Travels with S/Y Thetis

Thetis only

2001: Near Samos

This web page contains the logs of the first leg of a trip that I took with S/Y Thetis in the Aegean in Greece after spending several weeks with my family in the island of Samos. The logs cover a period of 5 days of sailing, in the company of another boat from Samos to Agathonisi. On the way we stopped in the islands of Arki, Marathi, Tiganakia, Lipsi, and Patmos.

The logs are illustrated with maps and photographs and also includes some historical and geographical descriptions of the places visited as well as several links to other related web sites.

Route Near Samos
Route Near Samos

July 1 to August 18, 2001

While I stayed with my family in our home in Kalami, Thetis stayed at Pythagorio until July 25. She was grounded there because I had to send all her official documents to Mr. Bibis in Piraeus for him to obtain a new “Certificate of Nationality” reflecting her new status as a “pleasure boat” instead of her old “professional boat” status. During this time I also received the repaired mainsail.

When the documents finally arrived, Alice and I moved Thetis to Poseidonio where we moored her using the large fisherman’s anchor that I had purchased last year. On the way, we stopped for lunch and a swim and started a long overdue project: to thoroughly clean all her inner spaces. Thetis stayed in Poseidonio until August 14.

The saga of our life in Kalami has a new chapter. Last year our wonderful caretaker of the property in Kalami, Telemachos, had a stroke. While he now seems to have made a complete recovery, he is unable to continue cultivating Kalami. Very luckily Telemachos found us a new man, Yiorgos Hadjipanayiotis. Yiorgos was determined to make wine from our grapes. To this end we bought a 100 liter wooden barrel and under the direction of Yiorgos, Alice, Cynthia, and I harvested the grapes, pressed them, and put the must into the barrel to ferment. It was quite an experience. Now we are all very anxiously waiting to see if indeed this will produce any drinkable wine.

Wine Making

The Cutting of the Grapes


The Crushing of the Grapes


The Pressing of the Grapes


Into the Barrel for Fermenting

I was also contacted by my sailing companion Manos Castrinakis. He eventually would like to buy his own boat. In preparation for this he wants to charter a sailboat out of Pythagorio for a week and sail her accompanied by me on Thetis. This small cruise was scheduled to begin on August 19.

Dr. Alice Riginos, whose classes at Howard University are starting next week, left for Washington, D.C. Dr. Cynthia Riginos, will also be leaving on August 19 for Sweden where she will be collecting mussels for her DNA research in Duke University on marine species dispersal. With these departures I have no reason to stay in Samos any longer.

On August 14 Cynthia and I moved Thetis back to Pythagorio so that we could depart with Manos and his chartered boat at the same time. During this short sail, from Poseidonio to Pythagorio, I noticed that the raw water cooling pump had developed a leak. Thinking that its seal was broken, I removed the pump and replaced the seal but it still has a slow leak.

Sunday August 19 2001, Day 1

Yesterday Manos Castrinakis and his crew arrived in Samos and took possession, in Pythagorio, of the S/Y Sea Rose a Beneteau Oceanis 321 from Mr. Hugo the local manager of Seafarer. Manos’ crew consists of Nadia Demetropoulou, our sailing companion from last year, and Dr. Dimitris Lalas and his wife Lisa. Dimitris is a high school classmate of mine from Athens College but I had not seen him since those days. He has had a distinguished academic career in the US which culminated with a professorship at the University of Athens. He is presently the director of the Athens Observatory, the parent organization of the Greek Weather service. This is the service which prepares the forecasts transmitted by Navtex.

In the early morning, after closing the house in Kalami, I moved back in Thetis at Pythagorio. Manos and crew were still asleep in Sea Rose. While Manos and Dimitris prepared Sea Rose for departure, I washed down Thetis and topped her water tanks and the sun-shower. Our plan was to sail to Arki.

Thetis departed Pythagorio at 1050. Sea Rose had already left because Thetis’ departure procedures, like stowing her passarella, are more complicated. Outside the harbor the wind was variable and I had to motor-sail until we went past Samiopoula, about ⅓ of the distance to Arki. At that time the wind settled to 15-22 knots from the NW. This allowed me to sail with the full mainsail and about 50% of the headsail. It was a very pleasant sail. Thetis being longer than Sea Rose easily overtook her.

