Oceans of Hope Croatia 2018

Oceans of Hope Croatia 2018

In November 2017 I attended MSSessions2017 with Shift.ms. What an amazing eye-opening MS experience. See the respective blog! Whilst there, I had the joy of meeting Natalie and Vicky amongst others. They both - towards the end of the weekend - told me about Oceans of Hope that they had attended in 2016 and that I must go. So later last year I applied, got accepted and wow. SO glad I did….

“First things first; the travel. I knew when I saw the flight – as of looking (and researching, as I do) – that it would make for an early start. 06:00 flight! To Croatia, via Amsterdam as Newcastle direct lines are good, but not fantastic.

Yes, there were two options for the day; the other one would simply have been far too late.

So, in order to be there (Croatia) in good time for a comfortable start time, the early flight it was with an early (03:30) taxi and little sleep! Not really anything new there then.

Having made the decision to NOT take a (reading) book so I could write, I wrote this start (then), over an expensive decaffeinated tea. Travelling (ha) by myself these days with my knowledge of certain bodily functions, I avoid – breathe – alcohol and other diuretic types before a flight. Mostly! Being knackered even then in Newcastle Airport, I was very tempted to have a real coffee. But I didn’t!”

I wrote that “flying from Newcastle, a small airport really, the trip requires a change at Schiphol Amsterdam – can’t say undue anxiety really, but – hopefully (ha!) it’ll go problem-free. It will.” It was a delight mainly! Only ‘problem’ was the arranged meeting with Peter did not occur due to a silly departure gate mistake; by me!

From Amsterdam I successfully landed in Split, collected things wandered just outside and met a few others who were clearly OOH bound too. We chatted, I believe most of the half-dozen I was talking with had been to an OOH before – comforting – which was great to meet and hear their thoughts. To the bus, to the flotilla area of Split! Marina Baotic, Trogir, was HQ.

Upon arrival in the environment and my boat team, I went on a food mission (a week ahead to buy for!) with Nick and Kate. We filled 2 large baskets. Yes, during the adventure ahead other fresh items would be bought in due course and they were (breads, beer etc). Thereafter, we – and all on OOH – spent the Saturday moored in respective boats and crews. We had pizza delivered, ate and talked with a beverage too.

Sunday. Day 1 in effect. We all played our part in group photos before setting sail to Rogoznica. This provided the first unexpected change-of-plan. The main sail was surprisingly broken so we used the genoa only as the sail. New to me (all new!) and I found very interesting, thinking back to my aerodynamics days. Fundamentals. Later that evening after mooring in Rogoznica, we (the 3 from the rota; Nicola, Robby and I) cooked chili that was welcomed by all.

Monday. Day 2 as we were already becoming friends – and a team – there was wind and a repaired sail, we set off on for a long day’s sail utilising both sails, to Milna. Bertram on our boat for added company and expertise. Top bloke! It was lunch-duty day, so we made sandwiches. It was enjoyable (as a cooking fan) to provide for the team. Fantastic Rota! I experienced the feeling of actually being on-board when helming (on an angle!), as opposed to seeing on TV! What a difference that can make to wind-capture and therefore speed!(?) Superb! That evening we ate out at Karlovacko (steaks all round!) and moored overnight in the harbour. Awesome way to finish an awesome day!

Tuesday. Day 3. Given the calm conditions and crew, we didn't sail until 3pm. Before then we took photos, did some shopping (and some enjoyed ice cream!) in Milna. Then off we went again, for what transpired as a longer-than-planned day following a navigation error - 65 miles instead of 11, and as such didn't moor until 2130! We did motor quite a bit of the distance due to bad weather – achievement: first OOH crew to sail at night! Uvala Stiniva was the target bay that we got to J

Wednesday. Day 4. By then we really were becoming a team. A ‘family’. Unless you have experienced living and working together in such an environment, you may not get it! After Breakfast Club – socialising with another boat (Bowmore) feeding us – off to Split we motored to drop Bertram off – quite a sad action as he is a superstar. That day it was quite cold and rained. Oh, how it rained later on! Continued to Vis (couldn’t help but think of the Magazine, Viz (taboos!), same pronunciation!), stopped at the submarine tunnel and took the dingy in for a browse then moored later in Kantun harbour. A Lush way to finish another amazing amazing day was rounded off at Carlos' restaurant Konoba Kantun; fabulous fish was had!

Thursday. Day 5. Realisations and (mild) creeping sadness that we had passed the half-way point of the adventure; but hadn’t finished yet! In that morning there was quite a thunderstorm with torrential rain in Vis. Still, that is something no-one can control! The sailing carried-on as the weather improved; a lot! So, after more sailing – I did do some if you’re wondering! – we headed to and moored in Drvenik.

Friday. Day 6. The last sailing day. Boo. By then we – the crew – had become quite close as a ‘working group’ and knew the end was in sight. Saying that, as much as I and others were loving what we were doing, there is no escape from the root cause of what brought us together. MS. Everyone gets tired and some more-so that others; us collectively no exception. Just saying! Anyway, after some photos the sailing happily began again as we headed to Trogir. On the way we did ‘stop’ somewhere, and even I had a swim! No Olympic challenge I may add, but it was great! We then sailed further to HQ at Marina Baotic, where the journey began all those miles and smiles ago. Not to finish then; a fantastic night was enjoyed by all crews together for an evening of presentations, food, interviews and laughs aplenty in Trogir. What a day and night.

Saturday. Day 7. The finish. L Having packed most of my shit on the Friday, it wasn’t too much of a challenge to be ready to ensure I was ready to (had to; all had to) be off Signe of Sweden, the Best Boat By Far, ready to start a homeward journey alongside others in due course. It was quite an emotional time knowing what we had been through and that was the end. 

Until next time!

I have finished experiencing one of the best weeks ever - Oceans of Hope Croatia 2018. Wow.

A truly amazing adventure, sailing around the Split area of Croatia on the Adriatic Sea. EVERYONE had to have MS! Challenging from the onset of course - however. The friendship, teamwork, laughter, successes, community, memories (moot point!)...

I seriously can not rate it highly enough. Stunning in every respect.
With fantastic thanks to the BBBF* Crew (you know who you are) and the many many more I had the absolute privilege of meeting.
Life changing. Make of that what you will!
*Best Boat By Far!

Onboard laughs? There were umpteen! With common themes/lines/words that proved hilarity throughout. Simple yet as funny as; e.g. (thanks Heidi!):

- Rawhole
- Has anybody seen my black book?
- This calls for a celebration. 
- Is there any gin left?
- Snoring 
- So whats the ETA ?
- Are we still not there yet?
- I lost my............(glasses (mine were in my bloody bag!), phone, ciggies, lighter (very common!), can be filled in by everything)
- Jajaja

I will not forget this. MS memory or not! It has a place in my heart. What I have said. Everything. Heartfelt thanks to all involved in everything.

I will return for another OOH challenge!


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