• Alexandros Vrailas

BLUE STAR PATMOS Trip from Santorini to Ios on 10 July 2017

The Greek coastal service season for the summer of 2017 began for me as soon as I arrived in Greece. Unlike other years, however, it did not start from Piraeus or Kyllini. Instead, it began from the island of Santorini, which I had first visited in 2015. Indeed, that summer was particular for me, as it was the one that followed my final year in high school, so I had planned a European summer trip with my brother and my friends in several places, including the island of Ios, which I was about to visit for the first time in my life. As Barcelona preceded our stay in Ios, our only way to get to the latter was by plane overnight, reaching Santorini the following day at 03:00. Hence, we left on the evening of 9 July 2017, and arrived in Santorini the following day at the aforementioned time.

Santorini, seen at 03:00 in the morning of 10 July 2017.

The port of Santorini, called Athinios, seen at night during 10 July 2017.

The port of Santorini, generally quiet, awaiting for the first ferries of the day.

One of the port's travel agencies, which features advertisement signs of three Aegean Sea giants: Sea Jets, ANEK Lines and Hellenic Seaways.

The Dakoutros Travel Port Agency, potentially related to the Dakoutros family, which owns the Dakoutros Speed-Santorini Boatmen Services company, operating between Santorini and the nearby volcanic islands of Palaia Kameni and Nea Kameni.

Daylight slowly making its way to Santorini and the Cyclades.

We had planned to take the first ferry of the day that would leave from Santorini to reach the island of Ios, which is the closest island to the latter. Coincidentally, that ferry happened to be a particular one, when taking into account the previous (and only, so far) trip I made to Santorini. Indeed, this ferry was none other but the BLUE STAR PATMOS of Blue Star Ferries. This ship is quite meaningful, as she was the first-ever ship I took in order to go to the Cyclades. Moreover, it was going to be my first trip with her, exactly two years and three days after making my first one with her from Piraeus to Santorini, back in 2015. This trip kind of meant the beginning of my return trip with that particular ship from Santorini, as I had returned from that island to Piraeus back in 2015 with a different boat, the CHAMPION JET 1 of Sea Jets. Therefore, it seemed like I was beginning my round trip from Santorini two years and three days after making my initial trip, though I did not complete it since I disembarked on the first stop, the island of Ios.

A very emotional moment was at approximately 06:00, when, as the sun began to rise, the BLUE STAR PATMOS emerged, which signified not only the beginning of the day, but also, for me, the beginning of the summer.

My first picture of the Greek coastal service for 2017: the BLUE STAR PATMOS, which was arriving in Santorini from the island of Anafi.

The beautiful BLUE STAR PATMOS, one of the best ships in the Greek coastal service, preparing to maneuver in Santorini.

Built in South Korea in 2012, the BLUE STAR PATMOS spent her first three summers on the Northeast Aegean Sea, on the Piraeus-Chios-Mytilene line. In 2014, after the sale of her older fleetmate, the BLUE STAR ITHAKI, to Canadian company Bay Ferries Limited, she was transferred to the Cyclades, where she just completed her third summer season.

Alongside her sister ship, the BLUE STAR DELOS, the BLUE STAR PATMOS serves the main Cyclades Islands. The BLUE STAR DELOS operates solely on the Piraeus-Paros-Naxos-Santorini line in the morning and returns in the evening. On the contrary, the BLUE STAR PATMOS sails from Piraeus in the afternoon, serving not only Paros, Naxos and Santorini, but also Syros, Donousa, Amorgos, Ios, Anafi and Astypalaia.

The great BLUE STAR PATMOS maneuvering in the port of Santorini.

The BLUE STAR PATMOS seen as she undergoes her maneuvering procedure.

The BLUE STAR PATMOS maneuvering in Santorini, a port where she has seen lots of success, just like all of her Blue Star Ferries fleetmates that serve it.

The BLUE STAR PATMOS seen in Santorini, with her decks still illuminated as they were in the preceding evening and night.

The BLUE STAR PATMOS having completed her maneuvering procedure in Santorini and preparing to dock on the Eastern area of the port.

