Sailing on an Ocean of Hope

Updated: May 10, 2021

Rob Munns was having a bad year, well six of them to be precise. Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2009 at the age of 39, the Englishman was struggling to find his footing in his new world that was no longer disease-free. “MS was sapping the color out of every experience.” And then he hit the high seas in a most unexpected fashion: on a sailboat manned by MSers. That changed everything.

two men sailing a boat
Rob Munns (right) sailing with a friend

2015 has been an enormous year for my journey with MS. And I am lucky—I can run, swim, sing and dance and play golf. (For the latter two, my enthusiasm far outweighs my talent.) The compromises in my life are manageable. I have to watch my energy levels and try my best to predict fatigue. But this year my attitude toward MS has been put into perspective. My journey with multiple sclerosis has been a long and testing one. The sad part: until this year, I did not know I was on this journey. 

Looking back after my 2009 diagnosis, MS had a strangle hold on my life. A life that used to be full of laughter and vitality. Until this year, I really wasn't consciously aware of what MS was doing to me. How it was bringing fear into every waking moment, every decision I had to make, and every room I had to walk into.

MS was sapping the color out of every experience—greatly affecting work as well as relationships with the ones I love—and I didn't even know it at the time.

Going About

In April 2014 when I was a manager at a marina on the south coast of England, I was on duty and a small party of people came into the reception. They represented a very adventurous project. We talked for a while and I learned of a fantastic voyage that they were planning. The project was called Sailing Sclerosis, and they were planning to sail a boat—Oceans of Hope—around the world… by a crew of people with MS.

Over the next couple of weeks, I could not get the proposed voyage out of my mind. Was this really doable, quitting my job and facing unemployment? Would I have enough personal fortitude to part