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Yiannis Latsis’ "Fairy" is again sailing around the Argo-Saronic Islands

10 September 2013 / 15:09:22  GRReporter
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63 years after its first journey to the Argo-Saronic Gulf, ship "Neraida" ("Fairy"- author’s note) of legendary Greek ship owner Yiannis Latsis will sail again along the route which it had served. The ship will sail to the usual ports but as a floating museum this time, promising its passengers a journey to the past.

It will start on 14 September and will last 15 days. "Neraida" will set off to its traditional destinations, namely Spetses, Ermioni, Hydra, Poros, Aegina and Methana and will remain for several days at each of them thus allowing the passengers to visit and see them. The schedule of the ship is as follows:

Spetses - from 14 to 17 September

Ermioni - from 17 to 19 September

Hydra - from 20 to 21 September

Poros - from 22 to 24 September

Methana - from 24 to 25 September

Aegina - from 26 to 29 September

The dates could be changed due to changes in weather conditions.

"After the journey "Neraida" will sail back to Elefsina where it will also be open to the public," states John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation for GRReporter. The schedule of visits for the region of Athens has not yet been announced.

An interesting fact about "Neraida" is that the ship was used in the Hollywood production "Boy on a Dolphin", filmed in 1957 and starring Sophia Loren. Today it shows photographs and items related to its history and in its front part, there is a separate room dedicated to Yiannis Latsis’ life.

The Foundation says that the attempts to turn the ship into a museum had started back in 2010 and the process faced bureaucratic difficulties. John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation has entirely funded the project and the visits will be free of charge.

History of "Neraida"

The ship was built in 1939 in the town of Fiume (now Rijeka) in western Croatia and its original name was "Laurantha". From 1939 to 1941 it transported passengers in the northern Adriatic Sea. In 1941 it was turned into a rescue boat and was used as such by Italy during World War II. In 1943 it was conquered by the British Navy in Tunisia but continued to sail under the Italian flag based in Malta’s capital Valletta.

In 1946 the British government sold the ship to a Maltese company and for several years it transported cargo from Malta to Syracuse.

Yiannis Latsis bought it in 1949. The ship was repaired and Greece’s Prime Minister of the time Nikolaos Plastiras had officially named it in April 1950. Publications of the time read that an open vote for the name of the ship took place during the journey. Each of the invited had written his or her proposal on a sheet of paper. Although the majority of the proposals were for the name "Eli", the name "Neraida", which is associated with Hydra, had ultimately prevailed. The island is the birthplace of Plastiras and the ceremony connected with the ship’s naming took place there.

Then, until 1970, the ship transported passengers and cargo to various destinations in the Argo-Saronic Gulf. The journeys were carried out on a daily basis and their starting point was the port of Piraeus. Every Wednesday the route was extended to Leonidio and every Friday to Monemvasia in the Peloponnese.

"Neraida" "took part" in many Greek and foreign film productions (the trailer of "Boy on a Dolphin" with Sophia Loren is available here) and many politicians and artists were greeted on its deck.

At the time the ship was considered as the most important investment of Yiannis Latsis who had had two other, smaller-sized ships. He was especially fond of "Neraida" and, according to his contemporaries, he did not want the passengers to pay for their tickets sometimes and transported them for free.

This was the main reason why "Neraida" managed to escape the fate of all the old ships, although it had stopped sailing in 1974. In 2007 Latsis' family had decided to transport it by another ship to Croatia for repairs which lasted about three years.

At the same time, two groups of researchers had begun collecting materials regarding Yiannis Latsis’ life and work in Greece, Switzerland, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other countries. The collection amounted to 7,000 photos, 2,000 of which have been digitized. Now they can be seen during the visits on board "Neraida". The Foundation has also published a book that bears the name of the ship and presents the life and work of Captain Yiannis Latsis.

Tags: HistoryShipNeraidaJohn S. Latsis Public Benefit FoundationFloating museum
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