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  • Writer's pictureAlexandros Vrailas

GEORGIOS BROUFAS II Tribute and Moments of Trip

Trip: 3 July 2018. From Piraeus to Salamina, with the GEORGIOS BROUFAS II of Broufas Vessels.

The GEORGIOS BROUFAS II was built in Greece in 1998 for her namesake owner, Broufas Vessels, for service on the Piraeus-Salamina line (serving the ports of Kamatero and Paloukia). She was the second ship to be delivered to her owner, as the latter had also deployed her sister ship and fleetmate, the GEORGIOS BROUFAS, in 1997. Both ships have since been central figures of the connection between Piraeus and the Saronic Gulf island, which is the one located the closest to Athens. 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 little GEORGIOS BROUFAS II seen arriving in Piraeus, shortly before performing my trip with her.

More than two-and-a-half years after writing a blog post which was dedicated to the ships that connect Piraeus with Salamina, I finally found myself performing a trip with one of them. Indeed, while I was having an internship in Piraeus, I had a day off during the week and decided to take advantage of it by traveling to Salamina for the afternoon. A trip from Piraeus to Salamina might sound like a quick ride without any highlights, but it is actually, from a shipping enthusiast's point of view, an ideal journey. In fact, one can see dozens on ships as we head from the main port of Piraeus to Drapetsona, Keratsini, Perama, which include all repair zones and the laid-up ships in the area. Finally, while almost reaching Salamina and the port of Paloukia, several double-ended ferries operating on the Perama-Salamina line and small passenger boats also operating on that same line can be spotted. In other words, this trip is the true definition of paradise for shipping enthusiasts like me.

From a personal point of view, this trip marked my second-ever visit to the island of Salamina. The first one had been done 18 years prior, back in 2000, just a few days before my sister was born. Therefore, as I was just 17 months old back then, I do not have much memories about my first time in the historic island. Whether I went there by boat from Piraeus back then is uncertain, but this trip on 3 July 2018 was the first one that I would remember. It was certainly my first trip with the GEORGIOS BROUFAS II and with a ship owned by Broufas Vessels.

I arrived in Piraeus just a few minutes before 14:00. There, I spotted several ships, including the BLUE GALAXY of Blue Star Ferries, which operates on the Piraeus-Chania line.

In the E8 gate, where my departure point was located, I saw several other ships, with one of them being the catamaran FLYINGCAT 3 of Hellenic Seaways, which operates on the Saronic Gulf, serving the Piraeus-Poros-Hydra-Ermioni-Spetses-Porto Cheli line.

Next to the FLYINGCAT 3, I spotted two other Hellenic Seaways high speed craft operating on the Saronic Gulf. These were the sister ships hydrofoils FLYING DOLPHIN XVIII and FLYING DOLPHIN XVII. Both were built in 1984 for Ceres Flying Dolphins. The FLYING DOLPHIN XVII was inserted on the Piraeus-Aegina-Agistri-Poros-Hydra-Ermioni-Spetses-Porto Cheli line on the Saronic Gulf, which is were she has spent her entire career so far. The FLYING DOLPHIN XVIII was instead deployed on the Sporades, and remained there until 2005, when she joined her sister ship on the Saronic Gulf.

The veteran hydrofoil FLYING DOLPHIN XVIII seen resting in Piraeus.

And her sister ship, the FLYING DOLPHIN XVII, seen right behind her.

The FLYINGCAT 3 awaiting to load passengers. The 2018 season was her third season operating on the Saronic Gulf on a full-time basis. She had also operated in 2015 on the Piraeus-Hydra-Spetses line, providing extra service in addition to her operations on the Piraeus-Serifos-Sifnos-Koufonisi line where she was mainly based that summer.

Next to the high speed craft, I could spot yet another ship operating on the Saronic Gulf: the ferry PHIVOS of Nova Ferries, which operates on the Piraeus-Aegina-Methana-Poros line.

The FLYINGCAT 3 seen again in Piraeus. 2018 marked 20 years since her entry to service. Within these two decades, she has operated for Goutos Lines (1998-1999), Minoan Flying Dolphins/Hellas Flying Dolphins (1999-2005) and the latter's successor, Hellenic Seaways (since 2005).

The FLYINGCAT 3 having loaded most of her passengers.

