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  • Writer's pictureAlexandros Vrailas

AGIOI ANARGYROI and AGIOS NIKOLAOS Tributes and Moments of Back-to-back Trips

Trips: 27 July 2018. From Paros to Antiparos, with the AGIOI ANARGYROI of Agia Marina I NE, and then from Antiparos to Paros, with the AGIOS NIKOLAOS of Agia Marina I NE.

The landing craft AGIOI ANARGYROI was built in 2018 in Greece, just a few months after her fleetmate and sister ship, the AGIOS NIKOLAOS. She was deployed under Agia Marina I NE on the Paros-Antiparos line.

The landing craft AGIOS NIKOLAOS was also ordered in 2018 by Agia Marina I NE, as the AGIOS NIKOLAOS II, in order to replace their ship, the AGIOS NIKOLAOS, built in 2017 and sold to the British Virgin Islands-based company Solaris Shiptrade Company. The AGIOS NIKOLAOS II was renamed AGIOS NIKOLAOS during her construction, and was completed in Greece in 2018. She was subsequently deployed on the Paros-Antiparos line, just a few months before the AGIOI ANARGYROI.

Both ships are part of the quartet currently operating on this very short but very important line in the middle of the Cyclades. Indeed, Antiparos is a small island located next to Paros. Its name is the combination of the word 'anti', which means 'opposite' in Greek, and Paros, thus defining it as 'the island opposite of Paros' in English. It has become quite touristic in recent years, due to its traditional lifestyle, beautiful beaches, nice restaurants, and overall landscape. It has more notably been a favourite place amongst camping tourists. Thus, the island is among the points of interest of tourists visiting Paros, and is essential for Greeks who wish to have a calm and isolated summer.

Despite its emerging status, the island can only be connected with it more popular neighbour. Indeed, large ferries operating around the Cyclades cannot call at the island as its port is extremely small, shallow and is located near a narrow strait dividing Paros and Antiparos. Therefore, it is physically impossible for ferries from major companies to dock there. The only ships that are able to do so are landing craft (due to their smaller draught compared to larger ferries) and small passenger boats. These ships only operate local trips, operating on the Paros-Antiparos line. Fortunately, there are many trips per day during the summer, with departures from each island taking place every 10 minutes from the early morning to the beginning of the evening. With four landing craft, the trips can be done without any issues. These ships do not leave from Paros' main port located in Paroikia, but from a small village called Pounta. It is located in Southwestern Paros, and is right at the opposite of the port of Antiparos, with the trip between both ports lasting barely five minutes. Small passenger boats such as the HELLAS of Antiparos Speedline NE and the ANTIPAROS STAR of Agia Marina I NE do connect Antiparos with Paroikia, with the trip lasting around 20 minutes.

With all the information regarding Antiparos and its ferry network now provided to you, I can now speak to you about my two trips on 27 July 2018, as my family and myself spent a day there. We had stayed in Paros from 26 July to 29 July of that summer, and had decided to explore the nearby island as well. Hence, we headed from the house where we were staying (located near Paroikia) to Pounta, as we had our car with us. Towards noon, we arrived there and travelled with the landing craft AGIOI ANARGYROI. After spending half of the day in Antiparos, we returned to Paros with her fleetmate and sister ship, the AGIOS NIKOLAOS. Hence, as the two trips are short and as I did not take many pictures, this post is a Tribute Post to both Agia Marina I NE ships.

For the first time in my life, I traveled with a ship on her first-ever day of service. Indeed, 27 July 2018 was the first day of service of the AGIOI ANARGYROI, which had just been built in Perama throughout the first half of the year 2018. Thus, besides traveling with a landing craft to Antiparos for the first time in my life, I also got to travel on a ship during her maiden voyage. It was really an unforgettable moment. No matter what the career of that small landing craft will look like in the next years, I will always remember that I traveled onboard her on her first-ever trip. Moreover, it was my first trip onboard a landing craft, since 16 July 2014, when I had traveled from Zakynthos to Kefalonia and back with the VASOS K of Ionian Sea Ferries, which still operates there to date.

