Giving young people the skills to succeed in life
Prolific is a stunning vessel with real beauty and genuine character. She was built in 2005, as a tribute to the herring-fishing vessels in operation along the Norwegian coast during the 19th century.
The ship is a hybrid of historic design and modern-day construction. She was previously used for sail training with young people in Norway.
OYT South was thrilled to have been able to bring this unique boat to the UK, where she can play a major part for many years to come in helping young people to develop the skills to succeed in life.
Prolific description, dimensions and video tour
Prolific’s length on the waterline is 23.4 metres, length on deck 26 metres and with bowsprit 30 metres. Her draught is 3.2 metres. She comes under the Small Commercial Vessels Code.
She has the potential for up to 26 berths but, fitting in with coding requirements, we tend to sail with 12-15 young people (and group leaders where appropriate) plus 6 or 7 adult staff and volunteers.
She is a Bermudan ketch with a bowsprit, and high bulwarks which provide a very safe area for young people and novice sailors to move around.
Prolific’s accommodation includes 6 staff berths towards the stern (two pairs and two single cabins); 10 berths in the saloon; 6 in the fore cabin; and a small cabin in the bows, which can be used for group leaders if they prefer separate accommodation. She also has a huge saloon with room for everyone for meals, briefings, games and more; a good navigation area with lots of space for young people to get involved; plenty of galley space including separate cooking and washing-up areas; and a great workshop.
She’s fast – an incredible passage-making vessel. She allows us to deliver voyages in new and exciting ways; but she also has a huge amount to offer our longstanding clients. We have enjoyed working together with staff, volunteers and clients to realise the true potential of a fantastic sail training vessel.
Sea staff Lauren and Sara made this video to show young people what to expect when they step on board Prolific for the first time:
Ocean Youth Trust South would like to extend our warmest thanks to a number of our major sponsors, who enabled us to purchase Prolific in 2015, and undertake a major refit before bringing her into service in 2017.
“MDL Marinas is absolutely thrilled that Ocean Youth Trust South has succeeded in their acquisition of the new sail training vessel, Prolific. OYT South has such a huge influence on young people’s lives, providing a valuable experience for them at a crucial age. Over the years MDL has seen many young people grow into outstanding adults and many of them cite their experience afloat as their turning point. The acquisition of Prolific will allow OYT South to continue their good work for many years to come and MDL Marinas looks forward to looking after the boat whilst she’s in the Solent.”
“International Paint heartily congratulates Ocean Youth Trust South on its acquisition of the sail training vessel Prolific. Prolific will inject a new dynamic into Ocean Youth Trust South and create even more opportunities for young people to benefit from the life-changing experience of training at sea. International Paint and the whole of the AkzoNobel Community look forward to continuing our longstanding support for Ocean Youth Trust and the superb work it does for children and young people.”
“Raymarine is delighted to hear the news that Ocean Youth Trust South has purchased the sail training vessel Prolific;in the belief that the ‘new’ boat can only enhance the charity’s work with young people. Raymarine has supported OYT South for many years and, now as part of the wider FLIR family, is proud to continue that support in what promises to be a new era for OYT South and the extraordinary results it achieves.”
“HFW are delighted to support OYT South. We are inspired by the work OYT South does, offering young people the opportunity to sail and to benefit from a challenging team-work and bonding experience. From HFW volunteers, sanding and repainting the deck and redecorating the crew’s quarters in John Laing, assisting with fund-raising, to organising the legal transaction for the new purchase, we will do all we can to support. We are particularly pleased to see all of the hard work that OYT South has put in to obtain the new boat coming together. It is fantastic news that present and future generations of young people will get to benefit from the vital life skills they learn from sailing with OYT South in their great new boat.”
The current Prolific, built in 2005, is a successor to the original Prolific, built in 1891 as a Grimsby sailing trawler – a 69-foot cutter-rigged ketch.
In 1898 she was sold to Sweden and moved to the village of Halleviksstrand on the west coast, on the island of Orust (home to Hallberg Rassey, Najad and Malo Yachts). From there she spent the next half-century fishing in the North Sea, from Halleviksstrand to Utsire in Norway, to Shetland and Peterhead, to Skagen in Denmark.
In 1948 she was sold to Estonian refugees not wanting to be repatriated to Russia after WWll, and in July she set off for the USA with 69 men and women and at least ten children on board. She put into Dover, crossed Biscay in a storm and suffered damage; was saved by a Spanish three-masted ship and escorted into Pontevedra, north of Vigo. The fishing village helped the vessel to be repaired and the crew to recover. Next, she put into Madeira; she suffered more damage in a storm near the Bahamas; and finally on 20th September 1948 was escorted into Wilmington, North Carolina. The crew had no papers and the story goes that after their harrowing Atlantic crossing they pleaded for one night’s rest on board before being interviewed and possibly turned away. That night, Prolific sank in Wilmington Bay – readers can speculate as to the cause but it did mean that the Americans had no choice but to let them stay! The crew were then taken to Ellis Island to be processed as immigrants.
Ants Lepson, who was a teenager on the trip to America, eventually returned to live in Norway, as a marine artist, painting many pictures of Prolific’s adventure. Ants also became the skipper of the Norwegian sail training tall ship Sorlandet and also skippered Christian Radich. Ants is still alive and has visited the modern Prolific on at least two occasions.
Family descendants of the original owners and crews of the first Prolific still live in and around Halleviksstrand and Orust. In 2002 interested people in the community formed a group called Navigare Necesse Est (NNE) (some of whom were 1970’s Swedish ex-Admirals Cup sailors) to raise funds to recreate a new Prolific for sail training to keep alive traditional seafaring skills on the west coast of Sweden.
The modern Prolific was launched at Lysekil in 2005, and made her maiden voyage to Lowestoft. For five years she undertook passages around northern Europe and as far south as the Azores, before being sold to Stavanger to work as a part of the Pobel Project (Community Project for young adults needing support in education and employment). She sailed widely from 2010 to 2014, including Tall Ships races and a Russian National Geographic Expedition to Svalbard.
Finally in 2015 she was bought by Ocean Youth Trust South…and a new chapter began!
An OYT South team brought her back from Norway – here’s a picture of her arriving in the Solent:
Jack Dignan, then OYT South’s newest watchleader, aged 18, and Kit Power, governor of the charity in the 1960s, aged 81, were among those who got together to welcome Prolific as she arrived in the UK – linking the charity’s history and our future, as a new generation carries forward an idea that was first developed well over 50 years ago.