Shipping in Skiathos
Shipping has been an irreplaceable part in the lives of the people of Skiathos since ancient times.
In the early 18th century, Turkish-imposed restrictions were removed from the peoples of Skiathos and they were able to build their own ships. The first shipyard was built in the beach of Kechria with the nearby pine forest providing with wood of excellent quality and quantity. Later, the shipbuilders of Skiathos established their shipyard at Ai-Giorgis near the lake.
However, the main development in the field of shipping comes at the second half of the 18th century. During this time Russia and Turkey were at war with each other and it was in 1774 that the Turks were forced to sign the treaty of Küçük Kaynarca. One of the articles of that treaty stated that ships under a Russian flag could conduct business in the Aegean. Back then, Russia was lacking a significant commercial fleet and it was that need that the Greeks covered, which also meant that Greek shipping development rose very quickly.
With this development in shipping, commerce and the Greek economy in the entire Agean also flourished. However, this also meant that piracy also rose in the area, putting the sailors of not only Skiathos but of the entire Aegean in grave danger. Therefore, all commercial ships were shortly after allowed to be equipped with cannons. It was these exact small commercial ships that later formed the Greek fleet during the Revolution of 1821.
In 1804, according to the “Statistiki” by Adamantios Korais, Skiathos had 12 ships crewed by 144 sailors and equipped with 48 canons. The fleet of Skiathos was well-equipped, and had an experienced, trained crew. As early as the days of Stathas and Nikotsaras (Nikos Tsaras), this fleet was used eventually used throughout the entire Greek Revolution, in multiple operations.
In the very late 19th century, the appearance of the motorboat meant that traditional sailing was quickly falling behind. The local community in Skiathos and other islands were unable to keep up with this development, and slowly but surely, shipping begun to decline. A few decades later, with the rapid raise in tourism, shipping was voluntarily put aside in Skiathos.
Nowadays, the inhabitants of Skiathos haven’t completely abandoned shipping, since quite a few of them are working in tourist boats and perform short daily trips to remote beaches or nearby islands. Since 2007, the monument to the Unknown Skiathos Sailor can be found next to the entrance of Mpourtzi.