Travels with S/Y Thetis


Thetis only

2002: Hisarönü to Kalymnos

This web page contains the log of the third leg of a sailing trip that I took, together with Alice Riginos, with S/Y Thetis from Bozburun in Turkey to Emborios in the island of Kalymnos. The log covers a period of 10 days. Places visited are: the islands of Symi (Panormitis, Nana-Maria, Thessalona, Ayia Marina, and Yialos), Yiali, Kos (Kamari), Kalymnos (Vathis, Arginondas, and Emborios), and Telendos. 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.

Map of Dodecanese with route
Route from Hisarönü Bay

Tuesday September 3, 2002 Day 13

Before leaving Bozburun, taking advantage of the fresh water connection, we washed the deck and the cockpit with soap and water. We got back the laundry. Tuesday in Bozburun is a market day. There were carts full of fresh produce, meats, fish, spices, tablecloths, shoes, tools, mousetraps, bee smokers, you name it. Again I wished I had a working camera. We spent all of our left-over Turkish liras and some single US dollars.

After we returned to Thetis we cast off at 1100 and motored 1.8 nM to Kizil Adasi [36° 39.9' N 28° 02.4' E] where we anchored in 8 m depth. The wind was a light western 10-14 knot breeze. We had a pleasant swim which was followed by lunch. Later in the afternoon the wind increased and we dragged our anchor. It was time to go.

We left at 1518. The wind now was a good 15-21 knot breeze from the WSW. We took down the tent, raised the zodiac on deck, opened the genoa, and turned off the engine. We had to tack twice before clearing Kizil Burnu and exit Sömbeki Körfezi. After this it was a straight up-wind sail to the southernmost point of Symi. After rounding the point we rolled-in the headsail and motored the remaining 3 nM to Panormitis, our destination.

We arrived in Panormitis [36° 33.2' N 27° 50.8' E], Symi at 1930 after sailing for 22.6 nM. Inside the large landlocked anchorage there were strong gusts from the west. We anchored in 4.5 m depth. Later we repeatedly were blown uncomfortably close to another sailboat and were forced to re-anchor. This time we anchored away from the other three boats already in the anchorage, but we were more exposed to the incoming swell. During the night the wind was mild but it came from almost all directions.

Map of Symi Sými or Sími or Syme (Σύμη) used to be off the beaten track and its harbor Yialos, is a jewel of a town with colorful houses built up the steep slopes. Unfortunately this lovely island was “discovered.” It became an “in” place and in the summer it was crowded and the lovely harbor sported the usual bars with their loud music. On the other hand, many of the abandoned houses have been restored. In the last few years, however, the level of tourism has been upgraded, featuring some upscale restaurants and less loud bars, along with more restorations.

Symi along with Kalymnos and Halki is famous for its sponge divers and at the height of the sponge trade in the early 20th century was very wealthy. Sponge diving in Symi has been going on since ancient times.

According to the mythology the island was named after princess Symi, the daughter of the king of Rhodes Ialysos. She was abducted by Glaukos the famous builder of Jason’s Argo who brought her to the island. Her descendants were renowned ship builders. According to another myth, the Titan Prometheus modeled a man out of the clay from the island. This angered Zeus so much, that he turned Prometheus into a monkey. Since then the word “simian” is connected with monkeys.

Pelasgian walls found in Chorio attest to the long history of the island. In the Iliad, Homer tells how Symi mastered three ships which were led by king Nireus. In later times the island was part of the Dorian Hexapolis (six cities) and dominated by Rhodes. The Romans fortified the acropolis at Chorio and the Byzantines converted it into a fort. Later this fort was renovated by the Grand Master of the Knights of St. John, Foulques de Villaret. During the knight period the island prospered.

When the Ottoman sultan Suleiman the Magnificent attacked Rhodes, the Symiotes avoided the attack by offering their most precious sponges for his harem. He granted the island some independence and made it into a free port. The island continued to prosper under the Ottomans and the islanders in turn sent sponges to Istanbul every year. After the Greek revolution, some of the privileges were withdrawn but the island still remained prosperous.

The island was occupied by the Italians from 1912 until the second World War. During this period because the Italians closed the island to the Asia Minor markets and because of the competition from steam ships, the fortunes of Symi declined. Its population dropped from 23,000 to 600.

On May 8 1945 the treaty granting all of the Dodecanese to Greece was signed in Symi, and the island became part of Greece in 1948. Today, with tourism and with wealthy Athenians and Rhodians buying and reconstructing its old houses, the island is regaining its former wealth.

