Sailing around the world in a boatful of wine: Portuguese adventurer tests old sailors' tale

Exploring Samoa was never part of the plan for a Portuguese adventurer currently docked at Matautu wharf on his way to sail around the world in a small boat carrying 200 litres of wine.  

Jose Henrique Pereira Afonso is from Madeira, an autonomous region of Portugal and island archipelago some 300 miles off the west coast of Africa in the north Atlantic Ocean. 

The 56-year-old told the Samoa Observer yesterday that he set out the 'Sofia do Mar', this January with the aim of crossing the globe under the sponsorship of local winery Barbeito Madeira. He aims to finish his trip by July. 

Mr. Afonso has not drunk a drop of either of the two 100 litre barrels he has on board. 

“The whole purpose of my trip is re-enacting a story that happened in the 18th century where the Portuguese discovered on one of their trips from travelling back and forth after that the wine they had left tasted different, like it was older in quality,” he said.

“I can’t drink the wine it’s sealed by the Madeira wine company.”


He also stated that there are claims that the humidity might have something to do with the wine tasting very old or in other words very rich and of good quality.

“During my travels, I have been to islands such as: Canary Islands, Calvert Island, Martinique, Curaçao where I found my family there, Columbia, Panama, Moorea Island, Bora Bora in French Polynesia and now Samoa," he said. 

“And from Samoa, I have to go to Indonesia and to Africa but I might explore Tonga or Vanuatu along the way but we will see."

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When asked about challenges faced while out in the sea, he said that one of them was arriving in Samoa and having missed one day due to the time difference.

“It was due to the time zone change between French Polynesia (GMT-10) and Apia (GMT + 13) which meant that I thought that I had arrived at my destination on a Friday, but in fact it was Saturday," he said. 

“On Sunday there is nothing opened but I am hoping to explore and discover Samoa.

“But I learned about Samoa through some of the fishing people back home, where I come from there are a lot of people who fish in big tuna boats and most of them are in American Samoa and that’s why I knew about Samoa.”

“And now that I am in Samoa, it is also an opportunity to do some restocking as well in terms of supplies for food.”

The father-of-three said that being out in the open sea is perfect.

“I feel free being when I am out in the sea alone, it is the most beautiful thing in the world, and also being able to disassociate from society that we live because it is sometimes hectic," he said. 

“In the beginning, my original plan was to travel for two years around the world but now I am a little out of time and I can’t stay long in Samoa, I have to keep going.

“And to be safe, I heard the cyclone season is around November and I want to be out of the way when that happens.”

The adventurer has been given the friendly nickname of the Maedieran Pirate. 




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