Only the magpies can get close

On Monday I was disappointed to discover that the anchors at Praia do Barril are now enclosed by barrier. I had hoped to get a little bit closer to count them, as I have read there are 248 in this ‘Cemitério das Âncoras’. Seems an incredible number hence my desire to count them myself! However it was not to be.

The anchors were a vital tool in the Algarve’s tuna fishing industry. An industry which was thriving here on the Algarvian coast for much of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It collapsed in the mid 20th century when the tuna changed their migratory route. Whilst the anchors may look abandoned they have, apparently, been left here deliberately as a reminder of the tuna fishing and of the generations of Portuguese who worked here. Tuna anchorA wonderful idea but unfortunately this ‘Cemitério das Âncoras’ isn’t accompanied by any information signs or exhibits. Consequently most visitors don’t really understand what they are looking at. The anchors were not as you might expect used to moor boats nor were they used to dry nets. They were part of a complex fishing frame the fishermen used to capture the tuna. If you are interested in learning more click here for an earlier post of mine on Barril. It includes a superb video of the fishermen preparing the fishing frame and then capturing the tuna.

Other reminders of Barril’s industrial past include the narrow gauge railway and the buildings which would have been home to the fishermen and their families during the tuna season. Both are still in use albeit for tourists these days. And again there is little, if anything, to explain the history of Barril but I am hopeful that one day this might change as a student and a local charity Lais de Guia – Associação Cultural do Património Marítimo would like to rectify this.

The enclosed ‘Cemitério das Âncoras’ was not the only unexpected change at Barril, there are also enormous sandworks. Fortunately however this is a temporary change, well sort of as the works to protect the dunes are scheduled to take 2 years! On our visit the works were taking up a huge stretch of beach immediately in front of the cemetery. Off putting I am sure for some, however we don’t mind walking and so it wasn’t long before we had got away from it all.

Author: BeckyB

It's a good life walking, cooking, photographing, volunteering, reading, blogging, and best of all spending time with family, friends but unfortunately no longer the cat.

28 thoughts

  1. Intriguing idea to have a cemetery for anchors. I would like to walk among them too, perhaps they were being stolen and that’s why they’ve put barriers?
    dropping by from 6WS

    1. Think be very very difficult to steal as they are very heavy, and somewhat embedded in the sand now. I am sure it is just to keep tourists out as in summer this beach is incredibly popular. Just wish they’d let us winter walkers closer!!

  2. I rather like the idea of a Graveyard of Anchors and that they are left to the elements, though an information plaque would be very good. Maybe they have been fenced off whilst the work is carried out so no-one gets in the way? I have seen these on Jo’s blog too. A must visit for any photographer!

    1. They are impossible to ignore, cameras just demand to photograph them!!

      And yes I half wondered if that might be the reason as they are very close to the sandworkings. Am sure Jo will enlighten me when she pops across to Barril, almost walk-able from hers to here.

    1. One report suggests they have been put up to protect the anchors, but not totally convinced by this as am sure the elements do more damage than the odd human who enters the cemetery. However not been here in summer so maybe they are needed to keep humans out.

  3. Those anchors are great – fits in with my current theme of how and what we memorialise, and it doesn’t have to be done by traditional statues.

    1. Oh that’s so true……statues have a habit of disappearing into the background plus of course they are nearly always masculine. I just wish there was info here so people know why they are here.

  4. Thanks for the timely warning, Becky. It’s usually one of the first places we head. I know what you mean about the site but I do rather like that it’s left to God and provenance. There’s scope for a small museum there, but the one at the Albacora is so unfrequented. Maybe a change of venue? 🙂 🙂

    1. Oh I’m so glad you’ve seen this before you fly. Was a bit of a surprise when we got to the beach!

      You’re not the only one to say that about the erosion. I’m still undecided but really like the idea of moving the Albacora museum. 😀

      Have a good flight xx

    1. Thank you so much Ron. 😊 Just so annoyed I didn’t do more on a previous visit when you could wander more freely!

  5. The anchors are a lovely way to remember the fishing industry. I agree with you, though. It would be nice to see some information so visitors could pay their respects to the fishermen and their families.

    1. It seems such a shame to have hauled them all into lines and then to have done nothing more. They are also eroding badly. Fingers crossed the student who is campaigning is successful.

      1. I don’t mind the erosion – it works as an additional comment on the situation. But some information for visitors would be appropriate. Great photos (and that is not just “btw”).

        1. Oh thank you so very much. And yes that’s a very good point about the erosion, as long as however they don’t disappear!

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