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Aiolas, from Sesimbra to Turkey

Aiolas, from Sesimbra to Turkey

Aiolas, from Sesimbra to Turkey

Sesimbra´s most unique and traditional boats are the "Aiolas", small boats painted in bright colors easily identified in the vast blue ocean that bathes Sesimbra.

With a 4 meters long pronounced arc and great stability the Aiolas have been used in the past as auxiliary boats to the typical "Canoas da Picada" or "Barca do Alto" to close the siege nets and take the fish for sale in Sesimbra`s beach.

The Aiolas were propelled by oars and sail, currently there´s only one example of an Aiola still with sail and mast.

A unique feature of the Aiolas is the cutout at the back to place a paddle for "Zingar", a paddle technique made with the wrist which in a circular motion propels the Aiola allowing the boat to be maneuvered in slow movements by a seated or standing fisherman.


Today, small outboard motors have replaced the canopy, while the oars continue to be used to control the drift while fishing for example cuttlefish, squid or with small hand lines with a hook. to fish for bass or sea bream.

At first light, earlier in the morning the Aiolas are equipped with small engines and descent on the ramps, where they spent the night for another day of fishing, which ends around noon, coinciding with an increase in the wind and a decrease in fish activity.

The “eye of Horus" drawn on the bow of many Aiolas and in the traditional boats used for "Arte Xávega" present on the north coast of Sesimbra is looking for good fishing routes and it´s the symbol of luck according to the Egyptian mythology.

Mainly found in the eastern Mediterranean this symbol of good fortune probably was brought on to the Portuguese coast through Phoenician and Greek trade with the Iberians between the 7th and the 5th century BC.


Next to a shipwreck of a Greek trireme at Bodrum´s underwater archeology Museum in Turkey, there is a small explanatory note about the painting of the eye of Horus on different types of Mediterranean ships from the ancient world and states that is still a tradition to paint on boats throughout the Mediterranean basin, from Bodrum in Asia Minor to the west coast of Portugal.

These boats are a part of the intangible heritage of Sesimbra and the annual Aiolas regatta where young people are tested on their skills paddling along Sesimbra bay a living proof of Sesimbra´s Mediterranean heritage.

Come see these boats at sea and their traditional fishing techniques!

Daily boat trips.

Useful information:

Aiolas Regatta:

The last Sunday of September, from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in Sesimbra Bay.

Xávega Art Fishing:

July and August at Baixo Beach Moinho, Meco.

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