Before you board to sail to unknown seas, like our navigators did in the sixteenth century, it’s good to know that the vessel you are going to be reading about is a replica of the Portuguese caravels used during the time of the Discoveries.
The caravels replaced the barcas and barinels which were the vessels previously used. They rounded fearsome capes such as Cape Bojador and the Cape of Good Hope, with their hordes of sea monsters and legends that terrified the sailors. They discovered new lands, giving rise to an overseas empire whose presence is still felt in the culture of Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Goa, Guinea-Bissau, Macau, Malacca, Mozambique, São Tomé e Príncipe and East Timor.
And now that you share this seafaring spirit, it’s time to put your hat on your head and set off to discover the caravel that takes its name from the cape which Bartolomeu Dias rounded in 1488: Good Hope.
THE CARAVEL BOA ESPERANÇA (GOOD HOPE)
Built in Vila do Conde by specialists in wooden shipbuilding, the caravel Boa Esperança was launched on 28 April 1990 and purchased by the Região de Turismo do Algarve (Algarve Tourism Board) as a means of taking the history of the Algarve to the rest of the world. Since then, it has sailed many nautical miles on worthwhile missions. It has called at ports in Europe and the Mediterranean. It has taken part in important regattas. It has been used as a setting for documentaries and films. And it has welcomed tourists and students for guided tours about the era of the Discoveries and about the lives of the fifteenth-to-seventeenth-century seafarers.
However, it has yet to complete the crossing of the colossal 361 million square kilometres of ocean covering our planet. An expedition for a different place and a different time, perhaps?