• Alexandros Vrailas

Piraeus-Salamina Passenger Boats

As it was mentioned in the Piraeus Buildings blog post, Piraeus is Greece's main port and the biggest passenger port on the Mediterranean Sea. Everyday, ships of all kinds depart it in order to bring passengers and tourists to all the destinations of the Aegean Sea. Most people will usually recognise all the big and modern ferries that make long trips to the Cyclades, Crete, the Dodecanese, Kythira or the Northeast Aegean Sea Islands, or even the smaller ferries and hydrofoils that operate on the Saronic Gulf. But if you look closely to all ships that enter and leave the port, you will see very small passenger boats that make dozens of stops to Piraeus each day. These small ships are deployed from Piraeus to its closest island, Salamina. Because of the short distance, all of these ships make the Piraeus-Salamina line in just 20 or 45 minutes, depending on which port they stop to in Salamina. These ports are Paloukia, Kamatero and Selinia, the largest and the fifth and fourth largest ports, respectively.

Salamina has been an important place for Greek shipping for almost 2500 years. The island is known for the very famous naval battle which occurred in 481 B.C. and which resulted in the Greeks removing the Persians from their territory. For the past centuries, the island has contributed a lot to shipbuilding for the Greeks, and it still operates a large number of shipyards and drydocks for ship refits and repairs even today. It is also very well connected with both Piraeus and Elefsina. However, Salamina is also a place (particularly in the Kynosoura port and in the Ambelakia Shipyard) where many ships are laid-up, abandoned and even partly submerged, which creates many difficulties for the Piraeus Port Authority (OLP), which manages the island.

But going back to the ships operating in the Piraeus-Salamina line, these boats transport people working in Salamina daily, and tourists willing to visit the island, often during the high season. Because of their reliability, visitors can spend an entire day on the island and return to Athens on the same night. Service to and from Salamina is performed everyday, except for Sundays (including during the summer) and during holidays. Besides the service from Piraeus, Salamina also has a very reliable connection with Perama, both through small passenger boats (making the trip in barely five minutes) and especially through double-ended ferries. The Perama-Salamina line is considered to be the busiest one in the entire Greek coastal service, as ships depart from each port every five minutes between 05:00 and midnight everyday.


But now it is time to focus on the Salamina-based boats which operate from Piraeus. The service has been present for more than 70 years. It began with small sailing boats owned by Salaminians, until the late 1960s, where wooden motor boats started service. They became extremely popular and were all known as the 'Koulouriotika', being named after Koulouri, which is another name by which the island of Salamina is known. These ships operated on the Piraeus-Salamina line as well as to other ports of the Saronic Gulf (notably Aegina, Agistri and Poros) over three decades, before they began to be phased out in the late 1990s. This was primarily due to them reaching an advanced age, all the while larger and faster boats were being built. Eventually, the number of ships declined from the late 1990s to the early 2010s (which decreased the service even further due to the Greek financial crisis), but it remains prominent and is still appreciated by passengers. Today, four ships operate on the line: the ELENA F of Elena F Shipping, the GEORGIOS BROUFAS and the GEORGIOS BROUFAS II of Broufas Vessels (also known as Neosalaminiaki), and the BOB SFOUGKARAKIS of Kavouris Shipping Company. The first three serve the ports of Kamatero and Paloukia, while the latter only stops by the port of Selinia.

ELENA F:

