OYT South bulletin 12th April 2024

OYT South’s weekly newsletter, including details of what has happened on the boat in the last week, plus short notice sailing vacancies for crew and sea staff and other ways you can get involved, and all the charity’s news.

OYT South bulletin 12th April 2024

by | Apr 12, 2024

In this Bulletin
Sections which have changed since last time marked *


* Voyage news
The last bulletin mentioned the amazing crew that were coming on board – including MDL Award Winners selected by our major sponsors. With so much talk of storms in the news, we were unsure how their voyage might develop – would we have whole days stuck in harbour with bad weather? In the end we were very lucky and managed to get out sailing every day!

They started the voyage last Thursday in quite breezy conditions, and spent time getting to know the boat and each other. Lauren McCann, MDL’s Ocean Village marina manager, came to see them off:

Crew gathered around the helm and mizzen mast, with Lauren McCann bottom right

They learned about lifejackets, winches and more and then sailed to Cowes on the first night, where they played lots of games before bed.

Two boys using a winch, one grinning and giving a thumbs-up Three young crew on deck, two with OYT South buffs over their faces

The next morning they started with Eggy Bread – made by Andrew Wilkes and three of the young people. The crew had showers and time to head ashore and explore Cowes, before having lunch back on board and getting ready to leave. It was still very windy, so after some winch drills the crew put up just the mizzen (with two reefs), and the staysail, and practised lots of tacking in the Eastern Solent. They then motor-sailed to Lymington, where they had dinner.

Watchleader Sara and two crew on the bowsprit Two boys at the helm

Four of the young people all led games that evening, including introducing some new games that everyone enjoyed.

On Saturday it was still very windy, so the crew sailed along with just the ORC up (a small sail we don’t often use). They sailed from Lymington back past Cowes into the Eastern Solent, where they did a man-overboard drill and the crew got to practise their emergency roles. Seasickness was forgotten as they had wraps for lunch:

Crew gathered round a table full of ingredients for lunch Young crew getting involved in a sail hoist A crew member and two sea staff with a sail neatly flaked on the boom A watchleader drinks tea while one young person steers and another gives a thumbs-up to camera Three people out on the bowsprit

They then went back to Cowes, where they all had spaghetti Bolognese for dinner, and then played the After Eight game.

On Sunday morning it really was too windy for enjoyable sailing so they had time ashore in Cowes where they completed challenges including finding and photographing themselves in front of things to spell out the letters of the word PROLIFIC.

Then it was off to sea again:

A happy group of young people with watchleader Sara with arms outstretched in the middle

They anchored off Ryde and had a lovely evening including some star gazing. Next morning they had a very early start and saw the sun rise:

Sunrise over Prolific's stern Early-morning work on the bowsprit

They had hoped to sail round the Island but as they headed east out of the Solent, the new forecast suggested stronger winds again so they sailed round the Nab Tower and back again – a cracking sail with lots of tacks and gybes!

Four girls having fun on deck A group of young people by the winches

They got back up Southampton Water and safely into Ocean Village before the weather deteriorated. They watched a movie on board (Moana) and some of the crew went off to buy ice-cream, which was really a ruse to get one crew member off the boat so the others could prepare a surprise for her birthday. Birthday cake, ice cream, music, party!

Cake with lit candles being presented to the birthday girl

Next day they cleaned the boat and the voyage ended with everyone achieving RYA Start Yachting certificates; they sailed 112 miles with a maximum wind of Force 7, and you can see the voyage track here.

View from the pontoon of crew waving from Prolific's deck

We also learned quite how much chocolate there can be in a chocolate rabbit as MDL Marinas, who had selected and sponsored some of the crew, donated a raffle prize of an enormous chocolate Easter bunny! Everyone had as much chocolate as they wanted and there was still some left for later … The banana is to show the scale …

Crew gathered in the saloon with a giant chocolate bunny A girl kneels on the table next to the chocolate bunny, holding up a banana to show the scale. The bunny is more than half the height of a kneeling person and as wide as a banana is long.

Comments included:

“I had a great time, I loved meeting everyone and the sea staff were all amazing. The trip was great and we managed to get in some good sailing. I definitely learnt a lot.”

“I was able to be myself and enjoyed meeting everyone and having a rave with everyone (even though I have social anxiety).”

“Absolutely loved this trip. It was a brand-new experience which was intimidating initially, but great fun with all the crew. I would recommend it to anyone.”

“Trips like this bring out the best in all of us. Give it your all and you will surely enjoy it. Good luck to future sailors!”

“The confidence and determination needed is not THAT much – so anyone can do it!”

We also had further feedback from the previous voyage which included five people from a young carers’ group who read their voyage report and told us: Amazing report! So detailed! Loved reading it and found it so useful too. Thanks so much to you and everyone else that made this happen. You’re a great organisation and we’re so lucky to be connected to you !! Just to say that one of the boys keeps asking me … when can he go sailing again … ?!? He loved it so much! … They all did!! So once again, we can’t thank you enough. You are truly transforming lives.”