The AGIOI ANARGYROI seen in the port of Pounta, on her first-ever day of service. As it is the tradition in shipping, she was decorated with several maritime flags in order to celebrate her entry to service. Antiparos is seen right behind her. The port is extremely narrow, with limited space for vehicles to conduct their maneuvering procedures when boarding the ships.

Shortly after boarding the AGIOI ANARGYROI, I immediately went to her accommodation superstructure, located at the stern section (as it is the case with all passenger landing craft). Here is a view of her garage extension, featuring the decorative flags she bore that day as part of her entry to service on the Paros-Antiparos line.

The ship's small indoor lounge area, featuring quite modern benches with dark grey mattresses and a TV screen. In terms of decoration, the area was plain and white, with no additional details whatsoever.

The ship's outdoor area had a small sun deck, which had various benches and pump reserves.

A more extended view of the sun deck (seen as we were arriving in Antiparos), featuring several aligned grey benches. Just enough for a short but pleasant trip.

The ship did have some poster on her walls. These included the table of the MARPOL Annex V regulations (which are the legal regulations about how ships and their crews should manage waste and disposal at sea), which is required onboard all commercial ships. Underneath this table, a small poster indicates passengers not to use the ship's ladder, both in Greek and in English.

The ship seen from the passenger port side alley leading from the garage to the upper deck of the accommodation superstructure. It shows the latter, with its classic bridge and open stern section.

As we were beginning to leave Paros and the port of Pounta, I spotted one of the AGIOI ANARGYROI's rivals: the landing craft AGIA MARINA ANTIPAROU of Madalena I Shipping, which had just arrived in Paros.

The AGIA MARINA ANTIPAROU seen as we depart Paros. She was built in 2006, having been ordered by Madalena I Shipping in order to replace their ship operating on the Paros-Antiparos line at the time, which was the PANAGIA FANEROMENI. After the arrival of the AGIA MARINA ANTIPAROU, that ship was sold to Kimolos Link, and has since been operating on the Milos-Kimolos line.

The AGIA MARINA ANTIPAROU seen resting Paros. She is the ship with the most experience on the line, out of the four ferries and the small passenger boats currently operating there.

As we were beginning to head towards Antiparos, I saw the fleetmate of the AGIOI ANARGYROI, the AGIOS NIKOLAOS, resting in the island's port.

The AGIOS NIKOLAOS seen ready to depart Antiparos. She was the second ship of the company to be named after the seamen's patron Saint. The first one was her former fleetmate, the AGIOS NIKOLAOS, which was built in 2017 and only spent one season on the line before being sold to the British Virgin Islands-based company Solaris Shiptrade Company. She currently operates there as the AEGEAN SEAL, on the Road Town-Beef Island-Salt Island line. Thus, the AGIOS NIKOLAOS, which was being built at the time as the AGIOS NIKOLAOS II, was renamed after her and entered service in her place.

The AGIOS NIKOLAOS seen departing Antiparos.

The AGIOS NIKOLAOS having finished her departure maneuvering procedure and beginning to head towards Paros.

The AGIOS NIKOLAOS passing by her sister ship and fleetmate, as she heads towards the port of Pounta in Paros.

Crossing the AGIOS NIKOLAOS as she heads towards Paros. Due to the line's short distance, the landing craft do not necessarily need to be that large, compared to other lines across Greece.

The AGIOS NIKOLAOS seen heading towards Paros, after having left Antiparos.

A view of the port of Antiparos, which has dozens of white houses built under the well-known Cycladic architectural style. There, we were greeted by the fourth landing craft of the line: the PANAGIA KOIMISIS II of Antiparos Shipping, which was resting at that time of the day.

The Chora of Antiparos seen right next to the port. The beautiful Cycladic-style Holy Church of Agia Marina, after which the AGIA MARINA ANTIPAROU is named, is seen in the middle of the town.

