Travels with S/Y Thetis

Thetis only

2002: Leros to Limnos

This web page contains the logs of the first leg of a trip that I took with S/Y Thetis in the Northeastern Aegean in Greece. The logs cover a period of 13 days of singlehanding from Leros, in the Dodecanese, to Limnos, in the Eastern Aegean, via via the islands of Archangelos, Lipsi, Marathi, Samos, Chios, and Lesvos.

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 from Leros
Route from Leros

Wednesday May 29, 2002 Day 1

The anchorage of Archangelos near Partheni, Leros

I woke up expecting that the GPS bracket would arrive today, but I heard on the radio news, that there is strike on. This affects both the ferry boats and Olympic Airways, so the chances of its arrival in Leros are slim. I tested the zodiac and the outboard and they are OK. After these tests I took a long walk on the island of Archangelos and on my return I swam. The water temperature was kind of brisk at 21°C (69.8°F). The ambient temperature was 24°C (75.2°F) with a relative humidity of 20% and pressure of 1012 mB. The wind 15 to 25 knots from the WSW.

After lunch an uncomfortable swell developed with the wind gusting to 28 knots. So, I pulled up the anchor at 1350 and motored back to Parheni, Leros where I anchored at 1420 in 4.5 m. In this protected cove [37° 11.6' N 26° 48.4' E] the sea was very calm, but, of course, because of the nearby fish farms, the water was murky.

Some time later an elderly couple from a nearby anchored sailboat with a German flag appeared to be waving at me while blowing a whistle. Being curious, I got into the dinghy and went over to see what they wanted. It turned out that a Norwegian sailboat, belonging to people with whom the couple had been friendly, had been dragging her anchor and drifting dangerously close to the shore. Her crew was not on-board and the German couple’s dinghy had no outboard so they could not help. I took the German gentleman with my dinghy to the Norwegian boat. After a search we located her second anchor which I quickly set. This stopped the drift. Later, when the Norwegian crew returned, her owner came over to Thetis and thanked me profusely for saving his boat and forced a bottle of wine on me. I accepted the bottle on the condition that he and his crew will come to help me drink it. They never did come, and as it was getting dark I did not even record the boat’s name.

In the evening I went ashore and walked to Blefoutis, the cove E of Partheni. It took me about 20 minutes to reach the little tavern there. At the tavern there was Marós from the M/Y Manta Ray. Once again, we ate together.

Thursday May 30, 2002 Day 2

The morning was very calm and quiet but the serenity was broken by the army (there is a large army camp in Partheni and they use the nearby area for training) who started exercising with possibly live ammunition. One group was attacking a hill, no further than 150 m from Thetis, which was defended by another group. The “battle” lasted over an hour. All the crews from the anchored boats came out with binoculars to watch it.

I waited until 9:30 and then called with the GSM phone FedEx in Athens. They told me that the package should arrive in Leros with today’s plane and they gave me the number of their agent in Leros. I tried calling him to arrange for a delivery in Partheni but there was no answer. I called Ersi at the yard and asked her to please trace the package. Later she called me back. The package was in the hands of Mr. Nikos in Lakki and he will put it in a taxi and send it to Partheni. I went to the yard with the zodiac and arrived just as the taxi was pulling in. After paying the taxi and saying good-bye to all the good people at Agmar (renamed Moor & Dock) who took such good care of Thetis I went back on board. I installed the GPS with its proper bracket, raised the zodiac and at 1335 departed for Lipsi.

There was hardly any wind, just a 6 knot SW breeze. I motored the 6.4 M to Katsadia, Lipsi [37° 16.8' N 26° 46.2' E] where we arrived at 1445. During this short passage I noticed that the alternator belt kept on slipping. On arrival, while trying to anchor, the windlass controls developed a problem. I used the spare controls to anchor and later repaired the faulty ones. Also, during the passage, I ran the watermaker for ½ hr and replenished the tanks. It worked flawlessly. The cove was empty and very calm despite the Navtex forecast that called for strong NW winds.

