This weekend we drove to the coastal town of Aveiro, Portugal. Unfortunately, there is a bridge that is not tall enough to allow Ingwe to sail under it that prevented us from visiting by boat. This winter we had connected with Alberto Teixeira, a local sailor who was passionate about raising awareness for epilepsy in his community.
We were welcomed to his sailing club AVELA on a sunny Saturday morning for boat tours of the channels that led from the club to the ocean. Members of the public and the Sail For Epilepsy team boarded boats that volunteers from the club skippered and we were treated to views of the area salt marshes, fishing boats, wildlife and local towns. Some of the fishing fleet leave for 6 months at a time to fish for cod in the North Sea, which results in a variety of cod dishes served in the area restaurants. We were fortunate enough to sample some of this cuisine at a lovely dinner with Alberto and his wife.
After the boat tours we had a lunch of fresh fish that was barbecued in the parking lot and continued the conversations started on the boats. Phil then gave a presentation about his journey with epilepsy, seizure first aid, the Sail for Epilepsy mission and the voyage across the Atlantic Ocean and continuation to Lisbon. A medical student provided translation services and helped with the question and answer session after the presentation. It was rewarding to connect with several members of the audience who shared their personal stories and sought support and advice from Phil, based on his experiences navigating the anxiety and fear that can come with an epilepsy diagnosis.
This port stop visit resulted from a connection made on social media that blossomed into a beautiful event. The members of AVELA gave us a warm welcome and it was wonderful day spent in their sailing community. Several people in the audience became Virtual Shipmates and we look forward to adding their names to the boat.
Our gratitude especially goes out to Alberto for planning, promoting and even cooking lunch! This was a special day all around that we will never forget.