Travels with S/Y Thetis


Thetis only

2003: Syros to Levitha

This web page contains the log of of the third leg of a sailing trip that I took with S/Y Thetis in the Greek Aegean. During this leg I was accompanied by my wife, Alice Riginos. The leg covers a period of 9 days of sailing from Syros to Levitha via, Paros, Iraklia, Nikouria, and Amorgos all in the Cyclades. 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 from Syros
Route from Syros

Thursday June 19, 2003 Day 16

This is the day that Alice, also known as the “Admiral”, will arrive from Athens. Her ferry, it turns out, is due at 10 AM and not at 11 as she told me on the phone. Before taking the bus to Ermoupolis I left a bag of laundry and a note at the door of the marine store, which had not yet opened for the day. The bus was crowded; a group of mostly young English with knapsacks and geologist’s hammers. They got off the bus at what seemed to be the middle of nowhere. The bus driver said that they belong to a geological club and that they go there everyday.

The Harbor of Ermoupolis, Syros
The Harbor of Ermoupolis, Syros

In town, while waiting for the ferry, I bought a new corkscrew bottle opener and a latch for the engine instrument compartment, the old one having recently expired. The ferry arrived on time, at 10, and Alice got off. Now I had told Yankos and Sue yesterday that Alice will be arriving at 11 and they too were coming to meet her and to give us their old car. So we had to wait around the harbor for them. We found a shady kafenio (café) and waited. Eventually we all did connect. We agreed to meet them this evening at their house in Piscopio and Alice and I drove to Finikas.

The day was very hot but once we got aboard, had a swim, and sat under the tent, we were very comfortable. We had lunch and both of us fell asleep. When I woke up I replaced (with much more difficulty than I expected) the broken instrument compartment latch. Later while Alice was still asleep, I swam and scraped remaining weed from the bottom of the boat. I also filled the fuel tank from the jerry cans and took the empty ones, along with the small gasoline canister for the outboard, ashore. I loaded them in the car and drove them to the gas station. All together I got 33 L of Diesel fuel (€21). On the way back I bought a new camping gaz canister. Usually these are exchanged, an empty one for a filled one, but mine had a defective valve and I had to get a new one for €38!

In the evening we drove to Piscopio where, together with their neighbors George and Janice Kalpakis, we were invited to dinner at the Krinos’. It was a very pleasant evening with good food, good wine, and good conversation, but by the time we returned to Thetis it was past 1 AM.

Dinner at the Krinos
Dinner at the Krinos’
George & Janice Kalpakis, Alice Riginos, Yankos Krinos, Vasilis Riginos
Photo by Sue Krinos

Friday June 20, 2003 Day 17

We are still in Syros. In the morning we drove Yankos’ car to Ermoupolis where we shopped for provisions. I also collected the laundry from the marine store in Finikas. We spent a quiet afternoon on board Thetis swimming and resting. Alice was still tired from her trip and the 7 hours time difference.

In the evening we drove to the Krinos’ house in Episcopio where, while sipping ouzo, I connected my iMac laptop to Yankos’ telephone and downloaded and sent all the accumulated e-mails. Then we all drove to Ano Syros for dinner at Lilis. We had a fairly nice dinner but most of all we enjoyed the spectacular view. Later Yankos and Sue drove us back to Finikas. Tomorrow we will be leaving for Naoussa on the island of Paros.

Alice Riginos, Sue & Yankos Krinos at Lilis, Ano Syros
Alice Riginos, Sue & Yankos Krinos at Lilis, Ano Syros

Saturday June 21, 2003 Day 18

Ayios Yiannis Naoussa bay, Paros
Ayios Yiannis Naoussa bay, Paros

First thing in the morning, I went ashore and got some fresh bread. Then I prepared the boat for our departure. We raised the anchor at 0800. We then raised the mainsail while still in the bay, still on its second reef. We had a nice downwind sail until we were 3 miles from Naoussa, Paros when the wind changed against our course and we had to motor. We arrived at Ayios Yiannis [37° 08.7' N 25° 13.8' E], within the gulf of Naoussa, at 1245 after sailing 26.7 nM. We dropped the anchor in 4.5 m depth. It held firmly despite the strong gusts.

Later I snorkeled and checked the anchor. It was fine but on my way back I noticed a plastic bag all wrapped up in Thetis’ propeller. I got rid of it. Had I not noticed it, this could could have developed into a serious problem.

