Trawler becomes Portimão riverside attraction

The historical «Portugal Primeiro» trawler was restored to its former glory in a shipyard on the left bank of the Arade River.

The «Portugal Primeiro» trawler returned to the Gil Eanes pier in Portimão last week following its restoration work to safeguard and enhance one of the most charismatic vessels linked to the Portimão fishing industry.

This is the first phase of the «Portugal Primeiro – A Trawler with History» project, created by the Museum of Portimão, which sees the vessel transformed into a museum with interactive panels and equipment to share its rich history, including the traditional unloading and auction sale of fish on the docks. The visit will also highlight the importance of wooden shipbuilding for the county’s economic activity.

The rehabilitation of the Gil Eanes pier, located on the riverside a few dozen metres from Portimão’s old fish market, is also planned, including creating a ramp to facilitate access for the public.


The vessel returned to its origins yesterday, as it was used to recreate fish being unloaded on the docks to mark the beginning of the Sardine Festival, which is being held along Portimão’s riverside area until August 6.

The «Portugal Primeiro – A Trawler with History» project was pitched to the “Mar 2020 Operational Programme” by the Portimão Museum, resulting in €424,969 of funding for its refurbishment carried out in the Portinave – Sociedade de Construções Navais Portimonense shipyards.


A testimony of Portimão’s rich maritime heritage

Built in 1911 by the industrial cannery and shipowner Júdice Fialho in a shipyard in Vigo, Galicia, this was the first vessel of a fleet of nine ships – from «Portugal Primeiro» (Portugal First) to «Portugal Nono» (Portugal Ninth).

The «Portugal Primeiro» vessel was transformed into a trawler in 1948, when it was adapted with a diesel engine, maintaining its distinctive fan-shaped stern.

Around 1990, the Ribeiro & Quintas company acquired the boat, which had been idly moored in Portimão for a few years. Following its refurbishment in the Portinave shipyards, the trawler remained active until 2008.

Today, it is a testimony of Portimão’s rich and remarkable local maritime heritage and the various activities to which it was linked – from fishing to shipbuilding and the canning industry to the sale of fish at auction – activities responsible for the growth of economic and social life of the city during the 20th century.