We are going to circumnavigate this wonderful blue planet on a sailing boat with people with a potentially disabling disease, multiple sclerosis (MS). We will navigate from the old world across the Atlantic Ocean to the new world. From there we will continue via the Caribbean through the Panama Canal into the Pacific Ocean and on around the world via Australasia.
Oceans of Hope will change the perceptions of multiple sclerosis by showing what is possible when people with a chronic disease are empowered to conquer their individual challenges, by engaging people whose lives are touched by MS and developing networks as a foundation for life-changing behaviours.
Navigating the world's expansive oceans is still a great challenge. However, the technological evolution of boats and navigational aids as well as communicational equipment has made this kind of journey safer than ever.
We want to tell the world that disability can be changed to ability, that we will never stop trying to improve life. We want to create quality of life and value through responsibility and commitment. Sailing around the world is just that: it is hard work, commitment and dependency upon each other working as a team.
We will show everyone that we live our lives to the fullest and that dreams can come true, in spite of having a serious disease. We'll be saying, "Yes, we can still do it!"
The route and itinerary
The official naming ceremony for Oceans of Hope took place in Copenhagen on World MS Day, 28 May 2014. The yacht will set sail on 15 June via Europe to arrive in Boston, USA, in time to link up with the ACTRIMS-ECTRIMS congress in September 2014
On the voyage to Boston we will visit a number of European ports including Kiel (Germany), Portsmouth (UK), La Rochelle (France) and Lisbon (Portugal). In each port Oceans of Hope is holding sailing taster days in collaboration with the local MS societies, yacht clubs and sailing communities. These events will introduce people with MS to the possibilities of sailing – inducing empowerment and encouraging healthy lifestyles. We want to inspire people to appreciate that you can still live an active live in spite of having MS and that going sailing is an option for everybody.
Participants – MS crew
There will be between four and seven people with MS on the boat working as crew at any time and a professional crew of three to four, one of them a doctor. Participants will be on the boat from 2 to 12 weeks depending on the category of the trip.
- Category 1 – Ocean crossings. MS patients with little or no disability with prior sailing experience.
- Category 2 – Coastal or island to island trips: MS patients with little or moderate disability preferably with prior sailing experience.
- Category 3 – Day trips in protected waters in an hospitable climate zone: MS patients with moderate disability with or without prior sailing experience.
The boat and safety
For the voyage around the world we have acquired a strong, seaworthy boat that is well suited to this kind of sailing.
Safety is our first priority and underpins all aspects of the project. The boat, Oceans of Hope, meets all the safety standards both for maritime and medical purposes.
Apart from the nautical safety there will be a doctor with MS experience on board the boat at all times to initiate and supervise necessary treatment (there may be exceptions to this rule in inshore coastal areas).
Oceans of Hope is a Challenge 67. She was built in 1996 for the BT Global Challenge to race around the world the "wrong way", that is, against the prevailing winds and currents. The yacht is 20 metres long and has a steel hull. Previously she was based in Bilbao, Spain, where she undertook scientific and educational expeditions around the world under the name of Pakea Bizkaia. Pakea means "peace" in Basque.