The White Fleet and the Iconography of Control

The White Fleet and the Iconography of Control

Priscilla A. Doel

This essay looks, first, at the history of the codfishing fleet up to 1950; second at the golden age of the White Fleet, through to 1970; third, at the iconography of its pride and joy, the Gil Eannes; and fourth, at the decline of the fleet and at historical conservation efforts.

Historical Introduction

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The Early Years

Cod... bacalhau. For centuries, salt cod was the staple of many a poor country´s diet, including Portugal´s. Cod was the fish found in almost unlimited quantity from the time that John Cabot in 1497 reported taking them up in abundance by means of weighted baskets. "Bacalhau" was the fish that brought the Portuguese codfishing schooners (bacalhoeiros) of Portugal´s Great White Fleet to the Grand Banks of Newfoundland - and particularly into St. John´s harbour - where the fishing captains sought shelter from hurricanes spawned in the Caribbean or for supplies or repairs from the 1940s until the early 1970s.

A 1529 reference to cod in Tierra de los bacallaos states that "up until now nothing of value has been found with the exception of codfish which are held in little esteem" (Cortesão and Da Mota 1960: V). Although the cod seemed not to have had value at that time or to that cartographer, three years later another cartographer noted of Tierra Nueva de los Bacallaos that "this land was discovered by the Portuguese... there is nothing of value here except for the cod which is a fish and a very good one. Here the Corte Reales were lost" (Cortesão and Da Mota 1960: V). The charts of the day spread the news that the Portuguese were in these areas and that codfish was abundant and good to eat.

Portugal´s codfishing on the Grand Banks continued on a regular seasonal basis until Portugal, having been annexed by Spain in 1580, was forced to contribute all vessels above a minimum size and burthen to Spain´s grandiose preparations in gatherng together and outfitting an "Invincible Armada" to do battle against England (Martin and Parker 1988). Although one of the staples in the diet of the seamen who trained on these ships was cod or tunny (served on Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday) (Valadão do Valle 1991), it was to become scarce, for the British defeat of the Armada dealt such a blow to Portuguese maritime activities that significant distant-water sailing stopped for 300 years.

Modern Organization

Not until the 1830s does there appear to be any sizeable effort to organize long-distant codfishing to the Grand Banks. At that time the Companhia de Pescarias Lisbonense (1830-57) approached Britain for help in organizing, outfitting, and buying six schooners for the Grand Banks fishery (Moutinho 1985). This venture probably taught the Portuguese handling techniques and the use of various tools, and possibly the dory. The dory and tools, some with names of English origin [1], were to be used in the North Atlantic codfisheries until 1974, when the last codfishing schooner left St. John´s harbour, bound for Portugal (Doel 1992).

During the period 1866-1901 two comapanies controlled all Portuguese codfishing on the Grand banks with a total of twelve ships. Since these vessels viewed certain tax considerations, the fleet could not be augmented without tax penalties being levied. Mariano e Irmãos (1866-1903) operated three vessels, and Bensaúde & Ca. nine. The name of the latter, founded in 1866, changed in 1902 to Parceria Geral de Pescarias (Moutinho 1985). [2]

From 1900 to 1950

The Portuguese codfishing fleet continued to sail to the northwest Atlantic on its yearly campaigns for cod through the First World War, the Great Depression, the Second World War, the forty-year dictatorship of Salazar and his Estado Novo (New State) corporatism (1926-66) and the "25 de Abril" (April 25th) revolution, until present times. During this century, the politics surrounding the economics and administration of the fisheries underwent many changes. What started out as a small endeavour on the part of a few fishing companies trying to stay afloat while dealing with problems of supply and demand, foreign competition, taxes, and government instability became a strong and visible presence in Newfoundland by the 1950s. By that time, although the fleet had grown, it had not kept abreast of technological advances in ship design. Portugal was slow, among fishing nations of the world, to introduce a significant number of trawlers, relying instead on handlining. During the First World War era, the necessity of organizing and protecting the growing industry was recognized and discussed. Between 1903 and 1914 the number of bacalhoeiros had grown from sixteen to thirty-four. By the end of the war there were eleven, but the fleet expanded steadily until, ny 1922, it consisted of sixty-five vessels (Manso and Cruz 1984).

