NEPTUNE BOAT TOURS - BRIEF HISTORY
The Neptune company started its activity in 2015, initially dedicating itself to very varied activities. Only in recent years has the company dedicated itself more extensively to maritime-tourism (MT) tours.
On 22 February 2022, the company became owned by new partners who saw in the MT activity potential to be explored based on the following assumptions:
– the new partners are residents of the city of Olhão with knowledge of the realities of the Ria
of the Ria Formosa;
– the search for professional stability on the part of the direct family members of the new partners; and
linked to the knowledge of the Ria and the love for the sea and the navigation arts;
– the company owns traditional boats – bateiras – with a history linked to tradition and labour at sea as explained below;
This new phase in the life of this company, in this context, is just beginning.
Wider projects, of growth and innovation are being realised.
Vova and Casquinha are the 2 bateiras owned by the company. Typical in construction – made entirely of wood – they can each carry 12 passengers plus the skipper. They weigh about 2 tonnes each and still sail perfectly in shallow waters. They are very safe boats and with a full capacity, 30 cm of water depth is enough to sail without constraints.
The bateiras, being typical boats of the fishing labour in Olhão, had their origin in the fishing areas of Aveiro. Throughout the history of the formation of today’s city of Olhão there was a very important migratory phenomenon that is at the origin of many of the traditions of this village that became a city in the 80s.
This migratory phenomenon consisted of the southward displacement of the inhabitants of the region of Aveiro, a region of the Portuguese west coast south of the great Porto – from fishing areas such as Ílhavo, Murtosa, Gafanhas – more specifically of people linked to the labour of the sea and its Ria. The Ria de Aveiro is, along with the Ria Formosa, one of the most important coastal lagoon areas in Portugal and with similar characteristics.
No wonder, then, that ancient and persistent phenomenon of migration along the coast from north to south, seeking the calmer waters of the south that would provide people from those regions further north with better living conditions in the south where they came to settle.
In this southward movement, in most cases, they travelled using traditional means, later bringing their paddle boats to work at sea. In some cases, however, the fishermen and their families travelled in their own boats. Because they were not powered by sails and because along the Portuguese west coast they were often confronted with natural phenomena related to the roughness of the sailing conditions for such long distances, the bateiras were moved by oars when the weather conditions allowed it or towed from the land side with cables when the geographical conditions of the coast were accessible to this form of locomotion for these vessels.
Throughout this migratory movement, fishermen fished and sold wherever they went. Many settled in fishing areas along the way, forming fishermen’s settlements. There are examples of this along the west coast of Portugal. There are even such fishing communities on the River Tagus north of Santarém, near Lisbon.
Olhão, along with Setúbal, was one of the noble destination areas for these populations. Even today, many inhabitants of Olhão have strong family relationships with people from the area where these migrations originated and with the people of Setúbal. But the Ria Formosa was the ultimate destination of these people. The history of the growth of Olhão’s riverside area was moulded by this reality. The well-known markets of Olhão separate the old riverside part of the city into two important and well-known areas: Levante and Barreta.
THE "BATEIRAS", THE "LEVANTE" AND THE "BARRETA"
The Levante, the eastern riverside area of the city – where the Neptune boat stand and boarding area is currently located – east of the markets, was the fishing habitation area linked to net fishing (considered to be an area of wealthier people). The bateiras were initially – and were for a long time – the boat used for net fishing or fishing for the candeio. It was excellent for the transport of
goods (fish and others). Its structure allowed it to navigate in shallow waters even when loaded. This is why it was also used, from a certain point until recently, to transport sand for shellfish beds.
Initially, the bateiras had both a bow and a stern with a beak, a traditional and appropriate design for sailing and better manoeuvring in rough northern waters. They were powered by two large and extremely heavy oars (about 50kg each) to overcome the great inertia provided by both the size and weight of the boat. They were rowed by 2 men or just one.
As outboard motors appeared, brackets were installed on the side rail near the stern to fix these same motors.Modernly, the latest constructions of bateiras have obeyed a change in the design of the boat with the stern straight (without a spout) and already prepared for the installation of the motor.
In Barreta, the western riverside area of the city, west of the markets, fishing with hooks predominated. It was considered an area of less affluent people. There, caíques, sloops or motorboats and other types of sail-powered boats were used.
For Neptune, the Vova and Casquinha boats are a symbol of this reality and also represent one of the company’s trademarks – tradition.
Note beforehand: Armona means Armona Island. Culatra means Culatra Island.
Important notes for booking:
Tuesdays – Big Tour – Departure at 12.30pm
Saturdays – Medium Tour – Departure at 14h30m
During the other days of the week there are other regular departures that should be consulted at the Neptune stand.
In some cases, the departure time may be delayed by up to 30 minutes.
Depending on tides and other reasons, the order “Armona – Culatra” may be reversed to “Culatra – Armona”.
Babies do not pay. Children up to 12 years old have a discount of 10 € except on the Short Tour where this discount will not be made.