EMSP’s former Interim Chief Executive and longstanding External Adviser Bettina Hausmann was never one to back away from adventure. Now she is rekindling her sailing passion by embarking on a new Oceans of Hope Challenge: joining an enthusiastic group of MS advocates on a boat trip on the Croatian coast. This is the first article of a blog series on the OOH initiative.
In less than a fortnight I will be embarking on Oceans of Hope. I will have the privilege to sail during a full week alongside the Dalmatian coast in Croatia. The whole crew is living with MS. And together with the skippers we are 70 people flying in from 13 countries.
My involvement in the project is a longer story. The first time I heard about Oceans of Hope was two years ago, via EMSP’s newsletter. On the initiative of Mikkel Anthonisen, an inspiring Danish doctor and passionate sailor, a boat full of people with MS circumnavigated the globe to raise awareness of what it means to live with MS, and to give a new sense of perspective to those on board.
The vivid memory
The project spoke to me straight away. I have sailed as part of a crew quite some time ago. Whether it was in the Nordics, the Aegean Sea or the Caribbean, and (almost) regardless of the conditions on board, I adored the experience: the team spirit and the sense of freedom, awe and vulnerability that grows in you when nature is vast and wild, and you are small.
I had not been on any sailing trip for 15 years when I heard about Oceans of Hope. And I immediately knew I wanted to be part of it. The special circumstance with the 2015 circumnavigation was ‘just’ that it coincided with a new health challenge. I was getting my décolleté redone after an oncological episode, a long process.
Rediscovering the passion
By chance I was seated next to Mikkel Anthonisen during EMSP’s Spring Conference Gala Dinner in Oslo. I was heading the organisation as interim CEO at that time, and I was working my way back to fitness.
Oceans of Hope had then just rounded off the sailing trip around the globe. The boat had arrived in Oslo the evening before the dinner, and the spirit of the trip was vibrant and omnipresent. An animated conversation over dinner and an appetizer sail the next day made me want to come back on board.
Croatia, here we come!
Now is the time: The Dalmatia trip is a spin-off of the bigger MS sailing project called Oceans of Hope Challenge. The Challenge consists of one-week trips with a flotilla of boats. It has been initiated and coordinated by Robert Munns, a sailor who lives with MS himself, and who participated in the circumnavigation.
Robert has spent days, weeks and relentless energy to organise the Croatia Challenge. He managed to attract MSers from all over the world, he ran marathons himself to support funding for the group, and he tapped into his personal address book to recruit an amazing pool of 10 pro bono skippers, three of whom also live with MS. They all deserve a huge thank you, even before the trip has started.
‘MSers can conquer oceans’
So far, I’ve only experienced first-hand the appetizer trip. And I heard many stories from those who had been part of ‘the real thing’. What I can already say is that the project deserves its name: Oceans of Hope renews the batteries of people who live with a condition that really, really affects their lives, and that no one fully understands. It builds a precious international community and sends a message to the world: given the opportunity, MSers can move mountains and conquer oceans.
The team spirit
I enjoyed being part of an (almost hyper-) active Facebook planning group for the Challenge and am getting excited and ready to embark. I know it will be a great experience. Admittedly, I am also a little nervous. I realise how little I really know about sailing, despite all those trips. In addition, the main area in which I made myself useful in the past – pulling ropes and turning winches – is impossible for me to cover since I can’t put any strain on my chest any longer.
Luckily, I also learned that Oceans of Hope is about forming a team in the best sense of the term: complementing and supporting each other where we can. So…new tasks and experiences it will be! Much looking forward to the ‘real thing’, and to meeting my new friends in person.
Ahoi! Stay tuned for more Oceans of Hope stories.