Genuino Madruga (68), Faial Island, Azores
Interview conducted in Genuino restaurant on Praia Prim in Horta
Trying to sail on less than 1000 US dollar a month means you have to be frugal. Dining out is a luxury. Seeking out the places for best priced groceries and propane is much more common. I had heard from George and Sara, the Biologist couple, that there was a Portuguese man who had circumnavigated the globe solo twice nearby. They said that he loved to share the stories of his voyages and suggested that he might be a good person to interview. Genuino is the owner/operator of the restaurant that bears his name which is located near the beach in Horta. I’ve wanted to try some fish prepared Portuguese style, so this seemed like a time to splurge. The meal was locally caught and delicious. Both the service and atmosphere were perfect. Many restaurants here serve their water in plastic bottles but Genuino had their own filtration system and glass bottles. I immediately liked the place. When I had finished enjoying my meal, I asked Genuino for his time. He is always there and makes himself available to talk.
What is your favorite part of living on Faial?
I have lived here my whole life. I went to school here to learn English, French, and Math. Briefly I was in Lisbon to learn to be a captain. I like being close to the sea and fishing. We have a good hospital here on Faial and Lisbon is only 2 hours away if you want to go to the city. People are honest on Faial. My car is not far away and is not locked. You can walk anywhere at any time of day here.
I told Genuino about my days Lobster fishing in Portland, Maine and he replied.
Oh, you are a fisherman too. I am also a fisherman. I have been fishing for work since I was 12 and have spent my whole life on the sea. You say you fished for Lobster. We have lobster here but we do not fish for them. It is too much work and they do not bring a good enough price. I still fish from my commercial boat. This time of year we go for bottom fish when the sea is nice. The price for fish right now is good and going up. A kilo of Sea Bream is 25 Euros.
What is your least favorite part of living on Faial?
There is nothing I do not like. It is a very good life. We have problems here but they come from a far. There is plastic on our beaches. The currents bring them here from Europe and the Americas. We are inheriting everybody else’s garbage.
Have you seen changes to the natural world?
I sailed around the world solo at age 50 (2000-2002) and then again at 58 (2007-2009). When I rounded the tips of South America I did not see the ice described by Marcel Bardiaux. He sailed the world solo it in 1953. If you want to learn about sailing around the world read the books of Marcel Bardiaux. He is a French sailor who went around the world twice. Do you read French? I have the book here, let me get it for you.
Recently we had a hurricane, it was called Lorenzo. We do not get hurricanes at these latitudes. Lorenzo went all the way to England. The weather is definitely changing.
What about the oceans, have they changed?
In the 1960s there used to be plenty of fish. People only fished in small boats. Now there are just some fish and only near the islands. If you go out to international waters there are no longer any fish. The big Spanish boats take them all.
Is there anything you would like to ask or tell me?
You are circumnavigating the globe? It is very hard. Be careful going around Cape Horn. The South Pacific and Indian oceans can also be very dangerous. You are thinking of the Northwest passage. Do you have a steel boat? You should be very careful because there will be ice. Are you sailing here in the winter? The waters are much nicer in the summer. Horta is really the only good harbor in the Azores, stay here if you can. The rest of them are not so good when we get big storms. They are very shallow.
I am grateful for the information Genuino shared and smile that he went solo around the world twice in his 50s. The captain and I are in our sailing prime! A common concern of people who make their living fishing is large commercial fishing boats. The fisherman here see smaller individual vessels and fishing for less (perhaps enough) as more sustainable.
There seems to be a deep distrust of the Spanish in these islands. They have not forgotten conflicts from centuries ago. Another reflection from these interviews is that as countries, we should be careful of our actions since they will not be forgotten in reasonable time frames.