One of the most astonishing features of the Project it is almost entirely volunteer based. We employ only four full time staff to run the Project. Each voyage is run by the volunteer Afterguard, which normally consists of a Skipper, a Mate, two Watch Officers and two Watch Leaders.

To be a member of the Afterguard, each volunteer is expected to participate in one refit weekend, one familiarisation voyage and one Sail Training Voyage per year. They are also invited to make a voluntary donation.

Safety and Security

The Afterguard on the yachts are qualified for their rank as required by the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA). It is a condition of sailing on the Project yachts that all the Afterguard have an up to date clearance with the Disclosure and Barring Service.


The Afterguard

The Afterguard is the collective term for the volunteers on the boat, and typically made up of 6 people. On a Sail Training Voyage (STV) there can be up to 13 young people, referred to as the 'Crew' or the 'Trainees', on board in addition to the Afterguard. The Trainees are normally divided into two Watches during the voyage.

The Skipper

While onboard, the Skipper is in overall charge of the safe operation of the vessel. They are head of the vessel and the Mate reports directly to them. The Skipper's duties and responsibilities include:

  • The safety and welfare of the ship’s company
  • The safe operation and navigation of the vessel
  • Ensuring adequate safety briefings are given to all Crew
  • Overall charge of the vessel’s programme
  • Providing clear direction to the Mate
  • Encouraging a good level of discipline on board and ashore
  • Ensuring that any necessary maintenance work is carried out and that the vessel has a high level of cleanliness and food hygiene
  • Promoting the ideals of the Project together with a high level of seamanship

The Mate

The Mate is second in command of the vessel. If for any reason the Skipper is unable to take charge of the boat the responsibility then falls to the Mate.

Standard duties and responsibilities of the Mate include:

  • Being second in charge to the Skipper and taking command if the need ever arose
  • Running the routine of the vessel in line with the Skipper’s directions
  • Under the guidance of the Skipper, overseeing the Watch Officers in their duties, in particular ensuring the safe operation and navigation of the vessel
  • Keeping alternating watches with the Skipper as necessary
  • Keeping the Skipper informed of actions taken

The Watch Officers

Are in charge of the safe operation and navigation of the vessel when the watch is on duty. If the W/O is in any doubt as to how to do this then they must obtain direction from the Skipper or Mate.

The Watch Officers: 

  • Ensure the safety and welfare of the Watch
  • Ensure the seamanlike performance of duties allocated to the Watch during specific evolutions
  • Carry out the appropriate training of the Watch
  • Ensure that the ship’s log is completed at least every hour and a regular position plot is kept on the chart
  • Oversee the Watch Leader and provide clear direction and support in their duties
  • Ensure that a good lookout is kept at all times when the vessel is underway, keeping the Skipper or Mate informed of other vessels, navigation marks and changing weather conditions
  • Arrange harbour/anchor watches
  • Support the Watch Leaders with organising galley duties ensuring that meals are on time and adequate, that food hygiene is observed and that the galley is left clean

The Watch Leaders

  • Ensure the motivation of the Watch by setting a good example and providing clear instructions
  • Ensure the prompt execution of orders, in particular the stationing of Trainees for specific duties during evolutions
  • Ensure the observance of safety rules
  • Supervise the preparation and serving of meals
  • Maintain the cleanliness and tidiness of the vessel below decks
  • Ensure the correct mooring of launches and dinghies
  • Lead from the front, both above and below decks
  • Maintain discipline amongst the Trainees in the Watch
  • Because of their age, are the automatic role model for the Trainees and have a great influence on them