The BLUE STAR PATMOS now beginning to open her stern ramps for docking.

The BLUE STAR PATMOS preparing to dock in Santorini.

The BLUE STAR PATMOS heading towards the dock of Santorini.

The BLUE STAR PATMOS beginning to make contact with the dock of the port of Santorini.

The BLUE STAR PATMOS having just docked in Santorini.

The BLUE STAR PATMOS now docked in Santorini and immediately unloading the few passengers and vehicles that arrived from Anafi. We are now ready to board.

As I had already done a presentation of the interior areas of the BLUE STAR PATMOS two years ago, I am not showing them in this post, but I will instead show pictures from the moments of this trip.

The port of Santorini at sunrise, seen from one of the outdoor decks of the BLUE STAR PATMOS.

Upon looking towards the sea, I immediately spotted a white ship heading towards the port. This ship, which I recognised immediately, was the Aegean Sea veteran ferry PREVELIS of ANEK Lines.

The PREVELIS approaching the Santorini port at sunrise. Next to her is the uninhabited island of Aspronisi.

The beautiful and acclaimed Japanese-built PREVELIS, which has been sailing in Greek waters since 1994.

The PREVELIS is, despite her advanced age (37 years old in 2017), one of the most hardworking ferries in the Greek coastal service. Indeed, she is the only ferry making permanent connections between Piraeus and the islands of Kasos and Karpathos on the Dodecanese. She however performs this itinerary by also serving the islands of Milos, Santorini and Anafi on the Cyclades, the ports of Heraklion and Siteia in Crete, and the islands of Chalki and Rhodes on the Dodecanese.

The beautiful and hardworking PREVELIS maneuvering in Santorini, after having arrived from Milos.

The PREVELIS maneuvering during daylight.

One of the two funnels of the PREVELIS, featuring the colours of ANEK Lines and their well-known logo, the representation of the map of the island of Crete. She has been carrying the same funnel display since her acquisition by ANEK Lines in 2000. Prior to that, she operated for the now-defunct Rethymnon-based Creatan Ferries from 1994 to 2000 as the PREVELI.

The PREVELIS maneuvering in Santorini, in what was her ninth consecutive season operating on the Kasos-Karpathos lifeline. She is now the only ANEK Lines ferry serving the Cyclades and the Dodecanese.

The PREVELIS maneuvering in Santorini.

The PREVELIS preparing to dock in the port of Santorini, on the other side of the docking spot of the BLUE STAR PATMOS.

The heroic PREVELIS, which is 32 years older than the BLUE STAR PATMOS, having just docked in Santorini.

The PREVELIS having just docked in Santorini and immediately beginning to unload passengers and vehicles that came from Piraeus and Milos.

The PREVELIS now able to rest for a few minutes in Santorini.

While the ANEK Lines veteran has now been able to rest for a few minutes, it was time for the BLUE STAR PATMOS' resting time to be completed, as she was due to depart for Ios as part of her return trip from the Cyclades to Piraeus. She left at approximately 07:00, as it was planned.

As we depart, we pass by the now-docked PREVELIS.

The Japanese bow of the PREVELIS, which is also decorated with the yellow and blue 'garlands' added by ANEK Lines in 2007. This was part of a marketing and design shift project and was initially planned to be implemented on all ANEK Lines ships. However, only the PREVELIS and the EL. VENIZELOS received these garlands, with the latter having them removed since 2013, making the former the only one to still have them to date.

The Souther part of Santorini seen from the BLUE STAR PATMOS.

With daylight now fully emerged, the PREVELIS is now completely bright as she is seen behind us upon our departure from Santorini.

The island of Aspronisi seen from the BLUE STAR PATMOS.

Another view of the PREVELIS.

The PREVELIS seen as we depart Santorini for Ios.

The PREVELIS and the port of Santorini beginning to distance themselves from the BLUE STAR PATMOS.

The BLUE STAR PATMOS having left Santorini.

In front of us were the volcanic islands on the Santorini Gulf. This one is Nea Kameni, where the actual volcano is located, and which I had visited on 11 July 2015, making my day of my trip with the BLUE STAR PATMOS one day shy of the two-year anniversary of this visit.