The early twentieth century brought about growth in the size and carrying capacity of the fleet as new comapanies entered the fisheries, but development continued along unstable administrative and economic lines (Doel 1992). The 1930s saw struggle as the industry, in addition to fighting hard times in general, had to face fisheries-related issues such as low catches and workers´ protest against lack of reasonable contracts and insurance policies. [3] The 1930 campaign to the Grand Banks was so unproductive that the captain of the Santa Mafalda decided to set out, without charts, in search of the fabled banks of Greenland. Although the courageous captain was unsuccessful, he had sown the seeds of hope. The following year his vessel was accompanied by the Santa Isabel, the Santa Joana, and the Santa Luzia, with their captains from Ílhavo making their way through the fields of ice to the rich Banks of Greenland. From this time on, the Greenland trip became an integral part of the yearly campaign. [4]

As the Estado Novo attempted to upgrade the fisheries in the 1930s, organizational structures emerged in keeping with its corporative policies. The Comissão Reguladora do Comércio do Bacalhau (CRCB), Regulatory Comission of the Codfish Industry, was founded in 1934 and then restructured so as to more effectively control and protect Portuguese interests in the codfishing industry. It regulated prices paid to the supplier, built refrigerated warehouses, stabilized market prices, regulated imports of cod, modernized ships, and sent the first trawler, the Santa Joana, to the banks in the late 1930s. In addition, the Grémio dos Armadores de Navios de Pesca do Bacalhau, or GANPB (Guild of Shipowners of Codfishing Vessels) was formed in 1935, followed by the establishment of its insurance company (Mútua) one year later. The first trip of the first hospital supply ship, the Carvalho Araújo, took place in 1923, followed by the earliest voyage of the first Gil Eannes in 1927.

Organizatonal efforts during the following decade brought a serious labour problem to a head when recruitment for the 1937 campaign erupted in a famous strike; a state decree forced all those men participating in the 1936 campaign to enrol immediately for 1937; those who did not sign up were to be considered deserters. Violence and protest erupted but were immediately put down. According to the opinion of the day, the well-being of the Estado Novo - the Portuguese nation - was at stake (Moutinho 1985).

By 1938 the codfishing fleet was in desperate shape as it suffered financial, labour, and physical woes. Any significant growth during the Second World War was difficult because of the scarcity of materials and lack of interest by shipowners. In 1942, forty-five ships duly authorized by the CRPB, and full-fledged members of the GANPB, set out for the Grand Banks and Greenland (Manso and Cruz 1984).

Despite the dangers involved in sea travel during the Second World War, Portugal continued sending ships to the northwest Atlantic; but they now travelled in convoy, strictly observing blackouts and radio silence. Sailing ships of different hull speed and motor capacity, trawlers, and the hospital supply ship Gil Eannes all crossed in silence. The term "White Fleet" was coined during World War II by the convoy skippers. Portugal, who remained neutral during the conflict, had a pact with Germany not to attack its fishing fleet. It was agreed that all the hulls would be painted white with the ship´s name in huge letters amid-ships, plus the flag. Prior to the war, our fleet (Parceria Geral de Pescarias, I mean) had oxblood hulls. They continued to be painted white after the war, however" (Frantz 1989).

During the war the Estado Novo very deliberately began to define and celebrate the role of the brave and God-fearing Portuguese doryman labouring on the Banks for the good of the Portuguese people (Pátria) and for his own family (Família). The first concrete example of this type of propaganda was the book written by the Portuguese journalist and photographer Jorge Simões (1942). The Grémio invited him to accompany the fleet on its 1941 campaign aboard the Groenlândia and the Gil Eannes. Through photographs and exciting accounts of storms, a fire aboard, encounters with Inuit, a meeting with Pinto Hans, a collision, and many more adventures, Os grandes trabalhadores do Mar (1942) gives the campanha the visibility and respect that it needed to become an acceptable part of the Estado Novo´s social and economic policies.

