The Oceans of Hope project aims to inspire people with MS around the world to find a way to follow their dreams

The first global circumnavigation by a yacht with a working crew of people with multiple sclerosis (MS) is underway.
 
During the 33,000-nautical mile voyage, which will take 17 months to complete, the Oceans of Hope project aims to change perceptions of MS by showing what is possible when

people with a chronic disease are empowered to conquer their individual

challenges.

It hopes to create networks between the MS and sailing communities by organising sailing taster sessions in selected ports of call.

Last Friday, 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.
 
One participant said 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 and a third said she felt for the two hours that she was on board that she was on holiday.

The 20-metre Oceans of Hope yacht set sail from Portsmouth at midday yesterday and is due to arrive in the Bassin des Chalutiers in La Rochelle, France, on Thursday 10 July.

Phil Gowers, 46, a dentist from Gosport, Hampshire, is among the crew taking part in this stage of the voyage.

Phil, whose wife Laura and two sons were at Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth to wave him off, was diagnosed with MS in 2005.

He said: ‘I have been looking forward to getting on board for months.

‘The level of interest in the Oceans of Hope project has been amazing; it really has captured people’s imaginations and I hope we inspire others to go out and follow their dreams.’

People with MS from all over the world can take part and places are available on board throughout the journey. To find out more and to apply to take part, download the application forms at sailingsclerosis.com

About the project

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 Europe, the United States, South America, Australia and Africa, ending the circumnavigation back in Copenhagen in the autumn of 2015.

Pictures credited to: Oceans of Hope/Matt Scott Joynt