We arrived in Glypappas, Arki [37° 22.4' N 26° 44.4' E] at 1530. The distance we traveled was 22.5 M. I anchored and waited for Sea Rose. They had considerable trouble anchoring, and when the wind freshened up Thetis too dragged her anchor and I had to re-anchor. The crew from Sea Rose became rather concerned about how securely they were anchored and were uneasy to spend the night here.

We decided to move across to the small island of Marathi [37° 22 N 026° 43.6' E] which is more secure and has laid moorings. We departed at 1830 and motored the 1 M distance. We each, Thetis and Sea Rose, caught one of the green moorings belonging to the original Marathi restaurant (the rival establishment has white moorings).

In the evening we had a nice dinner at the Marathi restaurant which is run by three bearded brothers. It is hard to tell them apart.

Somewhere, but I cannot recall where or how, I must had banged my elbow because by the evening it had swollen and it hurt.

Monday August 20 2001, Day 2

Early in the morning I busied myself with oiling all the teak surfaces which during the weeks in Samos had dried out. I had run out of “teak oil” but I could not find any in Samos, so I had asked Manos to bring me some. Today was my first opportunity to use it.

Our plan today was to go for lunch in the area S of Arki known as Tiganakia. It is a very beautiful area and it consists of several islets and reefs and has very clear but swallow water. It is, however, hard to navigate because not all these islets and reefs are in the charts. Nadia came with me to keep a bow watch.

We left Marathi at 1145 and motored the 1 M to Tiganakia. Both boats anchored and we had lunch aboard Sea Rose. We all swam in the clear turquoise waters.

We left Tiganakia at 1325 heading for the main harbor of Lipsi. Sea Rose had already departed about three quarters of an hour before Thetis. The wind was 10-18 knots NW and I was able to sail with the genoa while still keeping up the tent. We sailed until the N corner of Lipsi but then the wind died and we had to motor the rest of the way.

We arrived in Lipsi [37° 17.8' N 26° 45.87' E] at 1855, 7.4 M. I had no trouble anchoring and backing to the quay. Dimitris was already there to catch our stern lines.

After showers etc. we all went ashore and sat at the café on the left of the waterfront square where we made a dinner of grilled octopus and a large assortment of mezedes (tasty snacks) and plenty of ouzo. After dinner we were entertained by a troupe of French high-school kids performing several dances, from Greek folk dances to modern ballet, in the square. All would had been very swell except that my elbow hurt a lot.

Lipsi Harbor
The Harbor of Lipsi

Tuesday August 21 2001, Day 3

The town of Lipsi
The town of Lipsi

I continued the inner spaces cleaning project that Alice and I had started few weeks ago in Poseidonio. I cleaned all of the kitchen cabinets and related utensils. Then I took a walk to the village and got some fresh bread from the bakery. By the time I returned to the boat Sea Rose’s crew was up and about.

We left Lipsi at 1005 for Skala, Patmos. The wind was a mild 5-12 knot breeze from the NW which allowed Thetis to sail with the full headsail and still keep the tent, for at least part of the way. Once again Thetis overtook Sea Rose which had left earlier. We had timed our departure so that we would arrive in Skala after most boats have departed for the day but before new ones had arrived.

We arrived in Skala [37° 19.5' N 26°; 33' E] at 1220 after 10.1 M. The strategy had worked. The harbor was partially empty. I prepared the stern lines and the fenders, the anchor, and I moved the painter of the zodiac which I had towed, to the bow. I found a suitable spot, away from a large 80' motor-cruiser (I always try to stay away from these because they have the nasty habit of constantly running their generators which create noxious fumes). I dropped the anchor and backed Thetis to the spot. It was a very nice approach but there was no one on the quay to catch the stern lines. I adjusted, from the cockpit windlass control, the length of the chain so that the boat will be held just short of the quay, gave a burst of forward power to stop the boat, threw the windward stern line to the quay, and jumped ashore to tie it. It was a perfect demonstration of singlehanding technique except for one thing. I had forgotten to tie the boat end of the line to a cleat! Stunned I stood with my end of the line while the other fell into the water as Thetis drifted away from the shore. There was not a moment to lose. I threw the line back on Thetis and after taking off my shoes, I jumped into the water and swam to the boat. Fortunately the water was clean and I could use the zodiac as a stepping platform from which to climb onboard Thetis. This time, I repeated the maneuver without any hitch. It was very embarrassing. While performing these strange procedures Sea Rose had arrived and was standing off waiting for Thetis to moor. Now, they came along side of her. Nadia, said she was very impressed watching me moor singlehanded but, she asked, why did you go swimming? Why indeed?

