Travels with S/Y Thetis


Thetis only

2002: Çesme to Leros

This web page contains the log of the sixth and final leg of a trip that I took with S/Y Thetis in the Northeastern Aegean in Greece. The log covers a period of 7 days of sailing from Çesme in Turkey to Lakki, Leros. Other places visited are: Kirkdilim Liman in Turkey, the Greek islands of Samos, Arki and Lipsi. The log is illustrated with maps and also includes some historical and geographical descriptions of the places visited as well as several links to other related web sites. The usual photographs are missing because my digital camera broke down.

Route from Çesme
Route from Çesme

Saturday July 6, 2002 Day 39

I woke up very early and disassembled the camera in a vain effort to repair it. The problem was a tiny spring in the zooming and focusing mechanism which had been dislocated. Unfortunately re-attaching it properly without any special tools and possibly a microscope was beyond my on-board capabilities. It will simply have to go back to Nikon. I did the final revisions of the New Life’s schematic diagram and printed it.

After Turgut came and drove me to New Life we tested both alternators and charging regulators. Everything worked perfectly. The few minor items left on Karaman’s list were completed by 11 AM and he was able to join his racing crew back in the Çesme Setur Marina. Turgut and I also formulated our plans. Both Thetis and New Life will sail to a cove S of Çesme where we will spent the weekend and from where I will be able to go on to Samos to meet my wife who will be arriving from Washington.

We drove to Çesme Setur Marina and I started getting Thetis ready for departure. There were racing crews all over milling around very exited just like children. It is wonderful to see grown ups so exited and having so much fun. The air was full of joy, not competition. These people were out for the love of the sport and to have a good time, who will win is secondary. When all was ready with Thetis Turgut helped me cast off and dock at the re-fueling dock, a dicey maneuver. I got 60 L of Diesel fuel and departed Çesme at 1300. New Life, being larger and faster, would be overtaking Thetis. First I had to negotiate all the sail boats practicing their tacks and jibes for the races, then to navigate the narrow passage between the reefs of Top Burnu and Uç Burunlar. Fortunately our previous tracks were recorded in the GPS/Plotter and guided me. After about 4 nM of motoring we were clear of all these obstacles and well into the Chios Channel. The wind was 10-14 knots NE which made sailing possible. I lowered the tent and raised the mainsail. I should at that time have removed the reef from the sail but I was too lazy to do so and I just opened all of the genoa. We sailed for a while. Soon I could see New Life also sailing behind Thetis. Soon she overtook us and the wind went down to 6 knots. The sail had lasted only an hour. The rest of the way was either sailing slowly or motor-sailing.

We arrived in Kirkdilim Liman [38° 08.6' N 26° 33.8' E], way after New Life, at 1940. The distance we had covered was 31.2 nM. By that time the wind had backed W to 10-13 knots. I anchored W of New Life and backed up to her to raft. Turgut had a new throwing line which he threw to me while Seref secured the line I gave him. Thetis was now under anchor and rafted next to New Life.

Kirkdilim Liman is a very nice cove, which I had never visited before. It was very quiet and we were the only boats there except for a small speed boat, anchored some distance away. During the passage from Çesme Turgut, as I had asked him, had kept a log, with entries every 10 minutes, of the voltage and charging current from both alternator-battery systems. It looks that everything was working properly save a brief anomalous period during which the drain from the service battery was abnormally high but the voltage was normal. It could have been a slipping belt, like mine, or just a transition phase in his 12 step regulator. We checked the belt and it was not loose.

Later the crews from both boats enjoyed an ouzo on the roomy New Life’s front deck. Thetis’ contribution was Barbayianni ouzo from Lesvos and a dish of saganaki (fried cheese) made of melanthyro cheese from Limnos. This was followed by a wonderful meal that Arzu had prepared of grilled beef steaks, potato salad, bamies (okra), green beans, and a lettuce and tomato salad. These were eaten with gusto along with a good Turkish red wine.

Earlier in the afternoon Turgut had spoken to the young couple of the speed boat anchored at the other end of the cove and had invited them for a drink but they had no means of coming to New Life. So, Turgut and I got into my zodiac and went to fetch them. They brought along a tasty cake and we all had a good time socializing while the “kids”, Dilek and Orhan, retired in their cabins. There were a lot of stars visible in the clear sky.