Codfishing on the Grand Banks continued to prosper after the war, and Salazar, through politics and propaganda, controlled Portuguese society both at home and on the Banks. His Estado Novo was clearly a dictatorial form of government; being a contemporary of Hitler, Mussolini, and Franco, he used similar authoritarian and undemocratic policies. The life of the doryman both at home and on the Banks had been characterized by misery, poverty, and repression, as had been the life of many Europeans and Americans during the Great Depression and the two world wars. Patriotism, religiosity, and family all intertwined as Portuguese society became more and more centred on the state, the church and the family (Deus, Pátria, Família) (Doel 1992).

The Golden Age and the Gil Eannes

Given Newfoundland´s new status as a Canadian province in 1949, the 1950s marked the beginnings of restrictive Canadian policies and resource protection in territorial waters. By the early 1950s the International Comission of Northwest Atlantic Fisheries (ICNAF) was established, and the cod-abundant waters bordering Newfoundland (Canada) and Greenland (Denmark) were to be studied and evaluated with an eye towards resource protection. Concomitantly, national territorial rights to the sea were extended from three miles to twelve, and later to two hundred. At the same time, however, technological innovation with the requisite capital inputs significantly increased the exploitative capacity of the fishery of most nations. Of particular note was the introduction of dragger fishing.

The 1950s also marked the move of the Portuguese codfishing fleet into international visibility and fame through Alan Villiers´ (1951) book, In Quest of the Schooner Argus, followed by prominent articles in National Geographic. Villiers, a celebrated writer and a respected man of the sea, had been invited by the Portuguese ambassador in Washington to sail to Newfoundland and Greenland aboard one of the bacalhoeiros. This he did in 1950, aboard the beautiful and modern Argus, owned and managed by Portugal´s oldest codfishing company, the Parceria Geral de Pescarias. His book took the story of the Portuguese White Fleet to the English-speaking world with a highly romanticized vision of the life of the humble, hard-working, God-fearing Portuguese fisherman. Meanwhile, through the visual and written propaganda of state and church ceremonies, newspaper articles, and the indespensable magazine Jornal do Pescador, the dictatorship at home continued to define and celebrate the role of the Portuguese codfisherman for himself and the rest of Portugal.

As Canada began to exert its territorial claims to the waters around the Grand Banks, Portugal, at home and abroad, continued to emphasize both the importance of her codfishing fleet on the Grand Banks and its traditional fishing rights in these waters. Without a doubt, it intended the launching of the new hospital supply ship Gil Eannes in 1955 to enhance and ensure its place in the Grand Banks fisheries. The editorial "Welcome to the Portuguese" in the Evening Telegraph (St. John´s) remarked that "this year also marks the fifth century of the discovery of the Grand Banks by the Portuguese and the fourth century of their participation in the fisheries there." [5] The new ship, whose medical services were rendered free to all fishermen on the Banks, was a majestic symbol of Portugal´s past, present, and future presence in these cod-rich waters. It was fitting that the new Gil Eannes graced the period 1950-1965 - Portugal´s Golden Age in the Grand Banks fisheries.

Of all the vessels on the Banks and in Canadian ports, the Gil Eannes best symbolized Portuguese pride, having been built in Viana do Castelo with domestic materials by native shipwrights and craftsmen. The glistening-white, new ship of state embodied the Estado Novo´s principles regarding state, church, and family, and her name evoked Portugal´s glorious days of exploration and discovery - the days of Gil Eannes rounding Cape Bojador in 1434. The vessel was a symbol of state control over the reorganized long-distance fisheries. This 323-ft, 4,854-ton, state-of-the-art, steel hulled vessel watched over some four thousand to five thousand fishermen from the coastal villages of Portugal and the Azores, who were launched from some sixty to seventy vessels to fish in their one-man dories under the watchful eyes of their captains and officers. Although the ships were privately owned, all were united under the Grémio.