After anchoring in 4.5 m I went for a swim and also checked the anchor with my mask. In the evening I cooked some spaghetti and ate it with sauce left over from the previous night. After dinner I enjoyed the stars and later the rising moon while listening to classical music. Glad to be cruising again!

Friday May 31, 2002 Day 3

First thing in the morning I re-tightened the alternator belt which was slipping. The old belt was replaced during service at Agmar but now it keeps getting loose.

After I finished the work on the engine I launched the zodiac (dinghy) and went ashore. I walked to the town and bought fresh bread and fruits. This year there is a new shorter route to the town from Katsadia. It is a fork at the left of the old road. On the way back to Thetis I cut some thyme to dry and use for cooking.

As soon as I was aboard, 1010, I pulled up the anchor and headed for Marathi, the little island across from Arki. The Navtex forecast called for force 4-5 locally 6 NW, but here and now it was only a light 8-12 knot NNW breeze. We motored for 8.6 M arriving at Marathi [37° 22' N 26° 43.6' E] on 1145. I caught a mooring belonging to the NE taverna of Pandelis because I have been told that it is better than the Marathi which I had patronized in the past and I wanted to try it. On the way I ran the watermaker. It only took ½ hr to re-fill the tanks. The quantity of water that this new unit makes is amazing. Once again, the alternator belt got loose.

After the engine cooled, I re-tightened the belt. I also checked the alignment of the pulleys but they were OK. Other than that, I took the rest of the day easy, recovering from last week’s activities. I read under the tent and swam. The day was not very hot, only 26° C 52% relative humidity and 1013 mB pressure. In the evening I went ashore to the taverna where I met Mr. Pandelis himself who came over to his little pier and tied the dinghy for me. He is very friendly and polite. His wife apologized that they were out of fresh fish but their octopus and the katsikaki (roast young goat), one of their specialties, were delicious. Moored next to Thetis was the large blue S/Y Anna Maria. She belongs to a very enterprising young English woman Diana (everyone knows her in the islands) who owns three such crewed charter boats and she skippers one of them. Now the whole crew of 8 from Anna Maria were eating next to me in the delightful courtyard of Pandelis. We started a conversation across tables. Her skipper was a very pleasant young British young man and her deck hand was a lovely Dutch-Indonesian young lady. The other 6 people were charters, 3 American couples who did not know each other before. They were on their last evening as their charter will be ending tomorrow in Pythagorio.

Saturday June 1, 2002 Day 4

I woke up early. First thing in the morning, the new electric head (toilet) pump got clogged with paper and I had to disassemble it and clean it. A most unpleasant job. What a way to start the month!

The forecast was for 4-5 Bft NW decreasing later in the day. I raised the zodiac and cast off the mooring at 0715, destination Samos. The wind was a brisk north one of 10-28 knots. It was slow going N to clear the northern tip of Arki. After that, the wind direction was about 40° to our heading and I raised the main. Now this new main had no reefing tie-up cords. I had already prepared sections of cord and while raising the sail I installed them on it. While doing so, I realized that the hook at the goose neck of the boom which is used to hold the sail when it is reefed had been installed, when the mast was re-installed at the yard, upside down. There was no way that I could secure the sail when reefed. I improvised with some temporary ropes but I did not want to push my lack with more canvas and kept the sail on the 3rd reef. I opened some headsail but Thetis was definitely under canvassed. It was a slow sail making speed of just 3.8 knots, without the engine. The sea was rough and very confused, not the most pleasant sail but sail nevertheless.

We continued this slow sailing until we reached Samiopoula at which time the wind veered NE making sailing impossible without many tacks. I rolled-in the headsail and lowered, with some difficulty, the stiff mainsail. I had no other problems until we were nearly at the entrance of Pythagorio harbor in Samos [37° 41.2' N 26° 57' E] when my hat was blown off. After some maneuvering I recovered it, and prepared the fenders and the docking lines. I anchored and backed up to the quay without any trouble at 1320, after a distance of 23.2 M. Mr. Yannis, who runs the small sailboat fleet of Samos Sail, was at the quay and helped me with the lines. It was hot!