While we were approaching Antiparos, I took a closer look to the PANAGIA KOIMISIS II. Unlike the other landing craft which have spent their entire careers on the Paros-Antiparos line so far (although, to be fair, the AGIOS NIKOLAOS and the AGIOI ANARGYROI were introduced only last year), she had spells on other lines in Greece. Indeed, she initially began her career in 1996 as the FANEROMENI POROU of VR Ferries (becoming the first ship in the history of the company) and operated on the Saronic Gulf, on the Galatas Troizinias-Poros line. She remained there until 2006, when she was sold to NE Elafonisou. She was renamed PANAGIA KOIMISIS II and was deployed on the Pounta-Elafonisos line on the Lakonian Gulf (connecting the village of Pounta-located on the Peloponnese and which has the same name as the small port of Paros served by the Antiparos landing craft-with the small island of Elafonisos, located next to the Lakonia peninsula on the Peloponnese). After two years there, she was sold in 2008 to Antiparos Shipping, underwent a major conversion in Perama as she was considerably lengthened, and entered service on the Paros-Antiparos line, where she has since been remaining. She is therefore the oldest ship on the line, as well as the biggest one in terms of length.

After a short trip, the AGIOI ANARGYROI had finished her maiden voyage from Paros to Antiparos. Here she is seen unloading all remaining passengers and vehicles.

The small port of Antiparos, showing the AGIA MARINA ANTIPAROU (which had just arrived from Paros) and the PANAGIA KOIMISIS II, the two 'veterans' of the line. They are now both competing against the newly-built landing craft of Agia Marina I NE.

After arriving in Antiparos, we headed towards the well-known beach of Agios Nikolaos, which is located on the Western part of the island (at the opposite of the Chora, which is in the Eastern part of Antiparos and right at the opposite of Paros). While arriving at the beach, I spotted an unusual presence: it was the high speed ferry SANTORINI PALACE of Minoan Lines, which was seen heading towards Paros, but passing near the Western part of Antiparos in order to head towards Paroikia. Formerly the HIGHSPEED 5 (2005-2016) and the HIGHSPEED 7 (2016-2018) of Hellenic Seaways, she was sold just before the summer of 2018 to Minoan Lines, as part of the deal that saw Hellenic Seaways being sold to Attica Group. Despite her changing her owner and her name, she remained on the Heraklion-Santorini-Ios-Paros-Mykonos line, where she has been operating successfully since 2013.

A few hours after seeing the SANTORINI PALACE and having already been relaxing on the Agios Nikolaos beach, I noticed another ferry heading towards Paros by passing near the Western Antiparos coast. Also heading to Paros while arriving from Ios, it was the SUPERFERRY of Golden Star Ferries. Owned by Golden Star Ferries since 2015, she began operating on the Cyclades during the summer of 2016. In 2018, she was deployed, alongside her fleetmate, the SUPERFERRY II, on the Rafina-Andros-Tinos-Mykonos-Paros-Ios-Santorini-Heraklion line, competing against Sea Jets and the SANTORINI PALACE. I managed to experience a large portion of that trip, as I traveled with her from Rafina to Ios on 14 June 2018 (a month and 13 days before taking this picture).

After a few hours at the beach, we headed towards a nearby tavern. There I saw a passenger boat, whose existence and presence on the Greek coastal service is largely unknown. Indeed, it is perhaps the most 'local' ship of Antiparos. It is the small tour boat SARGOS II of Captain Sargos Antiparos, which operates on the Antiparos-Despotiko line. She does cruises around Antiparos and reaches the small islet of Despotiko, located next to the West coast of Antiparos. This island has some nice isolated beaches and some amazing marine caves, accessible only via small boats. Built in 2012, the SARGOS II makes daily cruises alongside her elder fleetmate, the wooden boat SARGOS I, which has been operating there since 2002.

After eating at the tavern, and, having spent almost all the day at Antiparos, it was time for us to head back to Paros. There, we were greeted by the AGIOS NIKOLAOS, which was the ship that eventually took us back to the port of Pounta. Here is a view of her garage (similar to the one of the AGIOI ANARGYROI), and her bridge located on her accommodation superstructure which is in her stern section.

