The Williams II, Blyth’s own Tall Ship, sets off on a round-Britain voyage at the weekend.
On Sunday at 1pm, she sets sail from her workshops on the quayside, launching the first stage of an exhibition to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the discovery of the Antarctic by local lad Captain William Smith.
The journey will launch the first stage of the Williams Expedition by sailing around Britain on 10 one-week legs to train and select North East people (many of whom are unemployed) for future challenges.
The voyage will mark the achievement of Captain Smith, who was born in Seaton Sluice and trained in Blyth. He built a trading vessel in Blyth and eventually made the first discovery of land in Antarctica on February 19, 1819.
It will also transform the lives of local unemployed people through offshore skills learning and bring pride in place for the community of Blyth.
A one-week leg will involve learning how to sail the Williams II, the restored 100-year-old Baltic trader, gaining competent crew skills alongside experienced doctors, engineers, cooks and sailors who have already trained onboard.
The intention is then to build up their skills and experience on longer expeditions, including an attemptto get north of the Arctic Circle this summer with the eventual intention of repeating the original voyage with the support of corporate sponsorship.
Clive Gray, chief executive of Blyth Tall Ship, said: “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take part in a series of historic adventures, exploring the exploits of one of Britain’s unsung heroes in a traditional wooden sailing vessel.
“It will be a testing experience but great fun as well and people will learn offshore skills, resilience and team work.
“And of course this all comes with a great sense of adventure and hope.”
Anyone interested can get job descriptions, sailing plans and application forms at https://www.blythtallship.co.uk/the-williams-expedition/apply-to-join-the-expedition