Dimitris and Lisa took a taxi to visit the Monastery and Manos and Nadia went swimming. Since I had already had my swim, I took a nap.

My elbow by this time was very swollen, it had turned a vivid red color, and was extremely painful. A most alarming development. I decided that, since we were in a largish island, this was my opportunity to consult a physician. Nadia kindly volunteered to accompany me. We first went to the police station and inquired where we could find the doctor on duty (this is very common in the Greek provinces). They gave us his number and after calling him we followed his directions to his home. He looked at the elbow and reassured me that although it hurt and it did look terrible, it was not too serious and that I will live. He prescribed a pain killer and an anti-inflammatory medication but warned me that it may take a few weeks before the swelling and the pain will completely subside. We filled the prescription on the pharmacy on duty and walked back to our boats.

While we were away at the doctor’s Manos had filled the water tanks of both boats. As I was boarding Thetis one of the fuel trucks came by. Availing myself of the opportunity I filled Thetis’ tank with 38 L of Diesel fuel.

Manos had heard good reports about a restaurant south of the harbor owned by a Dutch couple. We all walked there for dinner but it was packed solid. We walked back and ended at the Pyrofani where, as usual, we had a nice supper. This was followed by ice-cream and a drink in a waterfront bar.

In the early afternoon the 80' motor-cruiser, the US flagged M/Y Equius, which I had avoided going next to, had left the harbor. Now when the harbor was full of boats and no space left she returned. She anchored and backed into a space that even a small sailboat would have a hard time fitting in. She ruthlessly squeezed the two adjacent yachts without offering a single word of apology. It was quite a show with the cruisers watching and protesting, all to the deaf ears of Equius’ crew.

Wednesday August 22 2001, Day 4

In the morning I went to town and bought few bottles of ouzo, fresh bread, and fruits. I also bought a new shackle for the second anchor and a pair of new flippers to replace my old torn ones.

We were ready to depart but the 80' US motor-cruiser Equius had placed their anchor chain over the chains of several other boats including Thetis’. I told one of the Philippino crewman that I wanted to speak to her skipper. He was Greek. I politely asked him to temporarily move his boat forward and free my chain. He flatly refused. His passengers were asleep and he did not want to disturb them. We should wait until they wake up, go sight seeing, and them, after Equius departs from the harbor, we will of course be freed. It is seldom that one meets such audacious and un-seamanlike attitude. After a long verbal argument he realized that I was not prepared to patiently wait for the pleasure of his passengers but I was going to file a formal complaint to the Limenarchio (Coast Guard). He, reluctantly, agreed to slacken his chain and thus give me a chance to disengage my anchor. Lisa kindly offered to come aboard Thetis and help with what was promising to be a rather tricky maneuver.

We cast off at 1040 and started to raise the anchor slowly with Thetis’ powerful windlass. I had already in hand a stout line and the boat hook. These were for tying the offending chain and untangling our anchor. As promised, Equius slackened their heavy chain. We raised it for a few meters but it was still submerged under our bow. It was tangled with the chains of at least 4 other boats. The combined weight of all these chains, especially the heavy chain of the cruiser was too much for Thetis’ windlass, powerful as it is. This called for a more subtle approach. While keeping the chains under tension, I powered Thetis’ bow back towards the cruiser sliding our chain and dragging our anchor while taking advantage of the cruiser’s height to ease on the pressure. That did the trick. Our chain slipped off the chain of the cruiser and off the chains of all the other boats and our anchor came up. We were at last free to go.

There was hardly any wind and we had to motor the 10.1 M to our destination Papandria [37° 16.8' N 26° 46.2' E] on the S of Lipsi. We arrived there at 1220. Both boats anchored without too much trouble.

