Travels with S/Y Thetis


Thetis only

2003: Samos to Astypalea

This web page contains the log of the first leg of a singlehandled sailing trip that I took with S/Y Thetis in the Greek East Aegean (Dodecanese). The leg covers a period of 12 days of sailing from the island of Samos (Pythagorio) to the island of Astypalea (Maltezana, Agrilithi, Vathy) via the islands of Arki, Marathi, and Lipsi. The log is illustrated with photographs and maps it also includes some historical and geographical descriptions of the places visited as well as several links to other related web sites. The log is illustrated with photographs and maps it also includes some historical and geographical descriptions of the places visited as well as several links to other related web sites.

Route to Astypalea
Route to Astypalea from Samos

September 4-27, 2003

Thetis spent this time in the Pythagorio “marina” while I was in Kalami with my wife Alice, daughter Cynthia, and our new grandson, Alexander, aged 4 months. We were later also joined by Alexander’s father, Scott Shomer. During this period I regularly visited Thetis to check on her. I refueled her with 77 L of Diesel fuel and filled the small canister with gasoline for the outboard.

Scott Shomer, Alexander Riginos Shomer, & Cynthia Riginos
Scott Shomer, Alexander Riginos Shomer, & Cynthia Riginos

The Pythagorio “marina” is being developed by a consortium of companies headed by Vernicos Yachts, the company founded by George Vernicos and his childhood friend, my younger brother Nikos Riginos. I spoke to the general manager of the marina consortium in Athens, a Mr. Zacharias, and to their local representative, a young lady named Aspa. They all have high hopes that the marina will be ready and operating by spring 2004. I already have done the paperwork so that Thetis can have a permanent berth in the finished marina.

My old Nokia 9110 Communicator, by means of which I have been keeping in touch with the rest of the world while sailing, has, over time, been developing some alarming symptoms: some of its keys do not operate. I was given a repair estimate almost as high as the value of a new unit. So now in Samos I found its replacement: a Sonny-Ericsson P800. This device is not only a mobile GSM telephone but receives and sends data via GPRS. It also has a Bluetooth wireless interface that allows it to communicate with my iBook Macintosh computer. It can then act as a fast GPRS modem and it can synchronize the address books of both devices. On the negative side it also has built-in a low-resolution digital camera, a worthless feature in my opinion, that adds to its expense and complexity. But even more serious is its lack of a keyboard. Instead you can either use its handwriting character recognition or peck at a tiny displayed keyboard with a plastic toothpick. The result is that writing is much slower and more clumsy than on the Nokia. Another Nokia feature that I miss is the ability to make custom labels for the address book fields. Even worse its ring is too soft and I may have trouble hearing it while under way. On the other hand, it uses 3 frequency bands for it communication and that most likely translates to better coverage.

On the 25th of the month Cynthia, Scott, and Alexander departed from Samos. Hurricane Isabel had a few days before swept over the eastern US and caused great damage. The roof of our house in Washington D.C. was damaged and was taking in water. As a result Alice had to fly back unexpectedly. So, I, too, prepared to depart Samos.

Sunday September 28, 2003 Day 1

I got onboard Thetis in the late morning after shutting down our house in Kalami for the year. It took me some time to launch the dinghy that I had left lashed on deck. The deck of the boat was extremely dusty, but fortunately now there was a hose with running water available and I was able to wash it down. With all of these tasks I was not ready for departure until late into the afternoon. The Navtex forecast called for a force 4 north wind but here in the “marina” the wind was much stronger. Being tired I decided not to leave today but spend the night here and depart in the early morning.

I went for a walk investigating the “new” road on the E side of the “marina.” It has a long way to go before it becomes a serviceable road. After the walk, I drank some ouzo while watching the sun go down. I made myself an omelet with fresh tomato sauce that I had brought from Kalami. I went to bed early but I kept waking up expecting the call from Alice that she had arrived safely in D.C.

Monday September 29, 2003 Day 2

I got up very early, too exited by the prospect of sailing to sleep late. I tried calling Alice in D.C. but there was no answer. Could it be that the telephone lines are still down? I filled the sun-shower with water, collected the hose, and rearranged the docked lines in preparation for departure. We departed at 0745. The wind was 15-25 knots from the north. I raised the mainsail and we had a nice fast sail.