Before doing anything else, I spent some time fixing the problem with the gooseneck hook. I had to rig an elaborate system of lines from the top of the mast to support the boom as I detached it from the mast. Then, after reversing the hook, I gently guided it back into the gooseneck while lowering the support lines. This would had been very easy had I had an assistant instead of being all by myself…

My plan was to stay in Samos until Monday afternoon. I could visit the bank on Monday morning and then pay some house bills for our summer house in Kalami before leaving in the afternoon. I also noticed that the S/Y Doffer was in the harbor but Dita and Karel were away. I sent them an SMS message so that we could meet tomorrow.

Sunday June 2, 2002 Day 5

I made contact with Dita and Karel of S/Y Doffer and we both rented scooters and drove to the picturesque village of Manolates where we had a wonderful lunch at the Filia restaurant which not only has great food but has a magnificent view of the bay of Samos. In the evening they came over to my house in Kalami where we had some ouzo while watching the sunset. They will be departing in the morning for points north.

Route to Chios
Route to Chios

Monday June 3, 2002 Day 6

After finishing my various errands, I got to Pythagorio in the late afternoon and started preparations for a passage to Chios. I bought a replacement Camping Gaz canister which for some obscure bureaucratic reason was unavailable in Leros. I replaced the alternator belt which had been constantly slipping with a new one. Also, I bought some provisions. By 1910 all was ready and after I cast off I raised the anchor. Surprisingly for Pythagorio, the anchor was not fouled and I exited the harbor without any difficulty.

There was hardly any wind, just a 5-8 knot E breeze, and as a result I motored. I wanted to time my arrival in Chios for daylight so I needed to delay the passage. So, when I reached Klima [37° 42.5' N 27° 02.7' E] the cove just E of Poseidonio, I anchored. The time was 2010 and the distance traveled was 5.3 M. Klima is a very pleasant cove and a fairly good alternative to Poseidonio but not as well protected from the meltemi. I took advantage of the diminishing daylight and lack of wind to raise the main and secure it with the boom hook, now properly oriented. I also installed the rest of the reefing cords for the 1st and 2nd reef. After this work, I lowered the sail and tied it down. The sea was very calm and the night a very peaceful one. I cooked some spaghetti with a light garlic sauce. After eating and listening to some music it was time to go on.

At 2300 I was ready to leave. I pressed the starter button but it disintegrated. This was a brand new button installed by Agmar (now Moor & Dock) this winter. Oh, well! I started the engine by shorting the starter solenoid with a screw driver. I raised the anchor and departed from Klima. There was no wind and I was motoring.

Tuesday June 4, 2002 Day 7

It was a beautiful night but there were problems with Thetis. The alternator belt was still slipping and every so often I had to shut down the engine and tighten the belt. A lot of black stuff is spread around the engine. I am completely bewildered at this because the belt does not appear to be loose. It is tight, yet there is the evidence of the ammeter and the black stuff from the disintegrating belt. I turned on the watermaker but its new circuit breaker broke. I replaced it with a spare and then ran the watermaker and filled the tanks. The deck flood light burned. Other than these problems, the passage was an easy one if boring because there was no wind and no sailing.

We arrived at Salangonas, Chios [38° 13.2' N 25° 54.8' E] on 1135 after 71.1 M of motoring. I anchored in 5 m without any problems. I had this lovely cove all to myself except for a couple on the beach. He played jazz on a trumpet, very nice. I put up the tent, ate lunch, had a swim, and crashed.

After several hours of sleeping I woke up, went ashore and walked up the dirt road until I got a strong GSM signal to receive e-mails and SMS messages. Later I removed the tent, took a hot shower and started cooking a pot-roast which I had gotten in Samos. While the roast was cooking, I enjoyed an ouzo in the cockpit. For a change the air was not cold and sitting outside in the evening was pleasant. I ate in the cockpit enjoying the stars. It was a quiet and pleasant night.