The Gil Eannes was designed for multiple functions. In addition to being a sea-going hospital ship, she carried supplies for the fleet: food, water, fuel, bait, and spare parts for repairs. She was also the fleet´s communication and control centre, with elaborate and powerful external and internal communication systems, and she carried an information-gathering bio-hydrographic laboratory. In addition, the ship housed a small chapel on the aft deck. The commander´s quarters were the official space for meetings between the commander, representatives of Portugal, ships captains, and dignataries of other nations in ports of call. Wherever she went, the Gil Eannes was the symbol of the Estado Novo ideology, reinforcing Portugal´s traditional presence in North Atlantic waters, assisting its handlining fleet, and solidifying relations with Canada.

Moreover, while the captain of each ship worked for the owner of that vessel and had great latitude in the determination of where and when to fish on the Banks, how to treat or discipline his crew, and how to respond to emergencies related to the well-being of the ship and crew, he was always subject to the authority of the commander of the Gil Eannes. The commander was Portugal´s official representative in the North Atlantic - a figure to be respected and feared - a symbol in uniform of the Estado Novo.

When the new Gil Eannes came through the Narrows and entered the harbour of St. John´s in May of 1955, Newfoundland was ready to greet her. One reporter described her arrival as "probably the most colourful and historic sight that St. John´s had ever seen". [6] On both sides of the Atlantic, every detail of pageantry and ceremony had been minutely planned to showcase the Portuguese fisheries on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. On 27 May, four thousand Portuguese fishermen, clad in their colourful checkered shirts, walked fifteen to twenty abreast up the hilly streets of St. John´s to the Basilica of St. John the Baptist, bearing their three-and-one-half-foot-high statue of Our Lady of Fátima, their gift of gratitude and friendship. Our Lady was to be a holy link between the two peoples, and, even today, worshippers pray before her in the specially prepared alcove to the left of the main altar. The six thousand men and women who filled the cathedral, along with those who lined the streets, were part of "one of the most colourful, inspiring, and solemn events ever to take place in St. John´s." [7]

State Icons on the Gil Eannes

Given constraints of time and distance related to management of the long-distance fisheries, it was difficult for the Estado Novo to maintain total control over the men of the Portuguese fleet. Fishing vessels moved from one fishing area to another and had frequent contacts with people from other nations in Canadian ports, where fishermen and captains alike experienced a less rigid, more democratic way of life - a challenge to Estado Novo systems of control.

In order to solidify unwavering commitment to Deus, Pátria e Família, the new Gil Eannes incorporated symbols of these concepts into her decorative motifs. The state comissioned the Azorean artist Domingos Rebelo to paint two murals for the ship: one to grace a long wall of the commander´s quarters, the other to enhance the altar of the little chapel on the aft deck. In accordance with the Estado Novo´s use of moral symbols that justify institutional arrangements of its political system, "skill groups (such as artists)... define and promulgate official images of the world and what is happening in it, official ´definitions of the situation´" (Gerth and Mills 1953: 212-13).