While sailing, Alice called. She did get home all right but as I was afraid the phone lines were down, she was calling me from her mobile phone. However, electric power has now been restored to our house although there is substantial damage. A falling tree branch had pierced the roof membrane and rainwater entered the house soaking the plaster of the walls and the wall-to-wall carpets that had to be removed. Now, after the roof repairs, the walls need re-plastering and the floors replaced.

We continued sailing but by 0900 the wind died down to 2-8 knots, still from the north, and I was forced to motor-sail. This gave me a chance to re-charge the batteries and to run the water-maker. This low wind was closer to the forecasted force 4. The rest of the ride to Arki was uneventful other than that the tachometer was operating intermittently. I could not locate a cause for this. After 24.6 nM we arrived at Glipapas, Arki [37° 22.4' N 26° 44.4' E] at 1210. I dropped the anchor in 4.5 m over a sand patch and let out enough chain for to drift over 13.5 depth.

Glipapas & Porto Stretto in Arki I later snorkeled and verified that the anchor was well dug-in the sand. After that, I put up the tent but the temperature was too low and staying in the cockpit under the tent was marginal. I took a nap and then I replaced the outboard propeller that Mastro Michalis of Agmar had temporarily fixed with the new one that Agmar had forwarded to me in Samos. I tested the outboard and it works well with its new propeller.

I spent the rest of the afternoon reading The Komboloi by Aris Evangelinos, a cute and very personal story of a man’s lifelong love affair with komboloia (worry beads). Twice I also saw a large gray-white bird, much larger than a seagull, with a long yellow beak. I looked it up in the Marine Life but I could not find it. I think it is some species of heron, but I am not sure.

For dinner I made brown rice with real chicken broth that I had brought with me from Kalami. I also warmed two slices of pork roast, also cooked in Kalami, in a sauce of fresh lemon and wine. While the meal was cooking, I had ouzo in the cockpit and watched the sunset. It was too cold to eat in the cockpit so I had dinner inside the cabin. Afterwards I bundled up and went out to watch the stars. While watching, I saw what I suppose was a very large meteor streaming low on the S horizon. Its head was white but as it sunk lower it turned into a yellow ball leaving behind it a bluish-green trail. The whole incredible thing lasted just a few seconds. This is a great life: nature, sea, sky, and much needed solitude and contemplation.

Tuesday September 30, 2003 Day 3

Sunset in Arki I woke up in time to listen to the AM radio (729 kHz) marine weather forecast: N winds of force 3, locally 4 but increasing tomorrow.

There was a lovely sunrise, which I managed to photograph. I then went ashore and walked, about 45 minutes, up to the little church at the peak of the island. When I walked down to Port Augusta, the harbor of the island, I saw a Perama (traditional Greek wooden cargo boat) unloading cement. This is extremely rare: a real working Perama! I had seen this boat before at anchor in Patmos. I spoke to her owner/captain. He is Manolis Velas from Patmos. He is very familiar with my brother’s Perama, the meticulously restored Faneromeni. He not only knows her previous owners in Kalymnos and Fourni but he even knows her engine, a Kelvin 125 hp.

Chapel in Arki

Chapel in Arki

Perama

Perama

After I returned to Thetis I put on mask and flippers and with a piece of wood scraped her bottom free from the barnacles and weed that had accumulated during her stay in the Pythagorio Marina. Then, at 1220, I raised the anchor and motored the 0.8 nM across the channel to Marathi [37° 22' N 26° 43.6' E] where I tied, without any trouble, to one of Pandelis’ moorings. After mooring I kept the engine running for another ½ hour to charge the batteries.

After lunch and a swim I relaxed in the cockpit reading. I finished The The Komboloi and started Nikos Themelis’ I Analambi, a large novel following the life of an Athenian family during the end of the 19th century to WW I. It is the 3rd part of a trilogy which begun with the Ι Anazitisi. I saw the large grey-white bird, which I suppose is a heron, again. Later Katina, Pandelis’ wife, told me that in Greek it is just called thalassopouli-seabird.

