Travels with S/Y Thetis


Thetis only

2002: Yeras to Çesme

This web page contains the log of the fifth 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 the Gulf of Yeras on the island of Lesvos to Çesme in Turkey where I helped by friend Turgut Ayker to upgrade the wiring of his S/Y New Life. Other places visited are: Pasa Island in the Oinouses, Izmir, and the town of Chios. The log is 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 to Çesme
Route to Çesme

Saturday June 29, 2002 Day 32

I slept a little late this morning. My plan for the day was to explore the Gulf of Yeras and, if I found a good place to spend the night there; if not, to get out of the gulf and overnight in a nearby cove. At any rate, weather permitting (i.e. no northern gale or southern wind) to proceed to Oinouses tomorrow, spend couple of days there, and then go on to Çesme and help my friend Turgut re-wire his sailboat New Life.

Entering Yeras
Entering the Gulf of Yeras

I raised the anchor at 0910. The wind was a mild 5-6 knot N breeze. I motored to the tricky entrance of Yeras, following the very detailed C-Map at the GPS/Plotter very closely while at the same time also following the plan in the Portolanos, the Greek Pilot book. The C-map is normally accurate but at high magnification it some times is quite off and I do not fully trust it. During the entrance to Yeras, and while we were in the middle of the channel, several times Thetis was shown to be on land! While in the channel I got a call on the GSM phone from Turgut. He was very excited because Turkey made it to the semi-finals of the football (soccer in the US) Mondial World Cup. We agreed to make an attempt to rendezvous tomorrow near Oinouses.

Port of Perama in Yeras
Port of Perama in Yeras

We passed, in the channel, the Port of Perama, which is grubby and very unappealing. Shortly after Perama we were in the gulf. The water here was very flat and of greenish tint. We headed E to a cove described by Heikell as the “SE Cove”[39° 03.8' N 26° 31.9' E], a very quiet and attractive anchorage. I dropped the anchor at 1110 in 9.5 m of water. Once again Heikell is right. It is indeed attractive and deserted, save for a fisherman’s cottage with his family of fat wife yelling at the two young girls swimming while the fisherman was fishing. I put up the tent and swam also. Then I had lunch. The two girls swam near Thetis looking very curious. I was about to invite them in but their mother screamed at them and they quickly retreated. It was fairly hot by that time.

SE Cove in Yeras
SE Cove in Yeras

I departed the cove at 1430 and motored, while keeping the tent on, around the gulf. There were many attractive anchoring possibilities but last night’s cove of Asproniso is even better with its clear waters. After circumnavigating the gulf I exited it and headed back towards Asproniso.

Cove E of Yeras Channel
Cove E of Yeras Channel

As soon as Thetis was out of the channel the sails went up but a stiff S breeze had us motoring again. I became worried about the desirability of Asproniso with a S wind, so, I turned back and anchored over weed in 7 m depth in an appealing cove Ayios Ermogenis, just E of the channel, [39° 01' N 26° 32.7' E]. The time was 1720 and the total distance since this morning 25.4 nM.

There were two other sailboats and a taverna ashore. I launched the dinghy, had a hot shower, and enjoyed an ouzo while admiring the view. I then I went ashore. The restaurant closes for the evening, it only serves lunch. I took a walk and then went back to the boat. While I was in the dinghy heading for Thetis I was heard a call “Vasili, Vasili” from a newly arrived Jeanneau Sun Fizz. The owner, who works for the City Hall of Mytilini, had mistaken me for another Vasilis also with a sailboat. He told me that the harbor of Mytilini has now been upgraded and the raw sewage flow has been eliminated.

Back onboard I made my supper: spaghetti with pork roast followed by a very tasty melon.

Sunday June 30, 2002 Day 33

I raised the anchor and departed from this nice cove in Lesvos at 0716. The sea was flat but a mild 3-7 knot NE breeze allowed me to at least open 60% of the headsail (the full sail was too heavy for that wind) and motor-sail. As the sun rose higher in the sky I put up the tent. I received a call from Turgut and we arranged to meet in the afternoon. He will sail from Çesme at noon.