The great PHIVOS of Nova Ferries. Four days after my trip with the GEORGIOS BROUFAS II, I would end up traveling with her, as I spent a weekend in Aegina with my brother and two other friends.

Another view of the PHIVOS. This was her fourteenth summer in Greece, with all of them spent on the Saronic Gulf under Nova Ferries. In all these years, no other ship in the region has matched her in terms of comfort, speed and overall service efficiency.

The FLYING DOLPHIN XVIII seen again in Piraeus.

While looking towards the port's exit, I noticed three other ships, two of which were headed for docking at the E8 gate: the hydrofoil FLYING DOLPHIN XXIX of Hellenic Seaways, the ferry POSIDON HELLAS of 2way Ferries and the ferry NISSOS RODOS of Hellenic Seaways. The POSIDON HLLAS also used to operate for Hellenic Seaways, before her sale to her current owners in 2015.

The POSIDON HELLAS seen approaching the E8 gate in Piraeus.

The FLYING DOLPHIN XXIX, Hellenic Seaways' third hydrofoil, seen approaching the E8 gate as well.

The POSIDON HELLAS, which was built in the same year as the GEORGIOS BROUFAS II. She has also spent her entire career on the Saronic Gulf, having operated under Poseidon Consortium Shipping (1998-1999), Minoan Flying Dolphins/Hellas Flying Dolphins under the Saronikos Ferries division (1999-2005), Hellenic Seaways (2005-2015) and 2way Ferries (since 2015). The latter is owned by the Papaïoannidis family, which also owned her under her Poseidon Consortium Shipping tenure.

The FLYING DOLPHIN XXIX, which has also spent her entire career on the Saronic Gulf. She is the youngest hydrofoil operating in the Greek coastal service.

The POSIDON HELLAS ready to maneuver in Piraeus.

The FLYING DOLPHIN XXIX preparing to dock as well.

Two Hellenic Seaways fleetmates, the FLYINGCAT 3 and the FLYING DOLPHIN XXIX, seen together in Piraeus.

The POSIDON HELLAS maneuvering in Piraeus.

Four Hellenic Seaways high speed craft seen together in Piraeus: the FLYING DOLPHIN XVIII, the FLYING DOLPHIN XVII, the FLYINGCAT 3 and the FLYING DOLPHIN XXIX.

The FLYING DOLPHIN XXIX preparing to dock in Piraeus.

The POSIDON HELLAS seen maneuvering in Piraeus.

The impressive POSIDON HELLAS preparing to dock in Piraeus.

The FLYING DOLPHIN XXIX docking in Piraeus.

Another view of the FLYINGCAT 3.

The POSIDON HELLAS docking in Piraeus, while our main focus for the day, the GEORGIOS BROUFAS II, is also seen approaching the port.

The POSIDON HELLAS docking next to the PHIVOS.

The GEORGIOS BROUFAS II also heading towards the E8 gate.

The GEORGIOS BROUFAS II preparing to maneuver in Piraeus.

The GEORGIOS BROUFAS II quickly maneuvering in Piraeus. Besides her original appearance, she also notably has a bulbous bow, as does her sister ship. No other small passenger ships serving Salamina have one.

The GEORGIOS BROUFAS II maneuvering in Piraeus.

The GEORGIOS BROUFAS II having finished her maneuvering procedure and now heading towards the dock of Piraeus.

The POSIDON HELLAS docking in Piraeus.

It was finally time to board the ship. This is what her indoor area looks like, and it is located on the first of the two decks the ship has. The lower deck features the indoor lounge area, while the upper deck features the bridge and the outdoor seats where passengers can stay throughout the trip.

The upper deck, which features a sun deck at the stern section of the ship.

The FLYING DOLPHIN XXIX seen again, while docking in Piraeus.

The FLYING DOLPHIN XVIII resting in Piraeus.

The FLYING DOLPHIN XXIX seen yet again.

The two hydrofoils FLYING DOLPHIN XVIII and FLYING DOLPHIN XXIX seen together in Piraeus, while the GEORGIOS BROUFAS II prepares to leave the port.

The FLYINGCAT 3 resting in Piraeus. Formerly a Cyclades-based catamaran, she has now been operating on the Saronic Gulf since 2016, while she had also performed a few trips on the Piraeus-Hydra-Spetses line in 2015.

We have now departed Piraeus. Here is the POSIDON HELLAS, which had successfully docked next to us.