Prolific is currently sailing with a new crew – a return for Testbourne School who had a great voyage last year. They joined on Wednesday and had a welcome chat and safety briefings before heading to Cowes with winch drills under way. It was a bit wet and rainy and very windy, but everyone was enthusiastic and excited to be there! Yesterday morning they had shore leave before sailing to Lymington. More about their voyage in the next issue!

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* MAIB Safety Digest
We would always encourage sea staff to look at the Safety Digests from the Marine Accident Investigation Branch which are published regularly and looks at the causes of marine accidents and incidents, and lessons which can be learned. These reports often include useful reminders of steps we can all take to ensure the safety of Prolific and everyone on board. Volume 1 of 2024 is particularly interesting because the forward to the third section – on recreational vessels (after merchant vessels and fishing vessels) – is written by OYT South’s Chief Executive Mark Todd. It’s an honour to be asked to do it and to present your thoughts on safety to other industry professionals – and it’s great to see sail training recognised by the arbiters of UK marine safety.

Cover of MAIB Safety Digest 1/2024

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* Ocean Globe Race
Regular readers may remember that last September, MDL Marinas very kindly raised money for us with events at the start of the Ocean Globe Race, and Prolific went out with an MDL team on board to wave the fleet off and wish them well. They’ve raced round the world in GRP production yachts designed before 1988, with no computers, no satellites, no GPS, and no high-tech materials, and the Leg 4 leader Pen Duick VI crossed the finish line off Cowes last night.

Currently in 5th place for this leg and third for the whole race on corrected time, with around 700 miles to go at the time of writing, is the UK boat, Maiden, with an all-women crew whose skipper Heather Thomas sailed as a watchleader with OYT North. Positions on corrected time are tight and there could be changes at the top depending on the winds over the next few days. There will be lots of waving and cheering from Prolific’s crew if we see any of the race finishers over the next couple of weeks!

Map showing positions for the OGR fleet

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* Sea staff vacancies
Please email webmaster1@oytsouth.org if you can help with any of the remaining vacancies. Dates given are when crew are on board so volunteers are generally needed the day before:

7-13 July, Brixham – one more qualified watchleader, ideally able to help with maintenance day 6th July as well.
20-26 July, Brixham – possibly one more person tbc

At this stage we don’t necessarily want to fill all the remaining September and October places (we may want spaces for good new people who emerge during the season, or to finish upgrade assessments started earlier in the year). But if any sea staff would like voyages in the autumn, do email webmaster1@oytsouth.org and we’ll keep a priority list of people who can be offered any unfilled gaps.

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* 2024 voyages available for people aged 11-25 – PLEASE SHARE – including discount offer
If all our members, volunteers, Trustees and other supporters shared our voyage availability with young people, parents, friends and colleagues, we could easily fill the rest of this year’s voyages. Don’t forget we can sometimes find bursary funding for genuinely disadvantaged young people who couldn’t otherwise afford to sail; but we also welcome those who can afford an amazing adventure holiday!

We have a VERY few full-boat bookings still available for a group such as a school, youth club or another charity. To discuss group bookings, please email caroline.white@oytsouth.org.

However, we have plenty of spaces still available for individual bookings, with fantastic adventure sailing opportunities for young people aged 11-25 in summer holidays – please share this with anyone you can think of who might be interested:

7-13 July, Brixham, 6 nights, £710 per person
14-19 July, Brixham, 5 nights, £605 per person
3-9 Aug, Brixham to Guernsey, 6 nights, £710 per person (not including travel)
10-17 Aug, Guernsey to Poole, 7 nights, £815 per person (not including travel) – race against other sail training vessels – ideal for age 14+
* 24-29 Aug, Poole to Brixham, 5 nights, £605 per person
30 Aug – 4 Sept, Brixham to Southampton, 5 nights, £605 per person

Owing to the additional costs of travel to and from Guernsey, we are looking at offering discounts to anyone who books on a Guernsey voyage and persuades a friend to book too. Contact the office for more information on “bring a friend discounts.”.

Voyages marked * are UK-only and may be ideal for the youngest crew members or anyone else wanting a less ambitious voyage. Passports will be needed for the voyages starting or ending in Guernsey, which may also visit a French port; and other voyages MAY go to France if we are lucky with the weather, so passports will be needed.

No previous sailing experience needed – all we ask is that you come prepared to join in and make friends!

Feedback from last year included:

The experience was fantastic, I was able to achieve the uttermost of my ability. I got the chance to work as a team in hoisting the sails and cooking the food. Overall it was a spectacular trip and made me appreciate the challenges of sailing at sea. I hope this isn’t my last trip.”

