Travels with S/Y Thetis

Thetis only

2001: Kea to Hydra

This web page contains the logs of the fifth leg of a trip that I took with S/Y Thetis in the Aegean in Greece. The logs cover a period of 7 days of singlehanding from the island of Kea to Kithnos, Northern Cyclades, and then to the islands of Poros and Hydra in the NE Peloponnesos. From Kithnos to Hydra, Thetis was in the company of my brother’s boat the Faneromeni.

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

Route to Hydra
Route to Hydra

Wednesday September 12, 2001, Day 22

During the night the wind diminished but also changed direction. This caused Thetis to drift slowly towards the mooring of a small boat. The lines of the two boats got tangled. I had to get into the zodiac to untangle them and I got very wet doing so. This happened at 4 AM.

Later in the morning, I spoke with my brother Nikos who was in Sifnos and we agreed to rendezvous later in the day in Kithnos (Κύθνος) at either Kolona or Fikiada. He will be with the Faneromeni and he is in the company of another sailboat Evrika belonging to our friend Costas Negrepontis, a pilot with Olympic Airways.

After that call, I went ashore and walked to Korissia where I got some fresh bread, a pork roast, and fresh fruits. When I returned, the breeze had shifted again and Thetis was once again tangled with the moorings of a small caïque. This tangling happened because Thetis had a long scope and wandered while the caïque which was on a permanent mooring, with short scope, did not change her position with the shifting wind. The owner of the small caïque was on board and about to hang fenders to avoid any scraping. I rushed to the scene of the crime, offered my apologies, and shortened Thetis’ scope to increase the distance between the two boats. I am afraid that my apologies received a rather cold reception.

Route Kea to Kythnos
Route Kea to Kythnos
Cape Tamelos, the Southernmost point in Kea

Thetis departed from Vourkari, Kea at 1030. The wind was 14-18 knots WNW. I raised the mainsail and set it in the 1st reef, I also opened the headsail. This combination allowed us to sail downwind for about 6 M. At that time the wind almost died out and I was forced to roll-in the headsail and start the engine. When we reached Kythnos there was a pronounced swell in Kolona, so I proceeded to Fikiada.

I lowered the sail and anchored in Fikiada [37° 24.8' N 24° 22.9' E] without any trouble at 1430. The distance from Vourkari was 19.1 M. I later spoke on the VHF with the Faneromeni, both boats are on their way and should arrive by 1800. All is well here except that I cannot take my mind off from the horror of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. All those poor people.

Later, S/Y Evrika with Costas Negrepontis and his son Alexandros arrived. We decided to raft, and since my dingy was already in the water, I took a line ashore and secured it to a rock. Then Evrika anchored and came along side of Thetis. Shortly afterwards the Faneromeni arrived. Nikos anchored and then warped her along the other two boats. Costas was not very pleased with the arrangements because he felt that we were in too shallow water for the 3 m that Evrika draws. So, I raised my anchor, let out some more of the stern shore line while Evrika and the Faneromeni took a couple meters of their chains.

While I was in Peloponnesos I had trouble with the C-Map cartridge “Western Greece.” Whenever I had it in the Magellan Nav-6500 GPS/Plotter I could not zoom-in, when I tried to do so, the unit froze. Now with the Faneromeni next to me, I tried this cartridge with Nikos’ GPS/Plotter which is the same model as mine. Same problem. This definitely rules out the unit and incriminates the C-Map cartridge. I will send it back to C-Map.

Sunset in Fikiada

Costas has been here in Kithnos many times and knows the island. He talked us into going out to dinner in his favorite restaurant the Steki in Chora. This was quite a production. First he called the place to make sure that it is open. Then he called Dimitris the father of the owner, who drives a taxi, and made arrangements for him to pick us up at the beginning of the paved road in Apokrisis, a cove about 1 M away from Fikiada. Few minutes before the taxi was due we all boarded Faneromeni’s large inflatable and went to Apokrisis. We did not have to wait long. Dimitris came with his taxi and drove us up the 5 km of the winding street to Chora. He promised to come and drive us back in a couple of hours. The restaurant is on a terrace with a view and all together very attractive. The food was excellent, mostly grilled meat, from locally raised animals. I have not eaten such tasty meat for a long time. Maroula, the owner, dressed in camouflage pants and a blouse with bare mid drift, was very attentive and friendly. The only disappointment was that they did not have their specialty: roasted pig on the spit.

