JOHN LAING is reaching the end of the sailing season with only a couple more voyages to go (and no more sailing vacancies to advertise in 2004). It all seems to have flashed by amazingly quickly, even if one of two of the colder and wetter night watches seemed at the time to last for years. However, OYT South is now turning its attention firmly towards the winter refit.
This is not going to be an easy winter. There is a lot of work to do on the boat, and unlike last year we don’t have two full-time volunteer refit helpers, since Dinghy Boy is now at university and Phoebe is in New Zealand.
But the biggest problem we face is funding the refit. There are several very expensive jobs which must be completed if JOHN LAING is to sail next season: for example, we have to replace the steering gear, the cooker, the No 2 headsail and the VHF radio (we need to switch to a DSC set). None of these are optional extras or luxuries, and none can be put off for another year. Our bookings for 2005 are already looking very good; but we MUST complete these refit tasks if we are to deliver these voyages.
Therefore we are launching a £15,000 refit appeal, and we hope that all our members and supporters will do what they can to make sure that the essential work can be completed. £15,000 is in fact not much more than £30 from everyone who receives this email, though given that many of you are impoverished students and some of you are as young as 12, we are hoping for more generous donations from those who can afford it! Please send cheques payable to OYT South to Spur House, 1 The Spur, Alverstoke, Gosport, Hants PO12 2NA. But 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.
Meanwhile, to help lift Wolf and Craig’s morale before the refit begins, we are considering having a party on board JOHN LAING on the evening of Friday 5th November, in Southampton. Anyone aged 18+ is welcome to join us but PLEASE call Wolf a.s.a.p. on 07771 771864, as we may alter the plan a bit depending on how many people want to come. Do not just turn up without letting him know, as it is possible that things will have changed!
Anyway, there will be just a few more tales to tell of adventures at sea before the refit begins. Last weekend we had an adult voyage, sailing from Southampton to Poole and back. As we approached Poole on Saturday evening, we enjoyed a spectacular rainbow, which unfortunately presaged an equally spectacular downpour. Apart from that, the weather was very kind for October. We spent Saturday night on Poole Town Quay, moored inside another sail training vessel, Jolie Brise. As we were getting ready to leave on Sunday morning, we were joined by a 50-foot yacht whose engine had failed as she was leaving the quay. She drifted sideways to end up lying across both our sterns and was pinned there by the tide – luckily her crew were able to get their fenders in place in time to avoid any damage. All efforts to restart the engine failed and she ended up getting a tow off.
I am told that JOHN LAING enjoyed a pleasant sail back to Southampton but I can’t vouch for it myself as I was stuck below doing chart corrections…..
Once more I’d like to repeat the request for people to think early about their sailing plans for 2005. As mentioned above, bookings are very strong for much of next year but we do need to make a real push to sell berths on the Tall Ships Race, which will take JOHN LAING from Portsmouth to Waterford (southern Ireland), Cherbourg, Newcastle, Fredrikstad (Norway), Bremerhaven (Germany) and back to Ipswich through July and the first half of August. These berths are restricted to crew aged 16-25, unlike other trips where the minimum age is 12. Please pass the information around among anyone who might be interested in sailing with us. You can find the full 2005 sailing programme with dates and prices at www.oytsouth.org. Crew members, group leaders etc. should contact the office on 0870 241 2252 for bookings.
Sea staff bookings should now be emailed direct to me in response to this bulletin – please let me know as soon as you can which voyage(s) you would like (with second preferences where possible). I’d also like to hear from people who aren’t yet sea staff but would like to get involved, either as prospective watchleaders and trainee bosuns, with details of your availability. I look forward to hearing from you!
And finally, news from our friends: first mate John Clack sent a lively and spirited account of his sailing in October; and second mate Matt Bland sent a message to say that he was briefly back in the UK between trips with the Merchant Navy; but that next Monday he joins a new ship exporting Nissan cars from the Tyne to Finland until Christmas.
Alice Poyner writes from Cambodia where she is on holiday but thought it was worth spending twenty minutes in an internet café with the sole intention of making us all jealous.
And Tee Hee got in touch from university where the realisation that she is in her final year is causing a fair amount of stress, with a dissertation proposal to complete by Monday and the prospect of doing her Yachtmaster Theory exam as a form of light relief! But she says hello to everyone who knows her.