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VOYAGE OF RECOVERY 2012 A 1,500 mile voyage around the coastal waters of Britain to show the world that recovery is possible and is happening right now

87 people in treatment for addiction with Phoenix Futures and 14 graduates of Phoenix services, supported by staff from 3 charities, faced an extraordinary challenge to sail around the coastal waters of Britain in 3 months

contents Introduction...“could we actually do this?” leg 1 “...its been emotional!”

this is their story Voyage of Recovery 2012


leg 2 “One Fantastic Journey” leg 3 “A life beyond your wildest dreams “ leg 4 “Always remember. Choose life“


leg 5 “Picture your perfect day and times it by twenty“


leg 6 “...the best time of my life so far“ leg 7 “You never really know yourself until you test yourself“

North Shields

leg 8 “the brightest stars I have ever seen“ leg 9 “I have learnt things about myself I don’t believe I could learn in any other setting“ leg 10 “Even if our paths will drift apart I will always remember these times“



leg 11“Thanks for giving me a chance in life“ leg 12 “...magical and made me push myself to do things I would never be able to do “


Reflecting on the Voyage

Milford Haven London Portsmouth Plymouth

It wouldn’t have been possible without..

...“could we actually do this?” Stuart Plant, Darren Long and Roger and Barbara Crabtree of the Tectona Trust came up with an idea to enable people in active treatment for alcohol and drug addiction to sail around Britain onboard the 80ft Gaff Ketch Tectona. People in recovery from Phoenix Futures services across England and Scotland would take part, supported by professional sailing crew from the Island Trust.

The Tectona - our home on the high seas Everyone sailing onboard the Tectona would learn to work as a team, face and overcome the challenges of the sea and show the world that recovery is possible and happening right now! They took the idea to Phoenix Futures who said “let’s do it!”

Darren and Stuart after several days at sea During 12 5-days legs the Tectona sailed around Britain starting out from Plymouth on 1 August 2012 and arriving back on 24 October 2012.

At Phoenix we know that recovery is very hard to achieve. It requires bravery, commitment, and a vision of what life could be like without addiction. We think it is our job to ensure our treatment programmes are of the highest quality, are evidence based, and respond to the service user’s needs not ours. We also think it’s our job to find new ways to coax, inspire and motivate people to continue their recovery. Which leads us to the Voyage of Recovery. The cost, logistics and governance of this great recovery adventure were daunting, but we wanted to send a message that as an organisation Phoenix Futures needs to be as brave and committed as we expect our service users to be. The Voyage has opened up a world of experience for our service users and our staff were challenged to work in an unfamilar therapeutic environment. What’s more Phoenix staff on land raised over £50,000, which was only possible with the fantastic support of our equally brave commissioners and hugely generous members of the local comunities in which we operate. I’d like to especially thank our Voyage Champions and our partners in the Voyage; the Tectona Trust and the staff of the Island Trust who kept our service users safe at sea. I’d also like to personally thank our Operations Director Adele Duncan who successfully managed this inspiring and innovative project. Karen Biggs Chief Executive - Phoenix Futures I’ve been thinking about this for some time now, trying to think of words to do the Voyage of Recovery justice!! The experience has been life changing for me. The first few months of planning went past like a daze, it hadn’t really sunk in that we where really going to be doing this. Could we actually do this? Would everyone get from it what we had hoped?

87 service users and 14 graduates took the challenge, supported by Phoenix staff.

Roger and Barbara Crabtree Many more people supported the voyage by fundraising over £50,000, following the voyage as it happened on-line, and supporting the crews as they sailed into harbours around the country. The voyage was publicised locally and nationally and is also the focus of a research project into the benefits of a positive life-enhancing activity during the recovery journey.

