Our berth, the Sancta Apollonia, is in the oldest region of Lisbon, called Alfama. This is the site of the old Moorish settlement and the name itself reflects that as – although the etymology is vexed – the best guess is that means “the spring.” Since fresh water was scarce in Lisbon, this was an obvious place to settle. Of course, the city dates to a far earlier period. On the hill going up to Castello Saint George is the remains of a Roman theater that seats 4,000. The best estimate of the size of the city during the 1st century CE was 35,000.
As we sailed won the very wide Tagus River, we passed the historic district of Belem and the great monument to Henry the Navigator and the other great early Portuguese explorers, such as Vasco de Gama, who led the circumnavigation of Africa and opened up trade with India in the end of the 15th century. Indeed, today the Portuguese presence is still present there in the city of Goa.
As we sailed down the great river on our magical ship, the Sea Cloud, we drew near to the great high bridge over the Tagus. We watched with some trepidation and awe as our great main mast which is 178’ high from the water sailed under – not far under – the bridge. The Sea Cloud entered the sea quite at home, despite a brisk breeze and some swell our ship barely moved. The Sea Cloud’s draft is 17’ and such depth assures that she rides well even in severe weather. We were moving with the same mechanism the early navigators used, the wind.
On our first day, our chief office Alexandre Bota gave a first-rate introduction to the sails on Sea Cloud, all 30,000 plus square feet of it. The sailors went aloft and by 10:30 we were breezing along at 6.5 knots. We were able to go out onto the bow sprit and take photos looking back at the Sea Cloud under sail.
Myriam Casper, our Certified Photo Instructor, gave a very informative talk on iPhone photography. We had our first buffet lunch on the Lido Deck and it was a pure delight – sailing in the gloriously blue Atlantic in a ship born in the period of the Age of Sail and having a gourmet lunch.
Tonight, Captain Sergey Komakin introduced us to his officers and welcomed us aboard. We then sat to elegant Captain’s Dinner.