Travels with S/Y Thetis

Thetis only

2002: Leros to Keçi Bükü

This web page contains the logs of the first leg a 53 day sailing trip that I took with S/Y Thetis in the South Aegean in Greece and Turkey. The leg covers a period of 5 days of sailing from the island of Leros (Lakki and Xerocambos) to Keçi Bükü in SE Turkey via the islands of Yiali and Niseros, and the Hisarönü Bay. During this leg I was accompanied by my wife Alice.

The logs are illustrated with maps and also include 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 to Keçi Bükü
Route to Keçi Bükü

Thursday August 22, 2002 Day 1

Alice and I took the hydrofoil from Pythagorio, Samos, to Ayia Marina, Leros; then we took a taxi to the Agmar Lakki Marina in Lakki and Thetis. She was fine but very dusty. We hosed her down before doing anything else. I then changed the engine oil and filters (oil and fuel). After this change I had great trouble manually bleeding the air out of the fuel line. I pumped and pumped in the hot afternoon to no avail. This was extremely frustrating because I have successfully performed this operation countless times. In the end I gave up and asked Mastro Michalis, the chief Agmar technician to send Manolis, the mechanic, to do it for me tomorrow morning. Later I had a delivery and filled the main tank with 45 Lof Diesel fuel.

We had a wonderful seafood dinner, presided over by Mr. Nestor, the marina’s chef.

Friday August 23, 2002 Day 2

First thing in the in the morning we went shopping for provisions. By the time we returned to Thetis Manolis the mechanic was already there finishing with bleeding the engine. He said that it only took him 10-15 strokes on the hand pump to get all of the air out of the fuel lines. The only explanation that we could come up with is that yesterday, when I was trying to bleed the lines, the fuel level in the tank was low and there was no pressure. So even the hundreds of strokes that I applied were not sufficient. Today, however, the tank was full and exerted lots of pressure. I do not recall for sure but I think that most times in the past the tank was also full when I had bled the lines.

I walked to the Limenarchio (Coast Guard) to get the apoplous (permission to leave port). They now need a new document, as if Thetis does not have a book full of documents. This is a cruising permit and it costs 70 € and it is valid for 3 years. But a boat has to be docked for at least a year in a given harbor to qualify as the boat’s home port. Only the authorities of the home port can issue this permit. So Thetis has to sail in a quasi legal fashion until she returns to Leros in October. Then they will take my money and issue this splendid document. Bureaucracy never sleeps nor ends!

By 1235 we were at last ready and we cast off. The boat was not totally prepared for a long cruise so we just motored for 5.3 M to Xerocambos [37° 06.4' N 26° 52.4' E], the southernmost anchorage of Leros. We arrived there at 1340 and anchored without any trouble. The only problem this year in this otherwise very attractive cove is that they have installed new high-intensity lights along the dirt road on the SE side of the cove. At night these spoil the natural beauty of the place. Now people on boats and ashore cannot enjoy the stars or the moon. Progress!

I now have a new theory about the slipping alternator belt. I arrived at this theory during the last few weeks while away from Thetis. The theory is this. There is a fault in one of the circuits of the charging regulator. The fault is on the circuit that controls the third “float” stage and it is intermittent. The first and second stages work correctly and this is why the alternator behaves well during the first 30-45 minutes of its operation. During the third stage, however, the regulating voltage which excites the alternator’s magnetic field has abrupt step changes due to the regulator’s faulty circuit. As a result the load on the alternator’s belt goes from zero to high and back to zero in a short period of time. The belt cannot cope with these abruptly changing load conditions and it slips. I explained my theory to the support technician of Belmar, the maker of the alternator, and he agreed that it is not only possible but that they have had several units returned with such a problem. Now in order to test my theory, I replaced the regulator with an older one that I have kept as a spare, We will know the answer to the riddle tomorrow when we run the engine for over 45 minutes.

We worked on the boat all afternoon putting things in order. In the evening we made a pasta along with a tuna and caper sauce. This we ate in the now well illuminated cockpit along with a nice Limnian red wine.

Saturday August 24, 2002 Day 3

Today is Alice’s and my 35th wedding anniversary. I am very glad to be spending this important day together and at sea. These have been very happy years although it seems to have gone by way too fast. We got up early after a good night’s sleep despite my aching muscles from pumping the fuel pump. By 0720 the zodiac, which has a leak, was on deck and our anchor was up. Our destination was Niseros. The wind was 5-15 knots but gusty and variable. We raised the mainsail and alternated between sailing and motor-sailing. Now after the change of the regulator the old regulator did not regulate very well and I had to adjust its output manually but the alternator belt did not slip. My theory is correct. We have a faulty regulator. En route, I found two holes in the zodiac and patched them. While we were sailing along the W coast of Kos, Alice was stung by a wasp. After rounding Cape Krikelo, the SW point of Kos, we had a nice sail.

At 1335, after 35.7 M, we stopped at the S side of Yiali Island [36° 38.6' N 27° 06.9' E], just E of the point. It is a lovely beach with very clear waters and very well sheltered from the NW wind. We swam, had lunch, and a rest. In the late afternoon while we were contemplating departure for Niseros a fishing boat arrived and anchored near Thetis. Alice had the brilliant idea of buying fresh fish from them and staying in this nice anchorage for the night and make a fish soup. We launched the zodiac and went over to the fishing boat but they had no fish. While trying to re-inflate the zodiac I could not find a much needed nozzle for its air pump. Not finding any fish, we reverted to our original plan and decided to go to Niseros after all.

