Official welcome as Oceans of Hope arrives in Portuguese capital

OoH Jul 28, 2014, by Oceans of Hope News team in Events
From the event: "Lisbon, Portugal"

Portuguese Member of Parliament Ricardo Baptista Leite MD has officially welcomed the crew of the 20-metre yacht Oceans of Hope at the end of the first European stage of their 61,000-kilometre (33,000-nautical mile) voyage around the world. It is the first ever circumnavigation by a yacht crew including people with multiple sclerosis (MS) and aims to change perceptions of the disease.

The yacht will be berthed at the Marina Parque das Nações in the Portuguese capital until 2 August, when she will set sail across the Atlantic Ocean to Boston, USA.

Dr Leite said as a physician and member of the Portuguese Parliament he had had the privilege of working with people with MS.

“It’s impressive to see how courageous people are living with such a challenging disease,” he commented.

Luísa Sacchetti Matias, 36, from Lisbon will represent Portugal when she joins Oceans of Hope for the Atlantic crossing and has been counting the days until the yacht’s arrival.

Dr Leite said, “We’re very proud of Luisa and it’s a true honour to have a Portuguese crew member on board. I’m sure she knows the legacy she is carrying. It’s a huge weight but also gives her a huge advantage compared to other foreigners on your boat. It was from Lisbon that our Portuguese ancestors left to discover the new world and what they did back in the 15th and 16th Centuries was to confront themselves with the boundaries of the normal world at the time. They didn’t know what exists beyond that. And what people with MS are doing, being part of this crew, is actually confronting their own barriers, the barriers within themselves, showing that they can go beyond and that they can do whatever they want.”

Luísa, who works in communications and marketing for the Sociedade Portuguesa de Esclerose Múltipla (SPEM) said, “It is a dream come true for me to be sailing across the Atlantic. I am looking forward to feeling what it’s like to be me offshore, to feel free at sea, to feel complete in a team working together towards a shared goal, to accomplish a journey beyond my limited thoughts and beliefs.”

She adds, “I am truly grateful for this experience. My life is already changing even before going on board. I realise that turning the dream of a lifetime into my primary goal at the moment has made me forget about fatigue and all the other MS limitations to achieve the end: to sail with Oceans of Hope’s crew! I can't wait to be on board and meet everyone!”

Saying farewell to the boat she has called home since joining the crew in Amsterdam is Tessa van den Berg.

The 36-year-old acknowledges the reach of the Oceans of Hope project goes further than she would have imagined before getting involved.

“I have seen how this yacht has changed perspectives in the lives of people with MS and their relatives, even after just a short taster sail,” she explains. “It is amazing and I would not have believed it had I not have seen it with my own eyes.”

During the stopover in the Portuguese capital there will be opportunities for local people with MS to experience the thrill of sailing for themselves. Tomorrow ten people will be heading out for a taster sail on board Oceans of Hope, while a small flotilla of yachts with people with MS on board will accompany Oceans of Hope as she sets sail for the United States on 2 August. The boat will also be open for public tours tomorrow morning and on Thursday 31 July.

Buses will be running from the Vasco da Gama shopping centre to the marina for those who would like to visit Oceans of Hope. The yacht will be open to the public between 10am and midday on Tuesday 29 July and from 10am to midday and 4pm to 6pm on Thursday 31 July.

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