by John Faraclas
I have been very fortunate, spoiled but also well acquainted with extensive knowledge on fast Catamarans, Trimarans, Monohulls, Hydrofoils, Hovercrafts and Ferries on various international routes since 1962 – when I come across The Express, a hydrofoil, serving the Argo-Saronic Gulf islands and the north-east coast of the Peloponnese (Argolis); a phenomenon craft and more than an advanced floating object for its time in Greek waters.
I had a unique experience in sailing with the Express to Spetses, a seaplane so to speak – like all mentioned types above, in virtually 90 minutes from Marina Zeas calling at Aegina, Methana, Poros, Hydra, and Ermioni. She could do 55 to 65 minutes directly Marina Zeas to Spetses instead of the three to four hours – sometimes five by the conventional small passenger ships… My 1964 experience, thanks to my father, a master mariner, before going to Anargyrios and Korgialenios College of Spetses – a boarding college, is still on my mind.
Our trip to the island of Hydra with Anny Zade three weeks ago to attend the 13th Hydra Shipping Conference* was more than an additional experience following our first encounter a year ago going to Spetses.
The voyage begins
Setting off from Piraeus’ main port Gate E8 where the Speed Cat I berths, we noticed two unique things just before embarkation:
All passengers luggage where marked by a band ticket tape with a unique number stating also the port of call – like we do when checking-in at the airports, saving valuable time, security and safety reducing also the turn-around time, as well as avoiding claims.
The managers with office personnel where on the pier/berth overseeing all actions; a hands-on-business at its best!
The Speed Cat I was slightly delayed, as there was a lot of sea-traffic whilst entering Piraeus Port…
Have just mentioned above that this trip and the return to Piraeus was quite an additional experience as:
Surprisingly enough, Antigone Giogli, one of the two female hostesses greeted us with our surname. In this way, you evaluate the communication skills of a ship’s crew and how they “familiarised” with passengers; smiling faces too. We were then ushered to the business class and offered complimentary drinks, dips and mags from Angeliki Karakatsani.
Immediately upon departure, through big TV screens, the safety-animated billingual instructions were given for the passengers’ safety (see photo above).
Passing through the straits of Galatas and a quick stop at Poros Island, we arrived in Hydra on time and we noticed that the vessel’s speed (including her block speed), manouverability, stopping power and low wash characteristics are key design and refurbishment attributes for this route.
Easy come easy go we collected our luggage and headed to Filenia Hotel, before going to the organisers evening reception at the Sahinis’ Family historic mansion.
Among shipping and geopolitical as well as environmental discussions with our host and guests, we exchanged views on the prons and cons as well as the experiences of the ships they come, and ours was the best.
An Award winning company and Ship
Mind me; this Alpha Lines catamaran won in 2021 the Lloyd’s List Greek Shipping Award for the best Passenger Company of the Year!
Above all many congratulations to Speed Cat I’s master, captain Manolis Trasanis and his entire discipline crew for their Seamanship and maintaining a very eco-policy and safety on all fronts. Needless to mention noticing the preventive maintenance as well as the fact that everything was intact alike the first time we sailed with her, proving Alpha Lines’ shipping business philosophy, a charisma of traditionalism!**
We look forward to more trips as well as to see another Cat in the route enhancing Alpha’s share in the Market.
*Alpha Lines were one of the sponsors of this event.
** Remember: “Shipping is the attainment of Money and Seafarers”.