In 2002, ProMare and CNANS surveyed the seafloor near Cascais, Portugal, discovering the shipwreck of the Clipper Ship Thermopylae. Built in 1868 with wooden planking and iron frames, Thermopylae excelled in speed, especially in the tea and wool trades to Australia. It competed with Cutty Sark, but their race ended when Cutty Sark lost its rudder in 1872. Thermopylae continued wool voyages until 1890, then sold to Canadian owners. Eventually named Pedro Nunes in the Portuguese Navy, it became a coal hulk and sank in 1907. The discovery holds historical significance, shedding light on the renowned tea clipper’s later years.


In 2002, ProMare and CNANS (Centro Nacional de Arqueologia Náutica E Subaquática) conducted an underwater archaeological survey near Ericeira, Portugal, focusing on documented ship losses and scattered artifacts. Historical accounts, like João Mascarenhas’ tale of the Nossa Senhora de Conceição’s voyage and attack by North African pirates in 1621, guided the search. Our survey, unfortunately, did not locate these sites. However, following the historical accounts, while assessing navigation parameters in this area based on the estimated capabilities of seventeenth century ships, was a valuable practice. Our survey benefited us in terms of understanding the routes followed by the Portuguese Indiamen in this era, and acquiring experience in working in the difficult conditions of the North Atlantic.