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  • Writer's pictureAlexandros Vrailas

Ferries in Kimolos on 29 June 2021

Located at the heart of the Western Cyclades, right next to the well-known island of Milos, Kimolos is a small and wonderful island, which maintains a sense of tradition and which features calm yet picturesque villages that prove well why the Cyclades remain such a beautiful region attracting millions of tourists each year. The island is not as visited as its more popular neighbour, and hence it is an ideal place for those willing to spend a holiday without many other people around them. Besides its natural beauty, the island also has a notable tradition in shipping, as it has been the birthplace of many prominent shipowners of Greece, such as Georgios Logothetis of Libra Group or the late Iakovos Roussos. In the Greek coastal service, the island has strongly been associated with the famed Ventouris family, as its patriarch, the late Konstantinos Ventouris, originated from Kimolos. The family began to operate in 1975, and later saw the creation of four major companies which became prominent on both the Aegean Sea and the Adriatic Sea: Ventouris Ferries (1979 to present), Ventouris Sea Lines (1986-1997 and 2004-2017), AK Ventouris or later C-Link Ferries (1987-1990, 1992-1998 and 2002-2007), and Ventouris Lines (1992-1997).

While the island, as mentioned, does not have the same number of tourists and residents as in Milos or Sifnos, it nevertheless relies on continuous ferry service that ensures a good connection with the rest of the Cyclades, as well as major ports in Attica such as Piraeus and Lavrion. Therefore, it is part of many important lifelines, such as that of the Western Cyclades as well as that of the inter-Cyclades which is based in Lavrion and Syros. It also maintains a regular connection throughout the whole year with Milos, with the landing craft OSIA METHODIA of local company Kimolos Link serving the Milos-Kimolos line, which reaches the port of Apollonia in Milos. The service with Piraeus and Lavrion is also present throughout the whole duration of the year, while in the summer itineraries are further complemented with the deployment of high speed craft, as it has been the case of the two small catamarans SEA JET 2 and SUPER JET since 2020. Furthermore, a few tour boats also serve the island during the summer season, usually ships that perform daily cruises based in Milos.

As I got to discover Kimolos for the first time in my life in June 2021, as part of a trip that I did with my brother and my two best friends from my university, I also had the opportunity to see a few of the ferries that serve the island, and therefore I did not miss the chance to photograph them. As stated in my previous post, I unfortunately lost my camera in Milos, hence I could only take pictures with my iPhone while awaiting to buy a new camera back in Athens. Here are the pictures that I took on 29 June 2021, while I was at the port of Kimolos, located in the village of Psathi.

The first ship that I saw was the small passenger boat KAPETAN YIANGOS of Mathioudakis Tours. Built in 1981 in Greece, she first operated as a tour boat in Poros before being acquired by her current owners in 1984. She has seen performed daily cruises around the island of Milos while also stopping by Kimolos, usually during the afternoon.

As I approached the port of Kimolos, I saw the landing craft OSIA METHODIA of Kimolos Link. Built in 2019 in Greece, she was deployed on the Milos-Kimolos line, therefore connecting Kimolos with the small port of Apollonia in Milos.

The OSIA METHODIA seen resting in Kimolos. This was her third consecutive summer on the Milos-Kimolos line, and she was introduced in order to replace the company's previous landing craft, the PANAGIA FANEROMENI, which had been operating there since 2006. After 13 years, that ship was sold to Guinea-Bissau-based company Consulmar Bissau, for whom she now operates as the BIJAGÓS I.

A view of the OSIA METHODIA as she is docked in Kimolos. Just two days before taking this picture, I had traveled onboard her for the first time, while heading from Milos to Kimolos. I would travel with her again while making my way back to Milos on 1 July.

The OSIA METHODIA seen in Kimolos. She is the fourth known landing craft to have been deployed on the Milos-Kimolos line. The first one was the NISSOS KIMOLOS of Karamitsos Ferry Lines (1999-2004), followed by the LEFKAS of Antiparos NE (2004-2006) and then by the PANAGIA FANEROMENI of Kimolos Link (2006-2019).

The OSIA METHODIA seen maneuvering in Kimolos, as she was due to depart in order to head to Milos.

Later on, as I was walking by the port, I saw the ferry DIONISIOS SOLOMOS of Zante Ferries leaving Kimolos.

