Travels with S/Y Thetis

Thetis only

2003: Leros to Telos

This web page contains the logs of the first leg of a singlehanded 15 day sailing trip that I took with S/Y Thetis in the Aegean in Greece (Dodecanese). The leg covers a period of 6 days of sailing from the island of Leros (Partheni, Lakki, Xerocambos) to the island of Telos via the island of Kos.

The logs are illustrated with photographs and maps and also include some historical and geographical descriptions of the places visited as well as several links to other related web sites.

Route to Telos
Route to Telos from Leros

Tuesday August 19, 2003 Day 1

I took the hydrofoil from Pythagorio, Samos, to Ayia Marina, Leros, and from there a taxi to the Agmar (now Moor & Dock). As I expected, I found Thetis in good shape but covered with dust. The dinghy, which we had covered with an old bed sheet, was amazingly dust free. Before leaving Thetis in July, I had left three jobs for Agmar to do:

  1. Re-rivet the front lazy jack, which had come loose, to the boom.
  2. Change the engine oil, oil filter, and both fuel filters.
  3. Check the outboard that was not developing enough power.

They had done number 2, but on number 1, while they had replaced several rivets on the boom, they had not riveted the specific lazy jack. On number 3 they had cleaned the carburetor and checked the electronic ignition to no avail. Finally, after they had almost disassembled the whole engine they found a crack in its intake manifold. They had sealed the crack but now they were waiting for a seal due to arrive this afternoon by courier from Athens. In the mean time, Panayiotis the mechanic riveted the lazy jack after I showed him where the problem was.

While waiting for the travel-lift I hosed down the deck. It was very hot. Finally Thetis was launched at 1420 but remained in the launching “pool” while we were waiting for the outboard part to arrive from Athens. I put up the tent and installed the horseshoe lifesavers, the flag, and in general prepared the boat to resume cruising. I wanted to spend the night anchored in the nearby Archangelos island and tomorrow go to Lakki for provisions.

I met an Italian family with the gorgeous all aluminum S/Y Alikes which was tied on the outside of the “pool.” The father, Paolo Grazoli Vernier, was wearing a “Duke University” T-shirt, the same university where my daughter Cynthia Riginos is doing her post-doctorate research. It turns out that his son graduated from Duke and his daughter is about to go to Columbia University to study environmental science, the field of my second daughter, Corinna. Paolo has recently retired and just bought S/Y Alikes. Their old sailboat, still on land at the yard, he is giving to his very lucky children.

Eventually the part came and the outboard was re-assembled. We had to wait for the sealant to dry and at last the motor was tested on the stand. However, Mastro Michalis, the chief technician, was not pleased with its performance. He had the carburetor disassembled, cleaned, and reassembled again. The motor seemed ok but we have to see how it performs under load.

By the time the outboard came back to Thetis it was late in the day. Panayiotis untied the 4 dock lines and fended the boat off while I backed her out of the “pool.” There was a stiff 20 knot notherly breeze. I decided that it was too late to go to Archangelos so I headed for the inner cove of Partheni to anchor. While Yiakoumis the autopilot steered the slowly moving boat, I took down the tent and stowed the dock lines. I anchored in Partheni [37° 11.6' N 26° 48.4' E], in 4.5 m depth, at 1830. The distance from the “pool” was 0.95 nautical miles!

It was calm here. I picked up inside the cabin and stowed my clothes. I called Alice who was still in Kalami. She will be flying back to Washington, D.C. tomorrow. I was too tired to cook. Instead I ate some cold pizza that I had brought with me from Samos. The Navtex issued a gale warning for the Sea of Ikaria but diminishing tomorrow evening. By 10 PM I was in my birth.

Wednesday August 20, 2003 Day 2

I woke up at 2:30 AM and I could not go back to sleep. I read for a while and then fell asleep. After I got up in the morning and had my coffee I wanted to launch the dinghy and test the outboard. The launching job was actually easier than I thought. The combination of the 3-point sling and the block & tackle at the end of the halyard made a tremendous difference. However, after I lowered the outboard to the dinghy and turned it on it did not run well at all. It ran even worse than before I left it for repairs. It just idled and would not develop any power. I immediately called Mastro Michalis, the chief Agmar technician, on the GSM phone and told him of the problem and that I could be at the yard within 10 minutes. He told me to come right away.

I raised Thetis’ anchor and motored about 0.5 M next to the “pool” where I re-anchored. While raising the anchor I noticed that the windlass was straining but since I was going to be anchoring again right away I did not raise the anchor all the way to the deck. Also while motoring Thetis seemed kind of sluggish but I was too much focused on the outboard problem to pay any attention.

After re-anchoring I called Mastro Michalis again. He said that Panayiotis would be there with the pickup truck in few minutes. I went ashore with the dinghy. By that time Panayiotis was there. We lifted the outboard to the truck and he drove it to the shop. They just exchanged the carburetor with one from a similar outboard and I did not ask too many questions. By this time Angelos, the owner and managing director, came and expressed his apologies for not having fixed the problem earlier. With the new carburetor the outboard seemed, at least during the stand test, to be ok. We then took it back to the dinghy and tested it under load. To the great relief of everyone it worked well and developed proper RPM. Mastro Michalis told me to keep this carburetor for the time being and that they will have repaired the original carburetor by time I returned to yard in October.