“The trip was insane. The views was insane and the people I travelled with made it an incredible experience. It is hard work, but if you soldier through that you’ll find that the trip was a diamond.”.

“I would like to mention the incredibly friendly, energised and cheery sea staff who were always just to fun to be around. Overall, the trip was a great experience I’d recommend to everyone :)”

“A huge thank you to the crew of the Prolific for such a fantastic opportunity. My son was very nervous about the prospect of a trip where he knew no-one, but he really enjoyed it and got a huge amount from it. I’m very grateful to you all for such a great experience for him.”

RYA sailing qualifications and DofE Gold Residential voyages available.

More information here on sailing with us.

For individual bookings on youth voyages, please contact VoyageAdmin@oytsouth.org.

Please note that voyages above are for people aged 11-25 and the next section is for adults 18+ with no upper limit – that means that people aged 18-25 can sail on either type of voyage.

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2024 voyages available for adults
These voyages are ideal for current volunteers who want a bit more experience, or an opportunity to enjoy sailing and to focus on their own skills, without supervising young people and helping them to do all the fun tasks on board instead of having the chance to do them yourself! Adult voyages are also used to select and train new volunteers, as well as for other adults who simply want to come for a holiday or to enjoy sailing Prolific. Please note that people aged 18-25 can sail on either youth voyages or adult voyages; but these adult voyages are the only option for those over 25.

3-5 May, Southampton, 2 nights, age range 18+, £255 per person, adult weekend voyage (Friday evening to Sunday evening) – provisionally fully-booked but we can take names for a reserve list.
11-13 Oct, Southampton, 2 nights, age range 18+, £255 per person, adult weekend voyage (Friday evening to Sunday evening)

There may also be a longer adult voyage – dates to be confirmed to fit around the demand from youth clients.

For adult bookings and volunteer training / selection voyages, please contact SeaStaffAdmin@oytsouth.org.

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South Coast Boat Show NEXT WEEKEND – help needed
Prolific will once again be at the heart of the South Coast Boat Show in Ocean Village, which this year runs from 19th – 21st April. We will need lots of volunteers on board to show visitors around, talk about the charity, collect money and sell bacon rolls! Email webmaster1@oytsouth.org if you’d like to come and help.

We could really do with a few more people at this event, including a couple who have sailed as young crew members. It’s a fun weekend so please do think about coming along!

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Maintenance days – dates for your diary – one coming SOON
If you are in any danger of feeling nostalgic for the refit, now the sailing season has started, or if you didn’t manage to get down and help this winter, don’t worry – we have six planned maintenance days during the season and you can always come and help with one of those. Please put these dates in your diary:

Monday 22nd April – Southampton
Saturday 11th May – Southampton
Saturday 8th June – Southampton
Saturday 6th July – Brixham
Thursday 5th September – Southampton
Sunday 20th October – Southampton

If you call the boat on 07990 518915 a few days beforehand, or email refit@oytsouth.org, we can get you booked in for maintenance days. We can feed you on board and probably offer accommodation the night before or after if needed. Generally we need over-18s, or 16 and 17-year olds who are sailing as bosuns or trainee bosuns.

Sea staff on the voyages immediately before and after these days should plan to include the maintenance day as part of your booking unless specifically agreed. If we don’t have enough people at a maintenance day and there are significant jobs to do, it might even affect the start of the next voyage, so please do come and help! 

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2024 AGM – a date for your diary
Advance notice that OYT South’s 2024 AGM date has been set for 9th November.

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* Financial appeal
Big thanks this week to Stuart Harrison, Jonathan Pinnock, Fraser Old and Roger Edgerton (in memory of Brian Mead) for very kind donations. Special thanks also to The Royal Thames Yacht Club charity who have pledged more funds for bursaries; to Trinity House who have approved a new grant for the Staff Mate salary; and to the Graham High Charity who have approved a grant to be divided between vessel tracking; crew handbooks and logbooks; lifejacket servicing; oilskins; and bursaries.

We need a regular flow of funds to cover at least three major areas: bursaries for young people who could not otherwise afford to sail; vessel maintenance and equipment; and staff salaries – please help, or pass on our details to anyone you come across who might make a grant, large or small.

See here for how to make a donation – you can contribute by cheque, phone or PayPal, but please do something if you possibly can. Don’t forget that if you complete and return a Gift Aid form we can claim back tax on your donation.

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Prolific earrings inspired by a crew member  – shortlisted for an award! PLEASE VOTE
Our studs have been shortlisted for Ethical Gift of the Year! The shortlist has now moved to a public vote so please click the link and vote for our earrings!

These very special earrings were designed by Vurchoo based on a drawing by a Prolific crew member and with part of the proceeds coming to us to support our charitable work! You can read the full story here.

£40 in either gold or silver – click the pictures to see how to buy them.