In the evening I had a hot shower followed by ouzo. After which I went ashore, climbed to a high spot and tried calling Alice on the GSM phone. There was no answer. I called my daughter Cynthia. All is well with her and baby Alexander. Things in D.C. are as well as they can be under the circumstances. She will contact Alice and ask her to send me an update of the situation via e-mail. My walk ended at Pandelis where they served me a sensational tsipoura (porgy), just brought in this afternoon by a fisherman. This, along with their usual salad, wine and Katina’s homemade bread, made a great meal. Pandelis’ cousin Angelos, the cabinetmaker from Samos, was back and so was Pandelis’ mother. All the children were gone.

Wednesday October 1, 2003 Day 4

First thing in the morning I went ashore and climbed to a high spot in the island where I could connect with the GPRS signal and receive e-mail and SMS messages. Marathi is one of the few places left in the Aegean where there is very weak GSM/GPRS signal. There was indeed an e-mail from Cynthia: the telephone lines in our home in Washington D.C. are still down but she was able to call her mother’s mobile phone. I sent e-mails to both Cynthia and Alice, and I will try to call later in the afternoon when it will be morning in D.C.

On my way back to the boat Pandelis invited me for a cup of coffee. After this social call I went back aboard and read some, wrote some on the computer, and swam scraping some more of the weed and barnacles from Thetis’ bottom. The Navtex forecast called for N winds of force 7.

In the afternoon I went ashore again for another try at communications. I called Alice on her mobile phone; it was not the best connection. All was well with her but she was expecting a tradesperson for repairs and could not talk at any length. She promised me a detailed e-mail. The rest of the afternoon was quiet and I spent it mostly reading.

In the evening I went ashore again and had dinner at Pandelis: fresh, really fresh, squid (kalamarakia), salad, and grilled meat. All very tasty. I said good-bye to Pandelis and Katina because I plan, despite the forecast, to push on in the morning. Also I wished them a good winter because I was not sure if I will be back in Marathi again this year. The night was very windy but warm almost 30° C (86° F).

Thursday October 2, 2003 Day 5

I did not sleep very well, the howling wind kept waking me up although Thetis on her mooring was perfectly secure. This morning’s forecast calls for northerly winds of force 5 locally 6. I raised the outboard and departed from Marathi at 0745 heading for the S side of Lipsi. The wind was from the N at 20-30 knots. I was too lazy to raise the mainsail for such a short distance and was also afraid that once we rounded Lipsi there may be strong gusts. Instead I opened about 40% of the headsail. This made for a very nice 8.9 nM of downwind sail to the very entrance of Katsadia [37° 16.8' N 26° 46.2' E] where we arrived at 0920. I anchored in 5 m depth over sand.

I opened my Macintosh iBook computer and connected via the Bluetooth interface and the Sonny-Ericsson P800 phone to the Internet using GPRS. I got a detailed e-mail form Alice describing the damage to our home in Washington D.C. I also looked at the Poseidon and Wetter weather sites. This is an amazing new capability. The forecast is for 4-5 today and tomorrow with diminishing winds for Saturday.

Later I snorkeled and checked the anchor. It was nicely dug-in the sand. But in the late afternoon there were very strong winds with fierce gust from several directions and the anchor dragged for about 8 m. For my piece of mind I set the second anchor as well. Alice called me and we had a nice chat. The phone lines to our home have now been restored. For dinner I made spaghetti and warmed some more of the pot-roast. Despite the wind and the chill, I bundled up and ate in the cockpit. Other than the wind, it was a very nice evening.

Friday October 3, 2003 Day 6

In the morning it was still very windy but the AM radio weather forecast called for diminishing winds by tomorrow. I decided to stay here for the day.

Sign in Lipsi I went ashore and walked to the town for some shopping. I got some fresh bread, fruits, etc. Two things upset me: the very friendly souvlaki-chicken taverna on the square operated by a Greek and his Italian wife had closed down, also on the waterfront my favorite ouzo/meze taverna has closed for the year. This place has the best grilled octopus in all the E Aegean islands. While walking on the waterfront I noticed along the floating dock a boat that looked like the Vasiliki. It was instead a boat belonging to a very pleasant British couple. Right next to her was docked the French flagged but Italian owned La Dolce Vita but there was no sign of her owners. I met there another British sailor, the owner of the S/Y Brain Wave. He also winters her with Agmar in Partheni, Leros.