All these questions kept swimming around my brain. Then it all began, I took some of Hampshire’s graduates down to Portsmouth, the journey down was full of excitement. It was great to see Tectona bobbing up and down at the pontoon. That was when it all hit me; we’re actually going to do this!!... I hope you’ll enjoy some of these stories and pictures from our amazing adventure. They are just a taste of what was genuinely a life changing experience for many people. Today, I am extremely grateful; I have a wonderful life with two beautiful children and an amazing wife and truth be known it all started with Phoenix. I know with the Voyage of Recovery we have been able to touch and positively impact on many people’s lives. I have met some fantastic people along the way and made some friendships that will last a lifetime. I am extremely grateful to Phoenix for allowing me to realise this idea, and enabling me to build on my own recovery. Stuart Plant Phoenix Futures

Leg 1 - Plymouth to Portsmouth Crewed by Staff, Graduates and Supporters 1 August to 6 August 2012

“...its been emotional!” After 12 month of planning the voyage had begun! “The first night onboard the Tectona was partly spent moored at the Mayflower Marina trying to get some sleep in the unfamilar surroundings. The nervous crew, made up of staff, graduates and supporters (including two intrepid documentary film makers) were up at 3am on 2 August to sail from Plymouth to Portsmouth, just three hours later and the novice crew were struck with sea sickness and wondering how to get off the boat. But on reaching Dartmouth everyone was over the worst and looking forward the rest of the journey.

this is the life

As well as learning to sail and live together on the Tectona, we tested out our communications that would enable future voyagers to update the Phoenix website with news from the boat, our film makers interviewed staff and graduates and we all started to realised just how special this voyage would be for our service users. Although cut off from the rest of the world we managed to catch up with news from the Olympics and celebrated the success of the amazing Usain Bolt and our own athletes with the ‘Phoenix Bolt’. By the time we landed in Portsmouth we were exhausted and overwhelmed by the experience, as well as nursing a few bumps and bruises from constantly bumping into bits of the boat. As happy as we were at the thought of getting home and sleeping in our own beds, we were also sad to leaving the Tectona and our new friends. In Portsmouth we cleaned up the Tectona in preparation for our first service user crew arriving, and Darren, Sol and Jay were interviewed by the BBC about the great adventure ahead” - Jim

interviews with the BBC

Leg 1 crew

doing the Phoenix bolt

lunch on deck

pull the other one

all action

tweeting from the deck

Leg 2 - Portsmouth to Milford Haven Crewed by Hampshire Residential 8 August to 14 August 2012

“One Fantastic Journey” “On the 8th August I set sail with the guys from Hampshire Residential. We did another radio interview in the morning then left Gun Warf after yet another emotional goodbye. Karen, Adele, Justine and my wife had come down to wave us off; they were keenly supported by Karen’s son and Darren’s daughter who seemed more than happy to run up and down the pontoon.

sunset at sea

That evening we anchored in the Solent before setting off on an epic 36 hour sail back along the Jurassic Coast around Lands End and up across the Bristol Channel. We encountered dolphins, saw a whale and put a message in a bottle as we rounded Lands End. It was an amazing leg, being at sea working with the clients and getting to know everyone on a new level is great. In Wales we even welcomed some curious River Police onboard! Everyone came together for a shared purpose, each bringing different skills and abilities but all getting involved. This leg ended at Milford Heaven, a beautiful little village where one of our guys comes from. After the usual cleaning of the boat we headed back to our little rehab in Hampshire. I’m not sure how everyone felt but I definitely felt a sense of loss when we departed that day. However, that didn’t overshadow the huge sense of pride and happiness I felt as we sat around the table for the final meeting of the leg. To hear how the VOR had impacted on the guys was amazing; we were all coming away with something no one could ever take; great memories and stories we could tell for years to come.” - Stu

Leg 2 crew

Stu takes the helm sailing away

learning the ropes

making friends with the locals

Leg 3 - Milford Haven to Holyhead Crewed by Birmingham Community Services 16 August to 21 August 2012

finding a new direction

“A life beyond your wildest dreams“ “The VOR was an amazing experience and I’m very grateful to everyone involved organising it. It was a pretty surreal week which started with me completing a 4 week day treatment programme on the Monday (with not a lot planned for the week ahead) and ended with me sitting with 11 (mostly new) friends around a long wooden table on a boat in the Irish sea eating a roast beef dinner with all the trimmings, and the days inbetween were amazing.

Galley Queen Marcia

I was a last minute replacement on the Voyage so only got confirmation on the tuesday that I was going to be able to take part. On the Wednesday morning I felt quite anxious about the whole thing, not really knowing anyone on the Voyage apart from a couple of people, but that eased on the drive down to Milford Haven (a 4+hour drive in a minibus is a great ice breaker!). I would like to say that I can remember everything that happened, on what day and at what time, but my memory often fails me. What I can say is that it is one of the greatest experiences I’ve had, I met some brilliant people and I had a lot of fun. I’ve been trying to think of my best bit but every time I pick one I remember something else. One of my best days was when we invaded a beach dressed as pirates and had a bbq.

shipmates for life!

