“Varthalabau” is a Galleon which was constructed in 1980 in the Shipyards of Perama in Greece. Galleons are vessels that were initially used by the Spanish during the 16th century, but were later adopted by every naval nation and underwent various modifications. They have traditionally been used for sailing around the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea both as mercantile/armed cargo carriers and as war vessels.
The vessel’s mainframe is made of pine wood, its keel is made of eucalyptus wood and the outer hull of Iroko hardwood 3cm thick. The deck is made of the same material as well.
The deck consists of three levels. The stern and the bow are located higher than the middle section of the boat which features a gunwale at each side of the deck.
The ship is equipped with eight fully operational paddled 50mm iron cannons, located in the middle deck, four at each side and depended on their double holed and double corded tweezers. It has a ketch rigging with two masts, the main mast being larger than the mizzen, and possesses eleven sails, three jibs, one mainsail and six straps. The boat is also equipped with two Diesel engines that allow it to sail. The rigging also contains manila ropes, wooden tackles as regulators, ratlines and chain rodes.
ABANDONMENT AND RENOVATION
The entire concept and construction of the vessel belong to Nikos Kozakides who devoted time, personal effort and money in order for his dream to be materialized. The ship initially sailed under the name “Spear” for approximately eight years until 1988, when it was abandoned until 1995 and purchased by the owners of Skipper’s bar, who have traditionally been occupied with maritime related professions, like yachting and so the vessel found a place in the pier facing Skipper’s. From that point onward, a costly, physically exhausting and time consuming effort has been submitted in order to restore the boat to its current state. A new deck made of teak hardwood was added and the hall was reinforced with 1,200 10cm bronze screws. The entire hall was calked and its joints were filled with synthetic rubber. All electric parts were completely repaired or replaced and all internal spaces were reconstructed and decorated to resemble those of a pirate ship.
The ship’s arsenal consists of authentic Katana and Batavia swords, naval swords, trumpets, pistols, bullwhips (Cat o’ nine tails) and sabers. These weapons along with a treasure chest, decorate the ship’s main hall.
PARTICIPATION IN EVENTS AND REENACTMENTS
NAVAL WEEK 1996
In 1996, the Central Port Authorities of Rafina invited the ship and its crew to participate in the event “Naval Week 1996”. “Varthalabau” Galleon was anchored in the port of Rafina and visitors, including children from nearby schools, were allowed to board it.
MIAOULIA FESTIVALS 1999-2004
After the vessel was successfully renovated, it set sail to the island of Hydra to participate in the reenactment of the Battle of the Gulf of Patras that took place in 1822. The festival is held every year to honor Admiral Andreas Miaoulis who led various campaigns against the Ottoman Empire during the Greek War of Independence. The vessel participated in the Miaoulia festivals for 5 consecutive years.
BATTLE OF LEPANTO REENACTMENT 2004
In 2004, the Municipality of Nafpaktia invited the owner of “Varthalabau” Galleon, Alexis Melitas, to participate in the reenactment of the Battle of Lepanto that took place in 1571, between the fleet of the Holy League (mainly the Venetian Empire and the Spanish Empire) and the fleet of the Ottoman Empire. Alexis Melitas accepted under the condition that he would be allowed to enrich the festival by submitting a thought out proposal for reenacting the historical battle to the municipality of the island.
The end result was a spectacular reenactment, fully illustrating the battle that heavily impacted Europe, for the first time in the medieval port of the city, while thousands of spectators were present. The crew of the vessel consisted of members of the Hellenic Navy Special Forces, whereas many cultural associations from Italy, Spain, St. Dominic and other countries participated.
2004 OLYMPIC GAMES IN ATHENS
In 2004, during the Olympic Games in Athens, “Varthalabau” Galleon was used to transport numerous gold medals along with rewarded athletes of the French Federation “Canoe-Kayak” from the pier of Agios Kosmas to Skipper’s bar in the bay of Alimos. The athletes were welcomed by members of the French Government, hundreds of French civilians, French broadcast stations and trucks carrying Dom Perignon champagne.
“Varthalabau” Galleon participated in an event organized by the NGO “Make-A-Wish” for the purpose of fulfilling the wishes of a child named Dimitris who suffered from severe illness. His dream was to sail on a pirate ship and the NGO with the help of the Galleon’s owners managed to materialize it. The event took place in the Saronic Gulf and featured the rescue mission of a young girl that was abducted by pirates.
The galleon participated in the 2001 maritime carnival celebrations which were held at the Bay of Zea, winning the crowd’s admiration.
Numerous municipalities, associations and other bodies have requested the vessel’s participation in various events.
Numerous schools have organized educational trips to the Galleon, during one of which the students sailed around the bay of Alimos and were informed on the subjects of:
- Merchant rigger ships
- Pirates and Piracy
- Corsairs and Buccaneers
- Battleships used in the Greek War of Independence in 1821
The fascination and excitement the children felt were reflected in the essays they later wrote describing this unique experience which can be found in the vessel’s library.
“Varthalabau” Galleon is anchored in the Bay of Alimos where it is visited by individuals of every age, children and even newlywed couples who wish to be photographed on it. However, the vessel is greeted with enthusiasm, whenever it sails to other ports as well.
It is important to note that to this day the vessel has participated in all these events pro bono.
Our efforts have been made so that the vessel can be used in cultural events and can continue sailing and bringing happiness to children and adults.
Our message is:
“It is never too late to experience a happy childhood!”
“Varthalabau” was a popular child “gang” in the district of Agia Triada in the island of Zante. No one was aware of its exact meaning or origins but the children loved it because it signified and represented a way of life including stone wars with other child “gangs”, nighttime angling with stolen boats, playing in meadows, field trips, and other group activities children in the ‘50s and ‘60s used to engage in.
A more “conventional” version of “Varthalabau” that didn’t resolve around…“delinquency” was represented by a local football team, formed by children, that had existed for many generations with home ground a field next to the sea.
Many years later this field was turned into a beach resort with tennis courts, whereas “Varthalabau” endured through the memories of a few adults and in the ship’s wooden stern…