Oceans of Hope has set sail from Amsterdam, bound for Portsmouth in the UK, after a successful and busy pit stop in the Dutch capital. They left Amsterdam Marina at 1930 local time and will spend the night at the marina in the coastal port of Ijmuiden before heading out into the North Sea and from there into the English Channel.
Today 15 local people with multiple sclerosis took to the water in a small flotilla of yachts at Ijmuiden to try their hand at sailing. It is one of a series of events planned in selected ports of call to allow people the opportunity to experience the freedom of sailing, either for the first time, or to reignite their passion for a sport they enjoyed previously.
At the same time 36-year-old Tessa van den Berg was stowing her bags aboard Oceans of Hope in readiness for the next leg of the 61,000-kilometre global circumnavigation that aims to change perceptions of MS.
Tessa had just finished studying journalism when, she says, “the MS barged in” and she was diagnosed nine years ago.
“Since then I experience the vulnerability of the human body. I know that energy is fragile. I experience problems with my memory and cognition,” says Tessa.
Working around the disease to enjoy the outdoor lifestyle she loves means Tessa has had to find a new way of doing things, including changing plans at short notice when fatigue strikes.
“Since I was diagnosed I always explain that my agenda plans are made from elastic bands. They might need to be stretched or shrunk,” she explains. “The ability to do the simplest things like cooking, doing groceries or having chats are sometimes, all of a sudden, big obstacles.
“It took me about eight years to figure out a new plan for life, to recalibrate my dreams and goals. And here I am now.
“As an ambassador of MS Research I share my stories and I hope to create awareness. I try to make the best out of my life especially WITH my MS.”
Later this year Tessa will cycle 1,200 kilometres from her home in the Netherlands to climb Mont Ventoux in France but for the next few days Oceans of Hope will be her floating home as she sails from Amsterdam to Portsmouth in the UK.
The 20-metre yacht is due to arrive on Thursday afternoon and will be berthed at Gunwharf Quays from 3 to 6 July.
During the stopover in Portsmouth people with MS will be able to experience sailing on board a beautiful Thames barge, Alice, taking to the world famous waters of the Solent for a few hours. Places are filling up fast but there are still a few left. To secure your place email Corinne Lockwood.