The Arade 1 and Arade 2 Shipwrecks

In the present report we intend to focus on the Arade 1, Arade 2, and Arade 6 shipwrecks.  It looks like the Arade 2 shipwreck of 1970 actually corresponds to two different shipwreck sites.  As already mentioned above, during the dredging works of 1970 five hulls are said to have been partially destroyed.  Two groups of sport divers visited two different shipwrecks each during in October 1970, and it has been assumed that these are the same two sites. 

However, it seems that there were at least six shipwreck sites, and that the first group of divers - from the Centro Português de Actividades Subaquáticas (CPAS) - visited indeed the sites of shipwrecks Arade 1 and Arade 2.  The second group of divers, however, - from the Federação Portuguesa de Actividades Subaquáticas (FPAS) - seems to have visited the sites of shipwrecks Arade 1 and Arade 6.

According to the testimonies of Mrs. Margarida Farrajota and Mr. Helder Mendes - who in 1970 were part of the first and the second group of divers respectively[1] - the director of the harbor authority ordered the dredging works to stop upon learning from the captain of the dredge Mark that he had hit two shipwreck sites.  Still according to these witnesses, the port authority director called Mr. Jose Farrajota, the local delegate of Junta Nacional de Educação, which was the organism in charge of antiquities in Portugal at the time.

An archaeologist and member of CPAS, Mr. Jose Farrajota visited the site on October 10 and 11 1970 with a team which included his daughter, Margarida Farrajota, Rui de Moura, Fernando Pina, and Jorge Albuquerque - then president of CPAS.  Mr. Helder Mendes, a national television director and member of the second diving group of divers - FPAS - was invited to join this team on the first day.

Mr. Farrajota's team inspected the Arade 1 shipwreck site but could not see the Arade 2 site, for it had been covered with sediments during a recent storm.

Later that week a team from FPAS also carried out a series of independent dives on the Arade 1 site, and found what we now believe to be a sixth shipwreck: Arade 6.

These diving expeditions produced a series of pictures, sketches, and measurements that have been extremely useful thirty years later.  On the CPAS expedition Jorge Albuquerque and Fernando Pina took pictures and measurements and produced two good sketches of the Arade 1 vessel.  We have six pictures from Jorge Albuquerque, and thirteen from Fernando Pina.[2]  Mr. Jose Farrajota wrote a report, and his daughter took extensive notes.  On the FPAS expedition, which included Helder Mendes, Ricardo Costa also took pictures - two roles of film, of which we have twelve pictures.[3]

Two years later, Mr. Helder Mendes produced a documentary for national television which was aired on July 4 1972 under the title The Mysterious Ships of the Arade River.[4]

During the investigations carried out by Dr. Francisco Alves, which included the analysis of an extensive file existing in CNANS' archives, and interviewing Mr. Helder Mendes it became clear that the Arade 1 shipwreck site was the same for both groups of divers.  However, for the FPAS' group the Arade 2 shipwreck was a lapstrake built ship presumably located upstream and near the Arade 1 site.  For the CPAS group the Arade 2 site was located downstream, near the left jetty, and it was never actually visited since it had been already covered by sediments by October 10 1970, when it was inspected.

There are therefore no doubts that the Arade 1 was a flush laid hull, corresponding to the "position 1" on Fig. 19.  As to the Arade 2 shipwreck, Mr. Farrajota marked it clearly near the jetty, in an almost symmetrical position relatively to Arade 1 on the basin dredged.  Mr. Helder Mendes, however, is under the impression that it was located upstream from the Arade 1 site, possibly near the position marked on Fig. 20 as site "C".  And he is sure that it was lapstrake built.

A third witness, Mr. Luis Sacramento, a local diver and an old time friend of Dr. Alves, claims that Mr. Albuquerque's Arade 2 site had several guns, one of which - in bronze - was last seen on the deck of one of the dredges.[5]


Fig. 22 -  The CPAS shipwrecks. [6]


Fig. 23 -  A1, B1, B2, and C areas. [7]


In spite of the sketches made at the time, and the pictures taken, thirty years later it was very difficult to make full sense of them.

In the summer of 2001 a joint survey carried on by CNANS and the GEO group, with the help of Mr. Helder Mendes, lead to the discovery of several ship remains near the Arade 1 shipwreck area marked on CPAS report of 1970 (Fig. 20).  The areas defined on this survey were designated as A1, B1, B2, and C, and several trenches were opened around them during the 2001 field season.  Area A1 yielded the remains of a ship's hull, and its excavation started immediately under the direction of Dr. Francisco Alves, carried out by a joint CNANS / GEO team.  On area B2 a frame from a lapstrake hull was found (Fig. 22) together with some lapstrake planking.

We know now that the A1 vessel is the Arade 1 shipwreck, but so far failed to find the Arade 6, lapstrake-built, shipwreck.


Fig. 24 -  Frame found on B2 area. [8]


[1] Already an old admirer of both Margarida Farrajota, and Helder Mendes, I am greatly indebted to them for their patience and willingness to search into their memories for the details of this old story.

[2] I must thank again Margarida Farrajota, presently president of C.P.A.S., for all the data supplied.

[3] In CNANS's archive, thanks to Helder Mendes and Alberto Machado.

[4] Radio Televisao Portuguesa, "Os misteriosos barcos do rio Arade," by Helder Mendes.

[5] Mr. Luis Sacramento personal communication.

[6] CNANS archives.

[7] CNANS archive.

[8] Photo: Francisco Alves (CNANS archive).