At the time that Thetis was rounding Karaburun, we kept in contact via SMS, and later, when the two boats were near, with the VHF. We agreed to proceed to Pasa Island which is part of Oinouses. The wind had increased a bit and I was able to turn off the engine and sail with the headsail but I kept the tent. Soon New Life was visible. I went ahead and anchored at 1325 in a nice cove [38° 29.7' N 26° 17.5' E] on the SE of Pasa Island. We had covered 35.5 nM from Lesvos.

Shortly after New Life entered the cove, anchored, and rafted with Thetis. After many greetings Arzu, Turgut’s wife, started frying on New Life’s deck some fish which they had bought very fresh this morning from a fisherman. The wind, however, made it very difficult because it blew the fire away and the frying pan would not get hot enough. It was only after Turgut, their daughter Dilek, their son Orhan, and I formed a wind barrier by ringing towels all around Arzu so that the pan became hot enough to fry the fish. We held the towels until all the fish was cooked. The late lunch that followed was delicious. It was good to meet my sailing friends again.

New Life's Schematic
Click for a large view of the diagram

As I have said before, one of my objectives in this trip is to help Turgut to re-wire and modernize the electrical systems of New Life. To this end I had earlier prepared a schematic wiring diagram of proposed changes and additions. Based on this diagram Turgut had ordered several components including:

  1. a new 850 Ah deep discharge wet-cell service battery, made in Turkey
  2. a new high output 150 A alternator, for the service battery
  3. a smart multi-stage regulator, for the service battery
  4. a Link-20 dual battery electronic monitor
  5. a new alternator and regulator for the engine starter battery

Our original plan was to meet in Kusadasi, where an electrician, under my direction, would do the work. Now, after many phone calls and after Turgut had located a highly recommended boat electrician in Izmir, we decided to do the work in Çesme which is not only New Life’s home port but only a couple of hours drive from Izmir, a good source of materials (cables, circuit breakers etc.) and the location of Turgut’s business headquarters. The battery is now ready but the rest of the equipment, ordered from Hamilton Ferris in the USA, should be arriving by Tuesday. With these in mind we now, once again, revised the plan of action. Instead of me and Thetis spending the next few days in Oinouses and then going to Kusadasi, I will proceed today to the Setur Marina in Çesme where Turgut owns a berth and where all the paperwork for entering Turkey can be done my the marina staff.

We departed from Pasa Island at 1650. The wind was a usable 10-15 knot breeze from the N so I downed the tent, raised the mainsail, and opened the genoa. We sailed all the way to the Çesme Setur Marina [38° 19.5' N 26° 20.8' E] where we arrived at 1820. We had come 46.8 nM from Lesvos. In the mean time, Turgut and his family had gone ahead with New Life and docked in the Dalyan Marina which is a few miles N of the Setur. Then he drove to the Setur Marina and was already there, inside the marina’s inflatable, and met Thetis outside the harbor. We entered the marina and with the help of Turgut and the attendants Thetis was secured in no time. This ease can definitely spoil me. Soon Thetis was hooked up with both electricity and water and her captain showered while all the formalities of entering Turkey were being handled by the marina staff.

We drove to Dalyan and I took a look at the wiring of New Life that was to be changed, and made a provisional list of material to be acquired in Izmir. Then with the whole family we drove to the town of Çesme and sat at a pide (a very tasty Turkish version of pizza) parlor. There we were joined by Turgut’s younger brother and his vivacious mother. She is very youthful and speaks excellent English. She is linked with a group of ladies with whom she travels all over the world.

After dinner Turgut drove me back to Thetis. It was a very long day.

Monday July 1, 2002 Day 34

The Bay of Izmir
The Bay of Izmir

Almost as soon as I was up, a man from the marina office came with my duly stamped passport and the travel-log allowing Thetis to cruise in Turkish waters. Later Arzu came along with Orhan who would be my tourist guide to Smyrna. Soon Mustafa, Turgut’s driver, came with a car and we all drove to Smyrna. In Smyrna (or Izmir in Turkish) Orhan and Mustafa took me almost everywhere. They took me to an old stately restaurant high up on a terrace with wonderful views of the bay and town which can be reached with a long elevator ride, to the old market with great small stores selling anything imaginable, up the hill via some very poor neighborhoods to the old Kale (Castle) of Smyrna also with great views, etc. All of this was very interesting and would had been most enjoyable save for the heat. The walks were fine but at the end there was the extremely hot car which had been exposed to the brutal sun while we were walking. Few of the old magnificent mansions, for which Smyrna was famous, remain, and the ones that do are in disrepair but still testify to the city’s glorious past. Modern Izmir, however, is a large bustling city of many ugly nondescript cement buildings. Efforts to clean the heavily polluted waters of the bay have been going on for a few years now and are just beginning to bear fruit. It is expected, if the effort continues at its present rate, then within 5 years people will be able once again to swim in the bay.