Wednesday September 4, 2002 Day 14

We stayed in Panormitis. We went ashore to the Monastery of Panormitis. The monastery operates a wonderful bakery from which we bought some crusty peasant bread. We then proceeded to the inner courtyard and bought tickets, for € 1.5, to visit the two small museums within the monastery. We succeeded in visiting the Folklore Museum but by the time we finished, the Byzantine Museum had closed down. It turns out the museums open only when there is a tour boat. We hung around until the next tour boat arrived. Many people landed, mostly Greeks carrying brooms. The Byzantine Museum now opened and we went in. There were the usual icons and ecclesiastical garments but the most interesting exhibits are various bottles cast into the sea by distressed seamen. They usually contain a note addressed to Archangel Michael, the patron of the monastery, with names to be used in prayers, and some offering, usually money but some of them have olive oil. These bottles inevitably find their way here by sea and are collected by the monks. One bottle contained a model sailing ship and it came from Lipsi. Other bottles contain oil or seeds. We asked the young lady who was minding the museum why so many people carried brooms. It turns out that many faithful come with brooms with which they sweep the Archangel’s church and then leave them. The monastery store also sells brooms to the pilgrims who forgot to bring their own.

While visiting the monastery, strong gusts developed and Thetis had dragged her anchor. We rushed back and re-anchored her this time also taking a stern line ashore.

In the evening, after the day cooled down, we went ashore again and took a two hour walk up the hill into the woods towards Faneromeni. We were treated to a gorgeous sunset. By the time we returned to Thetis it was dark. We made for dinner pepper-flavored pasta from Turkey which we served with a fresh tomato sauce along with a Doluca Turkish red wine. A good day.

Thursday September 5, 2002 Day 15

Early in the morning I took the zodiac and went ashore to the bakery for bread. Then after I untied the shore line, we raised the dinghy and the anchor. We departed Panormitis at 0935. We motored for 9.1 nM east and then north checking along the way various coves for the possibility of anchoring in the future. We checked Faneromeni, Marathouda (a very attractive cove with a small hamlet), and Ormos Nana-Maria [36° 34.9' N 27° 51.6' E] (a lovely cove). Here we anchored in 12 m depth at 1140. We swam and had lunch. While we were eating a familiar sailboat came and anchored next to Thetis. It was the S/Y Dolce Vita that I had met earlier this year in Límnos and at Samothráki.

We left Nana-Maria at 1615. We motored for 2 nM north to the next cove, Thessalona or Ayios Yiorgios [36° 35.9' N 27° 52.3' E] where we arrived at 1645. We anchored in 7 m over sand. Thessalona is a deep cove with very clear waters surrounded by tall dramatic rocky cliffs. Again I miss my camera. There were violent gusts from all directions. They did not abate and kept blowing all night.

Friday September 6, 2002 Day 16

After a slow start we here ready to depart from Thessalona but when I pressed the starter button it disintegrated. It took some time to replace it with a spare. This is the second time this season when the starter button failed. Now Thetis is without a spare. Eventually we departed at 1015. There was hardly any wind and we continued our exploration of the east coast of Symi by motoring.

We entered the cove of Pédi (Πέδη) which is just S of Yialos the main harbor of the island. It certainly looks like it is an attractive alternative to Yialos which can at times be very crowded. At the northern exit of Pédi there is the very attractive small anchorage of Ayia Marina [36° 37.4'N 27° 52.3' E]. We anchored there at 1110 in 4 m over sand.

We spent a most pleasant afternoon swimming and reading under the tent. The only problem was that the light wind kept, almost continuously, shifting direction and we had to re-anchor. We departed Ayia Marina at 1600 and motored to Yialos (Γιαλός) [36° 37' N 27° 50.2' E] arriving at 1645. The total distance we came from Thessalona was 6.7 nM. Amazingly enough there was an attendant, Michalis, a surly fat individual, who directed us to an empty spot and received our stern lines. His services were € 2. I gave his as a tip an extra €  2 but he did not seem to be pleased.

Yialos Harbor After deploying the passarella and taking showers we went ashore. Yialos has been upgraded since our last visit in 1986. Many of its old buildings have been restored and now gleam in their fresh many colored pastel paint. There are blissfully few discos and the town is, considering that it is a major tourist attraction, surprisingly quiet. We ended having dinner at the Manos Fish Tavern (Ψαροταβέρνα) which is one of the Alpha Guide’s recommendations. We were served nichakia — “small nails” as an appetizer. These were small snails with a tail ending in a tiny nail, hence the name. They were tasty. The main dish was grilled barbounia (red mullets) and loutsoi (a longish gray fish) which were delicious. It was a terrific but rather expensive meal.

After dinner we took another walk in the narrow streets. We were drawn by the sound of island music to the back of the town hall. There, in an opening, a free concert was in full swing. The group of three musicians, with native instruments, called the Travelers of the South (Ταξιδευτές του Νότου) were singing songs from Crete, Symi, and Kasos. We enjoyed this “extra” very much. All together this was a very satisfying day.

