Volunteer Roles and Management

Volunteer Roles and Management

We recognise that everyone is a volunteer and aim for a delicate balance between ‘light touch’ management and the necessary adoption of clearly defined roles, responsibilities, procedures and training so that everyone should know what they should do and how, who has responsibility, and what to do in the event of a question or incident.

Each sailing day has an Officer Of the Day (OOD) in charge as a first call for decisions on any matter and to make sure that there are sufficient volunteers to carry out the relevant roles. In practice much of the operation works without day-to-day management as the volunteers just get on with doing what they know is required, whilst being responsible to the OOD. The role of the OOD is set out here.

The first volunteers a Sailor will generally meet will be at Reception and the Receptionists meet and greet, understand the Sailor’s needs and aims and organise the sailing slots. The Receptionist role is set out in detail here.

Once sailing is due to start, a Pontoon Co-ordinator will be appointed, who will be in radio contact with reception to ensure that the availability of boats and skippers matches the needs of the next sailors due to sail. They will handle the final allocation of boats and skippers to sailors and ensure hoisting is provided as necessary. They will also monitor and manage the mooring of boats on the pontoon and their departures and arrivals. Ideally the Pontoon Co-ordinator will be a ‘boating’ person as the role encompassed much more than just the radio communication with Reception.

Most sailors are taken on a trip by a trained NFS Skipper. Our skippers are experienced dinghy sailors and may only act as Skippers once they have been assessed and signed off as such by a suitably qualified NFS Management Committee member, generally the Chairman or Bosun. The Skippers will encourage sailors to sail the boat to the extent the sailor wishes and has the experience and capability to do so and will provide informal instruction if appropriate, although they are generally not RYA Dinghy Instructors.

Safety boat cover is provided at all times during a sailing session and must be skippered by a Safety Boat Driver. Safety Boat Driver must hold a minimum of the RYA Power Boat 2 certificate and are encouraged to have the RYA Safety Boat qualification. The requirements for Safety Boat Drivers and the use of power boats is here NFS Power Boat Instructions.


We use walkie-talkie radios rather than VHF.
Reception, the Pontoon Co-ordinator, power boats, skippers and the OOD all have a radios.

Volunteer numbers

The optimum number of volunteers, although this naturally depends on demand and conditions is approximately 20 however these numbers are a guide not a minimum requirement:

    • 3 for the two power boats
    • 4 for reception and teas/coffees
    • 9 skippers for 303s taking sailors
    • 4 on the pontoon

The OOD will manage the best use of the numbers available and if there is a severe shortage may have to curtail operations. This will take account of the prevailing conditions and demand on the volunteers.

Best Practice Guides

Guidance for new volunteers or those wishing to refresh their knowledge is available in our “Best Practice Guides.”

Maintenance, winter work and administration

There is an active and skilled group of volunteers that look after all the NFS boats and equipment and do a considerable amount of work throughout the winter and, by all accounts this ‘shed team’ have a rewarding time under the guidance of the Bosun. There are several other roles of this nature, some more technical or administrative and also not necessarily handled by Committee members. Examples would be looking after the boat servo mechanics and electronics, the radio battery charging system, the specific needs of the 2.4mR boats, this website, the mass email distribution, periodic newsletters etc. etc.

Management Committee and Trustees

The Management Committee, who are also the charity Trustees are responsible for the safe running of NFS and details, including their roles are here Management.