The terrace Restaurant
The Terrace Restaurant in Izmir
The Market Place in Izmir
The Market Place in Izmir

In the afternoon we went to Turgut’s office in a large building which houses the headquarters and warehouse of his company. There he showed me the new, Turkish made, 850 Ah battery for New Life. We then drove to Izmir’s fascinating commercial sector, which reminds me a lot of Piraeus, where we bought marine grade cables, circuit breakers, connectors, terminals, etc. for the re-wiring of New Life. We also met the electrician, Karaman, who will do the work. He and all the material, battery, the shipment from the US, and what we bought, will be driven to Çesme tomorrow morning.

When all the shopping was over, Turgut drove to the outskirts of the city and showed me his new house still under construction. It will be grand when finished. He hopes to be able to move in before the end of the year. He then took me to a shopping center where a large store sells the famous Bursa towels. We each bought a set which will be embroidered by our boat’s name and would be ready tomorrow. After a nice meal of kebabs we drove back to Çesme. By the time I got back to Thetis it was past midnight. It was a long but interesting day.

Tuesday July 2, 2002 Day 35

I spent the morning doing various housekeeping tasks in Thetis. I also gave some clothes to the marina for laundry. In the late morning Turgut came and we drove to Dalyan Marina where New Life was berthed. Soon New Life was a beehive of activity. A mini-van from Turgut’s company arrived with a group of people and with the new batteries and the shipment from the USA plus what we had purchased yesterday in Izmir. Shortly Mustafa, Turgut’s driver, arrived with Karaman the electrician. While one group of men started installing the battery in the stern lazarette, another, headed by Karaman, removed the old alternators and installed the new ones. Both activities necessitated several trips to nearby machine and wood shops. By the early evening it was decided that the engine pulley had to be replaced by a new one which could accommodate an extra belt as the new high-output alternator uses two belts. In the mean time a new fiberglass box to contain the battery had been fabricated inside the lazarette.

Turgut, Karaman, and I went out to dinner. By the time we went back to New Life the battery was completely installed in its new box. Karaman will be sleeping on New Life and Turgut in his mother’s apartment in Çesme town.

Progress was also made on the Thetis front. Earlier in the morning I had removed the alternator. During the day Karaman opened it and we inspected its shaft and bearings and they all looked normal. There was definitely no need to replace them as they could not possibly be the cause of the slipping belt. Now, after Turgut drove me back to Thetis I re-installed and tested the alternator. During this work I noticed that the contact post of the pressure-gage could be rubbing on the belt. Maybe that is the cause of the belt problem. I filled the post. Next time we use the engine we will see. It was a long but very productive day.

Wednesday July 3, 2002 Day 36

Karaman started work on New Life almost as soon as he woke up. He is an electrician in the merchant marine and now he is on vacation doing extra work. He is very careful and methodical in his work which as a result is neat and precise. He is very receptive to my “new ideas” on how 12 volt systems are to be wired in boats. He always asks why and after an explanation proceeds in following my instructions. In addition to being a seaman and an electrician, he is a sailor and regularly crews in various sailing races. Work progressed on New Life through the morning.

In the early afternoon Turgut and I took a walk around Dalyan marina and I met a number of local yachtsmen. They are a very friendly lot and almost all of them had read my articles in the Yachting World Türkiye and follow the Thetis web pages. So they greeted me as an old friend. They have a local racing organization the Aegean Offshore Yacht Club which organizes regular races for almost every weekend.

In the evening I was invited to Turgut’s mother’s apartment for dinner. There I met more of his extended family. A friendly and convivial crowd.