Saturday September 7, 2002 Day 17

Sketch of Yiali anchorageOur original plan was to go south from Symi to the islands of Alimnia and Chalke but Alice was not feeling very well and so we decided to skip them and go back to Yiali and Niseros. After some provision shopping we departed from Symi at 0955. The wind was 8-14 knots WNW almost from the same direction as our course of 280°. Nevertheless, we raised the mainsail and opened the genoa and sailed. After several tacks and 43.4 sea miles we arrived in our favorite anchorage in Yiali [36° 38.6' N 27° 06.9' E] at 1745.

Here on the SW tip of the island we were sheltered from the waves. We anchored over sand in 4 m depth. We had a nice swim in the clear waters and later, while sipping ouzo, watched a lovely sunset. The evening was very clear and we were treated to wonderful views of Cape Crio (Knidos) Niseros, and Kos. We made pasta alla puttanesca for dinner. Everything would had been fine except for poor Alice who was not feeling well and was running a low fever.

Sunday September 8, 2002 Day 18

We had a quiet and restful day in this very pleasant anchorage. I went snorkeling in the clear waters and saw several small fish. In the late afternoon we launched the dinghy and went ashore for a walk along the sandy beach. There were pumice stones everywhere. The colors of the various soft rock formations were fantastic. There are small mountains of mined chalk in many shades of white. A large conveyor belt gives the whole island, which appears deserted, a very surrealistic appearance. The dingy had developed a new leak which I patched.

Alice was still not feeling well. Made dinner of rice with tuna. The night was very peaceful. There was a new moon.

Monday September 9, 2002 Day 19

Alice continues not to feel well and as a result we had a slow morning. A fishing boat came from Kos. We went over and asked if they had any fish. All they had were gopes (sardine like fish). They gave us about 15 of them and under no circumstances they would accept any payment. We took the fish ashore and cleaned them. I then gave the fishermen a bottle of ouzo from Samos. This they did accept. I made a fish soup which we ate for lunch. It was delicious.

Alice, however, was not getting any better. Now she did not feel like going to Niseros anymore. The zodiac was still leaking. It was getting old and I really do need to replace it. We decided to start on our way back towards Leros and stop in Kamari.

Sketch of Kamari anchorage We departed Yiali at 1550. We had a nice 10-12 knot WNW breeze with which we were able to sail with full genoa while keeping on the tent for shade. We arrived in Kamari, Kos [36° 44.1' N 26° 58.4' E] at 1800 after 10.2 nM. Although there was plenty of room at the quay we did not dock. Instead we anchored off in 5 m depth, letting out 50 m of scope, just N of the mole. Here it gets deep very quickly. Thetis settled at 14 m depth. It seems a pleasant enough place and the water is clear. There are, however, several tavernas and large hotels and Heikell warns of noise. This and the strong lights at the quay are the reasons we anchored off.

We did not go ashore. For dinner we ate more of the fish soup, which I thickened with avgolemono (egg and lemon). True to Heikell’s predictions, around 11 PM we could hear disagreeable disco music from the shore. Other than that, this was a pleasant anchorage. Alice continued not to feel well.

Tuesday September 10, 2002 Day 20

We departed Kamari, Kos at 0840, our destination was Vathis in Kalymnos. There was a light WNW breeze of 8-12 knots but we had to motor because we were heading against it. At 1050, after rounding Cape Dafni, the northwesternmost point of Kos, we opened the genoa, keeping on the tent because Alice did not feel very well, and turned off the motor. We sailed the rest of the way to Kalymnos. On the way, we had to change course to avoid colliding with the large tanker Asset from Valletta which was anchored approximately 5 nM off Kos. I had seen the tanker from a distance and also observed it on the radar but had assumed that she was under way. Being anchored and not moving had fooled me.

Sketch of Vathi We arrived in Vathis, Kalymnos [36° 58.4' N 27° 01.7' E] at 1335, with a total of 28.6 sea miles. Ahead of us in the narrow cove was a 50' Dutch sailboat with an elderly couple. They had the hardest time docking stern-to. Thetis stood by waiting for them to finish their maneuver. After several unsuccessful attempts, they appeared to give up and moved away. We proceeded to anchor but as we started backing up to the quay, they came back and cut us off. I got rather upset but I pulled away and waited again. At last they docked. We anchored and backed up again but the quay where we were heading seemed too shallow and had large underwater rocks so we made a second attempt and docked without much trouble near the end of the mole which is marked “For Ferries.” I think the Dutch couple realized that they had cut us off because they came right away to help us with our stern lines.