I have a lot of great memories of the Voyage and feel priviledged to have been given the opportunity to be part of it.” - Birmingham Community Service User

Leg 3 crew stowing the sail

steering the course

recovery can be fun

a pirate beach bbq

Leg 4 - Holyhead to Liverpool Crewed by Derby Community Services and Wirral Residential Service 23 August to 28 August 2012

“Always remember. Choose life“ Despite getting caught up in lobster pot lines and a slight accident on arrival at Liverpool requiring a new bowsprit the Leg 4 crew had an amazing time... “I was apprehensive before the trip as I had only met the Service Users on our leg a handful of times and I was worried about feeling like an outsider being staff. On day one - we met the professional crew - who were a wonderful bunch of people, so kind, understanding and inspiring. Day 2 - from the off, everyone had to work really hard, work together, listen to the skipper and learn - the effect was instant. Having worked in TC’s for 6 years - anyone else who has been involved with a TC will tell you that you can just ‘feel’ it - a sense of community, well, this is what I felt as soon as we set sail. Over the next 4 days we took turns at sailing, cooking and cleaning - we always had our evening meal together where we talked about the day. Any concerns I had had before the trip completely dissolved - I felt 100% an equal part of our little community, I heard some really motivating life stories, some very tragic tales and know that many of the Service Users I spoke to still have very difficult journeys ahead, I felt privileged to have been trusted with this information from people I had known a matter of days. Everyone who took part said it was one of the best things they had ever done. I cannot put into words the impact that it has on you - but I came back motivated and inspired in everything that I did. I am still in contact with some of the Service Users from our leg and I know that the Voyage has also had a lasting impact on them - amazing!!!” - Kerry

encounters with wildlife

time for a cuppa

mind your head plotting a course oops!

catching lobster pots

Leg 5 - Liverpool to Glasgow Crewed by Wirral Residential Service 30 August to 4 September 2012

some time to talk

“Picture your perfect day and times it by twenty“ After Eugene dived under the boat to check for damage from the lobster out lines our 5th leg crew took us to Scotland, sailing through some amazing scenery we made it in time for a fantastic musical celebration of the voyage in Greenock.

Leg 5 crew

frosties? laughing and rowing land ahoy! Eugene to the rescue

Leg 6 - Glasgow to Corpach Crewed by Glasgow Residential Service 7 September to 12 September 2012

“...the best time of my life so far“ After our musical celebration in Greenock our 6th crew were treated to a lone bagpiper playing them out to sea... “As we listened to the skirl of a lone piper so began our emotional and therapeutic voyage of recovery and discovery on the beautiful boat Tectona. What an unforgettable, life changing, inspirational, exhilarating, breathtaking and hilariously funny journey it was to be. Every moment we shared together on the Tectona was a special moment. Seeing the milky way and the brightest stars any of us had ever seen. All the beautiful islands, sunrises and sunsets, the friendships we made, the stories we shared and the hope for the future (that anything is possible) that we took away with us when we left. Memories to cherish forever and friendships never forgotten from a moment in time that took our breaths away”. - Anne Marie

Leg 6 crew

in at the deep end

look what we caught

fish for dinner

island hopping

solving knotty problems

Leg 7 - Corpach to Peterhead Crewed by Phoenix Graduates 14 September to 19 September 2012

Flora visits the boat she used to call home

“You never really know yourself until you test yourself“ “The graduate’s leg was always likely to be something special: a motley crew of graduates spanning forty years coming together in a small wooden boat for a week on the high seas, what else could it be! Rowdy Yates, our first honorary graduate, Stuart Plant whose idea it was, Jose our film cameraman and I set off from Glasgow to meet the rest of the crew in Fort William. As we marvelled at the rainbow arcing over Loch Lomond Rowdy received a message that Griffiths Edwards the founder father of Phoenix had died... it was an emotional moment. It was thanks to Griff that rather than waiting in a darkened room for our next hit we were on the verge of a great adventure. Catching up with the Tectona at Fort William we headed up the Caledonian Canal for two days, passing through the Highlands and across Loch Ness, getting to know each other and sharing experiences and stories of our lives. Lots of rain, sunshine, rainbows, laughter and music from Rowdy and Darren and a magical meeting with Flora and her son at Inverness, who had lived on the Tectona in the 1940’s. Then it was the real thing: sailing up the Moray Firth with the Dolphins leaping across our bows, navigating by stars under full sail towards Fraserborough, a skirmish with lobsterpots resulting in a call out for the local RNLI, sailing with no engine in a force 8 gale around the infamous Rattray Head and finally being towed into harbour by the Peterhead Lifeboat. A brilliant trip for all of us who had shared 196 years of recovery, gained a few more gray hairs, a few tear stained hankies and many, many more laughter lines on our faces. ” - Bob