Sunday July 7, 2002 Day 40

I had a very peaceful morning. I read until the sun rose higher in the sky and then I put up the tent after which I took a short walk ashore. It is a very nice and secluded place but the bush is very thick and one cannot penetrate too far in from the shore. All together this is a very satisfying anchorage, conveniently located between Samos and Çesme.

Later I had lunch with the Aykers onboard New Life and then they made ready to depart. Unfortunately when they started their engine the new Link-20 dual battery electronic monitor indicated a 501 A drain on their starter battery. An impossible value. This led us to a several hour adventure of tracing the new wires and connections. Finally, after checking out everything, I reluctantly came, by elimination, to the conclusion that a circuit inside the monitor had failed. There was nothing more that I could do. I advised Turgut to call Xantrex, the makers of the unit in the US and ask for a replacement.

Eventualy New Life left. I spent the rest of the afternoon reading under the tent with occasional jumps into the water to cool off. Inside the cabin the temperature was 34°C (93°F).

A new sailboat, the S/Y Meditation, arrived and anchored not too far from Thetis. After a while the couple form Meditation swam along side of Thetis and invited me, in Greek, for a drink. They are Costas and Helen Ioannides. He was born in Istanbul of Greek parents and she is from Scotland. They live in Istanbul and in Aegina near Athens. They keep their boat in Kusadasi. Nice people.

I made up my mind not to linger here tomorrow but sail to Samos instead. I want to be there with plenty of margin so that I can meet my wife Alice who is arriving on Wednesday morning. If I go to Samos tomorrow I can spend the night in a nice cove and collect all my things at leisure and then on Tuesday morning go to Pythagorio and leave Thetis while I prepare our house in Kalami for Alice.

Monday July 8, 2002 Day 41

I raised the anchor at 0750 and motored out of the deep cove. Although it was gusty, 10-30 knots NE, the sea was calm. I raised the mainsail but left it on the 1st reef since the wind was gusty and I wanted to be conservative being by myself. Indeed this was a wise choice because from the entrance of the cove and until we were more than 2 nM from Teke Burun we experienced gusts reaching 40 knots. I waited until we were more than 3 nM form the cape and then I opened the genoa. For the next 2 hours Thetis had a very nice sail but then the wind diminished and I had to roll-in the genoa and sail only with the main. By 1130 the wind had backed WNW and increased to 10-20 knots so, I opened again the genoa. We sailed all the way to Cavo Fonias the northestermost point of Samos. Anticipating strong gusts down from the Zoodochos Pigi mountain, I rolled-in the headsail and turned on the engine. After rounding Cavo Fonias the sea was flat but there were fierce gusts. I headed to the wind and lowered the mainsail.

I found an attractive little cove Mikri Lakka [37° 45.5' N 27° 01.6' E] just W of Mourtia and dropped the anchor at 1420. Thetis had come 36.6 nM from Kirkdilim Liman. I had never been in this cove before. It is fairly nice and secluded since there is no road but there were many wasps. I snorkeled to check the anchor which was well dug-in. After my swim, and despite the howling 15-25 knot wind, I put up the tent, ate lunch, and took a nap under the tent.

In the evening I filled the watermaker with biocide solution expecting inactivity for several days. I was stung by a wasp. Very painful. Made supper of pasta and leftovers, clearing the refrigerator.

Tuesday July 9, 2002 Day 42

I spent the early morning leisurely packing my clothes and in general preparing Thetis for a period of inactivity. These unpleasant tasks are much less objectionable if they are performed in a cool cove than in a hot harbor.

We departed the cove at 0835 intending to go to the harbor of Pythagorio. The harbor, however looked full. I hailed the Limenarchio (Coast Guard) on the VHF and asked them if there was room for another yacht. The helpful answer was: “I do not know, why don’t you enter the harbor and see for yourself. You can moor anywhere but on the area marked by a blue stripe.” It is a wonderful service the Greek Coast Guard. It is also very reassuring to know that the authorities are on top of the situation and are so well informed on the comings and goings of the harbor that they are supposed to supervise.

