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Old, gnarled, cross-legged fishermen mending bright yellow or dark crimson nets are one of the everyday sights of the Greek islands, and no island harbour is complete without its flotilla of tiny, brightly painted fishing boats. Almost all of them bear the names of a local saint, who protects both boat and boatmen. This is a very traditional form of life insurance, and is reflected onshore in the tiny chapels dedicated to the Panagia (Virgin), built by grateful fishermen in thanks for their safekeeping and livelihood at sea. You can see traditional wooden caïques being built and repaired in the harbours of Kokkári and Karlovási on Sámos, Sými, Thásos, and at other island ports. If you look closely at the prow of one of these little vessels, you'll often see a diamond shape cut into the wood - a stylised version of the eye painted on the prow of the ancient triremes and a reminder that the captains of these little fishing-boats are descendants of the sailors who trounced the Persian fleet at Salamis.
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