After we got back to our boats, Costas invited us all in the Evrika for desert. He had a crême caramelé which was given to him by a friend in Sifnos that was pure ambrosia. My strict low fat diet went out of the window, at least for this evening.

Thursday September 13, 2001, Day 23

We spent the day here in Fikiada. In the early morning I took a long walk together with Naxos, Nikos’ faithful dog, to Apokrisis via the rough path over the cape that separates the two coves. On the way back we walked along the dirt road which is much shorter and faster, about 30 minutes. The whole walk took over an hour and half.

Thetis, Faneromeni, and Evrika rafted in Fikiada

Apokrisis in Kythnos


Typical Cycladic wall in Kythnos

Faneromeni and Thetis

In the early afternoon Evrika left but both Thetis and the Faneromeni stayed. We executed a rather neat maneuver: I untied the shore line and transferred it from Thetis to the Faneromeni, I then untied the lines which held Evrika and Thetis and passed them to Nikos on the Faneromeni, so Thetis was freed. Right after Evrika cast off from the Faneromeni and raised her anchor, I powered Thetis ahead and dropped my anchor. I then reversed next to the Faneromeni while Nikos gave me back the lines which he had already tied at his end. We then transferred the shore line back to Thetis. After that, we repeated the whole maneuver this time the Faneromeni re-anchoring because she did not have enough scope. All of these maneuvers took us less than half an hour.

In the evening I cooked the pork roast that I had bought yesterday in Korissia with fresh tomatoes and served it with spaghetti. This we ate in Thetis’ cockpit along with a special Carignan-Alicante Kavaklidere wine that Turgut had brought for me from Turkey. It was a delicious meal on a very pleasant evening.

Friday September 14, 2001, Day 24

Kolona and Fikiada

There was a strong wind blowing today. According to the Navtex, it was expected to last until tomorrow. In the mean time both boats will be staying here in Fikiada.

I took another long walk with Naxos this morning. Later I helped Nikos repair his genset, and we recharged the batteries of both boats. Then while Nikos went spear fishing I cleaned Thetis and transferred one can of fuel into the tank.

In the evening we went ashore and ate at the new restaurant that has opened this year. It is located right over the sandbar. The fare was limited but the pork chops that they offered were not bad. The service was friendly.

The Sandbar in Fikiada

Saturday September 15, 2001, Day 25

Both boats departed from Kithnos for Poros at 0840. The wind was a light breeze of 5-10 knots from the NW. I raised the mainsail, still on the 1st reef, and opened the genoa. It was a nice gentle sail. Later I shook the reef and continued this peaceful sail for about 12 M after which the wind ran out to less than 5 knots. Regrettably I had to start the motor. The genoa started flapping and I rolled it in. Around 1400 the wind picked up a little, 4-6 knots SSE, and I opened about 50% of the headsail and motor-sailed at a good speed of 6 knots. Around 1500 the wind increased to 10 knots and I turned off the motor and sailed once again with the full genoa.

Route Kythnos to Poros & Hydra
Route Kythnos to Poros and & Hydra

When we reached the Poros Channel, approaching it from the S, the wind became very gusty reaching almost 30 knots. I lowered the sails and entered the channel. Slowly we motored to the harbor. The Faneromeni was moored in the north quay and the spot next to her was free.

In Poros Channel

I anchored in Poros [37° 30.4' N 23° 27.3' E] at 1645. I had forgotten how deep this port is, where I dropped the anchor was 14 m and it did not hold. Had to repeat. This time I let out 55 m of chain. This did the trick. I backed to the quay. Nikos was already there to catch and secure my stern lines. We had traveled 43.3 M from Kithnos. I kept Thetis’ stern a good distance from the quay and did not deploy the passarella. There was no need. I could go in and out of Thetis via the Faneromeni. This should keep me fairly safe from the terrible swell that is caused by the wakes of the constant comings and goings of the ferries at high speed through the narrow channel.

Rozina had come earlier with the hydrofoil and was already in the Faneromeni. I had not seen her since the summer and I was very glad to spend the weekend with her and my brother, not to mention their “son” Naxos.

Later I topped the Thetis’ tanks with water. Poros is a great place for supplies such as water and fuel. I also gave all my dirty clothes to the Suzi’s laundry behind the OTE (Telephone Company) building. She promised to have them washed within 2 hours. When I went back they were not only washed, but nicely folded. All for 3,000 GRD.

