Imagine you’re at an upscale restaurant in Manhattan, Miami, or L.A. You’re hungry, it’s late, and all you want are food and drink. The credit and the debit cards don’t work, and you don’t have a lot of cash on hand.
It doesn’t take a lot more imagination to realize you’re out of luck, mate — if indeed you are in any of those metropolises. But we three from the crew of the Swan 57 Flyer had just set foot in the small city of Horta, on Faial, in the Azores islands, after nearly two weeks at sea, and here’s what happened next at Genuíno, a tiny restaurant by the beach at Porto Pim, a quick walk south of the main harbor:
“Where did you come from?” the owner asked.
“Newport, Rhode Island,” I replied.
“You sailed here? Straight?”
“I’m a sailor, too. Pay me tomorrow.”
Stunned, I turned to my dinner companions and crewmates, Xabi Lastapis and Todd Mennillo. “Guy says he’s a sailor,” I told them. “Guess we’re OK; I can get cash tomorrow.”
In just a few moments, as we started to take in our surroundings, I began to realize to my embarrassment just how oversimplified the word “sailor” is to describe Genuíno Madruga. For we’d just stumbled upon a two-time solo circumnavigator, a local hero and national treasure, a celebrity whose understated, quiet manner draws friends, acquaintances, and tourists to the attractive establishment he’d opened only a few weeks before.
The restaurant’s walls are covered in charts, ensigns, and T-shirts. Bookshelves are crammed with sailing tales. Paper placemats at every setting carry a map of the world with the 22 waypoints of the route of Madruga’s second circumnavigation from 2007 to 2009 aboard Hemingway, a 36-foot Bavaria. The inspirational adventure, including a rounding of Cape Horn and a dismasting, are among the many colorful details in his coffee-table-sized memoir, The World as I Saw It.
Not only did Genuíno let us eat and drink on credit that night, he gave me a copy of the memoir. He also spent time with us and explained his reasons for opening the restaurant, whose fine wood décor features tables whose box-like surfaces are glass cases containing memorabilia from Hemingway’s global ports of call.
In opening the business, the former fisherman and Azorean native has found a platform for showcasing the best of his home, serving island-sourced and caught food and drink. Everything comes from the islands, including the beef, poultry, fish, cheeses, and produce. We tried grilled lapas, or limpets, a shellfish; cheeses; and bread from a local bakery. The red and white wines came from vineyards on the nearby island of Pico.
Fortified, we bid this great ambassador of the Azores good night, promised to return and pay, and headed back to the boat to rest up for the next landmark stop during our brief stay here: a visit to the renown Café Sport and its scrimshaw museum.