The sailing season really got going this week with the news that star bosun Craig has been sunbathing on deck. The combination of great weather plus the fact that there was nothing urgently in need of fixing is surely a good sign.
The sunshine unfortunately was not sustained throughout the whole trip; but we had another top-quality crew: Stanbridge Earls School, one of our most regular bookings in recent years. The school specialises in working with pupils who have specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia, and we have seen some great achievements on the boat over the years with confidence flourishing, team work developing and leadership skills emerging. This group included several who had sailed with us before, plus a number of new faces, and the sea staff say that they all worked really well together and had a highly successful trip.
Sea staff this week were Dave Carnson, Helen Acton, Jonny Holman, Bob Collier and Craig. Bob is a teacher at the school who is also a qualified OYT watchleader. Jonny is an experienced second mate who was using this trip for training and practise in some first mating skills, which by all accounts went very well.
The boat started in Ocean Village and sailed to Gunwharf, then on to Poole, followed by an anchorage in Chapman’s Pool. Next stop was Weymouth, where they did some work towards RYA certificates and practised rowing the dinghy.
This was followed by a return to Poole in thick fog, where they were observed by one of my wide network of informants. Martin Skipper (who, as mentioned in last week’s bulletin, has just successfully passed his first mate’s assessment) was in the area in his own boat, and emailed me to say: “When you write the next bulletin and hear of Laing’s epic entrance into Poole with 30m visibility. I was moving my new boat ‘Cwac’ (editor’s note –all those of you familiar with VHF procedure should pause for a moment and imagine calling this boat) and followed them into Poole. I didn’t have radar but relied on good old fashioned bouncing off contours, back bearings and such like. I must have passed within 50m of Laing and didn’t see her, or hear the crew! But then I didn’t see the Sandbanks Ferry till I was right in front of her bows (I had called them and made sure they were stationary).”
Martin went on to Poole Town Quay, while John Laing anchored off Stone Island. There is a tradition of setting the crew a task to keep them entertained during anchor watches (as well as ensuring the safety of the boat, of course), and this week each watch was asked to write part of a story, to be continued by the next team. Craig says that the result was a real epic, featuring Japanese pirates, princesses (not sure if this included Princess Craig himself) and dragons.
After this it was back through the Solent – a very fast sail with the tide – with another anchorage for lunch; a short stay in Cowes; and then a night sail up Southampton Water to finish.
All the crew who hadn’t already got them were successful in achieving the standard for either the RYA Start Yachting or the RYA Competent Crew certificates. Craig says he hopes that lots of them will sail with us again, and that it was a really good trip, substantially enhanced by the spangly new toilets we acquired during the refit – a vast improvement!
A couple more full boat bookings were confirmed this week, so the next few trips we really need to sell are as follows:
JL05-16: 23-27 May, Poole to Poole, a few spaces available, age range 12+.
JL05-20: 6-11 June, Poole to Poole, all 12 berths available following a cancellation.
JL05-30: 16-26 July, Cherbourg to Newcastle, Cruise in Company with Tall Ships, age range 15-25, some berths available.
JL-05-31: 27 July-5 Aug, Newcastle to Fredrikstad (Norway), Tall Ships race, age range 15-25, some berths available.
JL05-32: 6-10 Aug, Fredrikstad to Bremerhaven, age range 15-25, some berths available.
JL05-34: 12-17 Aug, Bremerhaven to Ipswich, age range 12-25, some berths available.
We also have a number of berths and even full-boat bookings available from September onwards.
Apologies for not yet being able to give accurate prices for these trips; as reported last week, we have won our appeal against the imposition of VAT on voyage fees, so costs will be less than previously advertised, but owing to other commitments we haven’t quite got to the stage of issuing a definitive new price list.
Don’t forget that we still have some bursary funding on offer for deserving candidates who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford to sail. And please don’t assume that if you aren’t living on the breadline, you won’t qualify. Some of this money might go to people who would normally sail during the school summer holidays, but who find that the extra costs of Tall Ships and travel put the voyages just out of your reach. It’s always worth asking for a small bursary if that would make all the difference to you. Please contact the office for more information, as well as for bookings and general enquiries: 0870 241 2252, email email@example.com .
For those of you planning even further ahead, the 2006 programme is now available and we are taking bookings. The programme will be published on the website shortly, or you can call the office for a copy. It includes a wide choice of south coast voyages and opportunities for trips to France and the Channel Islands; but the big event of summer 2006 is the 50th anniversary Tall Ships Race series, which will take John Laing to St Malo, Lisbon, Cadiz, La Coruna and Antwerp – should be a fantastic experience.
I know I’ve asked this before, but please can we find second mates for 25-29 April, 16-22 May, 23-27 May and a third mate for 27-30 May – as well a quite a few first mates. Surely there must be someone out there who wants to do these trips?
If you can’t do those dates, there are plenty more gaps later in the year.
And don’t forget the adult familiarisation voyage from 12-16 September, and the mates’ training weekend 16-18 September – berths still available for these trips.
All those of you missing the refit (plus those who actually missed the refit!) should put Sunday 24th April in your diaries – it’s John Laing’s next maintenance day in Southampton and helpers will be welcome.
A small group has just been set up to work on raising funds for OYT South and look at new ideas. If anyone has suggestions for them, or would like to join the group, let me know and I’ll put you in touch.
No bulletin next Friday as I shall be on the boat!!!!