A very Happy Christmas to everyone from all of us at Oceans of Hope! As I write this, we have just finished a two-week sail around the beach strewn Bahamas with our most recent MS crew and we are preparing the big orange boat to be left in Fort Lauderdale while she, and we, take a well-earned festive break.
When we return in the New Year it will be to sail away from U.S. shores bound for the Panama Canal, the Pacific, New Zealand and Australia with our MS crew changing every 2-3 weeks. Some huge adventures await us all, more on these plans in the New Year…
This American experience has been simply incredible – we have been met with such warmth and enthusiasm for our project wherever we have pulled in, so a huge “Thank You America” from us all!
Our time in the USA began with a bang in Boston where we were guests of honour at the 2014 ACTRIMS/ECTRIMS Conference. The standing ovation that we were given by some 9,000 delegates was a true high point for us all at the end of an epic first ocean crossing for the project.
The next official stopover was the Big Apple – New York. Sailing in past the Statue of Liberty, a towering symbol of freedom, and into the heart of Manhattan with its awe-inspiring skyline was an unforgettable experience. We were blessed with cold but bright, sunny days in New York and sailed away to the south just ahead of the winter’s first snow-laden cold front.
The sunny climes of Fort Lauderdale beckoned and before we knew it we were in clear, blue, warm waters and digging shorts and T-shirts out of our kit bags.
The many MS crews that have helped us sail close to 10,000 miles since leaving Copenhagen have all been magnificent. You have amazed and inspired us with your spirit. Thank you!
We have taken dozens of American people living with MS out sailing during our four month long U.S. visit and believe we have succeeded in changing their outlook on life with MS and what they can in fact continue to achieve. Some of our day-sailing guests have even applied to do forthcoming longer legs onboard Oceans of Hope, which is just great. On one of our day-sails in Fort Lauderdale we were humbled by an 83 year-old guest who has been living with MS for over 50 years. He arrived in a wheelchair and was duly hoisted into the cockpit for what he said was the best day out he has had in decades! On the same trip was a young 18 year-old girl who had been diagnosed with MS just weeks beforehand. The attitude and spirit of these two guests, from both ends of the MS spectrum, was hugely inspirational and reminded us, yet again, of the values in our mission.
MS is a terrible disease, but it does not and should not mean that a fulfilling life cannot be maintained. We are using sailing as a perfect medium for changing the perspectives that people have of MS and the perceptions that those who live with MS have about themselves.
Challenges can be taken on and accomplished – whether it is going sailing for the first time ever or returning to the sport in an adapted way. But this is not all about sailing – it is about inspiring people with MS to grasp challenges, however small or large. The human spirit is designed to be challenged and stretched, and having MS should not be a show-stopper.
We are completely eager to inspire and whilst we are looking forward to spending some family time now, we are all anxious to get moving again as we are truly on a mission to bring waves of hope and inspiration to the MS world.
Happy Holidays to all!
Dr. Mikkel Anthonisen