The commander´s quarters displayed Rebelo´s colourful mural. Within the narrative frame of a state-sponsored mural, the artist visually reconstructs the epic story of the life of the Portuguese doryman so as to supress other versions of that life, which was widely known as one of hard work, sacrifice, deprivation, and physical and psychological abuse (see Figure 3.1). Most viewers probably did not analyse structure, style, or content but merely reacted to symbols that they had internalized. Domingos Rebelo, however, guides the viewer/reader through the three narrative scenes surrounding the fisherman. For example, if we start with the fisherman in the foreground, we meet his gaze straight on. We become anchored to the mural with the oar that he holds with both hands. Then the circular motion of his arms lifts our eyes to the top of the oar and then directs our view to the left, letting us see family life at home in Portugal. The right-hand corner of the crib at bottom left redirects our eyes over the head of the boy and his teacher to the iceberg in the background behind the fisherman. We look from left to right and then return, directed by the oar to the other scene at home, where all fishermen, active or aged, are cared for. Through the integration on canvas of different artistic spaces and geographical places, the artist presents the life, idealized through memory images, of a typical Portuguese dory fisherman on the Grand Banks.

As we consider the images, we must ask who is this stalwart, emotionless man dressed in the typical plaid flannel shirt who meets our gaze head on? The message is clear. He is an anonymous fisherman - the stereotype of the good, humble, obedient, stable fisherman. He is father and husband. He is all the fishermen on whom rest the responsibility for the well-being of Pátria e Família. He is the faithful Zé Pescador, the central figure in a national mission.

The paternalistic role played by the Estado Novo in the life of the fisherman´s family during his six-to-seven-month absence each year is seen to the left, where we see buildings representing health, education, and welfare programs administered by the Estado Novo, through the Junta Central de Casas de Pescadores. Prominent in the foreground is the son - the future fisherman - receiving instruction at the school of fishing and navigation. With his teacher, he is studying a model of a sailing vessel. Behind the boy is a young girl learning to sew so as to fulfil her future role in the Estado novo as mother and homemaker. Motherhood and family clearly dominate this scene, with one expectant mother holding her baby, and yet another infant resting in a crib. The Estado novo took great pride in its programs promoting nutrition, good hygiene, and health services, as symbolized by the large, official two-storey building. Other social programs included day-care centres and construction of new homes for the fisherman and his family, as seen in the background.

The scene to our right again shows the protective arm of the Estado Novo as it cares for the active fisherman when he is at home or for the aged fishermen. The Estado Novo, under the iron hand of Commander Henrique Tenreiro, government representative to the Grémio, oversaw many programs that provided care and services: transportation (the Volkswagen), equipment (foul-weather gear, line), health care (the operating table), and homes for the aged (the scene on the far right).

The scene in the background at the horizon shows three evocative memory images of the Grand Banks cod fisheries: the extremely large iceberg in the centre, the large fog bank approaching to the left, and the famous and beloved Gazela (now owned by the city of Philadelphia) to the right. All icons are white. The artist does not narrate anything about this scene in detail. It is precisely the hardships that underlie these icons that are absent from this mural - the realities of life on the Banks.

In considering this mural as grand symbolism for the place of the humble fisherman in the Nation, we must ask one remaining question. Who saw this mural hanging in the saloon of the commander´s quarters? Fishermen certainly did not enter this space, but officials of state, visiting dignitaries, and captains of the fishing vessels were entertained here or held meetings here. As we have seen above, through the examples of the Gil Eannes and the commander of the fleet - whose offficial title was Representative of the Ministry of the Navy and Chief Officer of Assistance and Supply Services to the Portuguese Cod Fleet - management of symbols within the authoritarian system of the Estado Novo was essential in defining and reinforcing its ideology. Visiting foreign dignitaries would probably bring with them their own internalized symbols, which would be counter-symbols to the authoritarian regime. Also, and of utmost importance, Portuguese captains, most of whom were well educated and spoke English, would be exposed in their travels and personal and professional contacts in Canadian ports to counter-symbols of a more democratic political and social system. So those who might be tempted to consider other systems of state as more viable were controlled through visual imagery in the commander´s quarters of the ship of state. The symbols used in this mural also served to evoke Portuguese pride in the doryman and the campanhas.

