Very little information reached our days concerning the Ílhava - some references of authors such as Baldaque da Silva or Castello Branco, few pictures and photographs - even though they allow to trace the profile of this boat. Coming from the coastal region of Aveiro, the Ílhava was used in the lagoon and in the sea, gathering and transportation of seaweeds and fishing, respectively. During the migratory movements of the people of Ílhavo in the 18th and 19th centuries - the Diaspora of the Ílhavos - this boat was used for traveling along the coast during autumn and winter, in search of better working conditions and calmer waters. This boat was used in the sardine and shad fishery in the area between Cabo da Roca and Cabo Espichel, in the waters of the river Tejo and near Cascais.
Mainly using the cast net, gear made up with a single piece of net, consisting of bag and sleeves, used like the seines. According to this technique, two boats were necessary to work in pairs. Each boat had its role, one carryed the gear and the other carried the fish, working together for the capture.
The Ílhava has similar characteristics to other boats such as the shad fishing boat, though smaller, and the moliceiro, pointed as its descendant by some authors. With flat bottom, bow and stern with curved beak and forecastle and mast at the center. The black colour is due to the tar pitch that coats the hull, contrasting with the white latin sail. It carried about 15 or 16 men, 12 of which were divided by two large oars used for propulsion.
Although no specimen had reached our days, it is now possible to admire the Ílhava in the Aveiro lagoon gallery of this Museum. It was built by Mestre Esteves and offered by the Association of Friends of the Maritime Museum of Ílhavo.