Four high speed craft owned by Hellenic Seaways seen in Piraeus. These were the FLYING DOLPHIN XVIII, the FLYING DOLPHIN XXIX, the FLYING DOLPHIN XVII and the FLYINGCAT 3.

The PHIVOS and the POSIDON HELLAS. Since 2014, they turned their former rivalry into a partnership, as their owners joined the Saronic Ferries joint venture.

The Saronic Gulf veteran PHIVOS resting in Piraeus.

As we began to leave the E8 gate, I then spotted the ferry KRITI II of ANEK Lines, which operates on the Piraeus-Heraklion line.

The PHIVOS and the POSIDON HELLAS seen together in Piraeus.

The BLUE GALAXY resting in Piraeus. She has been operating on the Piraeus-Chania line since 2015.

The KRITI II and the BLUE GALAXY seen in Piraeus. Formerly fleetmates (as the BLUE GALAXY was previously owned by ANEK Lines, from 1999 to 2015) and both built in Japan, they operate under the ANEK-Attica Group joint venture.

As soon as she had docked, the FLYING DOLPHIN XXIX departed Piraeus in order to head towards Aegina.

In front of the BLUE GALAXY and the KRITI II, I was able to see one of their fiercest competitors: the FESTOS PALACE of Minoan Lines, which operates on the Piraeus-Milos-Heraklion line.

The impressive FESTOS PALACE, which was operating for the eighteenth straight summer on the Piraeus-Heraklion line. That summer however marked her first one on the Piraeus-Milos-Heraklion line, as the beautiful Cyclades island was added to her itinerary by Minoan Lines prior to the 2018 season.

I then passed by the NISSOS RODOS. Considering how small the GEORGIOS BROUFAS II is, I was forced to see the gigantic ferry while looking upwards.

The NISSOS RODOS seen in Piraeus. The 2018 season marked her first operating solely on the Piraeus-Chios-Mytilene line. Before that, if charters overseas are excluded, she has had experience on the Corinth-Venice line (two different stints), on the Piraeus-Paros-Kos-Rhodes line (on the Cyclades and the Dodecanese) and on the Northeast Aegean Sea lifeline, where she also made stops in several Cyclades islands (Syros and Mykonos, or Paros and Naxos) and in Patmos.

Besides the NSISOS RODOS, I was thrilled to see a well-known ferry for the first time in more than three years: it was the fantastic DIAGORAS of Blue Star Ferries, which had returned to Greece following two years under Africa Morocco Link (a subsidiary of Attica Group). Previously operating on the Dodecanese lifeline, she entered service in 2018 on the Piraeus-Mykonos-Patmos-Ikaria-Fournoi-Samos-Chios-Mytilene-Limnos-Kavala lifeline, replacing the NISSOS RODOS.

The DIAGORAS, a ship that very few people thought they would be seeing operating in Greece for the second time in her career, spotted in Piraeus. Against all odds, she made it back to the Greek coastal service and had a good first season on her new duties, which she shared with Hellenic Seaways, which was acquired by Attica Group in early 2018.

The Japanese bow of the NISSOS RODOS. She arrived in Greece in 2005. Before that, she was owned by the Japanese company Taiheiyo Ferry. Her sister ship, the KITAKAMI, was still operating for the latter as of 2018, but due to a newly-built ferry replacing her, she has been sold for scrap, being only 30 years old (and two years younger than the NISSOS RODOS).

A view of the DIAGORAS and the NISSOS RODOS. Both ships were built in Japan, both ships' names are related to the island of Rhodes (Diagoras was a well-known Ancient Rhodian athlete), both had past experience on the Dodecanese and both now operate on the Northeast Aegean Sea. The DIAGORAS actually took over the lifeline on which the NISSOS RODOS was operating from 2015 to 2017. Between both ships, the floating museum HELLAS LIBERTY, a Liberty ship, can be seen.

As we start exiting the port, I saw another ship with experience on the Northeast Aegean Sea and the Dodecanese, and also with a stint overseas before making a comeback to Greek waters, just like both the NISSOS RODOS and the DIAGORAS did. This time, the description corresponded to that of the NISSOS CHIOS, also owned by Hellenic Seaways.

The DIAGORAS seen resting in Piraeus, in her first summer back in Greece.

