Grandfather Mike Wilcox is set to become an honorary Phoenician - by recreating one of the greatest ever voyages of discovery.

The property maintenance worker from Bicester Road, Launton, is one of seven people from across the world who have been picked as full-time crew on an exact replica of a Phoenician sailing boat.

He will spend a year on the wooden boat, including 10 months recreating the first-ever circumnavigation around Africa, a voyage first made by Phoenician mariners in 600BC.

The 52-year-old said: "I couldn't believe it when I was picked. It took a couple of days to sink in. It's a voyage of discovery. Nobody has sailed 17,000 miles in one of these boats since 600BC."

Mr Wilcox was a Petty Officer in the Royal Navy for 16 years and saw action during the Falklands conflict in 1982, when he was a member of the crew of the landing ship HMS Intrepid, delivering troops to the beachhead at San Carlos.

He was offered a place in the crew of the Phoenicia after hearing about the British Museum-sponsored expedition and emailing a good luck message to the organisers.

They replied asking him to consider applying. After a four-hour interview, he was chosen for the voyage, which will set sail from Arwad, in Syria, in August.

The crew will have to live without creature comforts, such as running water, electricity or a flushing toilet. They will stop at ports including Mombasa, in Kenya, Dar es Salaam,in Tanzania, and Accra,in Ghana.

Mr Wilcox said: "The boat has got no engine, no running water - and as for a carbon footprint - there isn't one.

"There's no toilet - just a plank with a hole in it - and the shower cubicle is a box stuck on the side of the boat with a rope and a bucket."

The father-of-two added: "Sunday roasts are the thing I'll miss the most. There's one leg that is 60 days at sea, so I imagine we'll be catching our own fish.

"The biggest challenge will be getting round the Cape of Good Hope, which is normally called the Cape of Storms."

Mr Wilcox has been bike riding and swimming to get in shape.

On July 15 he and the rest of the crew will head to Syria for three weeks of sea trials in the boat.

Once the 10-month voyage is complete, the crew will spend two months sailing to England. The boat will be displayed at the British Museum. For more details, see