For dinner we prepared a pot roast that I had purchased in Ermoupolis. I cooked it with fresh tomatoes and wine and served it with spaghetti. It was very good. The night was very quiet.

Sunday June 22, 2003 Day 19

First thing in the morning we both went ashore for a nice walk. We wanted to find the Cape Korakas lighthouse that we had seen yesterday from the sea. We did not find it, as it was much further than we thought, but nevertheless we had a most enjoyable walk. When we returned aboard I ran the engine to recharge the batteries.

Naoussa, Paros In the afternoon I went ashore with the dinghy and pulled it out of the water on the sandy beach. I then installed the one-way bailing valve that Alice had brought from Athens. I had a nice swim.

In the evening we went with the dinghy to the harbor of Naoussa, about a 30-minute ride. We sat in a kafenio (café). There we had ouzo with grilled octopus and a special salad: tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, capers, and olives, over a bed of hard bread, paximadi, topped with fresh goat cheese. On our way back the outboard stalled. It would only work for a short time with the choke pulled. It must be a problem with the carburetor. I had the same symptoms few years ago. We did make it back to Thetis but I was very worried about the outboard.

Neither Alice nor I felt like cooking dinner, so we retired early.

In the past few days I have been in communication with my friend Turgut Ayker. His S/Y New Life and Thetis have sailed together many times. We have agreed to rendezvous in a few days possibly at Levitha, we coming from the west and New Life from the SE. So, just in case, we should move on tomorrow.

Ouzo time in Naoussa
Ouzo time in Naoussa

Monday June 23, 2003 Day 20

We got up early and managed to depart at 0720. The wind was forecast to be 5-6 on the Beaufort Scale from the NW. We, however, experienced a NNE breeze of variable strength anywhere from 8 to less than 4 knots. And while we had raised the mainsail and were motor-sailing we were soon forced by the lack of wind to lower the sail and I put up the tent in its stead. But, as we exited the Naxos-Paros channel and approached Iraklia, our destination, the wind increased to 12-15 knots with higher gusts. We arrived in Iraklia’s harbor Ayios Georgios [36° 51.8' N 25° 28.2' E] at 1115 but decided to investigate anchoring off near Livadhi to the S. We failed to find a suitable place to anchor and be completely clear of the underwater power cables so we returned to Ayios Georgios. Altogether we had come 26.7 nM from Naoussa.

In the harbor there was room for only one boat to come side-to inside the small quay. We prepared the lines, strung the fenders, and made our approach with Alice on the bow ready, if needed, to jump ashore and secure the bow-line. A man from a fishing boat came to help, but he told us that the “tourist boat” used our intended spot and that we should instead come along the head of the quay. We did so. We had our lunch and were about to take our afternoon siesta when an officer from the Limenarchio (Coast Guard) appeared. There was no Limenarchio presence here in Iraklia during my previous visits. The officer now told us that we had to move because the ferryboat was due in half an hour and was going to dock in our very spot. He also told us that had we contacted him on VHF channel 12 he would have told us so and we would had been spared the extra maneuvers. I told him that I was not aware of his presence in the island and he confessed that he had been here for less than two weeks. He also asked me to bring him the boat’s papers to his office, which he pointed out, before we departed. We moved Thetis away from the quay and anchored off behind the mole. But in the afternoon she drifted too close to the mole for my comfort and I deployed a second anchor, from the stern, to prevent the boat from swinging around the narrow cove.

In the evening we went ashore taking the boat’s papers with us. The Limenarchio office was closed and the officer was nowhere to be found. We went for a good walk. On our return the office was still closed. We ended at the Pelagia taverna where we had a very tasty grilled fish. It was a pleasant and quiet night.

Tuesday June 24, 2003 Day 21

We decided not to stay here another day but to push on for Nikouria, the small island off NE Amorgos. But first we went ashore and bought some fresh fruits and bread. The Limenarchio office was still closed but as we were entering the dinghy to return to Thetis we spotted the officer at the quay waiting for the arrival of the next ferry. We walked there and told him that we were about to depart and of our vain efforts to locate him. He settled for a copy of our crew list, which I already had printed.

Back on board, while Alice stowed the provisions, I went with the dinghy and raised the stern anchor. This morning I woke up with a sharp pain on my left thub. Now, as I was raising the anchor, I managed to pinch my right thub as well. The pain is now symmetric!

We departed from Iraklia at 0850. We raised the mainsail but we had to motor-sail for the next 2.5 nM until we cleared the nearby island of Schinousa at which point we headed east. Now we finally were able to sail and opened the headsail as well. Nice sailing for the next 12 nM with winds from the NNE of about 20 knots but with some gusts reaching 26. Then the wind died to less than 3 knots and we had to motor.