The DIONISIOS SOLOMOS seen leaving Kimolos, in what was her fifth consecutive summer on the Western Cyclades. She was built in 1990 in Japan, where she spent the first 8 years of her career under the company Shikoku Chuo Ferry, as the ROYAL KAWANOE. After her company ceased operations in 1998, she was sold to Zante Ferries, for whom she began service in 1999 as the DIONISIOS SOLOMOS on the Kyllini-Zakynthos line and on the Kyllini-Kefalonia line on the Ionian Sea. She remained there for most of her career, apart from serving the Patras-Kefalonia-Ithaca line during the 2013 season as well as the 2015 season. In 2017, however, her company decided to transfer her to the Aegean Sea, in order to operate on the Western Cyclades. She underwent an extensive conversion in order to comply with the region's standards, especially regarding its weather conditions. She began service on the Piraeus-Kythnos-Serifos-Sifnos-Milos-Kimolos-Folegandros-Sikinos-Ios line, where she stayed for two seasons before extending her itinerary in 2019, with that being on the Piraeus-Kythnos-Serifos-Sifnos-Milos-Kimolos-Folegandros-Sikinos-Ios-Santorini line.

The DIONISIOS SOLOMOS seen departing Kimolos. While her company is based in Zakynthos, it has been operating on the Aegean Sea since 2008, when its then-newly-acquired ferry, the ADAMANTIOS KORAIS (built in Japan in 1987 and converted following her purchase by Zante Ferries), began service on the Piraeus-Paros-Naxos-Ios-Santorini line in 2008. The following year, she was inserted on the Western Cyclades lifeline, beginning service on the Piraeus-Kythnos-Serifos-Sifnos-Milos-Kimolos-Folegandros-Sikinos-Ios-Santorini line, where she became extremely successful. With the rise of Levante Ferries on the Ionian Sea, Zante Ferries decided to add a second vessel on the Western Cyclades in 2015. This ship was the ANDREAS KALVOS, which now operates for Levante Ferries since 2019. She spent two seasons there, but lacked the required passenger and vehicle capacity, hence the company decided to instead deploy the DIONISIOS SOLOMOS beginning in 2017.

The DIONISIOS SOLOMOS seen as she leaves Kimolos. Since the 2020 season, she is now the only ship of Zante Ferries that serves the Western Cyclades, as the ADAMANTIOS KORAIS moved to the Alexandroupolis-Samothraki-Limnos line on the Northeast Aegean Sea following the termination of the services provided by the company previously operating there, namely Saos Ferries. In fact, the DIONISIOS SOLOMOS is the only conventional ferry that now serves all these islands from Piraeus, with the remaining ships being high speed craft of Sea Jets and Aegean Speed Lines. This status as the only regular ferry connecting the Western Cyclades with Piraeus has certainly made her work much more demanding and exhausting for her crew (as she only stops for her annual refit that barely lasts a month), but has won her much acclaim and appreciation by the residents of all the islands. In particular, despite her relatively slow speed, the capacity provided by her garage as well as her passenger amenities have become extremely valuable, and she therefore ensures a comfortable trip for a large amount of passengers and vehicles, and most notably lorries.

One last view of the DIONISIOS SOLOMOS as she leaves the port of Kimolos. As she operated in Zakynthos from 1999 to 2016, she became an integral part of my childhood, as I saw her many times at the island's port, and I also traveled onboard her on multiple occasions during the 2000s. My last trip with her dates from 9 July 2013, when I sailed with her from Kyllini-Zakynthos, a few days before she was transferred to the Patras-Kefalonia-Ithaca line. I have not had the opportunity to sail with her on the Western Cyclades so far, but who knows what the future may hold.

About 40 minutes after the departure of the DIONISIOS SOLOMOS, I once again saw the OSIA METHODIA making her way back to Kimolos.

The OSIA METHODIA seen heading towards the port of Kimolos, after having left the port of Apollonia in Milos.

A nice view of the OSIA METHODIA as well as the whole port of Kimolos. I took this picture from the top of a hill watching over the village of Psathi. It shows the natural beauty of the island as well as the nice Cycladic buildings surrounding the small port.

Another view of the OSIA METHODIA from the top of the hill watching over Psathi, which hosts the port of Kimolos.

The OSIA METHODIA seen resting in Kimolos.

One last view of the OSIA METHODIA as she prepares for another departure to Milos.

A few minutes later, I happened to see another ferry arriving in Kimolos. This time, it was the ARTEMIS of Hellenic Seaways, which operates on the subsidised inter-Cyclades lifeline, namely on the Lavrion-Kea-Kythnos-Syros-Tinos-Andros-Paros-Naxos-Ios-Sikinos-Folegandros-Kimolos-Milos-Sifnos-Serifos line.

The ARTEMIS seen arriving in Kimolos. She has been operating on her current service since 2015, when she was assigned to fill the void left by NEL Lines, which had deployed two ferries on the inter-Cyclades service, as a result of their economic difficulties which saw all their vessels being arrested by their crews or by port authorities. The ARTEMIS took over the service that had been covered by the AQUA JEWEL (owned by Sea Jets since 2017), and has since remained an integral part of the Cyclades, serving as the lifeblood between almost all islands.

