less confident young people who need a gentler introduction to sailing, or a break from problems at home or at school.

We don’t usually sail all day, every day – voyages include time ashore, a chance to explore a new place, have a shower, play games, have a beach BBQ or buy souvenirs.

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An award-winning charity
OYT South was the first sail training charity to win The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

Our Chief Executive, Mark Todd, was the inaugural winner of the Maritime & Coastguard Agency’s Award for Command Commitment to Sail Training, the highest professional recognition available in sail training.

In January 2016, our previous vessel John Laing was named Sail Training Vessel of the Year by the Maritime & Coastguard Agency and the Association of Sail Training Organisations.

In December 2018, Ocean Youth Trust South’s Staff Skipper, Peta Koczy, won the title of Young Sail Trainer of the Year 2018. This is a worldwide award for a young professional sail trainer under the age of 25, to encourage and recognise high-performing individuals who deliver sail training to young people at sea.

In February 2019, Holly Vint – who had come up through the OYT South system, initially sailing with us as a young person before qualifying as a watchleader and then a First Mate, and working for us full-time through the 2018 season – won the ASTO and the Maritime Coastguard Agency award for the Best Potential Sail Training Skipper. This award is open to sail trainers who have not yet started skippering large sail training vessels and the award certificate says: “Awarded to the sea staff member who shows the best potential, not just for command ability and seamanship but also for the capability of fulfilling the youth development aims of Sail Training.” In November 2020, Holly Vint succeeded Peta Koczy and sailed as OYT South’s Staff Skipper for two years.

At the 2022 UK Sail Training conference, OYT South won the Social Media Star trophy, designed to reward the UK Sail Training organisation that had had a big impact on social media over the previous couple of years. We were recognised for regular posts from voyages and refit, including pictures and videos, on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, plus the regular voyage track posts, sharing and retweeting things from other members of the sail training community, a real effort to keep connected through social media during lockdowns, and some major campaigns including the fundraising Virtual Voyage, and #SailToWellbeing.

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Sailing qualifications and why they matter

Ocean Youth Trust South offers sailing qualifications through the Royal Yachting Association: the RYA Start Yachting certificate or, the RYA Competent Crew certificate. These qualifications are ideal for keen young sailors who wish to go on and develop their skills; but they can also be valuable for young people who struggle in school and may not get many academic qualifications. As well as showing that a young person has mastered some basic sailing skills, an RYA certificate also demonstrates that they listened, concentrated, worked with others, joined in with the routine activities as well as the exciting ones, took responsibility when asked, got out of bed on time, practised things they initially found difficult or challenging, without giving up, and much more.

All of this helps provide the evidence they need to move on in life.

Young people who do really well on a voyage may be invited back to train as volunteers (which can mean a lot of fun, years of free sailing and a chance to gain skills and experience, including leading and motivating others, which will be of real benefit in life and which have helped many volunteers move on in education or employment): those over 16 can sail as bosuns, responsible for basic maintenance and safety checks; those over 18 can train as watch leaders.

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Measuring outcomes, providing evidence

Those who arrange voyages for young people are given a report afterwards including comments from the skipper and watchleaders; details of certificates and qualifications earned; comments from young people themselves; and the results of a self-evaluation exercise which asks young people to give themselves marks in a range of areas at the start of the voyage and again at the end, so we can see how they feel they have changed. Results from 429 participants in 2022 included:

  • Feeling confident:  +28%
  • Working in a team: +19%
  • Learning new skills: +16%
  • Coping with new experiences: +16%
  • Getting on with people: +14%
  • Dealing with setbacks: +19%
  • Learning from experience: +10%
  • Communication (speaking and listening): +17%
  • Compromise and negotiation when living with different people: +16%

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Client comments and testimonials

You can read many years of client comments here.

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How you can help
1) Finding groups of young people or individuals to sail with OYT South.
There are places suitable both for disadvantaged and mainstream young people, and there are also voyages for adults. Up-to-date availability here

2) Making a donation. OYT South is always looking for funds in the following areas:

  • Bursary funding for young people who cannot afford to sail
  • Vessel maintenance and equipment
  • Salaries, office costs etc.

Details here for how to make a donation

3) Legacies. Please consider remembering Ocean Youth Trust South in your will.

4) Adult sailing. The skills acquired on our voyages are vital to the success of any business. Please contact us about corporate or teambuilding experiences for adults. We can offer your team a really effective day on the water, and the money you pay for it will help us continue our work with young people. We also run occasional longer adult voyages.

5) Volunteer for us: we need sailing volunteers to join our voyages, help with boat maintenance, local support groups, help with fundraising and more – please contact us for more information.

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Donate Online

Click on the button below to donate online using PayPal’s secure service. You can either use your own PayPal account to donate, or you can use a credit card.

Donate Online

Using PayPal’s Secure Service

Donate by Post

Please send a cheque made payable to “Ocean Youth Trust South” to Ocean Youth Trust South, 8 North Meadow, Weevil Lane, Gosport, Hampshire PO12 1BP.

Donate by Post

8 North Meadow, Weevil Lane, Gosport, Hampshire PO12 1BP

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