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Sailing voyage experiment to cure drug and alcohol addiction

by Lee Mylchreest on 6 Feb 2012
Tectona - built 1929, gaff-rigged ketch SW
There's many a cruising sailor who can attest to the life and attitude changing effect of letting go of the rat race and going sailing - even for a weekend sometimes. Now a voyage on a 1929 gaff-rigged sailing boat is to be used to try to achieve the same effect for drug and alcohol addicts in Britain. The outcome is to be studied by several universities.

The sailing adventure, dubbed 'Voyage of Recovery', will take participants around the coastline of Britain on the graceful old 80ft Tectona, starting on 1st August this year.

During the 12-week voyage up to 160 addicts will work aboard the Tectona and be taught how to sail. The 1,800-mile (2,897km) trip, starting in Plymouth on 1 August, has been organised by two charities - Phoenix Futures and the Tectona Trust.

The impact of the voyage on those taking part will be studied by Phoenix, Tectona and Plymouth University.

The voyage will be split into will five-day legs for teams of 12 to allow as many people as possible to take part.

The life changing effect:
The Tectona will sail from Plymouth on 1 August to Portsmouth for the 'official' start of the voyage around Britain.

Duties on board will include navigation, manning the sails, hauling up anchor as well as preparing meals and keeping the ship clean.

The idea for the sailing programme came from Stuart Plant and Darren Long as part of Phoenix Futures' Innovation Factor, which encourages people to think about new ways of overcoming addiction.

Mr Plant, a residential manager for Phoenix, said while sailing was hard, physical work, it involved working as part of a team and helped to boost people's self-esteem and confidence.

Mr Long, a former addict, who now volunteers for the Tectona Trust, said sailing had been 'life changing in more ways than anyone could imagine'.

Karen Biggs, Phoenix Futures' chief executive, said: 'The Voyage Of Recovery is the latest of a series of innovations that we have championed.

'Our long history of delivering recovery services has shown us the importance of continuing to find new and imaginative ways to inspire people to take those important steps toward tackling their addiction.'

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