Dirk Verstraeten was born in Hamme, Flanders, Belgium in 1955. His native language is Dutch, however he also speaks and understands French, English, German, Spanish, and Italian. He is eldest of five children with two brothers and two sisters. Dirk is married to Annick and they are proud to have two sons, two daughters and three grandchildren. His family sails a lot in the Mediterranean Sea, even during the winter months.
At the age of 22, Dirk skippered a yacht from St. Tropez to the South of Spain with his wife Annick, along with his sister and brother. He has sailed all his adult life, and also enjoys windsurfing. He once owned a Hobie Cat 16 which he raced along the Belgian coast, and next May in 2015, Dirk plans to sail with his sister on a 40 foot catamaran around the Croatian islands.
Due to his MS condition, Dirk retired from Komatsu, a position that sent him around the world travelling to Africa, the Middle East and Europe. He visited nearly all of the countries in Africa including Madagascar and Mauritius. Dirk was diagnosed with MS in 2012 and experienced a recent relapse after a 40 km hiking in Luxemburg’s ‘Little Switzerland’.
Dirk has always had a dream to sail around the world. After the recent MS diagnosis, he really thought it was the end of that dream. It was not until he discovered Oceans of Hope online that he gradually could dream again of tropical islands and high seas adventures.
Dirk will be sharing his experience on Oceans of Hope with family and friends and also with his contacts in the Flemish MS federation. They want to know all about it and expect daily news as Dirk and his fellow crew members sail among the islands. In his own words:
“I intend to let them share the sense of achievement working together with a multinational crew with MS to make this trip a success. I have every confidence in the boat, the organization and the crew. It will be an experience we can treasure for the rest of our life. Let’s show the world that people with MS can also reach the most challenging goals.”