King's Bruton

5th Form King's pupil, Harry, volunteers for the Ocean Youth Trust in his spare time

Charity Outdoors and Adventure

5th Form, Lyon House pupil, Harry, is a volunteer for the Ocean Youth Trust...

I am a trainee Bosun with the Ocean Youth Trust, the role of a Bosun has changed substantially since the invention of high-tech equipment, but the theory of it is the same. My job on board is very varied and no two days are the same. I'm 16 years old, about to turn 17 which means I am currently the youngest volunteer within the charity, and this is something I am proud of even if it does mean I have to work a lot harder to prove myself to others. My Job ranges from cooking and cleaning, to man overboard recovery and helping with damage control and abandoning ship in extreme situations. My day-to-day role, when I am onboard, depends a lot on what needs to be done. We have daily, weekly and monthly checks that need to be completed. These could be as small as checking batteries in the emergency torches, to larger and more difficult tasks like being winched up the mast to check the rig (radar, lights etc). I am yet to do a rig check, however, I am excited to do one, as I believe I will be the youngest person to do this job.

All Sea Staff, myself included, must hold a minimum of a Level Two Certificate in Child Protection and Safeguarding, as well as a Level Two Certificate in Food Hygiene and Safety, before being able to go to sea as a volunteer, this is so we can protect everyone onboard. We also must hold a minimum of an RYA Competent Crew Certificate showing we are of a level of competence in vessel handling and operation, even though my role focus's more on maintenance and repairs, I still play an active role on deck. We are also advised to gain qualifications in things including Advanced Medical Care and Firefighting, but these are only required for the Skipper (full time and relief) and the Marine Engineer who is also full time. Bosuns are aged normally between 16 and 18 and at 18 can begin the process of becoming a Watch Leader. As well as needing a recommendation from the Skipper to become a volunteer, a trainee Bosun has a long list of competencies they need to tick off before being signed off as a full Bosun, until then, they are assessed and monitored on some tasks to ensure they are done safely and correctly.

Looking on a daily basis, the first thing I do in the morning before eating or doing anything else, is the daily checks. These include giving the engine and generator a detailed check over, checking fuel levels, fresh water levels and more. Once that is done and I am ready for the day, we have a Sea Staff briefing while the young people (crew) get themselves sorted. After this, I start by looking through the defects log book to see what I can fix independently and what I will need to get help with from the Engineer. Once this is done, I will either help prepare the boat for sea, help raise the anchor or go ashore to help let the lines go before jumping back up onto the boat from a pontoon. The Bosun (and some other sea staff) are on duty 24 hours a day, and this is broken up with repairs and deck duties which include helping the Watch Leaders teach the young people onboard, and getting as much sleep as possible. If we have a man overboard drill, or a real man overboard, I have to get into the recovery kit and be made ready to be lowered into the water to collect the casualty (or Bob the Bucket!). On the night when the crew arrive, I am the designated cook so that the rest of the sea staff can focus on briefing the crew on various safety procedures. My job, along with the job of the Marine Engineer, is vital for keeping the boat afloat and everyone safe.

My current role isn't a teaching role directly, however, as I work in the engine room and work with a lot of the mechanical and electrical systems onboard, I do get to teach things like how the engine is checked and how various safety equipment works. For now though, my role is to mainly shadow and learn from our Marine Engineer and Skipper so I can work towards being signed off as a full Bosun.

OYT South is a reasonably small charity in size, but our recognition is much bigger, we have won many awards including being the first to hold a couple of them. We have around 125 volunteers and three paid full time sea staff. We all have varying reasons for coming aboard in our free time, and we come from all sorts of walks of life and many different jobs. I have been lucky enough to sail with; a radiologist, a coastguard controller, a street lamp expert, a games teacher from Claysmore, police officers, marine engineers, marine surveyors, IT experts and many more. We rely on sponsorships and donations to stay afloat, which in these times, as we recently learned with a fellow sailing charity closing down, is a massive task, but we have managed for about 62 years, and will manage for much, much longer.

We give young people skills to help them succeed in life. It is one of the most challenging things I could ever do in my holidays, but the smiles on peoples faces at the end is a feeling that can't be described.

Harry - 5th Form Lyon House

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