‘Oceans Of Hope’ sets sail on inaugural circumnavigation Oceans of Hope, the 20-metre yacht undertaking the first global circumnavigation by a yacht with a working crew of people with multiple sclerosis, has set sail from Portsmouth, UK, following a highly successful four-day stopover in the English port in which she captured the imagination of people with MS.
During the 61,000-kilometre (33,000-nautical mile) voyage, which will take 17 months to complete, the Oceans of Hope project aims to inspire people with MS around the world to find a way to follow their dreams. The plan is to create networks between the MS and sailing communities by organising sailing taster sessions in selected ports of call, and on the day of departure in early July with perfect conditions, more than 20 people with MS from across the south of England came to Portsmouth to sail on the Thames barge, Alice, and a wheelchair accessible motor boat, ‘Wet Wheels.’
Each of the participants found something special in the experience: one commented that it was the first time since he had been diagnosed that he had been able to talk with others about their experiences of the disease, while a former professional sailor found he still had what it takes when the owner allowed him to helm the Thames barge back to her berth.
Oceans of Hope’s route will take the yacht from Copenhagen to Kiel, Germany, followed by Amsterdam, Netherlands, Portsmouth, UK, La Rochelle, France (10-14 July), Lisbon, Portugal (25 July – 2 August) and across the Atlantic Ocean to Boston, Massachusetts, USA, where the crew is due to arrive on 8 September.
The yacht will take centre stage at the joint ACTRIMS-ECTRIMS conference, the world’s largest annual international conference devoted to basic and clinical research into multiple sclerosis.
The Sailing Sclerosis project aims to change the perceptions of the disease, inspiring people with multiple sclerosis to overcome their own personal challenges. Dr. Mikkel Anthonisen, 47, a specialist at Copenhagen University Hospital, Rigshospitalet, in Denmark created the Sailing Sclerosis Foundation and Oceans of Hope project,. A doctor, psychotherapist and sailor, he has been working with multiple sclerosis patients for the last four years. Biogen Idec is the official partner of Oceans of Hope.