The ARTEMIS seen maneuvering in Kimolos. She was built in 1997 in Greece, and spent the first part of her career on the Saronic Gulf. She was initially known as the GEORGIOS 2 of Akouriki Shipping Company, and was operating on the Piraeus-Aegina-Methana-Poros-Hydra-Spetses-Porto Cheli line. She continued to serve that line even after her company was absorbed by Minoan Flying Dolphins (which was renamed Hellas Flying Dolphins in 2002) following the 1999 season, and for whom she operated under the Saronikos Ferries division. After her company was rebranded as Hellenic Seaways in 2005, she was renamed ARTEMIS and continued to serve the Saronic Gulf, on the Piraeus-Aegina-Agistri-Methana-Poros-Hydra-Spetses line (2005-2007) and the Piraeus-Aegina-Methana-Poros line (2008).

The ARTEMIS seen maneuvering in the port of Kimolos. While she has been permanently operating on the inter-Cyclades lifeline since 2015, she also happened to be there from 2009 to 2012. Indeed, during that time, she had been chartered to ANEK Lines, and was operating on the Lavrion-Kea-Kythnos-Syros-Tinos-Andros-Paros-Naxos-Donousa-Amorgos-Milos-Kimolos-Folegandros-Sikinos-Ios-Santorini-Thirassia-Anafi line. This was at a time during which there were three ferries operating on the inter-Cyclades service, with the other two being the AQUA JEWEL and the AQUA SPIRIT of NEL Lines (the latter ship continued this service for two seasons under Sea Jets before being sold to Canadian company BC Ferries in 2017). This however stopped following the 2012 season, and the ship returned to Hellenic Seaways. She first operated on the Volos-Skiathos-Skopelos-Alonissos line on the Sporades in 2013, before making a comeback to the Saronic Gulf in 2014, as she was inserted on the Piraeus-Aegina-Agisitri-Methana-Poros line. In 2015, as stated above, she returned to the Cyclades, where she has since provided a vital service to all islands in which she stops.

The ARTEMIS seen undergoing her maneuvering procedure in Kimolos, a port that she has been serving since the 2015 summer season. The ship also stays throughout most of the year in active service, only taking a break for a month during the winter (and being usually replaced by one of her Hellenic Seaways fleetmates).

Another view of the ARTEMIS as she undergoes her maneuvering procedure in Kimolos. She is now the only ferry of Hellenic Seaways that operates on the Cyclades on the permanent basis, although the ARIADNE, which returned to the company after three years under charter to Italian company Tirrenia Di Navigazione, did serve islands like Paros, Naxos and Santorini while performing her new operations on the Dodecanese. The other ship currently operating on the inter-Cyclades service is the high speed ferry CALDERA VISTA of Sea Jets, which took over from her fleetmate, the ANDROS JET, following the latter's severe engine failure in 2020. While the ARTEMIS covers the Western Cyclades, the CALDERA VISTA serves the Lesser Cyclades and the Eastern Cyclades, as she is deployed on the Lavrion-Kea-Kythnos-Andros-Karystos-Tinos-Syros-Paros-Naxos-Donousa-Amorgos-Koufonisi-Schoinousa-Irakleia-Folegandros-Sikinos-Ios-Thirassia-Santorini-Anafi lifeline.

The ARTEMIS seen performing her maneuvering procedure in Kimolos. Just like it was the case for the DIONISIOS SOLOMOS, the ARTEMIS was also a part of my childhood memories, during her time on the Saronic Gulf. Indeed, during the largest portion of the 2000s as well as 2014, I saw her many times in Piraeus and in Aegina, which is the other island in which I spend a large part of my summer holidays in Greece. I also traveled with her a few times, possibly when she was operating as the GEORGIOS 2 as well (although I cannot remember this with certainty as I was too young and could not remember the trips that I did up until I turned 7 years old). My last trip with her was in 2007, when I was heading from Aegina to Piraeus.

One last view of the ARTEMIS as she prepares to dock in Kimolos.

And this therefore marks the end of my shipspotting session in the port of Kimolos, in which I saw two local ships as well as two ferries which were part of my childhood in both Zakynthos and Aegina, and which have now gone to experience much success on the Cyclades since the mid 2010s. It is nice to see that small and quiet (yet uniquely beautiful) islands are connected in some way with the rest of Greece, even though I believe that this service should be enhanced and more ships should stop by this precious place. As also stated in the previous post, I left the island on 1 July with the OSIA METHODIA in order to head to Milos, before making my way back to Piraeus with the SPEEDRUNNER III of Aegean Speed Lines. This stay in both Milos and Kimolos was the perfect way to start a nice summer in Greece, as I then went on to travel multiple times across a wide group of islands and ports, all of which will be shown in subsequent posts.

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