Wednesday June 5, 2002 Day 8

I felt kind of lazy, and after a debate whether to go on or not, I decided to spend the day in this delightful anchorage. I tightened the alternator belt. After that chore, I spent the rest of the morning reading and listening to music.

In the late morning, when it got warmer, I put up the tent and had lunch in the cockpit. The water temperature was only 20°C (68°F) and I postponed swimming for later and I took a nap. I was just waking up when a familiar sailboat glided into the cove. She was S/Y Doffer with my Dutch friends Dita and Karel. They had gone from Samos on Monday to a cove in Turkey and then, last night to Emborios, in Chios. They were on their way to Mesta when they saw Thetis.

We swam and then they invited me aboard Doffer for fruit and coffee. They wanted to proceed to Mesta because their daughter, who will be flying to Chios tomorrow morning, is supposed to meet them there. Since at some time I had to go to Chios town to get a replacement starter push-button and a circuit breaker, and since there was convivial company, I decided to follow them to Mesta.

They departed and I raised Thetis’ anchor at 1800 and followed them towing the zodiac. There was almost no wind, just a faint breeze less than 4 knots from almost all directions. We motored the 10.8 miles to Mesta or Limenas [38° 17.4' N 25° 55.8' E] arriving at 1920. The pontoons that were reported last year are now gone. I docked side-to avoiding, with some difficulty, the large ugly truck tires that would mar Thetis’ finish. Karel and Dita, who had arrived sometime before Thetis were on the quay and caught my docking lines. I invited them to come later on Thetis for dinner.

I walked ashore and inquired of the possibility of renting a scooter. “Yes, last year a man in Mesta (the town not the harbor) did so but not this year because of insurance problems, the nearest place where they rent scooters is Pyrgi.” Pyrgi being quite far, my best bet for going to Chios town was to catch the bus which leaves Limenas at 6:30 AM. An officer from the Limenarchio (coast guard) came and asked us to bring our papers tomorrow before we leave.

I cooked turkey cutlets, which I had bought in Samos, with a thick sauce made with balsamic vinegar, mustard, onions, and capers. I served them with a pilaf of rice along with a nice Nemean red wine. After dinner I said good-bye to Dita and Karel because I would be going to town early in the morning and chances were that their daughter will arrive before my return. They will be casting off right away.

Thursday June 6, 2002 Day 9

I got up early to catch the 6:30 bus to town. I needed to get the following:

  1. a starter push-button
  2. a 30 A circuit breaker
  3. a deck flood light bulb
  4. a butane soldering iron (the old one had failed)

After I got to town by asking and walking I located an automotive store where I got item 1. Then an electrical supply store for item 2 and a hardware store for 4. Item 3 could not be found.

After finishing my errands I got into a taxi and went to Nea Moni, the most famous of all sites in Chios. It is impressive, especially the mosaics and icons inside the church. Also its little Museum is well organized and very interesting. After the visit to the monastery, the taxi drove me back to Limenas.

Nea Moni in Chios
Nea Moni

The Monastery

Nea Moni


Nea Moni

The Yard

Nea Moni

Another Mosaic

I received a message from Agmar. The bill from Ellinikos Neognomon for the inspection of Thetis is over 800 €! Amazing! I called Mr. Psarambas of Ellinikos Neognomon in Kalymnos. The final inspection certificate is not yet ready. It will be next week and he promised to forward it to me in Limnos. Karel’s daughter had not arrived yet. While waiting for her, Karel and I went to the Limenarchio (coast guard) to get out apoplous (permission to depart the port; one of the many Greek bureaucracy’s contributions to discouraging yachtsmen from visiting Greece). After half an hour of complicated calculations they asked us to pay 4.5 € for the harbor fee.

By the time we finished paying our respects to Greek officialdom, Karel and Dita’s daughter along with her boyfriend had arrived. Doffer departed going back to Salagonas and from there tomorrow to Marmaro. I busied myself installing the starter button. This was hard because I needed to be in two places at the same time: in the engine compartment and in the cockpit. After much swearing and frustration it was installed and tested. I once again, tightened the alternator belt.