I discovered that Nea Kameni serves as a resting area for all small ships operating around the Santorini Gulf during the night. There, I could spot the traditional sailing boat AFRODITI of the Santorini Boatmen Union, which was the ship on which I had traveled when I went to Nea Kameni, as well as to Palaia Kameni and Thirassia.

Several small boats resting in Nea Kameni, belonging to the Santorini Boatmen Union, Santorini Sea Excursions and Dakoutros Shipping.

Two small boats resting on a separate docking area in Nea Kameni. These boats are both owned by Dakoutros Shipping. The one on the left is the 2016-built TAXIARCHIS D, which operates for Dakoutros Speed while the one on the right is the CALYPSO, which operates for Dakoutros Glass Bottom Boat Cruises.

The TAXIARCHIS D and the CALYPSO seen resting in Nea Kameni, prior to their operations later that day.

The Greek flag on the stern of the BLUE STAR PATMOS, facing the rising sun on the Aegean Sea.

The strait between Aspronisi and Santorini, with a Silversea Cruises cruise ship seen between these islands.

The BLUE STAR PATMOS passing by the Northernmost village of Santorini, Oia, which is also the most famous and most beautiful village of the island.

The BLUE STAR PATMOS having passed by Oia and now having left the Santorini Gulf.

The BLUE STAR PATMOS is now in open sea, with daylight now fully present.

Meanwhile, behind, we can see the waves made by the BLUE STAR PATMOS after having passed by the strait between Santorini and the smaller island of Thirassia.

Ios seen from far away.

As we were approaching Ios, another ship made her appearance. This time, it was the high speed craft SUPER JET of Sea Jets, which was heading towards the opposite direction: from Ios to Santorini.

The SUPER JET heading towards Santorini. 2017 marked her second straight summer operating from Piraeus to the Western Cyclades. She leaves Greece's largest port in the afternoon, and spend the entire night in Ios. She serves the Piraeus-Serifos-Sifnos-Milos-Kimolos-Folegandros-Ios-Santorini line.

The speedy SUPER JET now heading towards Santorini. She is Sea Jets' first-ever ship, and is also, as of 2017, the high speed craft (excluding hydrofoils) with the most experience in the Greek coastal service. 2017 was indeed her twenty-third overall season in Greece, having had stints as the SEA JET 1 with Strintzis Lines (1995-2000) and Blue Star Ferries under the Blue Star Jets division (2000-2002), and as the JET ONE for Aegean Jet Maritime (2002-2004) prior to her sale to Sea Jets in 2004.

The SUPER JET heading at full-speed towards Santorini.

The SUPER JET en route towards Santorini. By reaching the latter island, she completes her full itinerary from Piraeus. She then returns to Ios later in the morning before making her way back to Piraeus.

After only one hour onboard, the BLUE STAR PATMOS is now entering the port of Ios, which welcomes ships with a beautiful lighthouse built on the estuary.

The bay of Ios, where ferries enter the island and head towards the port.

The BLUE STAR PATMOS having entered the bay of Ios.

The entrance of Ios seen from behind.

While entering Ios, the beautiful all-white Church of Agia Eirini can be seen.

We quickly maneuvered and the BLUE STAR PATMOS docked in the very small pier of Ios. We immediately disembarked.

The BLUE STAR PATMOS seen in Ios, prior to her departure for her next destination, Naxos.

This very short trip with this amazing ferry was very pleasant and marked the beginning of the 2017 Greek coastal service season, as well as my 2017 summer in Greece overall. The ferry still remains, even two years and three days after first traveling with her, extremely modern, clean and comfortable. She had an extremely successful summer, although it ended on an unfortunate note. She grounded off in the exact same port where she disembarked us at the end of August, and remained there for an entire week before being fully removed from rocks that had trapped her. She then headed in early September 2017 to Perama and later in Elefsina for repairs, and hopefully she will return even better and stronger in early 2018, whereupon she is planned to spend the winter on the Dodecanese lifeline.

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