President of the Republic Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa was among the many dignitaries at the official ‘send-off’, attended by hundreds – many of them family members of the men and women on board.
The trip, he stressed, is all about “constructing the future in the affirmation of our Navy, our science, our technology, our sport and our youth…”
This is a project that has been over 18 months in the planning, and is, in the words of the president, “historic and unrepeatable”.
Designed to commemorate the 5th centenary of the ‘round-the-world’ voyage of legendary Portuguese discoverer Fernão de Magalhães, the idea is to promote Portugal in over 20 countries, while undertaking scientific projects relating to biodiversity and climate change.
Said Marcelo before the steel-built three-masted ship released its cables and headed out: “We’re living a singular, historic, unrepeatable moment because we are celebrating the past, affirming the present and constructing the future”.
First stop will be Tenerife, to be followed by Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (ETA February 10), Cape Town, South Africa (March 27), Maputo, Mozambique (April 9), Jacarta, Indonesia (May 29), Tokyo, Japan (July 18), Honolulu, Hawaii (August 27), Cartagena, Colombia (December 5) and back to Portugal by way of the Azores by December 30, returning to Lisbon by January 10, 2021.
The Tokyo leg of the trip will coincide with the 2020 Summer Olympics, and the Sagres has on board the Portuguese flag to hand over to the national ‘team’.
But as minister of the sea Ricardo Serrão Santos said in his speech on Sunday, the highlight of this particular expedition is that for the first time in its roughly 60-year history of promoting Portugal in the eyes of the world, NRP Sagres will be undertaking scientific research.
“Basically we will be measuring the state of the oceans and the atmosphere”, he told his audience.
The crew is committed to a “series of protocols” designed to glean further information on currents, the influence of the climate, biodiversity and pollution caused by plastics and microplastics”.
“Samples will be taken throughout the journey”, the minister explained, suggesting the results will lead to “further knowledge and many events related with literacy, promotion and communication of the (state of) the oceans and plastic pollution”.
It will thus be a voyage of “raising awareness among populations on a global level”.
This is the 4th ‘round the world’ trip of the tall ship that carries 22 sails (and at full speed under sail can travel at 20 mph/ 17 knots). The Sagres should cover around 41,000 miles – 75,000 kms – “which corresponds to two times round the globe”, explain reports.
As many as 200,000 people are expected to visit the ship when it docks at its various destinations.