Yes, it’s that time again – time to scrub, paint, polish, grease, tweak, maintain or repair just about every part of JOHN LAING that any normal person can reach, plus all the hidden bits that only unnaturally wriggly people can get at.
If you haven’t been involved with a refit before, the most important thing you need to know is WE NEED YOU! (At least if you are aged 18+. Those aged 16-17 who are very keen to sail as bosun can apply to come to the refit at the skipper’s discretion but this will only be possible when there is someone available to supervise you).
Almost all the work of the refit is done using volunteers, both skilled and unskilled. If you want to have a boat to sail next season, you need to come and do your bit.
Sea staff and trustees are all expected to turn up (or to contact us with a convincing excuse); and for sea staff bookings on the most popular voyages (such as Tall Ships) priority is given to those who contribute most during the refit.
Anyone who really can’t get to the refit for any reason but who would like to help in other ways should let me know in reply to this email, as we have some valuable tasks which can be done from home – e.g. compiling lists of contact details for organisations which might send young people on the boat.
Anyway, the refit details.
Top news is that THIS YEAR WE ARE INDOORS!!!!!!!!!! Veterans of previous refits will remember (in their nightmares) all those days when projects on the hull or deck were interrupted for every shower (and in some cases while we waited for the ice on deck to melt). So this year JOHN LAING will be in a shed at Hamble Yacht Services (where we were two years ago, and the opposite side of the Hamble River from last year). If you don’t know the area, this is not far from Southampton. There will be accommodation for volunteers in the area (details to follow when we have any).
It all starts on 15th November, and continues until mid-March. The boat will be closed over Christmas, from 23rd December to 3rd January, but for the rest of the time we need volunteers EVERY WEEK from Wednesdays to Sundays. We will not normally be working on Mondays and Tuesdays, so that our permanent staff (skipper Wolf and bosun Princess Craig) can take some time off. You need to call Wolf on 07771 771864 to tell him which days you can come.
We are in particularly desperate need of help on certain dates when either Wolf or Craig will be away. The one left behind cannot work alone on the boat for safety reasons (and in any case it is bad for morale if we let them get lonely) so please email me (including your phone number), or contact Wolf on 07771 771864 if you can provide essential cover for any of the following dates:
22nd – 26th November
15th – 19th December
12th -16th January
How on earth to afford the refit is one of those questions which keeps us awake every night. Very many thanks to all those who have supported our £15,000 refit appeal so far. If you haven’t yet contributed, anything you can spare will be hugely appreciated. Just £10 from everyone on this mailing list would raise £5,000. Please send cheques payable to OYT South to Spur House, 1 The Spur, Alverstoke, Gosport, Hants PO12 2NA. And PLEASE NOTE: if you are a taxpayer, it makes an enormous difference if you GIFT AID any donations. This means that we can claim back the tax you will have paid on your donation. So if you give £30, it will be worth just under £40 to us; £100 will be worth nearly £130 – without costing you a penny extra. All you need to do is fill in a simple form which you can get by calling David Salmon in our office on 0870 241 2252.
You! Everyone! (please)
If we don’t complete the refit, the boat doesn’t pass the necessary inspections and no-one goes sailing in JOHN LAING next season. It’s as simple as that.
Which brings me to next season!
CREW BOOKINGS for 2005: see the 2005 sailing programme with dates and prices at www.oytsouth.org, and remember the Tall Ships Races will be one of the highlights of the year (age range is 16-25 for Tall Ships, otherwise normally 12-25). Please put us in touch with schools, youth clubs and other organisations which might book a group voyage. And if every crew member who receives this bulletin could get AT LEAST ONE FRIEND to book next year (as well as booking a voyage for yourself), it will be much easier to keep the boat full for every trip. Crew members, group leaders etc. should contact the office on 0870 241 2252, firstname.lastname@example.org for bookings.
SEA STAFF BOOKINGS for 2005: email me with your booking preferences (including second choices where possible). Prospective sea staff who are looking for familiarisation voyages or assessments next year should also email me with their availability, as should relief bosuns, as well as anyone aged 16+ who has sailed on the boat and wants to apply for a trip as trainee bosun (these places are allocated at the skipper’s discretion).
Meanwhile, news from the high seas: Wolf, Craig, Chris the engineer and I spent a few days on a 32-foot (or thereabouts) yacht in the Solent last week, practising sailing techniques (lots of man overboard drills and picking up buoys under sail), and visiting a few places where JOHN LAING doesn’t fit. Highlight of the week: Craig the navigator – invariably accurate but accuracy achieved in such a state of excitable energy that it resembled being piloted by Tigger. All this accompanied by incredulous disbelief at some of the exercises he was given: “You want me to tack into the Hamble in the dark?” (yes) “We’re not really going to tack all the way in?” (yes) “You don’t mean we’re going to be tacking in the narrow bit?” (yes).
In Yarmouth we ran into ex-OYT skipper Ed Green, who kept us in hysterics all evening with tales of his experiences skippering in the Clipper 2000 Round the World race.
Also memorable: Craig and I both had an early night in Beaulieu and were safely tucked in our sleeping bags….when Wolf reappeared, woke us up, and announced that it was a beautiful night and we needed to get up, get dressed and walk to the pub….
(All this reminds me: the competition to nominate the best, worst and most memorable bits of the 2004 sailing season has provoked a lot of reminiscing, including the following from Phoebe in New Zealand: “My worst bit: accidentally throwing the engine raw water cover into the River Medina. Best bit: a few days later, discovering a certain ace engineer did a similar thing when he was an apprentice and that therefore I was not such a turbot.” I expect an outcry now from the Turbot Anti-Defamation League).
Anyway, the week ended with a party on board JOHN LAING at which several prospective new sea staff turned up. After all the months of sending out these bulletins I am sometimes more likely to recognise people’s email addresses than their names, so it was good to meet judoir and andiow. Andiow turns out to be Andy from the Isle of Wight who told the funniest story of the night, a dreadful tale of woe about a delivery trip in an ill-equipped boat with a dodgy skipper. When the leaks in the boat became really alarming, Andy went to check out the liferaft, only to find that it was attached to the boat with a combination lock, and the skipper couldn’t (or wouldn’t?) remember the number…..