The rest of the day I spent quietly aboard Thetis swimming and reading. If the weather conforms to the forecasts and the wind lessens I may leave for Astypalea in the early morning hours.

For super I ate again the never-ending pot roast. This time I served it with Basmati rice. There is only one more serving left of the roast. I went to bed by 9:30 after setting the alarm for 2 AM.

The House of Yitopoulos in Lipsi
The House of Yiotopoulos, the convicted November 17 leader, in Lipsi

Saturday October 4, 2003 Day 7

It was a quiet night. I woke up just before the alarm was about to ring. The sea was calm rippled only by a mild breeze. I decided to sail to Astypalea; this could very well be my last night sail this year. I made a cup of Greek coffee, which is very hard to distinguish from Turkish coffee, and started the long preparations for departure: uncovered the sails, raised the second anchor, stowed it and its chain and lines, lifted the outboard, cleaned the dinghy that was full of sand, etc. By the time I had raised the main anchor and motored out of the cove it was 0320. When you are all alone in a boat you cannot hurry and even the simplest task takes a long time.

The wind, once we cleared Lipsi, was 5-10 knots WNW. I raised the full mainsail but while the wind was not strong enough for sailing at least we motor-sailed. The sea was fairly calm but there was still some residual swell from yesterday. The moon had by now long set and the clear sky was full of brilliant stars. I made some progress in identifying the southern constellations. Sirius and Orion were very visible.

There was a glorious sunrise at 0711 and afterwards it got warm fairly quickly. We continued motor-sailing. After rounding Cape Exopetra, the southeastermost point of Astypalea, we headed for Maltezana [36° 34.5' N 26° 23.2' E] where we arrived at 1305. We had motor-sailed from Katsadia for 49.9 nM. I dropped the anchor in 5 m depth. The Harbor of Maltezana

Once the boat stopped moving it became fairly hot but it was still very pleasant. The sea here was very calm and there was a very mild SW breeze. I put up the tent, and took a nap. Later I swam and checked the anchor, it was well dug in the sand and sparse weed. I opened my iBook computer and checked the e-mail, then I downloaded the weather forecast from Poseidon: S wind of force 3-4 for tonight and tomorrow. I took a hot shower and then went ashore.

I took a long walk during which I located the Obelix taverna which the Alpha guide describes as having the “best seafood in the island.” I ascertained that it will be open tonight. I returned to Thetis and had my evening ouzo while watching the sunset. There were several dark clouds in the S horizon. Will it rain?

I went back ashore and walked to the Obelix. There were several customers, mostly locals, eating indoors. I sat all myself in the yard. The proprietor suggested his specialty: crayfish with spaghetti. Although I eat a lot of pasta aboard I went along with his suggestion. As a first course he served me, although I had not ordered it, red wine with slices of myzithra cheese (a soft fresh white cheese) and bread. After a long wait he brought an enormous platter with a large crayfish, about 10 cm long, split into two surrounded by spaghetti which was cooked in its juices and with fresh tomatoes. The crayfish had eggs in its shell. It was delicious, although the crayfish was a little dry. I over ate.

When I returned to Thetis the S breeze was a little stronger and there was some swell. I slept well.

Sunday October 5, 2003 Day 8

The temperature inside the cabin was the warmest I have recorded on this trip during the morning, it was 23°C (73°C), considerably higher than the usual 19°C (66°F). The relative humidity however was up to 87% again much higher than the usual 40-50%. Today’s forecast called for SW winds of force 4-5 with a slight increase expected for tomorrow. The swell here was no more than last night’s and quite manageable. There were many ominous dark clouds.

I went ashore and took a long walk along the dirt road E of Maltezana. I followed a sign marked “Early Christian Church.” It led me to a path leading to a monument for a 19 century French captain. Past the monument, the path deteriorated but I kept on going. At the end I came to the church site. It was fenced. I climbed the fence and photographed the floor mosaics which—along with the foundations—were all that remains of the church. I took several pictures. I continued E along the path until it joined a rough dirt road leading uphill. This led me to a dead end so I backtracked to an intersection of a similar road some distance back. This one eventually joined the main dirt road leading to Vathi. In this juncture, almost up on the ridge of the island, there was a nice view both to the N and the S. I headed back to Maltezana. Altogether this walk took me almost 3 hours.

