Oceans of Hope has spent some wonderful weeks cruising up and down the beautiful coast line of the northeastern United States with its many fjords and bays - autumn leaves in their afternoon dressed in yellow and orange reaching all the way down to the vast and endlessly long beaches. We arrived to New York on November 11th and enjoyed some lively days making new friends among fellow MSers from the National MS Society and from both Manhattan Yacht Club and New York Yacht Club.
Winter is close - the ice on deck in the morning certainly reminds us - and it is time to head south. After two days out sailing, with our new crew living with MS from New York, the boat has been made ready for a 650 nautical miles (1.200 km) non-stop sail from New York to Charleston. And it is really non-stop. Even though we are following the coast line there are no ports to enter as soon as we have pasted Atlantic City. All the marinas on the coast line are too small and cannot berth a boat with the draft of Oceans of Hope. So, for practical reasons we have faced yet an ocean crossing, and this time in the freezing cold with temperatures below zero centigrade during the night. The weather forecast showed winds mostly from westerly direction, but also warning of a frontal low - which is the passage of a cyclone with winds up to 45 knots and rain.
We set of in the evening of November 15th, leaving New York behind us with its spectacular persistence to claim the skies, setting out into the very cold and moonless dark Atlantic Ocean. As always, when I throw the bowline and take off on a journey out into the insecure and unknown, my rational mind asks me the same question: Why are you doing this, Mikkel? But my heart always replies: Because it is the right thing to do! We want to feel alive. We all want to apply ourselves; we want to show ourselves and the group that we can do it; we can take our turn; we keep on fighting and challenging ourselves - out of love and a deep willingness and urge to belong; it is a tribute to life. A statement of connecting to each other, to nature and life. Strong bonds are being tied on journeys like ours.
You’ve done it again: And I must say we got challenged. The wind came at us on the second day, and it came from dominantly from the southwest, forcing us out to open sea with the large Atlantic waves pounding against the strong steel hull of Oceans of Hope. One after another the crew went down with seasickness, the strongest enemy at sea. It makes you lose concentration and the strength to do what is necessary. Indeed, it challenges you more than anything else at sea. This is when true character shows. Not whether you get seasick or not, this is not for you to decide, but how you deal with it. It would be natural if people in such a miserable state would start bickering at each other, complaining or create an atmosphere of fear and discomfort. But none of this happened. Maybe because these people are used to dealing with losing control over their body once in a while. I experienced a sense of acceptance and persistence. Just simply holding on - and waiting. Those who could, helped those who couldn’t. And the sea was rough, it was raining and cold, gusts of wind at 45 knots, upwind. Oceans of Hope did what she does best. Two reefs in the mainsail and only the small headsail (the staysail), she greets the wind and the waves by simply leaning over a little bit, preparing to meet pressure with pressure, and then massively forces herself through the seas.
We are now half a day north of Charleston, our next port of call. The seas have calmed and the sun is out. It is still very cold for the season. The crew are slowly but surely rising from their bunks, getting dressed in the usual four layers of clothes and getting up on deck, having some chamomile tea and toasted bread, gentle for the stomach. They want to get up there. They want to be part of it. They want to see the dolphins who greeted us with their kind and elegant form. They want to breathe the cold and clear air, watch the horizon - and dream of new adventures.
MS crew, you have done it again! I am truly proud and grateful of having taken this journey with you. You are the stuff that dreams are made of.
At 9:00am EDT this morning Oceans of Hope was just off Georgetown, South Carolina doing 7.7 knots. It is expected they will arrive Charleston before 5:00pm EDT at the Charleston Maritime Center.