Leg 7 crew

Darren briefs the crew battling the waves

Tectona at full sail

Pirate Bob

Leg 8 - Peterhead to Whitby Crewed by Glasgow Residential Service and Tyneside Community Service 21 September to 26 September 2012

sitting out the storm

“the brightest stars I have ever seen“ Leaving Scotland we sailed down the North East coast of England to Whitby. A major storm hit which kept us from our original chnage over point in North Shields, but we were now past half way around Britain! “Voyage of Recovery was one of the best experiences of my life. I could not believe it was possible when I first read the email. After all the planning and fundraising the day finally came and we were all heading to Peterhead to meet the graduate voyagers. On route I received a text saying the lifeboat from my home town (Fraserburgh) had been out to the Tectona! Nerves were going with that. Both service’s crews bonded immediately as soon as we left Peterhead harbour, and during our first night we witnessed a meteor in the sky. We headed for Whitby after 2 days sailing, and had some of the best laughs you could imagine. The weather we then experienced was horrible so we were stuck in Whitby. The storm stopped the Tectona but the experience carried on and everyone had a brilliant time, the hardest part of the voyage was leaving the ship and returning home!” - Scott

Leg 8 crew

new friends

time to reflect half way around

Leg 9 - Whitby to Ipswich Crewed Sheffield Residential Service 28 September to 3 October 2012

“I have learnt things about myself I don’t believe I could learn in any other setting“

it’s that way!

Pirate Carly!

“ We set sail from Whitby, seeing the Tectona was a breath taking experience. We were all feeling a mixture of nerves and excitement. We were split in to two teams ‘sick watch’ and ‘stop watch’. We set sail in the early hours of the morning and sailed all the way through to Harwich in approximately 36 hours. It was amazing to see everyone pull together despite being very tired at times and to see the service users develop in confidence. From this leg I remember hearing so much laughter and this alone will stay with me for many years to come. Seeing the hard work, planning and organisation being put into practice was the highlight of this experience. Even when the engine broke and the RNLI towed us to land everyone’s spirits still remained high. This resulted in us being stationary whilst repairs were carried out; however everyone still worked together and developed as a community. Seeing the team at the front of the boat as the waves crashed over our faces and hearing the laughter was certainly a high point for all. Our final sail on the last night was at 2am from Harwich to Ipswich. As a team we planned this which was a test for all but an amazing experience to end on. The nightly meetings round the table just demonstrated how much everyone had gained from this experience and to see how everyone had personally developed and could relate this to their own recovery. This is certainly an experience I will never forget.” - Carly

Leg 9 crew

Skipper Diggory on air guitar bracing!

a little help from the RNLI...

Leg 10 - Ipswich to London Crewed by Barnsley Community Service 5 October to 10 October 2012

Julie the Barnsley Buccaneer

“Even if our paths will drift apart I will always remember these times“ Arriving in London we moored at HMS President on the Thames under Tower Bridge. Our Barnsley Buccaneers brought the true spirit of recovery to the big smoke. We celebrated their arrival at HMS President with more some more music, before sailing on towards Portsmouth. “The sun was shining and glistening on the sea, it was if it had been planned for the ‘message in a bottle’, everyone sitting on deck thinking about what they wanted to write, the sea was calm no waves at all, mixed emotions from everyone as we all threw them into the sea, our hopes and aspirations for the future…. such a special moment experienced by everyone onboard.” - Julie

Leg 10 crew

message in a bottle

getting tangled touching up the paint work

fun on the high seas

Leg 11 - London to Portsmouth Crewed by Trafford Community Service and Sheffield Residential Service 12 October to 17 October 2012

“Thanks for giving me a chance in life“

Roger teaches us how to do it

Stuart Plant rejoined Darren and Roger to sail the Tectona to Portsmouth. Despite some exhausted bodies Skipper Connell led the crew on another life changing adventure...