We left Yiali at 1720 and motored to the harbor of Pali, Niseros [36° 37.2' N 27° 10.3' E] where we arrived at 1800 after traveling for 39.1 M from Leros. The small harbor was crowded but we managed to squeeze in, with some trouble, in a very tight spot between two charter sailboats occupied by a large party of Italians. A German fellow yachtsman helped us with our lines. As usual in this place there was a considerable amount of swell.

We had a rather indifferent dinner at the Captain restaurant. The night was not very comfortable because of the swell.

Sunday August 25, 2002 Day 4

Our plan for this morning was to wait until the scooter rental shop opened and rent a scooter with which to visit some of the villages along the rim of the caldera, then in the afternoon, to go to Mandraki and for dinner to Emborio where we had such a great meal in our 1997 visit. Then, early tomorrow, to depart the island and sail to Keçi Bükü, inside the Gulf of Doris, and meet with my brother Nikos who was visiting Turkey with his traditional Greek caïque the Faneromeni.

We started walking towards the Captain, who also rents scooters, but it was so uncomfortably hot already and we figured out that if it was so hot so early in the day running around the island with a scooter would be no pleasure. So, we decided to skip the tour of Niseros and depart for some half way point between here and Keçi Bükü, deferring the tour for our return trip in September when, surely, it would be cooler.

We raised the anchor and departed without any troubles at 1030. The wind was a good 10-25 knots WNW but because it was too hot we kept the tent and sailed only with the genoa. After passing Cape Knidos, however, the wind died and we had to start the engine. We sailed along the N coast of the Gulf of Doris looking into the Kolaboshi cove for a possible stop-over. The cove is described as being attractive by Heikell but today it was crowded. There were three restaurants, with their parking lots full of cars, and on their docks were three large gulets. The gulets are the bane of yachtsmen visiting Turkey. They are largish, over 20 m, wooden schooners, usually with only decorative sails if any, and are full of short term passengers. They are not skillfully operated and can be a source of problems to a small yacht in their neighborhood. Also they are known to play loud disco-type music late into the night. Altogether to be avoided. We went on.

About 2 M east of Kolaboshi we found an appealing cove [36° 40.8' N 27° 36.9' E]. It was completely deserted and very clean. We anchored there in 6 m of water at 1450 having traveled 23.4 M from Niseros. It was very calm and there was hardly any wind despite the gale warnings issued by the Navtex for the Ikario and the sea of Karpathos. Although we kept getting these gale warnings there was no reception, all afternoon and evening, of any detailed forecast. Very frustrating.

We swam and in general kept cool. In the evening, as we were taking down the tent, I too was stung on my finger by a wasp. It was very painful. By dusk Thetis was full of wasps.

This must be the year of the wasp. We had a nice dinner of rice with a tomato and mushroom sauce. A swell developed, still no wind, which made for an uncomfortable night.

Monday August 26, 2002 Day 5

The wasp sting on my finger hurt a lot. At dawn we were, once more, attacked by a swarm of wasps. It really was time to depart from this nice but dangerous anchorage. We pulled up the anchor at 0650 and motored while chasing away stowaway wasps. We put up the tent, opened the headsail, and motor-sailed E towards Keçi Bükü in the Hisarönü Bay where my brother Nikos with the Faneromeni was waiting for us. With him were the sympathetic deck-hand Mario from the Philippines and Nikos’ faithful dog, Naxos.

We arrived in the Marti Marina [36° 46.2' N 28° 07.7' E] in Keçi Bükü at 1130. We had come 27.7 M from the wasp cove. We hailed the marina on channel 73 on the VHF and we were met by the marina’s inflatable which led us to a berth right next to the Faneromeni. Another attendant was already there waiting to receive our stern lines while the attendant in the inflatable handed Alice the mooring line. Thetis was secured in no time. This is Turkey after all, a country which is friendly to yachts.

No sooner were we docked when the GSM phone rung. It was my friend Turgut from Izmir. He told me that there is a very interesting concert this Friday in the ancient theater of Ephesus. Sezen Aksu, one of the most popular female vocalists in Turkey, will be performing as well as other singers, representing Turkish minorities such as Greeks, Armenians and Kurds. Turgut invited us all to attend. He offered to send his car and driver here in Marti Marina to pick us up and drive us 3-4 hours to Ephesus. After the concert, the same driver could drive us back to our boats. This was a most kind and tantalizing offer. After conferring with Alice and Nikos, I called Turgut back and accepted his generous invitation.

Now all our plans had to be revised to accommodate the Friday concert. We would have to stay here in the marina until Saturday. Leaving both boats would be no problem since Mario will be watching them and, of course, the marina is a perfectly secure place. In the past few days Nikos had met a British couple Tony and Belinda with the M/S Ibn Batuta. Now he invited them to come swimming with us. We all got into the Faneromeni’s large dinghy and went across the bay for the swim. Belinda told us of a horseback riding possibility. This raised Alice’s interest immediately. After we returned from our swim, Belinda called the stable and made arrangements for all of us to ride tomorrow. The stable will send a van here in the marina to pick us up at 9:00 AM. We will ride for about 2 hours and then we will be driven back here. The cost is 35 million TL (about $25).

In the evening we, Alice, Nikos, and I, went to dinner at the nearby Zuchal’s restaurant. It was very pleasant if frantic because they were celebrating the engagement of the son of Zuchal, the restaurant’s proprietor, with a lovely young lady whose father is from the island of Rhodes and mother from Sweden.