‘The most inspiring experience I have been part of’ …….is my instant reply when asked about my Oceans of Hope Challenge, says Linda Kent.
I was thrilled, (but slightly pensive) when accepted for the trip, but there were the little voices in my head, what will it be like, how will I manage, what will it be like spending 5 days with 20+ people I have never met before, how many toilets for all those people, how will I manage the bunks!? To name but a few.
All those thoughts completely disappeared when we boarded the iconic Steinlager 2. The sense of excitement, chatter and reassuring words from those who had previously completed a trip was amazing. I would never have believed how well everyone, crew included, jelled together into a team that worked so well.
The sailing was spectacular, exploring the Hauraki Gulf and the feeling of taking the wheel that Sir Peter Blake had held was mind blowing. The sight of dolphins swimming alongside the boat was magical, there was even thought to be whales in the distance.
Our first port of call was Waiheke Island, where we anchored off Cactus Bay for the night. Once we had our morning swim, breakfast and carried out kitchen and cleaning duties, we headed towards Great Barrier Island, where we spent the majority of our time exploring some of the Bays. We had the opportunity to go ashore every day and one of the highlights for me was an evening BBQ in Smokehouse Bay where we met up with other yachties also taking advantage of the facilities (talking of facilities whilst waiting to use the long drop we saw a wild pig I don’t know who was more surprised).
On the way back to Auckland we stopped at Kawau Island, unfortunately the Mansion House was closed but we had a look around the ground which were full on exotic plants and trees.
The weather was perfect, not too hot and not too cold, warm enough for a daily jump overboard for a swim, pretty important as there are no showers onboard. The crew were awesome. Nothing was too much trouble, and they did everything they could to ensure all of us had the opportunity to achieve what we wanted, often thinking outside the square to make it happen. I’m not sure how they did it but the menu was inclusive of all dietary requirements.
We were given the opportunity to helm, winch the winches, grind the grinders, (not the coffee type!) and sail a racing ocean going speed machine.
Forming connections with likeminded people, listening to their experiences and finding out how many were shared made the trip so special. I met such wonderful, inspiring people and as we sailed back under the Auckland Harbour Bridge all of us felt a little sad this was coming to an end.
Attached are a few of the many photos taken. They are a great reminder of the fun we had, how we laughed a lot and cried a little as we shared our stories. I would highly recommend anyone with MS joining the challenge, don’t worry about what you can’t do, but focus on what you can!
Images supplied by Linda Kent.