Vathi or Vathis (Βαθύς) is a pleasant place. Free water is available on the quay but there are no other facilities. Despite Alice not feeling well we took a long walk inland. There are many orchards here. We had a delicious grilled fish along with a marvelous cucumber-tomato salad with hard toast and a local cheese at the Popy’s Restaurant.

Wednesday September 11, 2002 Day 21

We stayed in Vathis. Fortunately there were no new terrorist activities on this bleak anniversary of last year’s infamous attacks in the US. We had been told last night that the bus to Pothia, the main town and harbor of Kalymnos, arrives here in Vathis at 10:30 and we had even bought tickets for the bus. We waited and waited for the bus but it did not show up. A nice man, who has lived in Australia for many years, gave us a ride to town in his van. He told us that the buses, starting today, operate on the winter schedule. Walking in Pothia, one takes his life in his own hands. The streets are narrow, many without sidewalks, and most drivers are dare devils. We managed to locate a replacement starter button and bought some glue which may or may not be suitable for patching the zodiac. We took a taxi and visited the modern monastery of Ayios Savas which overlooks the town. After our visit, the taxi drove us back to Vathis.

In Vathis our Dutch friends had departed but there were two new arrivals. The S/Y Riks with John and Mary Richmond who also keep their boat in Agmar, and another sailboat with a Norwegian couple also from Agmar. John and Mary I have been meeting on and off for several years now and as a mater of fact they are the people who first introduced me to the Agmar Shipyard in Leros.

We ate dinner again at Popy’s. The meal was presided over by the proprietor Mrs. Sevasti, a very lively 55ish grandmother who knows everyone on the island. Unfortunately Alice’s condition had deteriorated. Now she had developed a very painful rash. After reading Thetis’ medical books and matching her symptoms we have concluded that she may have herpes zoster, a serious viral infection. We need to get her to a doctor.

Sunset in Vathis
Sunset in Vathis
Courtesy of Mary Richmond S/Y Riks

Thursday September 12, 2002 Day 22

Mrs. Sevasti of Popy’s had told us last night that the bus to Pothia has changed schedule. Now it comes in Vathis at 8:30 AM. We were there and took the bus. In Pothia, we asked at a drug store for a doctor recommendation and we located his office. He was fairly young but sharp. He confirmed our diagnosis of herpes zoster and prescribed a series of drugs: an anti-viral, a strong pain killer, and a skin ointment. After filling the prescription, we took a taxi back to Thetis. As there was no more reason to stay further in Vathis we prepared for departure and topped the water tanks.

We departed Vathis at 1315. There was almost no wind, just the lightest 5-8 knot NW breeze. We motored the 14.5 nM to our destination the small island of Telendos, on the W side of Kalymnos. We arrived in Telendos [36° 59.9' N 26° 55.4' E] at 1605 and we anchored in 7.5 m depth and well clear of the underwater cables connecting the two islands. I snorkeled and checked the anchor. I was not pleased because it was embedded in weed but since there was no wind and I had let out plenty of chain we should be all right. I used the new glue that we had purchased yesterday and patched the holes on the zodiac. The leaks now seem gone.

Later, after the glue had dried, we launched the dinghy and went ashore where we took a long walk ending in the Plaka restaurant. Alice was not actually better but we were both very relieved that we knew the cause of her ailment and that she was now taking the proper medication.

Friday September 13, 2002 Day 23

Alice felt somewhat better. We were keeping our fingers crossed. We left Telendos at 1035 and motored along the NNE side of the island after which we changed direction and headed to Arginondas in Kalymnos [37° 00.9' N 26° 58' E] where we arrived at 1145, after 3.4 nM. The wind was a very light but variable breeze of 4-6 knots, mostly coming from the SW. We anchored in 5 m over sand. We stayed in Arginondas for lunch but the water was not very clear and we did not swim.

At 1645 we departed and motored for 2.9 nM W to Emborios [37° 02.7' N 26° 55.7' E] arriving at 1720. We tied to one of the moorings belonging to the Captain Costas restaurant. This is a pleasant anchorage save for several fish-farms which pollute the waters and spoil the scenery. The leak on the zodiac was less but not completely gone. We went ashore for a walk. I climbed the very steep hill to the ruins of a medieval watch tower which is now used as a goat shelter. It was very slippery. Alice wisely did not follow me. This side of the island has a very desolate and inhospitable terrain.

Back on Thetis we took showers and then went ashore for dinner at the Captain Costas restaurant. We ate octopus balls (χταποδοκευτέδες) a Kalymnian specialty, and a large grilled sargos (a flat silvery fish). Captain Costas was not there but we were served by his children, a young man of about 18 and his older sister of 24 with a small baby. Both young people were very attentive and personable while the food was very tasty.