I cast off from Limenas at 1325. Again no wind. Motored for 5.1 M to Lithi [38° 20.6' N 25° 59.7' E] where we arrived at 1440. I did not attempt to enter the small harbor but, since it was calm, I anchored off in 7 m. During the passage the alternator belt slipped again. Very frustrating, why? Unable to answer, I put up the tent, had lunch, and took a nap.

In the evening I installed the new 30 A circuit breaker for the watermaker and transferred Diesel fuel from 2 jerry cans to the main tank. I then launched the dinghy, had a swim, and removed the tent. After a shower and an ouzo, I went ashore and had a nice seafood dinner at the Kyra Despina restaurant.

The Small Harbor of Lithi in Chios
Route to Limnos
Route to Limnos

Friday June 7, 2002 Day 10

I woke early and by 0600 the anchor was up. Destination Sigri, Lesvos. The alternator belt continued to slip. The wind was light, 3-6 knots from the S. For the first 11 M, until we reached Cape Melanios, the most NW point of Chios, we motored. Every so often I had to turn the motor off and re-tighten the alternator belt. After passing Cape Melanios the wind increased to 12-18 knots, still from the S, and I opened about 40% of the headsail and turned off the engine. I did not raise the mainsail because I already had the tent up and the day was hot. At about 0930 the wind increased some more, now over 20 knots, and heavy clouds covered the sky. Down came the tent and up came the full mainsail. This was great as our speed increased from 4.5 to 7 knots but not all the time since the wind strength was not steady. This happy state continued until 1330 when the wind died to less than 4 knots. I turned on the motor and rolled-in the headsail, which was already flapping, but kept the main. We motor-sailed until 1515 with the belt slipping. By that time the belt was so worn down that I had to replace it. I put back the old ridged belt which last year had given me no trouble and was still in good condition. By this time the wind was back to 12-20 knots from the SE. Once again I turned off the motor and opened all of the genoa. Continued sailing until we reached Sigri, sailing right to the anchorage.

The Town of Sigri in Lesvos

I anchored at Sigri, Lesvos [39° 12.5' N 25° 51.2' E] on 1645 in 5.5 m just S of the castle letting out 50 m of chain because the SE wind was blowing with fierce gusts. We had come 58.9 M from Lithi. The temperature was 26°C (79°F) the relative humidity 66% and the barometer a high 1017 mB.

I relaxed in the cockpit, had an ouzo and read. There was some swell creeping in the bay. The Navtex forecast called for decreasing S winds. I made supper: left-over roast with rice. I spoke on the GSM phone with Manos Castrinakis and confirmed our previous arrangements. He and his friend Nadia will join Thetis in Limnos. We will then all go as far as Alexadroupolis. Our original plan was to meet on June 11 but now we agreed to meet on the 16. I will sail directly to Limnos from here. In the mean time the S wind got stronger despite the forecast and the swell became rather uncomfortable.

Saturday June 8, 2002 Day 11

Sigri, Lesvos

In the morning, I launched the dinghy and went ashore. I saw a travel office advertising car rentals and I thought that I might rent one and explore the region. I have come to Sigri several times by boat but have not gone much further then walking distance. Given the wind situation I may have to delay my departure and land explorations would be fun. The office however had not opened yet for the day. I walked to the baker and bought some fresh bread. Then I walked N of the town for about 1 hr reaching the lovely beach Faneromeni (Φανερωμένη). Right on the beach there is a tiny chapel dedicated to Ζωοδόχος Πηγή (The life giving spring). I swam there and then walked back to Sigri. One travel office was open but had no cars available. The second one, Greece Direct, had just closed but had a sign that it will open again at 6 PM. The new Museum dedicated to the Petrified Forest was closed. It will be open tomorrow.