Thursday July 4, 2002 Day 37

The work on New Life progresses slowly but steadily. Karaman is doing a great job and no one wants to rush him.

I received a phone call from my brother Nikos who asked me if I could send him the C-Map cartridge for Crete to Kythera where he is now. Turgut called the Federal Express agent in Çesme and was informed that it would cost about $20 to send a small package to Kythera and that it can be delivered within 3 days. So, we drove to the FedEx office where the story changed. It now appeared that the cost will be $35 and the package would most likely take a week to get there since it had to be shipped to Izmir, then to Istanbul, Brussels, Athens, and then to Kythera. Disappointed I made a snap decision: sail Thetis across to Chios and send the package from there so that it will be transported strictly within Greece.

Turgut’s son Orhan decided to come with me on the expedition to Chios. We departed the Çesme Setur Marina at 1530. There was almost no wind and we had to motor, with the tent on, the 12.8 nM to Chios. On the way, while trying to photograph a large caique floundered on a reef my Nikon CoolPix 950 digital camera failed. It would make a rasping sound while refusing to focus. After a few minutes its screen displayed, in red, the encouraging “SYSTEM ERROR”. We arrived in the “marina” [38° 23.2' N 26° 08.4' E] which is few miles N of the Chios harbor at 1750. The “marina” like so many similar marinas in Greece is unfinished but provides a secure harbor. It is not too far from the road to town. We walked for about 2 km when we managed to flag a taxi which took us directly to the ACS (a major courier service in Greece) office. There for €  6 they took the small package and guaranteed delivery to Kythera by tomorrow evening. After this errand and before sailing back to Çesme we walked to the harbor where had an orange juice and did some shopping. Orhan had been commissioned to get some cheese suitable for saganaki (floured and fried in oil) which cannot be had easily in Turkey. We then took a taxi back to the marina.

We removed the tent from Thetis and departed from Chios at 1930. Again there was no wind so it was motoring all the way. The alternator belt was still slipping. I cannot figure out the cause of this problem. We arrive back in the Çesme Setur Marina at 2120 after 13.2 nM. Turgut was already waiting for us in the marina and helped with the docking. During this trip I was very glad to once again have Orhan as a sailing companion, too bad that there was no wind.

After washing up we visited Turgut’s friend Fatih who was on New Life two years ago when we sailed together in Santorini. He was very glad to see me again but both Turgut and I had to disappoint him as we were both too tired to stay for dinner.

Friday July 5, 2002 Day 38

Fortunately July 4th came and went without a terrorist incident in the US. I keep revising the New Life’s schematic to reflect the changes we have been making during the re-wiring work which was coming along fine. During the middle of the day Turgut had to attend the funeral of a friend of his wife’s mother. He invited me to go with him. Since I have never witnessed a Moslem funeral this was an opportunity for me. We went to the marina where we both had a quick swim to cool off, then we showered in Thetis and changed into better clothes. We drove to Urla a suburb of Izmir the Greek Vourla. After the service in the Mosque the body was driven to the cemetery with all the people following in their cars. After the body was lowered at the already opened grave each of the close relatives, in turn, took a shovel and shoveled earth over the body. Now this is closure!

Seferis House in Urla
Seferis House in Urla

After the funeral Turgut drove me to the house in Urla where the Nobel winning Greek poet George Seferis spent his summers as a child. It is a nice old building well preserved, which now functions as a very attractive small hotel. The owners very proudly showed us a number of Seferis paraphernalia. Too bad that my camera was not working. This visit had a personal significance for me because I am not only a lover of Seferis’ poetry but also had the privilege of meeting him several times in his small house in Glyfada, enclosed by an enchanting lush garden, as he was my father’s friend.

Back on New Life most of the work has been completed and although everyone is very tired we run a few tests. The Link-20 monitor is working like a charm and all the cables have been installed correctly and according to my diagram. It was too late though to test the new alternators, this test will have to wait for tomorrow morning. All of the installation crew—Karaman, Seref (the New Life deckhand), Turgut, and I—had a celebratory dinner in a pleasant waterfront restaurant in Dalyan. Karaman is very pleased to have completed the work because tomorrow he is crewing in a sailing race.