The alley on the ship's port side, taking passengers from the garage to the staircase that leads to the accommodation superstructure.

The indoor lounge area of the AGIOS NIKOLAOS. Although it is built under the same structure as the AGIOI ANARGYROI, the mattresses are white (in contrast to the AGIOI ANARGYROI's darker grey mattresses).

Two posters seen hanging on the ship's walls in the indoor lounge area. The poster below is an advertising sing from the Marine Club of Antiparos which promotes sailing lessons in the islands throughout the summer. The one above is more interesting, as it is the ship's builder's certificate. It displays her company's name (at the top, in dark blue Greek letters), her name, registry and year of built (in red Greek letters), and the builder's name (Shipinvestigation Company), address and contact details at the bottom.

The ship's tiny reception desk, which is rarely being used due to the short duration of the trips between Paros and Antiparos.

The outdoor sun deck area of the AGIOS NIKOLAOS, which is very similar to the one of her sister ship.

The outdoor sun deck area, also featuring aligned grey benches.

The PANAGIA KOIMISIS II seen shortly before our departure. That summer was her eleventh consecutive on the Paros-Antiparos line.

The Greek flag seen flying proudly on the ship's stern.

As it was late in the evening, the sun was beginning to set over the beautiful island of Antiparos. Here is the Holy Church of Agia Marina, seen right below the beautiful sun.

As the AGIOS NIKOLAOS began to leave the port of Antiparos (thus beginning a maneuvering procedure in order to have her ramp facing towards Paros), I saw her fleetmate, the AGIOI ANARGYROI, resting in her new home, after having completed her first-ever day of service.

A nice view of the strait separating Antiparos from Paros, featuring various yachts and sailing catamarans.

The AGIOI ANARGYROI, the ship on which I had traveled a few hours earlier, seen resting in Antiparos.

Another view of the PANAGIA KOIMISIS II in Antiparos. Her former fleetmate, the PANAGIA KOIMISIS, still sails under that name under the company Galaga Shipping Company on the Megara-Salamina line. A double-ended ferry, she operated for NE Elafonisou from 2005 (the year she was built to 2009) before being sold to her current owners. From 2011 to 2014, she was chartered to the Abu Dhabi Port Council, operating on the Abu Dhabi-Sir Bani Yas line. She returned to Greece in late 2014.

A last view of the AGIOI ANARGYROI in Antiparos, at sunset, at the end of the first-ever day in service in her career. She still has the maritime flags connected from her mast to the garage ramp. She is the second ship in the history of the company to be named AGIOI ANARGYROI. The first one still sails in Greece to date. It is the current AGIANNAKIS of NE Elafonisou (coincidentally, the former owners of the PANAGIA KOIMISIS II), which is on the Pounta-Elafonisos line. She operated for Agia Marina I NE on the Paros-Antiparos line from 1986 (the year in which she was built) to 2008, and was the first-ever landing craft in the company's history. She was due to be sold to Maldivian company World Maldived 1 Limited, having been renamed LIMITNESS ONE, in 2008. However, the sale did not materialise and she remained laid-up until 2010, when she was sold to and refitted by her current owners.

The island of Antiparos seen during sunset, as we began heading towards Paros.

Just five minutes after leaving Antiparos, we were already back in Paros, in the port of Pounta. Here, the AGIOS NIKOLAOS is seen unloading passengers and vehicles.

Thus, this concludes that very wonderful day spent in Antiparos, which is surely one of the most underrated islands of the Cyclades. I had two very nice trips with two newly-built landing craft, which traveled without any issues on a short but busy line. I hope they both stay on the line for many years to come, alongside all other ships serving the island. Having built three ships in just two summers, Agia Marina I NE has experienced a considerable fleet renewal. To add to this, they had built the high speed passenger boat ANTIPAROS STAR in 2015, while they will soon be deploying another newly-built high speed passenger boat, the EXPRESS PANORMITIS, which will enter service during the summer of 2019.

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