Gold earrings Silver earrings

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Raise funds for OYT South if you’re shopping online
we’ve made over £2,000 through Easyfundraising!
“What a fool I was!” says Mark Todd.

“For ages I’ve seen in the bulletin that Easyfundraising is a good way to raise money for charity, but I never got round to doing anything about it, and when Caz told me how easy it was, I didn’t listen.

I thought it might be a hassle, or that I’d have to remember to do something when I bought stuff online, or that it probably wasn’t really worthwhile.

This week I finally got round to it and it turns out it’s a REALLY EASY way to raise money for the charity I care about … and I definitely should have done it sooner.

It takes a minute or two to sign up; you can do it on a desktop, tablet and/or phone, and you can install a widget that flags up when a donation is available. Once that’s done, imagine you’re looking to buy – say – a rainbow unicorn: just put “rainbow unicorn” in your usual search box, and the list of results shows you which sites come with donations, and how much. It’s up to you what to pick and whether to accept the donation from the site, but a huge choice of sites will offer a donation – and it doesn’t cost you a penny.

I don’t know why I didn’t do it sooner … but if there’s anyone else who has been like me and just not got round to it, PLEASE click the link now and sign up!”

We have already raised over £2,000 through Easyfundraising – huge thanks to everyone who has used it!

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OYT South social media – please share as well as liking!
If you look at the top left of any page on our website, you can click on icons for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn. We are also on TikTok. Please share our social media posts as widely as you can – with the help of all our supporters, this charity is doing some amazing work and we need more people to hear about it. You don’t need to do anything more than share a post, or perhaps add a comment which could be as simple as “I’ve sailed with this charity!” or “I volunteer for this charity!”.

Please note that OYT South has a policy that our adult staff and volunteers should not make or accept personal online connections with crew members aged under 18, or vulnerable adults. Crew members can use the sites to stay in touch with the boat and with each other, but not with individual staff and volunteers.

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Branded clothing
OYT South branded clothing available – please see here. You can buy hoodies (in a wide range of colours), fleeces, short- and long-sleeved t-shirts, baseball caps, beanie hats, polo shirts and more, all with OYT South’s logo!

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New readers’ welcome and introduction
If you have recently registered your interest in OYT South, welcome to our newsletter, which is sent out almost every week, normally on a Friday, and is also copied onto the website.

If you have just started receiving this newsletter by email, it is because we believe you have signed up and consented to receive it – perhaps by emailing us to ask for it, completing a form on our website, or adding your email address to the book on board where people can sign up to receive news, as well as leaving comments. If this was a mistake or you simply decide you want to stop receiving the newsletter, just press “reply” to the email and write UNSUBSCRIBE at the top, or email webmaster1@oytsouth.org asking to unsubscribe.

Each week the newsletter includes a wide range of news from the boat and from the charity, including details of voyages available for young people; adult voyages; opportunities for adult volunteers both ashore and afloat, and much more. We find that while some people read the bulletin almost every week, many others dip in and out, and read it when it’s convenient – which is why some items are repeated. New items are marked with an asterisk * so that if you did read it last week, you can see which sections you can safely skip.

Please feel free to join in any OYT South activities – nothing here is restricted to long-standing members or people who already know one another. New people are always very welcome!

If you need an introduction to the work of OYT South, you should find a lot of useful information on our website. But essentially, we are a registered charity (no. 1079959) which exists to offer adventure under sail as a personal development opportunity for young people aged 11-25, from the widest possible range of backgrounds. A high proportion of our young crew members are disadvantaged or deserving in some way: many of these sail in groups organised by other charities, youth clubs, special schools and so on, and will fill the bulk of our term-time voyages. But those from more fortunate backgrounds are also welcome to sail, either in groups or by coming as individuals on a mixed voyage. Every year we run a variety of shorter local voyages plus longer adventure trips – sometimes including Tall Ships races during the summer holidays. If you are aged 11-25 and hoping to sail as a crew member, take a look here – and this section is also useful for adults who are thinking of organising a voyage for a young person. Adults planning to organise a full group voyage should also see here. Adults who want to sail themselves should see here.

We have a professional staff skipper, mate and engineer, but our watch leaders are normally all volunteers, who combine sailing skills with an interest in working with young people. You can find more information here – how the system works, how to join, and profiles of existing staff and volunteers.

To volunteer for OYT South ashore, please see here. To help with the vessel’s annual refit, see here.

It is a very expensive business maintaining a boat, running an office and employing staff. If you want to help us, please become a member of OYT South. Or see here for information on making a donation.

If you have any questions, please do email – or contact the office.

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Receiving this newsletter by email
Many thanks to all those who have given consent to receiving this newsletter by email. If you are not currently getting it by email and would like to, please just click here Newsletter Subscribe and press “send”, or email webmaster1@oytsouth.org.

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