I entered the harbor which was indeed full. I motored back 1 nM east to the “marina” [37° 41.4' N 26° 57.4' E] (under construction for the past 12 years). At 1045 I moored Thetis side-to the quay with the help of a Greek yachtsman from Salonica. Total distance today 10.9 nM.

July 10 - 14, 2002

I spent these days in our Kalami house in Samos. My wife Alice arrived from the Washington D.C. on Wednesday July 10 and together we prepared our house for the summer.

Thetis during this time was at the Pythagorio “marina.” The marina has been leased since last year by Vernicos Yachts who intends to make it a real functioning marina. However, work has been delayed because the access road to the “marina” has not been built due to right of way problems. Now it seems all obstacles have been cleared and construction work began in earnest two days after Thetis’ arrival.

While the long term prospects of having a safe modern harbor in Samos are very good, in the mean time this work created a lot of dust and the boat was getting very dirty. So I decided to move her from Pythagorio to the Agmar marina in Lakki, Leros. Since I already have a yearly contract with Agmar, this would not cost me anything more and Thetis will be in a safe and guarded harbor.

Route to Lakki
Route to Lakki

Monday July 15, 2002 Day 43

Alice and I went to the Pythagorio “marina” and prepared Thetis to depart for Lakki, Leros. Our plan was to make this into a pleasant two day excursion. The past two days in Samos have been excruciatingly hot and we were both looking forward to cooler days afloat.

We departed from Samos at 0920. As soon as we were a safe distance from the shore we stopped and washed the boat of the incredible amount of dust that she had acquired from the marina construction. The wind was light, 5-18 knots from variable directions, first from the E, then from the N, W, NW, and SW. It was also hot, 33° C (91° F) inside the cabin. We put up the tent and opened the headsail. We alternated between sailing, motor-sailing, and motoring as the wind kept changing.

We arrived at Glypapas, Arki [37° 22.4' N 26° 44.4' E], 23.7 nM from Pythagorio, at 1345. As usual the cove was very nice and we anchored without any trouble. During the afternoon it was very windy and gusty but the sea in the cove was flat. It was hot. Between light naps we jumped very frequently in the water to cool off. For dinner we had roasted chicken and potatoes which we had cooked in our new brick wood burning oven in Kalami. It was delicious. We retired early.

Tuesday July 16, 2002 Day 44

We left Glypappas at 0900 and since there was hardly any wind we motored for 8.9 nM along the E side of Lipsi arriving at 1045 in Katsadia, Lipsi [37° 16.8' N 26° 46.2' E]. It was very calm in this lovely anchorage and anchoring presented no problem but it was hot: 36° C (97° F), 32% relative humidity and 1005 mB barometric pressure.

Next to Thetis was another sailboat, a 57' Jeanneau Trinidad flying an Austrian flag with a single elderly man abroad. He was stark naked. We spent the day swimming and in general trying to keep as cool as possible. In the early afternoon a large motor cruiser arrived and anchored in the next bay. What was strange about this cruiser was that it was populated exclusively by many muscular young men who continuously came and went with several inflatables but none of them went swimming on that hot afternoon.

In the evening we went ashore and walked to the town where we had ouzo along with grilled octopus (they have one of the best here) and other mezedes (appetizers).

Wednesday July 17, 2002 Day 45

When we got up early and were preparing for an early departure little did we know how close we will come to witness a historic event. About 29 years ago was the end of one of the bleakest periods in modern Greek history. I am referring to the dark days of the dictatorship of the Junta of colonels which lasted for seven years. During these troubled times most Greeks resisted the dictatorship. The beginning of the dictatorship’s end was the heroic November 17, 1973 uprising of the student in the Technical University of Athens. After the colonels were gone and Greece returned to democracy a shadowy terrorist organization appeared with the name “17th November”. This organization, over the years had engaged in acts of terror and assassination. They have attacked and raided banks, police stations, and have murdered 24 people including the American CIA station chief, British military officers, Turkish diplomats, Greek businessmen, policemen, and politicians. For the past 20 years the members of this organization have been the most wanted men in Greece and abroad. The Greek police however had been totally ineffective in discovering their identity. This has been a major embarrassment of several Greek governments. But last month there was break. Two members of “17th November” were carrying a bomb in Piraeus. The bomb exploded prematurely severely wounding one terrorist while the other one escaped. The wounded man was taken to the hospital where after a few weeks he began to talk. From these revelations a whole gang of terrorists have been arrested and this bring us to today’s dramatic events. But let me narrate the day chronologically.

