An Enchanted Boat
Agua Moura is an elegant solar-powered yacht sailing the friendly waters of the Barragem de Santa Clara, a reservoir in southern Portugal. It's an additional facility attached to Villa Encantada, a wonderful villa for rent from the Boutique Homes collection. However, we thought Agua Moura was so cool it deserved it's own article. We e-mailed Agua Moura designer Victor Vincente with a few questions about this very special boat and he was kind enough to respond in great detail. As it turns out, Agua Moura is more than just a pleasure yacht – it's a remarkable piece of design steeped in the rich culture and history of Portugal.
To start, some specifics: Agua Moura is 12,40 meters long with a cruising speed of 5 knots. It doesn't use conventional fuel, instead harnessing the power of the sun to run its two electric engines. The boat can accommodate up to 12 guests on both daylong and hourly cruises.
The impetus for the design of Moura Encantada lays in Portuguese culture, specifically in the design of "Canoas da Picada", traditional fishing boats that sailed the Taugus and Sado rivers and along the south coast of Portugal in the 19th and early 20th century.
"We wanted the boat to have something of Portugal. We did not want to buy and adapt a sailboat or a motorboat. The boat had to have a story behind it, a soul," explains Victor. He collaborated with the Maritime Museum in Lisbon, who provided original drawings of the boats' hulls on which Victor based his design for Moura Encantada.
The story of Agua Moura really began when "we decided to create a sophisticated and easy way to enjoy the landscape and waters of the Santa Clara dam," says Victor. You can observe just a fraction of the beautiful landscape in the photo above.
As for making the boat solar-powered: "We wanted it to be an environmentally friendly, without noise, and designed to function properly. From the practical point of view, it's fantastic because there is no need to carry gasoline, oil changes, filters, spark plus, and all things associated with a combustion engine, which is inevitably polluting."
Another appealing feature of going for solar power over the traditional gas-fueled engine is the absence of noise. "What I appreciate the most is the silence," says Victor. "I'm not a sailor, but one of the interesting aspects people refer to about sailing boats is the fact that you only hear the hull cutting through the water."
Taking into consideration the needs and desires of guests, Victor designed the boat to meet the requirements for a number of leisure activities. "It has an open deck area where you can lie down to sunbathe and even a lounge area, comfortable and spacious with a table and seating. For divers, there is a wooden platform at the same level as the water which facilitates descent and ascent."
Agua Moura truly represents the best of Portugal. "Everything except the engines were acquired in Portugal and all the design and workmanship went national. The design was from my company Ecobuilders, the draft structure was done by naval architect João do Ó, and the construction of the hull was done by Sounete, a fantastic aluminum boat builders company in the north of Portugal," says Victor.
When asked to share some stories about past trips on the Agua Moura, Victor tells the story of his own wedding on the boat, wherein a seemingly normal trip around the reservoir turned into an occasion for much celebration. "We went boating on a normal weekend and, on board, everyone started to wear white. The bride had everything hidden for the wedding and it was only at that time that the she realized what was happening. It was an extraordinary day, full of joy, that I will remember forever and will never make me separate from this boat (and of course from my wife)."
Here's another clue to Agua Moura's cultural heritage: the name. A "moura encantada" (enchanted moura) is a supernatural female being in Portguese folklore that guards hidden treasure near bridges, wells, and rivers. In another interpretation, a Moura is a Muslim Princess who fell in love with a Portuguese Christian knight during the Reconquista. According to Wikipedia, almost every Portuguese town has a story of a Moura Encantada. Victor was not unaware of these stories and in fact chose the name "because it's a fantastic fairy tale, related with water, and also very Portuguese."
Ultimately, Moura Encantada ended up being the perfect moniker for the boat as "we want Moura Encantada to be a place of hidden treasure. A true place, a place of Portguese culture. A place at one with the nature in which it lives and breathes. So, a world away from concrete and crowds, in the heart of Alentejo, you come upon the serene waters of Santa Clara lake and you meet the Moura Encantada spirit." So what are you waiting for? You can book a stay at Villa Encantada at Boutique-Homes.com. MT.