As if to corroborate the role of Gil Eannes as the icon of Portuguese nationalism and Rebelo´s mural as the icon of family and social systems, yet another icon of Estado Novo ideology aboard the Gil Eannes represented the presence of Deus (omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent) in the form of a chapel on the aft deck (see Figure 3.2). With the chapel doors opened wide, the viewer sees that this small place of worship contained another mural by Rebelo that effectively portrayed the central role of religion (Deus) in the relationship between bacalhau, the dorymen at work on the Banks, and the family at home in Portugal - all united through the mother of God.

The Virgin, arms extended to accept all those paying homage to her, is the focal point of the triangular arrangement of the space. To the viewer´s left, two dorymen pay their respects to God through the Virgin. One is dressed in the typical flannel shirt, heavy pants, and rubber boots and carries foul-weather gear as he moves towrds the Virgin. The other man, dressed in warm sweater and working apron, kneels as he prays with hands in symbolic gesture and eyes closed. At the feet of the standing fisherman is a representation of an enormous cod - his reason for being on the Banks and away from family and home. To the viewer´s right, mother and child (wife and son) in Portugal pray to the Virgin for the well-being and safe return of husband and father. A satchel on the ground, perhaps containing her handiwork or their few items of clothing, complements the bacalhau. The colours worn by mother and son are sombre, suggesting a mood of mourning, while those worn by the men on the Banks suggest warmth and protection against the elements. The colours surrounding the Virgin - blues and white - separate her from the four worldly figures.

In this state artwork of the Estado Novo era, we have seen that the idealized myths surrounding Portugal´s postwar cod-fishing industry were based on three basic symbols. First, the Gil Eannes was representative of Pátria in the modern world, with its advanced technology and social welfare being a source of nationalistic pride. Second, Rebelo´s mural symbolized the interrelationship between the Portuguese codfishing industry and Família, the foundation on which the welfare system rested. Finally, the chapel with its other Rebelo mural symbolized the presence of Deus - long the unifying icon of Portuguese overseas expansion.

However, between the myth of the Estado Novo as it idealized the doryman and the reality of life on the Banks there lay a vast chasm. Within the collective memory of the Portuguese doryman, there still remained memories of earlier periods of virtual slavery; such as those described by Alan Villiers through a conversation he had with his shipmate Pierre Berthoud in 1929, when their ship crossed the outward-bound course of a small fleet of Portuguese schooners headed for the Banks: "´A though life, you say?´ the Frenchman looked fiercely at us. ´A dog´s life, that´s what it is! My God there is no harder life upon the sea! All fishing is tough, but that´s the toughest, hardest way to make a living I know. Those fellows will be lucky to be back home six months from now. Aye, and some of ´em won´t be coming. I warn you, shipmates, things are tough all over Europe now, but don´t ever ship in one of them! Those Portuguese use one-man dories. Keep out of them!´" (Villiers 1951: 17).

Decline and Restoration

In 1972, the Novos Mares, the last handling sailing vessel, left the Banks, never to return. The age of the one-man dory had finally ended, and it was clear that the Gil Eannes was no longer needed. With the 25th of April revolution of 1974 and the collapse of the Estado Novo, the already floundering fisheries suffered further blows, from which they never recovered.

Finally, in 1986, following the lead of its European neighbours, Portugal joined the European Community (EC). Until that time, Portugal had dealt directly with Canada in setting bilateral agreements establishing its fishing quotas and access to certain areas. Now, as a member of the EC, it was part of Europe and could deal with Canada only through the bureaucratic channels of Brussels. Portugal continued to fish on the limited basis allowed her by European quotas, but the Canadian governent banned its ships from Canadian ports, accusing them of overfishing and violating their quota allocations. Times had changed, and, with them, the very special relationship shared by the people of Newfoundland and their friends of the Portuguese cod fleet came to an end.

Knowing that codfishing, as a viable economic endeavour and as a way of life, will never return to the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, both Portugal and Newfoundland are moving towards different goals, each guided by new political, economic, and social systems. That these systems colour the manner in which the two peoples perceive their common past, linked by cod, is evident in the way in which each chooses to incorporate its past into its present and future collective memory.

