Port sets sail for London.jpg

Port sets sail for London


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A SYMBOLIC voyage to transport a 1926 bottle of Port from Portugal to Her Majesty the Queen in London got underway on Saturday.

Ricardo Diniz and John Hall left the VIP dock at Portimão marina at 3pm in the boat Visit Portimão after a busy morning greeting young sailors from Portimão’s Naval Club and speaking with the press.

Just before they departed the two were presented with a 25 metre mural by artist Hélder José, symbolising the historic trading route between Portugal and England.

Dozens of sailors aged from six to 16 boarded small sailing boats surrounding the Visit Portimão to wish it good luck as it departed.

The boat had arrived in the Algarve on Thursday (November 9), giving the support team from Bluewater Yacht Services Lda just 36 hours to prepare the vessel, a set of tasks that would usually take two weeks to complete.

The team worked tirelessly at the marina to make sure the boat was in great shape and ready to carry out the trip.

The bottle of Port being transported dates back to 1926, the year of the Queen’s birth, and is being protected by Portugal’s own Amorim cork to make sure it survives the journey through any turbulent waters.

Diniz hopes this will make the British aware of just one of the many unique qualities of the cork industry, of which he feels “there is no substitute”.

The trip is also marking the 250th anniversary of the demarcated Douro region, one of the many areas supported by Diniz’s Made in Portugal project, which aims to promote the traditions of Portuguese culture and its economy throughout the world.

The pair encountered their first problem on Sunday. A message back to dry land from Diniz said: “We have had a good 24 hours sailing an ideal course up the coast of Portugal. However, this morning we had a small issue with the ballast system and pump, which cost us about an hour and quite a lot of water in the boat.

“All sorted now, but it does get quite interesting when you see lots and lots of water coming into the boat,” he said.

“We are now passing the latitude of Lisbon, the beautiful capital of my country and the Atlantic Capital of Europe. The wind really is helping us and the sea has been kind so far.”

On Monday, by which time they were some 300 miles into their journey, Visit Portimão was forced to make a stop in Figueira da Foz to fix the ballast system and to avoid the bad weather that was forecast for the west coast of Portugal on Wednesday.

It is expected that the boat will have to take one more stop before tackling the Bay of Biscay where there is another strong front to dodge.

It is hoped that the trip to London will take seven to 10 days.