The NISSOS CHIOS also resting in Piraeus. Just like the DIAGORAS, she also returned to Greece in 2018 after previously operating on the Western Mediterranean Sea. Indeed, between the summers of 2014 and 2017, she had been chartered to the Spanish company Baleària, and her service under the latter was a massive success. But, fortunately, she is now back to the country where she was built and where she successfully began her career, and this none other than Greece.

Another view of the DIAGORAS.

The NISSOS CHIOS in Piraeus. I had previously seen her on 17 June 2018, when I did my trip with the SUPERRUNNER of Golden Star Ferries as she was seen leaving Naxos.

The NISSOS CHIOS seen in Piraeus. Before her charter to Baleària, she operated for Hellenic Seaways mainly on the Piraeus-Chios-Mytilene line. In 2018, she initially was deployed on the Piraeus-Paros-Naxos-Ios-Santorini line, replacing the very successful service covered by her fleetmate, the NISSOS SAMOS, the previous summer. However, after Hellenic Seaways was taken over by Attica Group, the latter controversially terminated this line and deployed the NISSOS CHIOS on the Dodecanese lifeline (instead of the returning DIAGORAS which operated there for many years in the past). Her service for 2018 was spent on the Piraeus-Paros-Naxos-Ikaria-Fournoi-Astypalaia-Patmos-Leipsoi-Leros-Kalymnos-Kos-Nisyros-Tilos-Symi-Rhodes-Karpathos-Castellorizon line. Additionally, every Saturday she operated on the Piraeus-Chios-Mytilene line, a line very familiar for this great ferry.

The NISSOS CHIOS resting in Piraeus, in what was an extremely busy summer for her and her crew.

The FLYING DOLPHIN XXIX, a fleetmate of the NISSOS CHIOS, seen exiting Piraeus alongside the GEORGIOS BROUFAS II.

The FLYING DOLPHIN XXIX beginning to activate her engines at full-speed as she prepares to exit Piraeus.

The FLYING DOLPHIN XXIX now at full-speed at she exits Piraeus.

The FLYING DOLPHIN XXIX having left Piraeus and now heading towards Aegina.

While the FLYING DOLPHIN XXIX was heading towards the Saronic Gulf and the wider Aegean Sea, the GEORGIOS BROUFAS II in the meantime began to head towards Salamina, which can only be accessed by the small passageway leading ships near the island of Psyttaleia, and the suburban neighborhoods of Drapetsona, Keratsini and Perama. Drapetsona can be spotted as soon as a ship heads West of the Piraeus exit pier. There, a large pier features various ships of all types, with some undergoing a refit while other remaining out of service. One of these ships was one that I knew quite well: the ZAKYNTHOS 1 of Kefalonian Lines. She suffered an engine failure prior to the summer 2018 season, which was never repaired and she missed the whole season (being replaced by the company's new acquisition, the ALEXANDRA L). Her future is now even further in doubt, as recent news stated that Kefalonian Lines ceased operations on the Ionian Sea and sold their flagship, the NISSOS KEFALONIA, to rivals Levante Ferries. The fates of the ZAKYNTHOS 1 and of the ALEXANDRA L are now uncertain. Kefalonian Lines stated that they plan to operate outside of the Ionian Sea, although this seems like a really long shot.

Next to her was the high speed ferry PAROS JET of Sea Jets. Unlike the ZAKYNTHOS 1, she was not permanently laid-up, instead she was just waiting to cover the service left by one her fleetmates in case she would suffer an engine failure. Generally, the PAROS JET was a spare ship used by Sea Jets in all their areas of operations. She was also deployed on the Sporades and on the Piraeus-Chania line when ships owned by other companies and operating on these areas also went on to experience technical issues.

In the meantime, the FLYING DOLPHIN XVII had also left Piraeus and was also heading towards Aegina.

Next to the PAROS JET, I spotted the ferry PRINCE, a ship which had been recently acquired by European Seaways (or A-Ships Management), a company owned by the Arkoumanis family and which has been present on the Adriatic Sea since 1990. The ship was formerly known as the WIND AMBITION of C-Bed Floating Hotels, and has had several spells in Northern Europe (and also served on the Adriatic Sea as the ÇEŞME under the Turkish company Marmara Lines from 2002 to 2010). She was undergoing the last stages of her preparation for entry to service in Drapetsona, before sailing a few days after my trip to Igoumenitsa, where she spent her debut season under A-Ships Management on the Igoumenitsa-Corfu-Brindisi line.