Today, in Boston, the NRP Sagres ends a trip to the United States that stopped in five harbors and welcomed more than 40 thousand visitors. On Friday, two days prior to the end of the visit, 39,063 people had already visited the Portuguese ship. Captain Paulo Alcobia Portugal told Lusa News Agency that: “during the visits to the harbors, especially where there is a strong Portuguese community, the ship is welcomed like a true ambassador of Portugal”.
Alcobia Portugal stated: “NRP Sagres has received a very warm welcome, especially by the Portuguese and Luso-descendant community. From the reception at the harbors to the emotion expressed upon her departure, everyone showed great appreciation for the ship and her crew”.
On board the NRP Sagres were 40 cadets from the Naval School on their training trip. Before arriving in Boston, Sagres stopped in New Bedford Massachusetts, on July 8 and 9. It welcomed 6,239 visitors, mostly Portuguese and of Portuguese-speaking background. The Luso-American Development Foundation (FLAD), the navy’s partner this year for the new cadets’ training trip, sponsored the ship’s presence in New Bedford.
New Bedford is home to one of the oldest Portuguese communities in the US. It began in the 17th century when people coming from the Azores established themselves in the town to work in the whale hunting business.
The captain of the NRP Sagres said that: “it is common to hear a ‘thank you’ from these immigrants, ‘for bringing us a piece of Portugal’. To some of the Portuguese people, visiting the Sagres is the first time they have set foot on Portuguese territory for years. For others it reminds them of times the ship has stopped in other American harbors. And for some Luso-descendants this is the first time they ever set foot on Portuguese land”.
During its visit, the ship’s crew organized several activities, including a ceremony at the New Bedford Whale Museum, a tribute service to Infante D. Henrique and a soccer game against a local team.
The first stop in the US, after a port of call in Madeira and another in the Bermuda islands, was in Philadelphia, where the training ship stayed from June 25th to 28th. It received 11,151 visitors.
From this city in Pennsylvania, the Sagres began its participation in the Tall Ships America Challenge, where it joined a group of tall ships that sailed on the Delaware River. From there, it set sail to Greenport, New York, where it won the Tall Ships boat race at the average speed of 9,3 knots.
At Greenport, between July 3rd and 7th, the Sagres welcomed 14,829 visitors on board. The captain said these “American communities have a strong affinity with the sea and particularly with the great sailing ships that pay them a visit. People are very curious about the ship and its history, partly because the American costal guard possesses a Sagres twin-ship, named the Eagle, that was built in 1937 in the same shipyard”. The captain also explained the “American visitors enjoy knowing more about Portuguese history and the Portuguese maritime Discoveries, how the Sagres is associated with Infante D. Henrique, and about its prow figure and the crosses on its sails”.
The ship then moored in Boston where it welcomed 4,123 visitors on the first day. NRP Sagres sets sail from Boston today heading towards Praia da Vitória, on Terceira Island, in the Azores. It then departs to Amsterdam in Holland and will be returning to Lisbon on September 1st.