January is supposed to be a slow month for sea crossings. With rough waters whipped up by high winds, rubber rafts capsize, wooden boats sink — and it's cold. You could freeze in the water.
But on Wednesday morning last week, Vassilis Hantzopoulos has already seen 15 boats filled with asylum seekers on a tiny strip of sea separating Turkey from Greece and the rest of the European Union.
Hantzopoulos, a gravelly-voiced volunteer first-responder with the underfunded Hellenic Red Cross, stands on a cliff and scans the sea with binoculars.