Until a few years ago “Naftilos” was a decommissioned sailboat which was largely damaged. Today, after its reconstruction by Archipelagos Institute, it has become a valuable means for marine mammals research in the Mediterranean.

“Naftilos” is not an ordinary sailing boat. It was built in Belgium 40 years ago as a “one-off” construction with special features that allow it to travel with low cost, over long and difficult trips in the world’s seas and oceans. It has three times the hull thickness than conventional sail boats, it has reinforced sails, the hull is divided into 26 separate compartments, while also has large fuel and water storage capacity, enabling great autonomy and the ability to travel continuously for weeks, without requiring refueling stops.

“Naftilos” as all the boats of Archipelagos Institute, was not obtained by public funds nor by donations, but by Archipelago’s own self funding efforts. All of our research boats  were initially found either confiscated or decommissioned, were purchased at low cost and were repaired and transformed with very hard and targeted work.

What is truly invaluable is the contribution and hard work of the “silent heroes”, the friends of Archipelagos who are specialized technicians (engineers, electricians, welders, etc.) who have been supporting for years the rebuilding of all our boats. In this way we are able to make the best use of our resources and efforts, in order to upgrade Archipelagos’ infrastructure with the aim of bringing greater results to the protection of our seas.

We found “Naftilos” in 2016 off Athens. The boat had been decommissioned for over a decade, had a damaged engine and was generally in poor condition, while what could be removed from the boat had been stolen. “Naftilos” was purchased at a low price due to its condition. In order to get to a condition safe to sail again, 40 days of very intensive and hard work were required by the Archipelagos staff and the skilled technicians who are always on our side to repair and refurbish our boats.

“Naftilos” made its first voyage as a research boat in Christmas 2016, traveling from Attica (off Athens) to the NE Aegean. There the repair works continued and it was soon transformed into a boat suitable for marine mammal research and got equipped with a Towed Hydrophone Array System (340m cable – 4 channel), with the ability to process and analyze underwater sounds on board using specialized software. It also contributes in research for the estimation of macroplastic and microplastic pollution, as well as on oceanographic data collection.

An important voyage of the “Naftilos” was in the framework of the ACCOBAMS Survey Initiative: the first large-scale parallel census of cetacean populations throughout the Mediterranean Sea. This difficult research expedition lasted almost 2 months and covered 3,000 miles in the waters between Crete, Libya and Malta. http://archipelago.gr/en/naftilos-embarks-accobams-survey-initiative/

Today, after having covered over 6,000 miles of surveys across the Aegean, Crete, and the central Mediterranean, “Naftilos” has just come out in the dry dock for repairs and maintenance, aiming to soon return back to action for the protection of our seas.