My elbow seems to be responding to medication because it hurts less and the swelling seems to be down somewhat. I finished the book which I was reading: Galileo’s Daughter by Dava Sobel, a fascinating account of Galileo’s life as seen from the diaries of his daughter, who was a nun. I started a new book: The Endurance: Shackelton’s Legendary Expedition written by Caroline Alexandra. It has the stunning photographs of the original expedition photographer.

Papandria, Lipsi

In the mean time, Manos aboard Sea Rose prepared a sumptuous lunch. After lunch, we all enjoyed swimming in the beautiful water of this cove, one of my very favorites.

In the evening, the wind increased and, just to be on the safe side, we set second anchors for both boats. I prepared dinner for everyone: turkey cutlets, which I had partially cooked before leaving Samos, with a fresh tomato, capers, and olives sauce served on a bed of rice along with a Sicilian wine which I had bought in Pantelleria. It was a very convivial evening and we all stayed late enjoying the starry night and having long conversations. Dimitris and I had about 40 years to cover since our high school days.

Thursday August 23 2001, Day 5

Morning in Katsadia

It was a quiet morning. While my friends in Sea Rose slept I continued my cabinet cleaning project. I attacked the cabinet under the sink which was particularly in need of cleaning. When the crew of Sea Rose woke up, we took in the second anchors. I also raised the dinghy and lashed it on deck.

Sea Rose departed for Agathonisi while I delayed for a while. Thetis departed Lipsi at 1005. We motored around the S side of Lipsi avoiding the many islets. The wind was a light but gusty 8-14 knot northerly breeze. I raised the mainsail while in the lee of an islet and set it in its first reef. I also opened about 70% of the headsail. It was a very nice sail to Agathonisi. I could not see Sea Rose which should had been ahead of Thetis since we had not overtaken her. I hailed her on the VHF but there was no response. After some time I saw a small sailboat, behind Thetis, tacking to the W. I called Sea Rose again. This time Dimitris answered my call. No, the small boat was not them. He gave me their GPS fix. They were several miles E of Thetis.

We continued sailing. The wind decreased and veered E by a few degrees and I had to motor-sail for 10-15 minutes after which the wind came back. After 13.5 M Thetis arrived under sail in Agathonisi at 1320. By the time I had lowered the sails and anchored in the first SW cove [37° 27.2' N 026° 57.7' E], Sea Rose had arrived. They first went to the harbor of St. Giorgio but after a while they changed their mind and joined me in my cove.

In the afternoon Thetis’ anchor dragged and I had to reset it. Later I also set the second anchor and put a long stern line which I tied on a rock ashore. This stabilized the boat and eliminated the gyrations caused by the shifting winds and thus minimized the strain on the anchor. To that end, we also took a stern line from Sea Rose to Thetis that stabilized Sea Rose as well.

In the evening we wanted to go to St. Giorgio for dinner. Sea Rose’s dinghy had not been deployed so we all had to use Thetis’. We split into two groups. I first took in my zodiac Dimitris and Lisa from our cove to St. Giorgio while Manos and Nadia started to walk in that general direction. After leaving Dimitris and Lisa, I turned back and picked up Manos and Nadia. The outboard did not sound very well, especially at high RPM.

We had an excellent dinner at the Glaros restaurant: atherina (small fried fish), kolokythakia (fried zucchini), tomatokeftedes (fried tomato balls), local roasted katsikaki (young goat), and a large grilled fish. It was delicious along with large mugs of very cold draft beer. We all enjoyed our meal together. This is our last as a group because tomorrow Sea Rose has to return to Pythagorio as her charter ends and her crew is flying back to Athens.

I have not yet decided what I will be doing tomorrow. I wanted to go to Chios where I will be linking with my friend Turgut Ayker and his family who will be coming with their sailboat New Life from Çesme but I was not sure of my route. One option was to go to Pythagorio with Sea Rose and then on to Chios via the Mycale Channel. This route is 90 M. The other option was to go directly from here to Chios via Fourni. This route is only 70 M but it is much more exposed to potential headwinds and waves. The Navtex forecast is for northerly winds of force 4-5 with a small increase expected later tomorrow. This is neither the best nor the worst forecast. I will make up my mind tomorrow morning.