Portimão seeks skilled labour to restore historic fishing boat

A century-old fishing boat is to be restored to its former glory and displayed outside Portimão Museum. But there is one issue setting the project back, says the local council.

There is a “lack of specialised labour to restore traditional vessels made out of wood”, says the council, adding that Portimão Museum is working hard to find the right people to give ‘Portugal Primeiro’ the makeover it “deserves and needs”.

The vessel was built in 1911 at the behest of Júdice Fialho, a prominent entrepreneur of the region’s fish canning industry, in Vigo (Spain).

Initially propelled by steam, the boat was equipped with a diesel motor in 1948, although it kept its iconic stern.

It was purchased around 1990 by Ribeiro & Quintas after being stationed for a few years, having been renovated at the Portinave shipyards. The boat continued being used until 2008, when it was saved from being decommissioned by the local council, which purchased it with the goal of restoring it and displaying it outside the local museum.

Why it has taken so long to move forward with the project is unknown, but it was likely put on the backburner due to financial constraints blighting the local council at the time.

Says the council, the boat is “important to the history of Portimão and its people” and reflects a time when fishing and the fish canning industry played a key role in its “economic and social growth during the 20th century”.

Hopes are that the restored boat will make people reflect about the current state of the fishing sector and all the difficulties it faces, the local authority adds.

The plan continues to be to display the revamped boat outside the museum. Special care will be taken to ensure it is protected from exposure to the sun and storms, while a “scenic lighting system” will be set up so that locals and visitors can also admire the boat at night.

The restoration project is being led by Portimão Museum with the assistance of the local fishing community.

The project ‘Portugal Primeiro – Uma Traineira com História’ is expected to cost around €621,000 – with nearly €423,000 being covered by EU community funding via the Mar 2020 programme.

michael.bruxo@algarveresident.com