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Teenage swabbies take to the high seas 

Seastar helps local youth get aboard a tall ship and travel the high seas.

Many teenagers' goals revolve around finding someone to buy them their next eight-pack.

But some teens have loftier ambitions, like risking storms, squalls and potentially deranged cabinmates to sail across the Atlantic. With the help of Seastar, a local non-profit organization, 47 youth will spend a month at sea aboard tall ships participating in the Tall Ship Atlantic Challenge.

"Sail training is an educational experience so, somewhat like tuition fees, the berths aboard ship are purchased on behalf of the participant," explains Bailey Davis, communications spokesperson for Seastar. The organization provides bursaries for young people who want the chance to gain sailing experience at the hands of professional crew members, with a focus on funding at-risk and disadvantaged youth as well as youth from diverse socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds.

Eighteen-year-old Adam Stacey will travel from Halifax to Belfast aboard the Concordia this summer. Stacey lives at home with his family in Stellarton (he asserts he's "not a loser," as he's only just graduated from high school). He's been poring over a guide book about Belfast, which he's excited to explore after his voyage.

Stacey enjoyed the "the tight-knit community" of about 40 people on the Concordia, which he's already sailed aboard in Atlantic Canada last summer, through Seastar's pilot program.

He does anticipate challenges, though. "Your life becomes running that ship and there's no cell phone or internet or any of that," he says. "It's difficult to adjust from life on land to life at sea."

Still, it's all worth the experience. "I remember being little and my grandparents taking me to see the tall ships in Halifax," he explains. "I know it sounds cheesy, but it's fulfilling the dream of getting to sail a vessel." ---LH


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