Maritime History

Due to its position and its safe port, Skiathos was meant to
play a big part both in the shipbuilding and seafaring tradition.
The relationship of Skiathians with shipping begun centuries
ago and it still evolves seamlessly to this day.

In 478 BC, Skiathos became a member of the Delian (or
First Athenian) League paying an annual tax to maintain the
league’s fleet. Later, they acceded to the Second Athenian
League. During the war of the Athenians against Philip II of
Macedon, the island was used as a naval base of operations,
according to Demosthenes. During the turbulent years that
followed, Macedonians, Romans, Venetians and Ottomans
used Skiathos as a base from which they set to accomplish
their conquering plans.
Maritime History

The Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca (1774), a milestone for Greek shipping, allowed captains to make their ships bigger and to expand their activities both in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has been established that Giannis Chatzistamatis, captain and father of the cofounder of the Monastery of Evangelistria in Skiathos, acquired great fortune through his trips to the Danube Principalities, which is not surprising considering the heritage left for his son Gregorys. Dimitrakis Agalos Oikonomou, father to Epiphanios-Stefanos Dimitriadis should also be noted: with his ship he travelled to the river in Wallachia, as mentioned by Papadiamantis. However, apart from the excellent shipwrights, what also played a huge part in the development of Skiathian seafaring was the cooperative spirit which was cultivated since the end of the 17th century and was based on trust and honesty among the Skiathians. This combination of both commerce and seafaring is a particular characteristic of the Greek spirit and was common in all the Skiathians.

In 1804, according to Adamantios Korais, Skiathos had 12 ships, 144 sailors and 48 cannons. Lambros Katsonis and Nikotsaras recruited experienced and courageous sailors from Skiathos and Skopelos. Therefore, the skiathian fleet was well equipped and those ships were used throughout the entire Greek Revolution in a multitude of operations.

The independence of Greece from the Turkish yoke found Skiathos and the neighbouring islands at the same time in the dominion of the small Greek state and in its border since the shores of Magnesia, only a couple of miles away still belonged to the Turks.

Moving the small town from the secluded Kastro to the port where it stands today, gave a huge boost in the development of both naval architecture and the art of seamanship. The enterprise and the unwearied vitality typical of the Skiathians of that era, the abstemious lifestyle and, above all else, the cooperative spirit -the crew had a share of the profits- were the pillars on which Skiathian seafaring was developed.

When in 1833 the island demogerons permitted logging of the thick forests of the island -particularly the Aradia area, above Kechria, where there was abundant timber of various kinds-, intensive construction of sailing boats begun. Chief craftsmen were Konstantinos Floumis, Georgios Giannoulis and Dimitrios Alexandrou from Skopelos and the Skiathian Stamatis Stamatas.

According to the extant shipbuilding contracts, the chief craftsmen wanted to be referred to as “master engineers”, even though they were completely illiterate and had to sign through the hand of people that knew rudimentary writing.

So, these illiterate master engineers faced no difficulties in building ships that piqued the interest and attention of scientists-engineers both in and outside Greece because of their size and their exceptional lines. James Kennedy, the captain of the British Royal Navy, in one of his reports to the British Admiralty, praises these illiterate ship builders. In addition, the Admiralty in its official publications makes a reference to the great port of the island and the Skiathian art of shipbuilding. The Skiathian chief shipbuilders were issuing shipbuilding contracts as the ship’s papers.

The progress in commerce of Skiathos around 1833 is evident for other reasons as well, such as the permanent settling of merchants from other parts of Greece in Skiathos. Τhe merchants’ settlement in the island bears testament to the vigour of the Skiathian commercial fleet - they were coming in direct contact with the captains/owners and they were concluding in person all kinds of chartering and commercial transactions. Records prove that the Skiathian captains of merchant ships had excellent knowledge of the terms and clauses of the international maritime standards. Moreover, the cargo meant to travel abroad was phrased in such a way as to bring to mind today’s contracts drawn up by the UK Chamber of Shipping.

Nowadays, the island boasts Skiathos’ Maritime and Cultural Tradition Museum in the cultural center Bourtzi, where the shipbuilding and maritime tradition typical of Skiathos island throughout the ages is substantially presented.