In the evening we all walked across to the N side of the bay and had an excellent dinner at the Ο 'Ασπρος Γάτος (The White Cat) restaurant.

Sunday September 16, 2001, Day 26

Thetis and Faneromeni in Poros

The morning was slow moving. I walked around the town and did some provision shopping. When I returned to Thetis, I saw one of the fuel trucks and taking advantage of the opportunity I filled the tank and the empty cans with 113 L of Diesel fuel.

Then I fixed the electronic display of the water-meter that I had installed early this year. During this installation I had followed, or thought that I had followed, the manufacturer’s instructions, written in French, and connected its electronic display. The basic meter, a mechanical flow meter, worked but the display did not. Since the Faneromeni has an identical unit, I now looked at her wire connections. Mine was not connected the same way. I changed the wires to match the ones in the Faneromeni and miracle of miracles the indicator worked. I was very pleased with this.

In the early afternoon, Nikos lowered his 30 hp outboard to his dinghy and we all, Nikos, Rozina, Naxos, and I rode it to the Russian Harbor, about 3 M to the N. We met there the 48' motor cruiser Samiopoula that belongs to a friend of Nikos, Ilias. He received us most graciously on his large deck and we had a nice visit. But, most important, he gave me a Samos revolutionary ensign. Ilias is from Karlovasi, Samos and while he is a very successful businessman trading with Albania, he has not forgotten his Samian roots. After some historical research he found out the design of the flag that the vessels from Samos flew during the 1821 revolution from the Ottomans that resulted in the establishment of the modern Greek state. He has had a flag maker make a number of these ensigns which now he gives them to yachtsmen friends of Samian descent. I was delighted to have this ensign as I was rather jealous of the one Nikos was flying on the Faneromeni.

In the evening we had an enjoyable dinner at the Ναύτης (Sailor) restaurant on the S side of the town.

Monday September 17, 2001, Day 27

First thing in the morning, I went ashore, together with Naxos, looking for:

  1. A new Camping Gaz canister
  2. A new Camping Gaz regulator

Although I was sent to 5 different stores I did not find the canister but I did find the regulator. I wanted to try this because, based on my conversations with Bernard of S/Y Lakatoï whom I had met in Psara, there was a possibility that mine was defective.

Rozina took the hydrofoil back to Athens, and since we were getting bored here in Poros we started getting ready to depart. The wind was light and still from the N and the Navtex forecast called for more of the same. We agreed with Nikos for me to proceed with Thetis to the island of Hydra. Try the main harbor there, and if there is no room, to proceed about 3 M further S to the Molos Cove, a cove that I had never visited before. Nikos will follow later with the faster Faneromeni. We will be in contact on the VHF channel 72.

Departing Poros

I cast off at 1050. To my surprise there were no fouled lines, which are all too common here in Poros, and I pulled away from the quay without any trouble. I motored S down the narrow channel, always a tense experience with the heavy traffic and the shallow and winding waterway. Once we were clear of the channel the wind was a stiff southern breeze of 10-16 knots. While keeping on the tent, I opened the headsail and turned off the engine. There was some nice sailing approaching the Tselevinia islets. I did several tacks and had great fun. Nikos says that there are 3 sailing playgrounds in Greek waters: the Ionian, the Northern Sporades, and here, the area between Poros and Spetses. After passing the Tselevinia, the wind died out and I had to motor.

The Harbor of Hydra

We arrived in Hydra Harbor at 1330 but it was crowded. I could possibly had squeezed in Thetis but there would not be any space for the Faneromeni. So, I continued toward Molos [37° 19.6' N 23° 24.8' E] where we arrived at 1410. The distance from Poros was 15.5 M. It is a wonderful cove, deserted save for 3-4 very fancy private houses. One of them looks more like a monastery than a house, it is so large with small windows facing out with an inner courtyard. Its sizable grounds are enclosed by a solid wall. I anchored without any complications.

Approaching Molos in Hydra

Hydra (Ύδρα) as well as with Spetses and Psara were the most important Greek sea powers during the 1821 revolution which resulted in Greece’s independence from the Ottoman rule. Hydra not only had the largest fleet of sailing vessels but was the home of Admiral Miaoulis and many other important captains. Hydra is a barren island and in antiquity was not very important. It was purchased in the 6th century BC by the famous Tyrant of Samos, Polycrates but was not settled until the 15th century AD when Greek and Albanians fleeing the tyranny of Ali Pasha of Epirus moved in Hydra. Since there were hardly any resources for significant cultivation, they turned to the sea for trade, smuggling and piracy. By the 18th century the island had a fleet of 150 vessels and a wealthy population of 25,000. During the war of independence they were so successful that Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt called Hydra “Little England.”

