Last week I promised to add stories from the voyage then under way if anything interesting came to light once JOHN LAING sailed back within telephone range.
Little did I suspect that I would now be able to report on a wave of cross-dressing which had swept the boat, as all the male sea staff got a chance to parade their feminine sides. Nursie Craig, Little Red Riding Wolf, and the Ugly Sisters Graeme Cole and Martin Skipper (actually both extremely fetching) took the opportunity of a party on board to appear as you have never seen them before. Luckily photographic evidence exists and if anyone wishes to email me a request for pictures, I shall do my best to pass them on. Most of them seem to have taken to their new looks with huge enthusiasm, though Craig apparently was traumatised when shopping for fishnet tights with Wolf turned out to require having hip measurements taken by the lady in the shop. He was also in a state of near-panic the following day when he found that he had nothing at all on the boat which would remove nail varnish, meaning that he was about to go on leave with scarlet finger nails. Luckily he was able to resort to a natural macho bosun solution….. Beauty tip for feminine (and not-so-feminine) readers: always carry a sheet of sandpaper in your handbag: it really works.
They did manage to fit a lot of sailing around all the other activities, and Wolf reports that on the last day the crew took over the running of the entire boat, chose their own skipper, mates and bosun, and took JOHN LAING from Lulworth to Poole Bay with great skill and confidence. Apparently they all left the boat last weekend fired up with the desire to come again.
The current voyage is an adult familiarisation trip. Most of the crew are experienced sailors who are hoping to join us as watchleaders. Wolf says he has been working them very hard, with lots of sails going up and down, reefing, tacking in 30 knots of wind and learning that the primary winch needs to be treated with respect, and practising man overboard drills under power and sail. They are planning to be in Sandown Bay this evening, followed by a bit of a night sail.
This weekend we have two day sails: on Saturday a thank-you trip for some of our corporate sponsors, and on Sunday a marketing day. This will be followed next week by a return visit by the Derbyshire group which was such a huge hit last season: some of the most disabled youngsters we have ever sailed with, proving that they are more than capable of an immensely successful voyage.
Looking further ahead, please check the website (www.oytsouth.org) for some changes to the voyage programme in May and June, including some special offers. These are caused by the problem that we encounter every season: with anyone at school and college nowadays likely to be doing exams almost every year, we always have a few weeks where it is immensely hard to sell the voyages. If you can think of any groups we should target for next year, with people who aren’t caught up with exams, please let us know. Meanwhile, for enquiries and bookings connected with the changed voyage programme, please contact the office on 0870 241 2252.
Sea staff please don’t forget that there are still some vacancies this year – call Wolf on 07771 771864 if you might have any more time to spare. If we don’t get volunteer sea staff we are sometimes forced to pay professional sailors, and while we are very grateful to them for ensuring the voyages go ahead, there are obviously other things this money could be spent on. At the moment there’s a particular need for first mates at the end of June and the beginning of July.
And don’t forget to let me know if there’s anything you want included in next week’s bulletin.