The small passenger boat ELENA F was built in Greece in 1998 for Elena F Shipping (owned by the Filiagkos family), as a replacement for her elder fleetmate, the DIMITRIOS F (a 'Koulouriotiko', which was retired from service) on the Piraeus-Salamina line. Her operations on the Piraeus-Salamina line consist of making stops in Kamatero and in Paloukia in just 45 minutes. Apart from her daily sailings in Salamina, the ship also made some one-day cruises in Spetses during the summers of 2011 and 2012. In 2013, she left the Piraeus-Salamina line to operate on the Sporades, being deployed on the Glyfa-Skiathos line. This turned out to be her only season on this line, as she returned the following year to operate on her original line, the Piraeus-Salamina line. She has also made successful summer cruises in the islands of Aegina and Agistri in 2012, 2014 and 2015. A ship previously owned by her company, formerly known as the ELENI F a name similar to that of the current ELENA F), still operates to date, as the IONIAN DOLPHIN of Mitsoulis Cruises, on the Syvota-Antipaxoi-Paxoi-Corfu line on the Ionian Sea. She operated on the Piraeus-Salamina line under Elena F Shipping from 1967 (at the same time as her sister ship, the DIMITRIOS F) to 1981, before she was sold to Panou Shipping. Under them, she operated as the MOSCHOS EXPRESS on the Piraeus-Aegina-Agistri line until 2000, when she was sold to her current owners. The DIMITRIOS F has reportedly been removed from all registries since 2002.

The ELENA F in Piraeus, before departing for Salamina.

The ELENA F departing Piraeus for Kamatero.

GEORGIOS BROUFAS:

The GEORGIOS BROUFAS was built in Greece in 1997 for her namesake owner, Broufas Vessels, for service on the Piraeus-Salamina line (serving the ports of Kamatero and Paloukia). In the summer, she makes a few crossings between Megalo Pefko (which is near Megara, located in the Elefsina Bay) and Salamina, though in this case she serves the port of Faneromeni.

The GEORGIOS BROUFAS entering the port of Piraeus, seen from the cruiseferry BLUE STAR PATMOS of Blue Star Ferries.

The GEORGIOS BROUFAS having just entered Piraeus.

GEORGIOS BROUFAS II:

The GEORGIOS BROUFAS II is the sister ship of the GEORGIOS BROUFAS and also belongs to her namesake owner, Broufas Vessels. She was built in Greece in 1998, one year after her sister ship, and she has since operated on the Piraeus-Salamina line (making stops in Kamatero and Paloukia). Like her sister ship, she also makes a few calls between Megalo Pefko and Salamina (in the port of Faneromeni) during the summer.

The GEORGIOS BROUFAS II seen in Piraeus.

The GEORGIOS BROUFAS II departing Piraeus for Kamatero, with the PHIVOS of Nova Ferries in the background.

The GEORGIOS BROUFAS II leaving Piraeus in the morning, as seen from the PHIVOS.

BOB SFOUGKARAKIS:

The BOB SFOUGKARAKIS is the smallest ship that operates on a passenger line out of Piraeus. She was built in 2008 in Greece and she has since been deployed on the Piraeus-Salamina line (serving the port of Selinia), under the ownership of Kavouris Shipping Company. She makes each crossing in 20 minutes. She is the fastest ship connecting Piraeus with Salamina. In the winter the ship operates on the Perama-Salamina line, and she always returns to the Piraeus-Salamina line in April, and operates there until late October or late November (depending on the demand each year). Her name is the Greek translation of the name of the cartoon character Spongebob Squarepants, which was presumably given to her due to her small size and funky appearance.

The BOB SFOUGKARAKIS having just entered Piraeus, arrives for docking to the E8 gate. The high speed craft MASTER JET of Sea Jets is seen in the background.

The BOB SFOUGKARAKIS having arrived in in Piraeus. Her hull features yellow signs advertising the line on which she operates and the time it takes for the crossing, 20 minutes (the number 20 can be seen written in magenta colours).

The BOB SFOUGKARAKIS docking in Piraeus, alongside the my WAYS passenger ship ALEXANDROS and the hydrofoil FLYING DOLPHIN XVII of Hellenic Seaways. Many people would think these two ships are the smallest ones in Piraeus, but the BOB SFOUGKARAKIS is proving them that it is not the case.

The BOB SFOUGKARAKIS leaving Piraeus immediately afterwards, passing by the FLYING DOLPHIN XVII.

The BOB SFOUGKARAKIS en route from Piraeus to Selinia in Salamina.

Despite their small size and passenger capacity, these four ships play a vital part in the connection of two very important Greek shipping hubs, which are not that far from each other. They are very reliable and regularly available for service, either for tourists or for residents based in Salamina.

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