The Importance of Marine VHF Communication to Ocean Youth Trust South

The Importance of Marine VHF Communication to Ocean Youth Trust South

Ocean Youth Trust South is a charitable organisation dedicated to offering personal development through adventure under sail to young people aged 11 to 25. The charity focuses on providing transformative experiences for young crew members, particularly those from vulnerable or disadvantaged backgrounds, offering them opportunities to face new challenges, develop confidence, acquire new skills, and build resilience. The core of the experience involves taking young people on board the 30-metre ketch, Prolific, where skilled sea staff ensures safety and support.

Benefits of Sailing Experience:
Sailing with Ocean Youth Trust South is more than a nautical adventure. Young people actively participate as crew members gaining hands-on experience in steering, hoisting sails, navigation, teamwork, and more – including making radio calls under the supervision of someone with a licence. The experience helps develop confidence, communication skills, resilience, and mental well-being. The impact extends beyond sailing, catering to individual goals, whether it's boosting academic confidence, reducing isolation, or fostering a sense of camaraderie among specific groups.

Learning and Impact:
Caroline White, Chief Operating Officer, OYT South said, ‘It really does change young people’s lives for good: we have so many examples of young people whose entire lives were turned around by the experience of sailing with us. The charity uses a lot of volunteers and up to a third of them will be young people aged 16-25 who excelled on a youth voyage and were invited back for further training. I particularly love seeing these young people coming through the system, gaining skills and qualifications and helping more young people in their turn. It’s quite something to see a Yachtmaster confidently running a watch or handling the boat and remembering what they were like as a teenager on their very first sailing trip!’

Volunteer Support from Dorset Marine Training:
Dorset Marine Training has been a valuable partner offering RYA courses such as Powerboat Level 2 and bespoke training tailored to Ocean Youth Trust South's specific needs. Dom, an instructor from Dorset Marine Training, brings a unique perspective having volunteered on board, ensuring a deep understanding of the charity's operations.

Caroline said, ‘Dorset Marine Training is for us a perfect combination of high-quality courses plus an instructor who has volunteered on board and therefore really understands how Ocean Youth Trust South works, what is expected of our staff and volunteers and what they need to know. Dom is a great friend to the charity with a record of suggesting things that might be of benefit to us and not just waiting to be asked, so we benefit from his ideas, experience and enthusiasm!'

Recently both Icom UK and Dorset Marine Training donated IC-M37E marine VHF handheld radios to the trust to enhance safety and communication during the voyages. The radios were first used during a voyage with young people from the charity Ambition, Aspire, Achieve (AAA), focusing on the most disadvantaged and at-risk youth in the London Borough of Newham.

The Role of Marine VHF in Operations:
Caroline White, Chief Operating Officer, OYT South said, ‘marine VHF is important in our operations. Marine VHF is crucial for safety, navigation, and legal compliance for a commercial vessel like Prolific. It facilitates communication with authorities, other vessels, and the RIB when crew members are away from Prolific. In emergencies, the VHF radios enable distress calls and coordination with coastguards and nearby vessels.

As a commercial vessel, we are required to call in arrivals and departures as well as our position at specific points to authorities such as VTS in the Solent or Poole Harbour Control in Poole – the people who look after traffic in busy stretches of water, helping to ensure that container ships, ferries and Prolific are not trying to be in the same place at the same time!

Feedback on Radio Donations:
Caroline said, ‘The donated IC-M37E radios are now in continual use on our voyages. Young people are not only proud to make radio calls but also left a lasting impression on those who listened in, showcasing the capabilities of the next generation. The radios proved instrumental in fulfilling safety and communication requirements.’

She added, ‘On the first voyage with the radios we got the AAA crew to make the calls at the specified points on the way in to Poole: many of them were nervous about doing it but managed it with support. They all finished their calls with “many thanks” but there were some squeals and giggles as well. When we got in, we were told by Poole Quay Marina that a lot of people had been listening in, realising what we were doing, with a different young person on each call and people had been looking forward to each call as it came! A lot of people listening seemed to be happy to hear us and impressed by the young people who in turn were very proud and happy to have done it – and started asking to making radio calls for the rest of the voyage!’

Volunteering with Ocean Youth Trust
Caroline said, ‘Volunteers supporting Ocean Youth Trust South gain sailing skills, seamanship knowledge, and personal development. The experience provides an opportunity to develop leadership and problem-solving skills, communicate effectively, and contribute to the personal growth of young participants. The satisfaction of making a real difference and the sense of community and friendship on board contribute to a fulfilling volunteer experience.’

‘In addition, there will be specific goals for different young people. Some of our young crew members struggle with academic work and have lost confidence in the classroom: it can benefit them enormously to realise that they may be much stronger at learning in a practical environment. They also need to realise that employers care about more than just exam passes and grades, and may be looking for evidence that you can work well with other people, follow instructions and safety rules, stick to a task even when you find it difficult, show that you can be reliable and that you can accept responsibility when given the opportunity, and approach new challenges with a positive, can-do attitude.’

‘On other voyages it may be about reducing isolation and bonding with others who have shared similar difficulties – for example, when we run voyages for young carers, or for brothers and sisters of life-limited children using a children’s hospice.’

The collaboration between Icom UK, Dorset Marine Training, and Ocean Youth Trust South exemplifies a commitment to empowering young people through maritime experiences. The donation of IC-M37E marine VHF handheld radios will enhance safety and communication, contributing to the overall success of the voyages. As Ocean Youth Trust South continues its mission, the partnership with dedicated volunteers and supportive organizations ensures a positive impact on the lives of young participants for years to come.


Local Produce | Local Food | Farmers' Markets | Farm Shops | Veg Box Schemes | Pick Your Own Farms | Motorhome hire in Scotland | Pet Friendly Motorhome hire in Scotland | Motorhome Hire in Scotland | Motorhome Touring Treasures in Scotland | Motorhome Cycling Holidays | Motorhome Repairs in Scotland