Alice in Nikouria
Alice in Nikouria

We arrived in Nikouria [36° 53' N 25° 55.2' E] at 1240. The distance from Iraklia was 22.5 nM. We anchored near the little church at 6 m depth. We put up the tent and had lunch. Later the wind picked up and came from a southerly direction and Thetis drifted uncomfortably close to the shore, to about 3 m depth. Also, while snorkeling earlier, I had seen that the anchor was not well set. So, we re-anchored in 8 m depth but after a while the anchor dragged. This is rather common here because the bottom is very uneven with patches of weed and hard sand. At this time there were strong gusts from every direction. Finally, we raised the anchor and I replaced the primary CQR with the secondary Brittany, which I expected to hold better here. We re-anchored again in 8 m depth and it did hold. I snorkeled over and confirmed that it was well set.

In the evening the wind died out. We had a pleasant ouzo in the cockpit which was followed by dinner consisting of left-over roast with potatoes slowly cooked in the roast’s sauce. This was accompanied with an excellent bottle of Moschomavro red wine. This meal and wine completely restored the morale of the crew. We received an SMS message from Turgut. The children want to spend more time in Bodrum so that they will not go to Levitha after all. We, on our part, decided not to move tomorrow but spend the day in this pleasant anchorage.

Wednesday June 25, 2003 Day 22

This was a very calm and easy day. In the morning we went ashore for a hike. We climbed up to the ridge of the island, where we could get a good GSM signal, and sent several SMS messages. The rest of the day we did a lot of swimming and reading. We fed a lot of our stale bread to the seagulls; they ate it all.

For dinner we had the last of the pork roast, with rice this time.

Thursday June 26, 2003 Day 23

We got up early, our plan was to eventually go to Levitha but maybe stop at Kinaros on our way. It was calm in Nikouria and there was no wind. We raised the anchor at 0645 and restored the CQR on the bow roller and the Brittany back to its bracket at the stern. We motored for 3.2 nM, via the Nikouria Channel, to Aegiali [36° 54.3' N 25° 58.6' E] on Amorgos, where we arrived at 0730. This was going to be a brief stop to get some provisions before continuing on our way. There was a lot of swell. We anchored in 6 m and went ashore with the dinghy. We bought some bread, fruits, cheese, and cold cuts and returned back to Thetis.

We departed from Aegiali at 0850. There were some very large swells and very confused seas, mostly from NNW near Amorgos but there was no wind. The Navtex forecast called for force 5, locally 6 NW for the sea of Ikaria, our destination, but for the time being we had no wind and were motoring. We met with a small school of dolphins but they did not stay with us very long.

The Anchorage in Levitha
The Anchorage in Levitha

After clearing Amorgos the wind picked up to about 8-15 knots NNW and we opened part of the headsail and motor-sailed for a while. By the time we reached Kinaros the wind had increased gusting to 43 knots. There was no way that we could enter the narrow fjord in Kinaros with these gusts so we continued on to Levitha now with the engine off. Once away from the island the wind settled for 18-28 knots coming from our quarter, which made for a fast sail. The seas were also much smaller then before. We arrived in Levitha [37° 00.2' N 26° 28.1' E] at 1320 after covering 26.9 nM from Aegiali. It was very gusty and we had some difficulty catching one of the moorings. Despite the 18 knot wind, we put up the tent because it was rather hot.

We had a late lunch and a long siesta. In the evening we went ashore and walked up to the Kamposos family hamlet where, as usual, we had a nice meal: grilled fish and salad.

Friday June 27, 2003 Day 24

The Hellenistic Castle in Levitha
The Hellenistic Castle in Levitha

We did not move Thetis today. In the morning, we took a long walk and climbed up to the “castle”. Alice thinks that it must be Hellenistic but it is hard to tell.

The rest of the day we spent quietly reading and swimming near the boat. In the evening we had a good ouzo while the sun went down, and then we went to the hamlet. There were only Kyria Irene and one of the sons, Stavros. They served us for appetizers fried zucchini and a salad with their own cheese. These were followed with grilled biftekákia (mixed lamb and goat meat patties) and a grilled kolios (mackerel). Delicious! After walking back to the boat, we retired planning an early start in the morning.

Vasilis in Castle of Levitha
Vasilis in the Castle of Levitha
Feasting in Levitha
Feasting in Levitha