The dories, a kind of boat, are important historical artefacts as they represent a particular period of Portuguese history. The dory is also a symbol of the memory of the cod fishing campaigns of Estado Novo.
The dories were small wooden flat-bottomed boats, narrow and fast, and they were used by fishermen to fish cod in the Northwest Atlantic. They were painted in oxblood red or yellow and green, and they measured between 5 and 5.30 meters in length.
Inside the boat, you could find small removable benches which allowed to stack the dories on the deck of the main vessel. All the remaining oars and masts were placed on the last dory, on the top of the stack.
The main vessel, depending on the type and size, could carry between 20 and 80 dories. At the beginning of each trip, the dories were numbered and decorated. There were no dories with the numbers 11 and 13, as they believed to have negative connotations.
The fisherman equipped the dory with all that was needed for catching the cod: fishing lines, baits, knives, lunch-box, and the water barrel.
The fishermen woke up every day at 4 or 5 am. After breakfast, they were lowered from the main vessel to the sea in their dories. With the help of a pair of oars and sail, they kept fishing for most of the day. With fine weather and with an abundance of cod, the working day of a fisherman could be as long as 20 hours.
To find an abundance of fish, the fishermen had to row at least hundreds of meters from the mothership. They used baits and the trolley fishing method, a longline comprising of hundreds of baited hooks. If they didn’t have baits, they used fished-shaped lead lures that shone on the sea bed to attract the cod. After long hours, they returned to the mothership, hopefully with the boat fully loaded.
This type of fishing could be extremely hazardous due to the fog, the storms and the icebergs. These were some of the reasons as well as the endurance and the courage of fishermen, that made the longline cod fishing almost a myth.