Netflix’s Turn of the Tide: Is the Series Based on a Real Incident?


Netflix’s Portuguese crime drama series, ‘Turn of the Tide,’ follows a bizarre story set on a small island. Nothing good ever happens in Rabo de Peixe, and Eduardo is done with his stroke of bad luck. Despite being a great student, he had to drop out of school to work with his father on the boat. His lack of graduation has become a hurdle to his emigrating to America. His father’s health is also deteriorating, which makes Eduardo more desperate for money.

When it looks like he will never escape poverty, a boatload of cocaine washes up at the island’s shore. This allows him to make more money than he’d ever imagined. Created by Augusto Fraga, the series paints a compelling picture of the struggles of young people wanting to escape their bleak lives. If you are wondering where the show’s true inspiration comes from, here’s all you need to know. SPOILERS AHEAD

Turn of the Tide: Inspired by Real Events on Rabo de Peixe


‘Turn of the Tide’ is inspired by a real event that took place in 2001 on Rabo de Peixe. An Italian drug dealer was carrying tons of cocaine on board his yacht, whose rudder was destroyed. Due to the massive storm, he decided to stop at the island to fix the rudder. He hid the cocaine in the grottos and coves where he thought no one would find it. He tied it all up with fishing nets and chains. However, the storm grew stronger, and the waves washed out the cocaine into the sea.

The stash was found by a local man who visited the cove for fishing and reported it to the cops. While around 290 kg of cocaine was found by the police, the total quantity was much more than that. Over time, the islanders found different amounts of cocaine, ranging from 158 kg to 15 kg. In the next couple of weeks, around 500 kilograms of cocaine was seized. All this was through people who reported their findings, but many kept the cocaine to themselves.

Reportedly, cocaine became so common on the island that people overdosed on it frequently. It was rumored that cocaine was being sold in beer glasses, that it was being used by people who misconstrued it as flour to cook food, and some were using it as sugar in their coffee. There is also the story of two fishermen who allegedly stole a considerable amount of cocaine before it was found by the cops and sold it so much that their car seats were white with powder.


The Netflix series incorporates all of these rumors and facts into the story of Eduardo and his friends. Fraga, who is from the Azores, wanted to make something that reflected the “fortune and fatality of the human condition” while also delivering something that an international audience could relate to. “I was especially attracted by the divine irony of making this happen in the Azores. In other words, it is the most corrupt world, of money and maximum luxury that will touch one of the purest places in the world,” he said.

Fraga wanted to explore the story from the point of view of young people whose lives were changed by these extraordinary events. He wanted the story to be about “dreams, destiny, and divine irony.” Despite the fictional nature of his characters, he wanted it to be as authentic a story as possible, so it was made sure that the filming took place in the Azores. “Not only because the story, narratively, takes place there, but because there is a relationship between the island and this story… that is, the island is a character. There is an important natural drama for the characters and for us,” he said, talking about the challenges the crew faced during the filming.

While so much of the drama in the series is set around drugs, Fraga doesn’t consider ‘Turn of the Tide’ a drug trafficking story. “It is a story that I felt the need to tell – it is the other story of “Rabo de Peixe” that you will see when they see the series –, which is the story of the need to go out in order to get to know each other,” he explained. Calling it a universal story, he added: “It’s a much more universal story of a group of friends who have an accident, but it’s about them, it’s about being an island, it’s about living on an island, the desire to leave, to go somewhere else, to feel trapped.” Considering all this, it is clear that a real-life event has inspired the show, but the characters and their story are not based on real people. ‘Turn of the Tide’ is the retelling of a real incident but told from a fictional lens.

Read More: Where is Netflix’s Turn of the Tide Filmed?