A reconstruction of the legendary first long ship Argo, which according to ancient Greek myth carried Jason and his Argonauts to recover the Golden Fleece from Colchis, will set sail from the beaches of Volos on Saturday to the strains of the local symphony orchestra, assisted by some 50 people at the oars.
The ship will be seen off in the calm waters of Pagasitic Gulf with due pomp and circumstance, following the traditional blessing by Dimitriada Metropolitan Ignatios, speeches by Volos Mayor Alekos Voulgaris and Deputy Interior Minister Athanassios Nakos and an address by the head of the 'Argo' research programme, Vice-admiral Apostolos Kourtis of the coast guard.
The modern-day Argo is a reconstruction of an ancient Greek penteconter with a ram (a ship with one tier of 50 oars, 25 on either side) and a simple sail that was built of half-cured wood cut from forest timber.
It is built along the line of prehistoric ships of the Greek mainland in the 14th century B.C. and belongs to the same family as Homer's long ships and the later ram-bearing warships of antiquity.
The present-day penteconter Argo is expected to travel between 10 and 15 nautical miles a day until it reaches its final destination in Venice, stopping at 37 ports on the way. It will be accompanied by the ship Hellenic Seaways, where the rowers of the penteconter will eat, wash, dress and receive medical treatment.
The ship's journey is expected to be completed in the port of Venice on August 12 and until July 7 it will be sailing in Greek waters, accompanied by coast guard vessels. During the trip it will raised six flags, equal to the number of countries whose waters it will traverse. These include Greece, Albania, Croatia, Slovenia, and Italy.
It is also scheduled to stop at several ports and harbours along the way, where it will remain for one day and be part of various cultural events.
Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas has officially opened an international conference on the journey of the Argonauts organised by the Greek Parliament and the municipality of Volos.