Maltezana & Distant Chora

Maltezana & Distant Chora

Early Byzantine Church near Maltezana

Early Byzantine Church near Maltezana

The North Side of Astypalea
The North Side of Astypalea

By the time I returned to Thetis the clouds were gone but it was still rather humid. The wind was now stronger, up to 16 knots coming from the SE, but the water was fairly calm. I occupied myself with washing the deck and the cockpit. Thetis, pushed by the SE wind, drifted very close to a plastic can marking an unused permanent mooring. The can was bumping on the hull making an unpleasant noise. I caught the mooring and tied the boat to it with a line after letting out more chain. Now Thetis, tied in two places, is very secure, stable, and quiet. In the early afternoon the US flagged S/Y Bloom arrived and anchored next to Thetis. I told them that they could use one of the other two unused moorings but they were quite content with their anchoring. Later I met her crew, an American couple, who came aboard Thetis for a cup of coffee. Tom is an English literature professor who took, like me, early retirement in order to spend more time sailing. His wife, Abbey, is a human relations consultant. They bought their boat in France about 14 months ago and are on their way to SE Turkey where they will winter.

Later the crews of Bloom and Thetis went to Obelix for dinner. We had a wonderful salad, and a sensational plate of tiny fried shrimps. Alas, due to the weather there was no fresh fish. Instead we had a good pastichio (baked macaroni with a meat béchamel sauce). All for €30 for the three of us! While eating we met Peter, a colorful Greek speaking Welsh musician who has been living here in Maltezana for 25 years.

This evening’s forecast calls for strong SE winds of force 5-6 but they are expected to diminish and veer by Wednesday.

Monday October 6, 2003 Day 9

There was no AM radio weather forecast at the scheduled time and no explanation, of course, this being Greece, was given. But now that I have the GPRS phone/modem, it was not such a big deal. I downloaded the forecast for today and tomorrow from the Poseidon site. For today, here in Astypalea, the weather picture is less dire than what was forecasted yesterday. The wind is expected to be of force 4-5 SSE and for tomorrow it will be back from NW but only 3-4 on the Beaufort Scale.

I went ashore to shop in the little “super market.” There was not much selection in their produce and there was no bread, but the rest of their supplies were not bad. The lady at the counter promised me to get me a loaf of bread from the truck that comes around noon.

I decided to walk to Chora, the main town of the island, about 9 km away. I walked for about 5 minutes and then I was picked up by a red van driven by Mr. Panayiotis, the proprietor of Obelix. He left me at Skala, the harbor of Chora. I walked up the hill to the town where I got a nice loaf of bread, fruits, and few other supplies. After a walk in the narrow streets I sat in a café and had a fresh orange juice. I then tried to get a taxi to take me back to Maltezana by calling the taxi telephone number that appears in announcements all over the place but the man who answered said that he no longer operates a taxi and he does not know of any other number to call. I asked in the café and they gave me another number. It was a taxi alright but the car was at a service station. Its driver said that he could pick me up in about 15 minutes. I told him that I would be walking along the road to Maltezana. I started walking. About 20 minutes later I passed a garage. A man called me. He was the taxi driver: could I wait for about 10 minutes? I said that I will keep on walking and that he could pick me up in 10 minutes. About 45 minutes later I was picked up, not by the taxi but by Panayiotis’ red van on his way back. By that time I had walked almost ¾ of the way. When I was about to climb aboard Thetis my mobile phone rang. It was the taxi driver asking if I still wanted to be picked up. I just thanked him.

Double Church in Chora

Double Church in Chora

Back Street in Chora

Back Street in Chora

The afternoon was quiet despite the Navtex which was issuing gale warnings for the NE Aegean and the Kafireas Strait. I finished reading Analambi and started In the Fall by Jeffrey Lent. It is the saga of a family started by an escaped slave and a Yankee Civil War soldier. It promised to be interesting but somewhat depressing.

In the evening I was invited for wine by Tom and Abby aboard Bloom. We spent the evening exchanging sailing stories, drinking wine, and nibbling a nice spread of mezedes that Abby had prepared. Tomorrow they will be sailing to Kos. I will first check out Agrilithi, which according to Panayiotis is a very good anchorage, and then head to Vathy on the NE of the island.

