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Nº 113 – Heroes for one day?

Saturday 6th November 2021.

The global sailing community is something very special indeed. Surrendering yourself completely to all winds and weathers that sailors are dependent on for survival requires a different kind of „lifestyle“ than the one you’d have on dry land in a big city. Which is why sailors are as thick as thieves. This sticking together has a deeper meaning, described by Boris Herrmann in his new book, „Alone between Sky and Sea“, which has just been published in German by Bertelsmann and will surely soon be available in English, French and Portuguese translation. A bestseller in Germany, the book is of course to do with the toughest sailing race in the world, the French Vendée Globe. It was during this race that the boat of one competitor broke in two on hitting a wave and sank in under a minute. There was just about enough time to send a Mayday, adding that this was not a joke. Then the sailor fled on to his inflatable life raft with not even enough time to grab his emergency kit holding drinking water, food and an emergency telephone. That disappeared together with the sailing yacht into the depths of the ocean.

The French regatta organisers immediately asked the five race participants closest to their colleague drifting off the South African coast between the Indian and the Atlantic Ocean to start looking for him. Miraculously, he was located and rescued within 24 hours. The proverbial needle in a haystack, and the whole operation carried out amongst winds registering 7 to 8 on the Beaufort scale and waves six metres high. Where the Atlantic meets the Indian Ocean you’ll always have a little more swell than in the private sailing zone off Lisbon or the Berlengas arquipelago, Kiel or the Ammersee lake…

On land, amongst long-distance hikers, travelling in nature below wide open skies, things work in a similar way to the way they do at sea. „Portugal on Foot“ is a book by Nuno Ferreira, from Aveiro. The first edition of this very special book was published in November 2011 by Vertimag and is celebrating its ten-year anniversary. This is something we want to call to mind, as anyone starting out on foot to discover their world and observe their entire country from south to north along a long-distance trail will also experience how beautiful everything is we’ve been entrusted on loan, our livelihood: the Earth and the oceans we are allowed to live on and call home.

Every one of these stories has its very own narrative form. In early 2008, for the first time this had been done in the country’s long history, a journalist by the name of Nuno Ferreira started walking from Sagres, marking the start of a long and difficult hike through his „beloved Portugal“. The book is the result of over two years of hikes, with a few breaks in between. It shows us a little-known Portugal, a land of traditions and stories that seem to become ever more scarce these days.


And here’s for a third book that shall serve to round off today’s story. Journalist António Pedro Santos won through with his crowdfunding campaign at PPL (https://ppl.pt/naestrada) with a brilliant idea. Which was to take his bike from Chaves in the north to Faro in the south, all the while getting to know and portray the entire National Road No. 2. The book, „Olhos na estrada, todos no pensamento“ (Eyes on the Road, Everyone in my Thoughts), has just been presented in Lisbon and launched onto the small-scale Portuguese book market. The author financed his 738-km long cycling research with a campaign that brought in 3,870 euros, which he used to fund the layout and the printing.

However, the journalist and press photographer had another mission in mind when he got into the saddle and started pedalling: „My main goal with this project is to contribute with two euros from the sale of each copy to grant as many children as possible access to psychological counselling after the pandemic. For every 100 copies sold I’m able to fund 20 free counselling sessions for children, hopefully making a contribution to a better future“. The book may be ordered directly from the author: antoniopedrosantos.aps@gmail.com

ECO123 and its readers are actively using the information available in order to do something relevant for the climate. Every week we publish some „good news“ to show that there is life beyond emitting CO2. If you want to take part drop us a line at „editor@eco123.info“ and contribute your very own personal story. Next week, 23-year old Paul Piendl, who is currently in Panama as part of his round-the-world sailing trip, will tell us how he’s preparing the second leg: the Pacific crossing. Here at ECO123 meanwhile, we are working on the next edition of the printed issue, which will come out on 15 December and go on sale at the best newsstands in the country or sent directly to our subscribers.


Uwe Heitkamp (60)

trained TV journalist, book author and hobby botanist, father of two grown-up children, knows Portugal for 30 years, founder of ECO123. Translations : Dina Adão,  Rudolfo Martins, Kathleen Becker
Fotos: Bertelsmann, Nuno Ferreira, António Pedro Santos

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