Skipper Connell plots the course

Leg 11 crew

up and away

Roger the cabin boy

Leg 12 - Portsmouth to Plymouth Crewed Wirral Residential and Trafford Community Service 19 October to 24 October 2012

“...magical and made me push myself to do things I would never be able to do “

main sail down

raising the dreaded anchor

main sail up

And onto our final leg, heading back to where it all started nearly 3 months ago. Our final crew, like all those before, showed the world that nothing is impossible with hope, dedication and team work. Our final crew were supported along the way with many messages on Twitter and Facebook and welcomed in Plymouth by Stuart, Darren, Roger, Barbara and the organising committee.

all the way around! learning to row

swabbing the deck

It wouldn’t have been possible without our supporters.. Supported by


...organise over a hundred events..

Birmingham Recovery Forum Barnsley Recovery Forum Annexe Fareham Rotary Club Chevron Swanswell HMP Holme House residents NACRO Nestle Dickinson Decorators Barnsley DAAT Morrisons Barnsley Tesco Barnsley Park House residents Reckitt Benckiser Woodward Food Services Axton’s Fruit & Veg Owtons Butchers Hill Farm Orchards NEPACS South Yorkshire Probation Service Billy Toop Pyramid Shoe and Key Repair (Birkenhead) Life Community Church (Birmingham) Liam Golder Photography

..and our amazing fundraisers..

..who pulled their communities together to.. make it all happen..

...and the organising committee.. ..promoted and publicised ..

..and all those who encouraged.. help us share the voyage.. ..with the world.

Reflecting on the Voyage Neil The voyage was very productive for me in building confidence, trusting others and it helped me to open my eyes to what can be achieved in my new life. I will put these skills to use in the future to help me maintain a positive life.

Jonathan I learned to become a team player and take responsibility and direction. This will help me in the future in ways of employment, self-worth and commitment. I became more aware of my personal boundaries and feel that it helped make to grow as an individual. There is more to life for me and the voyage taught me that.

Justin I learned how to communicate teamwork. I got leadership skills and emotional balance. This will enable me to move forward in life with new skills and use them in the wider community. The voyage gave me the opportunity to develop myself and be more confident. A great opportunity and would do it again.

Emma The voyage of recovery to me was a fantastic experience which helped me conquer some of my fears e.g. even talking to strangers around the dinner table, easily getting on with people I’ve never met before and managing to get involved with everything on the boat whilst enjoying it all at the same time. It goes to show that even when feeling scared and panicky just giving things a go and pushing myself just goes to show that I can achieve my goals. I have continued to push myself in the house which I would not have dreamt of months ago that I could achieve. It goes to show that by pushing yourself even I can do it and I will continue to do my best.

Paul The Voyage of Recovery was a massive experience for me, it gave me a sense of serenity and I had a mini epiphany in regards to size and importance. The sheer size of the ocean made me feel humbled and in awe of nature and the universe. I have never done anything that comes even remotely close to the Voyage of Recovery before and I am really glad I was honoured enough to experience this. If you could imagine your most perfect day and times it by one hundred you might just come close to being able to imagine how beautiful the voyage was. Massive thanks and eternal gratitude to all involved in making the dream a reality.


The Voyage of Recovery has quite simply been the best thing I have ever done in sobriety‌..meaning I can actually remember it!! I remember every wave, gust of wind and conversation. I will also never forget the first time we hoisted the sails and they billowed in the wind‌truly magical. I got so much time to think about my future, my past and what is really important to me. I had been doing volunteer work for over a year but was still quite fearful of coming off benefits and returning to full time employment. The voyage helped me to realise that I can achieve anything I set my mind to. The teamwork, togetherness and laughs we experienced will stay with me forever. I cannot thank Phoenix enough for the hard work of everyone involved in organising and executing this momentous undertaking.

Congratulations to all our voyagers on the Voyage of Recovery 2012, we hope they inspire others in need to seek help.

Phoenix Futures Registered charity number 284880 in England and Wales and No.SC039008 in Scotland Tectona Trust Registered charity number 1127573 The Island Trust Registered charity number 1049722

Voyage of Recovery Book  

A 1,500 mile voyage around the coastal waters of Britain to show the world that recovery is possible and is happening right now

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