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Recovery at Sea restores yachts and lives

April 6, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
An excursion on an 83-foot yacht is a life experience typically reserved for the most privileged in this world.

But Jim Swert, a retired pilot who founded Recovery At Sea, had a vision to share that inspiration.

"I would almost say people arrive on this ship and they're deadpan, life is just what it is, and they open up they are just inspired by what they encounter here," he said.

As part of the program, they take wrecks like a 1930s-era Elco and restore it to its original glory. A most recent conversion includes the Elco yacht, Island Wind.

The workers are people in need of skills, and new opportunities. They are also all former substance abusers, like Rick Whearty.

Together, Whearty and Swert founded the group Recovery at Sea, a training program to repair classic boats and salvage broken lives.

"Hiring people, the veterans and also putting inner-city kids on the water is one of the most satisfying things I've ever encountered in my life," Swert said.

The group spent Friday seeking partners and workers with a veteran's aid group, New Directions.

"What we offer and what Recovery at Sea offers is hope and faith and healing," said Matt Davidson of New Directions.

Trainees learn everything it takes to repair and maintain a boat. They are skills that are in demand, even in this economy.

"I can get off a plane anywhere on the planet and I can have a job wherever there is water or boats," Whearty said.

Recovery at Sea says with more support, many more boats and many more lives can be turned around

"We pass it on and we pay it forward, it is a gift," Swert said.


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