Frequently Asked Questions from Parents, Carers and Group Leaders!
Is it safe?
Yes, whilst sailing offshore is a challenging environment, it is fundamentally a very safe activity.
Our vessels are equipped and inspected regularly to ensure they meet or exceed the standards laid down by the government in terms of construction, maintenance and the safety equipment they carry.
Our staff are highly experienced, meticulously trained and specialise in working with young people and novice sailors. If anything were to go wrong, we have all the resources we need to deal with it, and our teams regularly practice for all sorts of emergencies.
Are you regulated?
Yes. Our vessels are registered as British Merchant Ships by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (A UK Government department). This means the vessels have to meet the exacting requirements of a 'code of practice' and are inspected regularly by a marine surveyor. We also have to meet equipment standards and our staff have to be extensively qualified and trained as professional seafarers.
MST is also a founding member of the Association of Sail Training Organisations (ASTO) which is the members' body for all organisations using youth work at sea in the UK. We are inspected annually by both ASTO and the Royal Yachting Association.
Who will be on the boat with my young person/group?
There will be normally be two members of MST Sea Staff onboard the boat; a skipper and a mate. The Skipper is a highly qualified and experienced Yachtmaster, responsible for the overall voyage, safety and safeguarding. The Mate is an experienced sailor in their own right, but tends to take a lead on crew management and the domestic routines (cooking, cleaning). All of our staff are DBS checked, and undergo regular mandatory training on safeguarding, data protection and first aid.
On group voyages there will normally also be at least one member of staff from the group, such as a teacher, scout leader or youth worker.
On individuals voyages (where all participants book on separately, such as our Youth Sailing Adventures), we will only have crew onboard who are within the appropriate age range for the voyage and who are completing the same voyage. We do not mix adult courses with youth voyages. Please be aware we use the National Young Agency's definition of 'young people' as being those aged between 15-25, so there on some voyages there may be a mixture of over- and under-eighteens onboard. This is managed appropriately and in line with our safeguarding policy and good practice.
Where will my young person sleep?
Accommodation on our vessels is in single berths only: no-one shares a mattress with another person. Accommodation for voyage crew is in spaces of two to four participants. The sleeping areas are separated from each other with curtains or doors depending on the vessel. Depending on the makeup of the voyage crew we endeavour as far as possible to separate males and females, as well as over- and under-eighteens.
Our Sea Staff sleep in their own cabins at the back of the boat, though this is within earshot of participants accommodation.
Where will my young person wash and get changed?
We encourage all our crew to get changed in the boat's bathroom compartments.
Washing is carried out in the bathroom, though not all of our boats have showers onboard. Shower facilities are available in the ports we visit, in facilities reserved for users of the marina. Our staff risk assess all such facilities and depending on the group will organise appropriate levels of supervision to and from shore showers.
What will my young person/group eat?
It's a key element of our sail training voyages that all young people take an active part in the preparation of all the food onboard. All the meals on the voyage are provided by us, and included in your voyage fee. We have a number of set menus that we use on our voyages, which are made up of simple and nutritious meals to keep everyone fuelled up for being active.
All our sea staff are food hygiene qualified, and we are able to accommodate all sorts of food allergies and intolerances, so long as we're given sufficient warning!
We will always do our best, but please do note that due to the limited space for food preparation onboard, we cannot guarantee that food will be free from allergens. If you have a severe allergy please contact the office as soon as you make your booking so we can make any necessary preparations.
Can I see your risk assessments and policies?
Our safeguarding policy can be viewed here.
All other policies and risk assessments can be viewed on request, please contact us.
Does my young person need a passport?
If your young person has a passport then please do bring it. If everyone onboard has a passport and the weather is right, we can cross over to explore France or the Channel Islands. However, this is not essential so if you don't have access to a passport please don't worry. The issue is handled with sensitivity onboard, and the crew will never suggest this until they have established that everyone has their necessary documentation!
If you are at all concerned about this, please contact us.
My young person has additional medical, emotional, behavioural or other needs, can they still take part?
We will always work hard to accommodate as many people as possible, and have lots of experience making adjustments to our programmes. We recommend you contact us as early as possible so that we can work together to find the most suitable voyages and decide on the best way to ensure your young person can participate in the activity to the fullest extent possible.
Please be aware that despite our best efforts it is not always possible to accommodate all participants on all voyages due to the layouts of our vessels or for safety reasons, though this is extremely rare.
What if my young person doesn't enjoy it?
We work hard to ensure that everyone can access and enjoy the onboard programme, and our staff are used to working with young people for whom sailing is a new activity. It is not uncommon for participants to have a 'wobble' in the first day or two of a voyage as a new activity in a new environment with new people can be tiring or overwhelming. We would suggest you recommend your young person speaks to a member of sea staff about their feelings, and if you are worried yourself that you contact the office or our out of hours safety contact.
In the event that a participant is really not enjoying the activity, they are obviously free to leave at any time, and we will work with parents/guardians to arrange the most appropriate way of facilitating this. Please note that we cannot ordinarily give refunds where participants leave an activity early.
What if my young person misbehaves?
As experienced youth work practitioners we are able to manage most behaviours onboard. However, when a participant's behaviour endangers themselves, others, or the ship, or where their behaviour negatively impacts on the voyage for other participants, we reserve the right to ask for them to removed from the voyage at any time.
This is a very rare situation, and we will endeavour involve parents early in this process to help us try to manage behaviours onboard first.
If you are concerned about your young person's potential behaviour, we suggest you contact us in advance of the voyage.
How can I contact the boat or my young person?
We always recommend that parents don't contact participants unnecessarily during the voyage as it can disturb participants settling into the voyage and ships' routines. However if you are concerned during the voyage or would like to pass a message, the office can be contacted on 01243 908026.
We maintain 24/7 safety contact with all our vessels when they are at sea. The duty shore contact can be reached on 01243 908091 if you need to urgently contact us. This is not a direct line to the boat and is for genuine emergencies only please.
I have other concerns or questions, what should I do?
If you have other concerns or questions about your young person's voyage then we would love to hear from you. Please don't hesitate to call the office on 01243 908026 or send us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org and we will do our best to give you all the information you need.