Tuesday October 7, 2003 Day 10

It was a very quiet night, calm and with no wind. But, just like yesterday, very humid. The AM radio broadcast predicted for today NW winds of force 3-4 but for tomorrow, once again, very strong S winds.

The Cove of Agrilithi
The Cove of Agrilithi

I untied the line from the mooring and then raised the anchor at 0810. There was hardly any wind, just a 3-8 knot breeze from the W. I motored, while running the water-maker, for 2.6 nM to Agrilithi [36° 35' N 26° 25.4' E]. Arrival time: 0845. I had been here in 1998 but I did not like the looks of a large rusted crane and did not anchor. But now after the very strong recommendation of Mr. Panayiotis, the owner of the Obelix taverna I wanted to give it another look. He told me that Agrilithi, along with the new harbor of Ayios Andreas and Vathy, is one of the safest all weather harbors in Astypalea. I dropped the anchor and looked around. The cove is completely land locked and it was very quiet and deserted, just 2 cormorants and a few goats with their bells. The ugly rusted crane was still here but deeper into the cove you do not see it. I went ashore, rowing the dinghy, and took a nice walk exploring the area. The crane is part of an abandoned lime-kiln and, yes, it is ugly.

The Old Kiln in Agrilithi

The Old Kiln in Agrilithi

The Rusted Crane in Agrilithi

The Rusted Crane in Agrilithi

We departed Agrilithi at 1027. The sea was calm and the wind, now a little stronger, was 5-9 knots, so motoring was the only option. After rounding Cape Exopetra the sea was still calm and I put up the tent but soon afterwards the wind increased to 8-14 knots now coming from the N. The cliffs on the E side of Astypalea were very steep and dramatic. The wind increased further and I had to take down the tent. Soon after we rounded Cape Fludha, a most inhospitable looking cape on the NE of the island, I heard a great sound. A couple of miles N of us was an incredibly fast moving naval craft. I looked at her with the binoculars and realized that she was a hovercraft. I could not, however, see her flag. She must have been either Greek or Turkish but I have never heard of either navy having a hovercraft. Just before entering the landlocked deep cove of Vathy, expecting loss of GPRS signal, I connected to the Internet and downloaded my email and the weather forecast for the next 3 days. It looks like there will be 20 knot SE winds tomorrow and somewhat less on Thursday. We arrived in Vathy and anchored in 8 m depth on the E side [36° 37.1' N 26° 24.6' E] at 1320. The distance we motored from Agrilithi was 13.5 nM. There were two other sailboats anchored nearby. The water was not clear and I could not see the bottom but I reversed with some force and the anchor did hold. I put up the tent.

The E Side of Astypalea
The E Side of Astypalea

Vathy The afternoon was breezy, 10-15 knots wind. After taking down the tent, I went ashore for a walk. I walked towards the W side of the cove to the taverna Galini where Alice and I had a sensational fish 3 years ago. However, unlike the previous time, the temperature was not uncomfortably hot but very pleasant. The taverna was open and they did have fish. Near half way to the taverna there was strong GSM and GPRS signals while there was no signal at both E and W ends of the cove. By the time I got back to the boat there were four other sailboats besides Thetis: a lovely German wooden ketch with wooden masts, a British, a Norwegian, and an Austrian.

In the late evening I drove the dinghy to the Galini where I ate some nice grilled fish. There were lots of fishermen and divers there from Kalymnos, at least 4 boats. One of them had a problem with his GPS. I tried to help him by reading the manual for him but the problem was with the non-volatile memory, most likely the unit needs a new internal battery. It is amazing how much and how expensive electronic equipment is in those fishing boats. When I later returned to Thetis the Navtex had received a warning for a southern gale but here the wind was from the SSW no more than 15 knots. It was a quiet night.

Wednesday October 8, 2003 Day 11

It was a windy day. Last night at the taverna the fishermen told me that while Thetis’ present location, on the E side of the cove, was the best place for SE winds, for the forecasted SW gale force winds I would be much more protected if I moved to the W side near the taverna. They also told me that the bottom there is mud and not weed as described in the Greek Waters Pilot, and anchors, especially CQRs, hold well. After listening to the morning’s forecast which reaffirmed a SW gale, I raised the anchor at 0740 and moved the 0.6 nM to the W cove where I anchored in 4.5 m, right in front of the taverna Galini.

