Boatyards on the tip of the Pelion

Traditional craftsmanship in Greece – boatyard on the tip of the Pelion

In the fishing port Agia Kiriaki, kaiki, traditional wooden boats, are repaired in the boatyard Kikynthos.

Along the Pagasetic Gulf, a winding coastal road leads to the remote end of the Pelion peninsula. The small village of Trikeri is located as the last highlight on its tip. At the foot of the mountain, facing the Aegean Sea, lies the fishing port Agia Kiriaki. At its entrance, protected in a bay, we find the boatyards Kikynthos. “Our neighbor is my brother”, Apostolis Kouri tells us very casually. Many years ago, each one stroke out on their own. “We repair traditional wooden boats, he mainly takes care of iron cutters.”

Each support is a unicum
A smell of motor oil and varnish is in the air. Underneath the boat hulls supports are lined up artfully much like sculptures. Tall, homebuilt ladders next to heavy iron chains, scattered wooden planks and iron parts round off an impressive scenery. Efmorfia Kouri, his daughter in law and his son Vangelis are managing the business of the boatyard. “We only repair boats”, Efmorfia tells us. “My husband no longer knows how to build the caïques, the traditional wooden boats, but” she affectionately pats her father in law on the back “you can tell us all about it.”

 

With hammer and brush
The boatyards was founded in 1925 and is already in the third generation. They have stopped constructing caïques a long time ago, the old man tells us. For him this is the past, he prefers to show us all the work that’s still to be done today and puts on an overall. He leads us to a boat close to the water. “These supports”, he points to an adventurous construction of stacked beams, “ have to be removed today. Tomorrow we will put the boat into the water.“ He fetches a heavy hammer and, with sweeping blows, starts to loosen the construction on the long side of the hull. He regularly stops to take a break. Putting down the hammer he gazes almost longingly to the horizon of the sea. The profession requires physical strength. In the later years of life everything takes more time.

Waiting for the launch of the boats
The caïques that have been repaired during winter will be launched in the weeks to come. “We have prepared them for the next season”, Efmorfia explains us. Their joints are puttied, they are newly painted and their motors have been overhauled. Fishermen bring their boats for reparations all year long but the winter months remain the peak season for the Kikynthos boatyard. “Our clients come from everywhere”, Efmorfia tells us. Apostolis points to a big cable winch: “We will use it to put the boat into the water tomorrow.”

A special thanks to Annika Barbarigos and Emmanouel Vernicos of the Traditional Boat Association of Greece.