Oceans of Hope set sail from Cascais, Portugal at 07.00 local time this morning. The Skipper reports that they spent yesterday undertaking lots of safety training, including man overboard drills, in preparation for their Atlantic crossing.
He added that the Crew have been, “so busy getting everything ship shape for the journey that they haven't had time to think too much about the challenge ahead but now it's starting to sink in.”
However, he was quick to reassure us that “although they might be feeling a bit nervous at what lies ahead, they are all very looking forward to the adventure of a lifetime.”
Oceans of Hope is undertaking the first global circumnavigation by a yacht with a working crew including people with MS. It left Copenhagen on 15 June and has visited Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and France before arriving in Lisbon on 28 July. Today sees the start of the American leg of the journey.
Oceans of Hope is a project of the Sailing Sclerosis Foundation which was set up by Danish doctor and psychotherapist, Mikkel Anthonisen. The voyage began in Copenhagen, Denmark, on 15 June 2014 and will continue across the globe with further stops in the United States, South America, Australia, Africa and Europe, ending the circumnavigation back in Copenhagen in the autumn of 2015.
Mikkel took some time to reflect on the project’s achievements during European leg of the voyage and told us, “We are a campaign to change the perceptions of people living with MS. We have now completed the first Europe Tour. On this tour we have indeed been changing the perception of people living with MS – and people’s lives have been changed forever. Many live in fear with this disease – and might not even dare tell their employer that they have MS. Some don´t even dare telling their loved ones. We are including people living with MS – in activities around sailing – and in the daily life.”
Adding, “We want everyone to recapture their identity, their pride and courage to believe in themselves and to allow themselves to dream and hope. We want people to get the courage to say: Yes, I can still do it! And we want to live in communities where everybody is needed and where everybody can work fearlessly and without shame.”
He had particular praise and gratitude for those who had taken part in the global adventure to date, “The MS crew participating on the journey so far have accomplished this and lived by these principles with excellence. I thank them from all of my heart for their enthusiasm and life affirming approach to the challenges they have overcome on the North Sea and the Biscay. You can truly be proud of yourselves!”
The weather looks favourable to allow for a short visit to Madeira to allow crew to settle their nerves. They will then continue across the Atlantic Ocean, calling in to Bermuda before arriving in Boston, USA, on 8 September. The yacht and crew will take centre stage at the joint ACTRIMS-ECTRIMS conference, the world’s largest annual international conference devoted to basic and clinical research in multiple sclerosis.
People with MS from all over the world can take part and places are still available on board throughout the journey. To find out more and to apply to take part, download the application forms.