Homeric Cultural Center of the Municipality of Chios

In 1994 an international conference, Evolution of wooden naval architecture in the eastern Mediterranean during the 18th and 19th centuries, was held on the island of Chios. Jointly sponsored by the Greek Ministry of Culture, the National Research Institute (Center of Modern Greek Studies), the Nautical Museum of Greece, and the Homeric Cultural Center of the Municipality of Chios, the conference took place under the auspices of the UNESCO program "Complete study of the silk roads, roads of dialogue".

“Faneromeni” and two other traditional boats were invited to participate in this conference and provide a “living presence” of Greek traditional ships. The other two ships were the karavoskaro (καραβόσκαρο) Ayios Nikolaos (belonging then to Yiorgos Demelas and Dimitris Prokopiou) and the barkalas (βαρκαλάς) Ayios Dimitrios from Chios (then belonging to Dimitris Platingos).

Among the conference activities was a day excursion to the Oinouses islands. The conferees were split into three groups, each group boarding one of the three wooden boats. Among those on the “Faneromeni” was Mr. Yiannis Vlassopoulos, the scholar of naval history from Ithaca.

During the passage we had a nice breeze and opened all of “Faneromeni’s” sails. Following our example, the other two boats opened their sails as well. It was a magnificent sight.

Captain Yiannis Vlassopoulos—who is not a sea-faring captain but who descends from nautical families of Ithaca on both his father’s and his mother’s sides—was enthused and very emotional because from childhood he dreamed of one day sailing on an old traditional sailboat. And just then his dream was realized.

I, in turn, told him that I respected and admired him because I had read his book Odysseas, a ship from Ithaca, 1837-1841 and that as a result I now dreamed of traveling with my caïque to the Black Sea.

 

The barkalas (βαρκαλάς) Ayios Dimitrios.

From The Wooden Walls by the Vrondados Gymnasion, Chios

 

This was the beginning of our warm friendship.

I note here that, since the publication in 1992 of captain Antonis Petala-Maratos’ logbook, Mr. Vlassopoulos has made a specialty of reading very old manuscripts (of which there are, fortunately, a fair number in the Ithaca Historical Archive). With his new skill, captain Yiannis has managed to study many manuscripts that illuminate previously unknown aspects of nautical history during the 18th and 19th centuries. He has already published several books containing new elements concerning Ithaca’s nautical history.

Several years after the conference I visited the island of Ithaca (where the Vlassopoulos family resides) with the “Faneromeni”. I then met Mrs. Vlassopoulos, a charming lady.

Mr. Vlassopoulos then asked my permission to come to Glyfada, where I moor “Faneromeni”, and photograph her in order to make a model of her. I agreed, and he came and took photographs.

More than a year went by before he visited Athens again (he was then living in London). During the Christmas season he telephoned me to arrange for a get-together. We met in the Mperdema restaurant in Kifisia, a northern suburb of Athens. Mrs. Vlassopoulou was with him. I observed that Mr. Vlassopoulos had a bag with him. During the meal he opened the bag and took out a nice wooden box that he gave to me saying: “This is for you.” I could not imagine what was in this box. I opened the box and to my great surprise found inside a wonderful model of the “Faneromeni”. I could not believe my eyes.

This was another moving moment that I experienced, thanks to the “Faneromeni” and captain Yiannis Vlassopoulos.

  

Model of the “Faneromeni” given to me by Mr. Vlassopoulos.

(Archive of Nikos E. Riginos)