I went back on Thetis. The swell was still uncomfortable and the S wind was even stronger then before. I decided to move Thetis to the N side of the small fishing harbor where the sea appeared calmer. At 1300 I raised the anchor and moved there. I anchored at 4.5 m without any problem. The holding was good and the swell negligible.

Thetis on the N of Sigri

In the evening I went again ashore and checked in Greece Direct about a car. No cars were available for a week. Back on Thetis for reading and an ouzo. Later I went ashore and had a very tasty fish soup at the Remetzo restaurant.

Sunday June 9, 2002 Day 12

Petrified Tree in Sigri Museum

I went ashore and visited the new Petrified Forest Museum. It is well organized with many attractive displays illustrating the geological history of the Aegean and of the Sigri petrified forest in particular.

After I returned to Thetis, I raised the anchor and departed Sigri at 1030. I motored for 4.8 M to Faneromeni [39° 14.6' N 25° 51.6' E] which I so liked when I walked there yesterday. It was well sheltered from the S and SW wind. We arrived there at 1130 and anchored in 6 m. It was, as I expected, very pleasant save for an occasional strong gust from the SE.

I put up the tent and went swimming. My plan was to spend here the day and night and sail for Limnos in the early morning. The forecast from the Navtex called for force 4-5 SSW winds for the S Aegean. This will be changed later tomorrow into strong westerlies (presumably not here in the NE Aegean). I spent a pleasant day swimming and reading. I cooked for supper the last of the turkey cutlets together with pasta in a light lemon sauce. I went to bed early anticipating a rather early departure. I had already lifted the dinghy and lashed it on the deck.

Later in the night a very uncomfortable swell developed. I got worried also by the falling barometer which now was at 1007 mB compared to 1017 of two days ago. The swell was so bad that I had trouble sleeping. Since there was no point in being awake and rocked, I decided to depart for Limnos and started getting ready to do so.

The Cove of Faneromeni near Sigri, Lesvos

Monday June 10, 2002 Day 13

By 0050 the anchor was up and we were on our way. The wind was a fresh 20-28 knots SSE. As soon as we had motored outside of the cove I raised the full mainsail, opened about 40% of the genoa, and turned off the motor. It was a nice fast sail, Thetis doing better than 7 knots. By 0230 the wind had reached gale force of 35 knots and although we were running with it I reduced the headsail because the autopilot had trouble keeping us on course. The wind kept strengthening and by 0400 when it exceeded 40 knots I headed up and reefed the mainsail to its 1st reef. We continued sailing fast sometimes reaching a speed of 8 knots. We were heading for Thanos in Limnos but with this strong S wind I was afraid that it may not be well sheltered, so I changed course and headed for Moudros Bay which provides many anchoring possibilities. The seas in the morning were very large.

Vourlidia in Moudros Bay, Limnos

After we entered Moudros Bay in Limnos the wind was still 38 knots with fierce gusts but the sea was flat. I managed to lower and secure the main without too much trouble and then motored into the tricky Vourlidia Bay [39° 50.8' N 25° 11.4' E] which is surrounded by reefs. There were two other sailboats. I anchored in 4.5 m and let out all of 55 m of chain. The time of arrival was 1015 and we had come 54.9 M from Faneromeni.

It was good that I let out so much chain and that I did not put up the tent because around 1230 we were hit by a squall with winds in excess of 45 knots! The anchor held. Had I had a tent it would had surely been torn into shreds. The barometer went down to 1004 mB while the temperature was 28°C (82°F) and the humidity 41%. The sea, although Thetis was only about 100 m from the shore, became rough and very frothy. I was afraid that the chain might break, but it did not.

During the Squall in Vourlidia

Later the wind died out and once again it was very calm. It was hard to imagine what the sea was like here just a few hours ago. In the evening I made dinner from leftovers and I ate it in the cockpit, to the accompaniment of one of the most spectacular lightning and thunder displays I have ever seen. Clearly a front had been moving. Fortunately, the thunderstorm was several km away in the NE, most likely over the Dardanelles because I could not hear the thunder. The storm was of an incredible violence and lasted for over an hour.