While the fancy façades of brick and glass in downtown St. John´s appear to turn their backs on the inactive port beneath them, Canadian officials carefully monitor and study the depleted resources of the Grand Banks and surrounding waters. Resource protection and the assurance of a national sustainable fishery are their prime concern. For most of the inhabitants of St. John´s, the seasonal presence of Portugal´s codfishing fleet is but a remote memory, and they, like the bronze statue of Gaspar Corte Real that graces their city, turn their backs on the port as they look in other directions for development and well-being. The little Lady of Fátima, a beloved icon, still graces the basilica, where she continues to receive the prayers of worshippers, some of whom know her story, others who do not. The small Portuguese immigrant community is well integrated into the city, since its children have grown up there as Canadians, and old customs have given way to new.

On the other side of the Atlantic, however, the age of cod is being carefully recorded and celebrated for future generations, as the famous captains of Ílhavo and their families work side by side with government and museum officials to document and thus preserve their rightful place in Portugal´s centuries-old seafaring heritage. The famous Rebelo murals, used by Salazar´s state to reinforce tha values of Deus, Pátria, and Família, were removed from the Gil Eannes in the early 1980s and now serve as icons for a new generation, constituting, as it were, new cultural texts that evoke responses from the people who will share the collective memory without having experienced it. The chapel on the aft deck of the Gil Eannes was completely removed and is now a part of the permanent codfisheries exhibit at the Museu da Marinha in Belém, just outside Lisbon. It is fitting that the mural be housed close to the banks of the Tagus River, the point of departure not only for the ships that sailed to Newfoundland in search of cod but also a major point of departure for all Portuguese seafaring endeavours.

The mural that once adorned the commander´s private quarters is now a permanent part of the museum in Ílhavo, a place that was home to many captains of cod and to many of the fishermen who rowed and sailed the dories in search of cod. The museum not only houses most of the archival material related to the codfisheries but also offers a hands-on experience of cod-fishing on the Banks through life-sized replicas of fishermen and crew engaged in many typical activities, now part of Portugal´s collective memory.

Although Rebelo´s murals were removed from the Gil Eannes in the mid-1980s, the ship lay for some thirteen years alongside a quay in Lisbon, virtually abandoned and neglected as she deteriorated into a forgotten and disdained past. Plans to renovate her as a restaurant or a cruise ship never materialized. Fortunately, other plans to sell her for scrap never materialized either. Recent news, however, brings positive reports that - through the efforts of many individuals and groups - this once-proud ship of state will return to the shipyards of Viana do Castelo, where she was built and launched, to be renovated. Berthed in Viana, the hospital supply ship that served not only Portuguese fishermen but also those of other nations will once again enter service, this time as a museum (O Ilhavense 1997). With new purpose, Gil Eannes, like the icons in Rebelo´s murals, will return to her former glory and become part of the collective memory of past, present, and future generations.


[1] Moutinho (1985) suggests various words such as "biguane" (a big one); "levas" (livers); "picfoque" (pickfork); "suivelo" (swivel); "troteiro" (throater).

[2] This firm, having modified and modernized its operations, has headquarters on Rua do Ouro in central Lisbon. It maintains a limited number of codfishing vessels, which use St. Pierre as their port of call.

[3] An account of these problems is found in "The Life of Those Who Go Fishing for Cod", by doryman Marcelino Pires (1932).

[4] An interesting account of this voyage, based on an original log-book entry, was written by Cachim and appears as a chapter in his book Os Ilhavos, o Mar e a Ria (1988), 65-71. This account was translated into English by Priscilla Doel and appears in a yearbook issue of National Fisherman 76, no. 12 (1996), 56-9.

[5] Evening Telegram, St. John´s, 26 May 1955, 4.

[6] Newfoundland´s National Weekly, St. John´s, 31 May 1955.

[7] Evening Telegram, 28 May 1955, 4.


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