By Sue Ellen Woodcock
When you are born and raised on the sea it stays with you. Kyriacos Bougiouris has fond memories of his life on Syros Island, in the Greek islands, much of them revolve around the sea and especially ships.
It’s no surprise he joined the Greek Merchant Marines. He traveled the world and rose to become an officer in the merchant marines. During his travels he watched a fellow sailor spend his time making wooden tall ships by hand, with painstaking detail.
“I love the water and the ocean and ships,” Bougiouris said, next to one of his ships in a display case in his home. “The first ship I ever saw off the coast was the Amerigo Vespucci.”
But he recalls the first ships he used to make as a child, little paper ones shaped like a hat. His first wooden ship was made from a 12-inch block of wood.
“I gave it to my mother,” he said, adding that the biggest ship he has made is 31-inches in length. He took him over 400 hours to make – not all at once – but while he was also working on other projects around the house. In actuality is was over a period of 10 years.
Each one of the ships he’s carved have been made of ash or balsa wood. They are beautifully detailed just like any real ship would be. The rigging, railings, lifesaving boats and every other part of the ship are all made by hand with a knife and Dremel tool. His work is a testament to his patience and keen eye to detail.
He starts simply by looking at a photo of a ship, he even collects ship calendars, shapes the hull and plans the detail work. He takes his time, sometimes working on a burst creativity.
Bougiouris came to the United States at the age of 36 after he met his wife Elaine. For the past 46 years they have lived in Revere. She has supported and encouraged his hobby and is proud of the displays they have.
One ship on display at their house is a replica of the Agios Nikolas, or Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of Greek sailors. The hull is a large, solid piece of ash and the ship stands regal in its case.
“I was born and raised on the island, with no radio or television. My mom used to crochet,” Bougiouris said.