After the revolution, with the establishment of the Greek state, piracy was suppressed. This combined with the advent of steamships resulted in a decline of Hydra. Its inhabitants turned to sea again mostly sponge fishing but again the combination of a sponge disease and declining markets further depressed the island’s economy. In the 1950’s Hydra was the location of the film Boy on a Dolphin with Sofia Loren. Following this film the island was “discovered” and an artist colony was established spearheaded by the very successful Greek painter Hadjikyriakos Ghikas. Artists flocked here from all over the world and bought houses and Hydra became as famous as St. Tropez and Portofino. There are no roads and no cars in Hydra and that has saved the island. Despite its fame, it is still a very attractive place.

Thetis and Faneromeni in Molos

Later a motor-cruiser came and tied along the pier of one these large houses. Other than this I was all alone until the arrival of the Faneromeni. As soon as she appeared the crew from the cruiser became agitated and started waving. It turns out that two of them were crew on George’s Vernicos’ yacht last year when George and Nikos took possession of her from the shipyard where she was built in the Bay of Biscay.

In the late afternoon, I went ashore with Naxos and took a long walk up the hills on the west. The view was great and so were the vivid green pine trees. In the shade of these trees were lovely cyclamens recently bloomed. One thing, however, I find very hard to comprehend. How do these owners of these lavish houses tolerate the piles of garbage, flotsam, and jetsam right next to their extravagant properties? Are they blind or too cheap to pay someone to cart it away?

Molos from the west hills

Our plan was to go with the Faneromeni’s dinghy to the town for dinner but the breeze did not dissipate as it usually does in the evening and kept on at over 10 knots as late as 9 PM. So, we gave up on our plan and I cooked instead a spaghetti with tuna and fresh Parmezan cheese which we ate inside Thetis’ cabin because it was too cold to eat outside. While eating and afterwards we listened to CD’s with Rembetika. Naxos stayed out in the cockpit and watched us from the companionway. A quiet and pleasant evening afloat.

Tuesday September 18, 2001, Day 28

Hydra Harbor has lots of small boats

Fairly early in the morning, while the day was still cool, I went with the zodiac to the Faneromeni and took Naxos. We landed ashore and then walked up the E side of cove for a couple of hours. Again the views were wonderful. It was a most pleasant walk. Hydra is such a beautiful island.

Later in the morning, we, Nikos, Naxos, and I, took the Faneromeni’s dinghy to the town of Hydra. We walked in its charming streets and visited the Nautical Museum where they had a special exhibit on Averoff the first Greek Navy cruiser which was very active during the Balkan Wars and World War I. The director of the museum is a friend of Nikos and she is currently fund raising to support the restoration of Elleni a 20 m perama caïque built by Mytelineos, the same shipwright as the Faneromeni. Elleni is registered in Hydra with registration number of 167 while Faneromeni, also registered in Hydra, with 177.

The Nautical Museum in Hydra

After we returned to the boats we spent a leisurely afternoon. The cove was very calm and peaceful save for the wakes of the water taxis that occasionally zoomed by at high speeds completely oblivious to anchored yachts. The only dark cloud in the horizon was the e-mail I received from my friend and ex-colleague Dr. Christoph Mahle informing me that our mutual friend and ex-colleague Dr. Geoff Hyde has been diagnosed with cancer and is undergoing an operation. This sad news combined with last week’s terrorist attacks have saddened me a great deal.

The barometer was up to 1012 mB from yesterday’s 1007. The Navtex forecast was favorable and most likely I will be leaving Hydra early in the morning.

Around 9 PM, since it was so calm, we took Nikos’ inflatable dinghy for a ride of about 2 M towards the town. We sat by a seaside restaurant and had an excellent dinner of barbounia (red mullet) and fresh calamaria (squid). These last have become very rare in the last few years in Greece.

After returning to Thetis, I raised the zodiac in preparation of an early departure to take advantage of the good weather. My plan was to sail to Finikas in Syros and be closer to Leros where Thetis will spend her winter. I set the alarm for 1:30 AM.