Later in the morning I went ashore for a walk. There is a sign “To Ancient Tower” pointing towards a field. I walked in that direction but I could not locate any tower or any foundations. I asked a local. He did know of the sign but he too did not know of any tower although he has lived here for the past 40 years. I walked for about 3 hours reaching the peak of the mountain. Wonderful view!

Vathy, E Sside
Vathy, E Sside

When I returned I saw, to my horror, that Thetis had drifted some 30 m W so I had to re-anchor. After raising the anchor I saw that it was fouled with several large plastic bags. Maybe that was the cause of the drag.

For lunch I ate the last of the roast. The afternoon was very pleasant, and I spent it reading and swimming. In the mean time, the barometer had taken a precipitous fall and the Navtex kept issuing gale warnings. So far, the strongest gust here was 19 knots but most of the time the wind was under 10. I siphoned two jerry cans of Diesel fuel to the main tank. I also adjusted the angle of the dinghy’s oars.

After a hot shower I drank a glass of ouzo while watching the lovely sunset. For dinner I went ashore to the Galini where I ate some more of their wonderful fresh fish. I did, once again, enjoy the company and the conversation of the fishermen from Kalymnos. I also met the couple from a new arrival the S/Y Harriette.

Thursday October 9, 2003 Day 12

I was woken up around 0400 by the sound of rain. It was not very strong and the sea was dead calm. The barometer had been falling since yesterday rather sharply. It was now down to 1002 mB from the 1012 mB of yesterday’s morning. I felt that we were due for a serious blow and I could not go back to sleep. Sure enough at 0430 the wind started coming, predominantly from the W with gusts way over 30 knots. As I watched, two nearby sailboats collided, but I had no time to watch what happened because Thetis began dragging her anchor again. I started the engine, turned on the lights, and raised the anchor. I then re-anchored much closer to the W shore in 3.5 m depth letting out over 30 m of chain. The anchor stabilized and held although our separation from a Danish sailboat was not a good as I wanted. I did not dare shorten the chain. The British S/Y Harriette also dragged and they re-anchored further away. Now that Thetis was safe I could look, with the binoculars, at the two yachts that had collided. There were a charter boat with 3 German young couples and a French boat. They were entangled and it took them over an hour and a half to disengage. I did not know what exactly had happened. After 2 hours the wind stabilized and I went back to sleep.

After I woke up again I listened to the AM weather broadcast. It called for W gale force winds reaching force 9. The news also mentioned that Athens was hit by violent winds causing lots of damage. I later called my brother Nikos and he told me that a tree fell, blocking the entrance to his garage.

I later found out what the problem with the colliding boats was. The Greek charter boat was anchored and did not drag during the high wind but the French boat downwind did. She drifted and her rudder got tangled with the Greek boat’s chain. The crews set a second anchor and after a lot of effort they did disengage. There were several scratches on the Greek boat. The French did not apologize for the damage they caused and did not thank the Germans for their combined efforts to help. First thing in the morning the French departed. Now the Germans visited Thetis and asked my name as a witness being afraid that their charter company may assess them for the damage when they will deliver the boat tomorrow. After Thetis they went to Harriette for the same information.

Later Mike and Jo Johnson from Harriette came to Thetis for ouzo. Mike is British and Jo is Spanish. Their boat is a US built Hunter. While drinking the ouzo we witnessed a most extraordinarily beautiful and dramatic sunset. For a few minutes the whole sky, 360°, turned red, then there were reds, blues, and greens. Later we all three went to Galini for diner where we joined the 3 German couples, still shaken by their early morning French encounter. At the end of our meal Mike would not let me pay my share. Thank you Mike! It was time to say goodbye. The weather forecast for tomorrow was rather benign. The Germans were going to Kos, Mike and Jo, also to Kos on their way to SE Turkey for the winter, and I with Thetis to Kalymnos. We said our farewells to each other and to Kyria Maria, the proprietress and to her charming 5-year-old grand daughter Maria, and to all the fishermen and divers. One of them asked me if I was going to stop in Emborio in Kalymnos where his cousin Pavlos, operates the Captain Nikolas taverna. If so, I was to give his greetings.