We departed Lipsi at 0745. The sea was calm and we motored the 13.5 nM to Lakki, Leros. While entering the deep bay we saw the beginning of wild brush fire on the S side. We arrived in Agmar Lakki Marina [37° 07.8' N 26° 50.9' E] at 1015. Young Nikos, the attendant, already informed of our arrival from the GSM phone, was waiting for us. He gave Alice the mooring line while I threw him our stern lines. Within minutes Thetis was securely docked. We packed our personal belongings and prepared the boat for a rest of several weeks. The day was extremely hot and the fire on the S slope was growing. We hosed down the boat, changed clothes, locked her, and went ashore.

The AGMAR Restaurant/Café, Courtesy of Mary Richmond S/Y Riks
The AGMAR Restaurant/Café
Courtesy of Mary Richmond S/Y Riks

The hydrofoil, leaving for Samos from Ayia Marina, was not due until 1415. So we took refuge under the shade of the Marina restaurant while Mr. Nestor, the talented chef, served us a light but tasty meal. In the mean time, the fire was blazing and a fire-fighting helicopter appeared and started dropping bucketfuls of sea water over the fire. After our meal, Mr. Nestor graciously drove us to Ayia Marina where we waited for the arrival of the hydrofoil. It was hot, unbelievably hot. The hydrofoil came on time and we, along with several other Greek and foreign tourists, boarded. Alice sat in the weakly air-conditioned cabin while I sat outdoors at the stern.

The hydrofoil left Ayia Marina and headed for the next stop Lipsi. On the way, I noticed that the large motor cruiser was still in Katsadia. Unbeknown to us many events had taken place. The Greek police had extracted vital information from the wounded “17th November” member and had rounded several other members including two of his brothers. From these suspects, the police was able to ascertain the secret identity of the “17th November” communist guru and suspected leader. He had taken the identity of a “professor” and had bought a summer house in Lipsi where he lived with his French wife. The locals knew him as the harmless but eccentric Mr. Michalis. Now the undercover police agents had closed-in on him and learned that he was intending to board the very same hydrofoil we were in. The agents mounted an operation to arrest him. Four agents, disguised as tourists, boarded the hydrofoil together with us in Ayia Marina. As soon as the craft docked in Lipsi the agents jumped ashore and surrounded the most wanted man in Greece who was getting ready to board. As soon as they grabbed him the fire-fighting helicopter descended and whisked him away along with the agents. We, Alice and I, although physically very close, less than 5 m away, saw none of these activities. Alice was absorbed in her book while I was looking at the sailboats in the harbor. We learned of all these when we got into Samos. We concluded that the mysterious motor yacht in Katsadia was part of the operation. It was by far the biggest story of the summer in Greece and has dominated the news for most of the following months.

Few days later, I received this very funny e-mail from my Turkish friend Turgut, whose children had visited with us for a few days in Samos:

When I first saw N17 leader captured at Lipsi Island just after your sms message saying you are in Lipsi, I wondered for you what are you doing there? Later, I remembered, There was no info about him except he is proffesor!.. And you were only prof I know, who was in a very small island Lipsi... Imagine what I thought :-) Oh, my friend is terrorist leader!!!!!!!!!!.... And we were going to send our children to him who killed lots of Turks!!!.... Also I thought, poor Alice she is very alone and now very sad for her husband. You are living USA capital. himm, politicaly may be good for terrorist, also coming a lot of times to every part of Turkey, himm may be a Spy!!!... but later we gave our final decision with Arzu... You can’t be!.. 1. You are sailor, 2. Your face and heart seems to us more humanist then terrorist face and 3. The electricity jam of NL is too diffucult to solve for a terrorist leader...:-))))