With the outboard problem solved I now prepared for departure. While doing so the French couple from S/Y Freya came over with their zodiac to greet me. Now I remembered them. I had met them last October in the yard. They had some anchoring related problem in Dhokos and my brother Nikos, who was there with the Faneromeni, had helped them. They asked about Nikos and his dog Naxos.

I started raising the anchor. Again the windlass was straining. Soon the cause was apparent. Along with my 45 CQR there was a heavy chain that was tangled on the anchor. I was not sure how long that chain was nor what was attached to its end but it was too heavy for the windlass to lift out of the water. I engaged the engine and started moving slowly forward north towards Archangelos with the autopilot steering the boat while I attended to the problem. I got a line to hold the foreign chain while I lowered my anchor. Usually this does the trick but not this time. The heavy chain was twisted around the CQR and its weight could not be relieved by the line. I had to get into the dinghy and get to the bow to untangle the mess. This operation took over half an hour. By the time we really got moving again it was 1030.

My plan was to go to Lakki before the stores closed (stores in Greece are closed on Wednesday and Saturday evenings), buy provisions, and then go to Xerocambos for the evening. The wind was 12-30 knots NW. I was too tired and too lazy to raise the mainsail, instead I unrolled the genoa and motor-sailed the 10.5 M to Lakki. Thetis moved fast, doing better than 6.5 knots. We arrived at the Agmar Lakki marina [37° 07.7' N 26° 50.9' E] at 1220. The new attendant, Michalis (he is the morning attendant, in the afternoon there is a Panayiotis) helped me moor.

Next to Thetis was the large steel motor-sailer, Vassiliki, flying the British flag. I had noticed her at the yard but had not met her owner before. He is Anastasis Raftopoulos a Greek who lives in Nice, France. He had aboard an enormous Newfoundland dog, Serio, weighing about 80 kg. He was very helpful during the mooring maneuvers arranging the mooring line and stern lines so that our boats were kept apart and did not rub on each other.

I put up the tent and deployed the passarella. Then I walked to the Spanos supermarket and bough a number of provisions, which they delivered to Thetis. By that time it was past 2 PM and all the stores had closed. I was hot and hungry so I had lunch together with a couple of cold beers at the marina restaurant. There I met John Richmond of the British S/Y Riks. He told me that my friend Mike of S/Y Gordian Knot was here also, but I had not seen him.

After lunch I fell asleep under the tent. When I woke up it was too windy and I was still too tired to move the boat. I decided to postpone sailing to Xerocambos for tomorrow. I connected the charger to the shore power, hosed down the deck, and dusted inside the cabin.

Later I met the Italian couple from the S/Y La Dolce Vita whom I kept seeing last summer in several places—first in Limnos, then in Samothraki and finally in Symi. Now they have a new crewmember, tiny Nina, 3 months old. I also did see Mike. He was going to meet some friend in Xerocambos tonight, but we agreed to meet there tomorrow. He has been helping Lefteris, the owner of the Aloni taverna, place two new moorings in front of his taverna.

I had ouzo in Thetis’ cockpit together with Anastasis from Vassiliki. Before retiring he was the European manager of American Express and lived for many years in London. He has sailed Vassiliki from England to here. His wife is from Thailand. At present his mother, his sister, and her husband were visiting them. We shot the breeze until 10 PM. After he left, I had a snack and retired.

Thursday August 21, 2003 Day 3

I woke up at 6. Alice called me from Washington D.C. She had just arrived. Her trip went off smoothly. The usual marine forecast, which had been broadcasting at 6:30 AM at 729, kHz, is now at 7:00 and irregular. This is particularly maddening because the Navtex here in Lakki is not very good and often its forecast is not received. At any rate, today’s forecast was benign.

I flushed out the biocide solution from the water-maker and changed its pre-filter. It was working well and I topped the water tanks. I then walked to the bakery and got a fresh loaf of bread and on the way back some fruits. Also I stopped at the Limenarchio (Coast Guard) and got an apoplous (permission to sail from port) so that I can have a more recent stamp on Thetis’ papers than the old one from May.

When I got back to the marina, ready to depart, I was faced with a scene from hell. The charter boat next to Thetis, full of loud and gesticulating Italians had just pulled off the quay and dropped the mooring line. The wind was strong and almost at 90° from her bow and before she could make any headway had pushed her towards the other boats. Her rudder was tangled to the mooring line of the boat to her left and her keel, miraculously skipping Thetis, was tangled to the mooring line of Vassiliki. Anastasis, at Vassiliki’s bow, was trying to give them advice, in English, while the Filipino crewman of the lovely wooden British flagged, but Italian owned, yawl Oliria had arrived with the inflatable dinghy to offer assistance. They did not heed Anastasis’ advice and directed the Filipino with the dinghy to push them in the wrong direction and got into even deeper trouble and were now threatening all neighboring yachts including Thetis. It took another ¾ of an hour before Oliria’s dinghy managed to push them deep enough to disengage both rudder and keel.

I asked Anastasis to fend Thetis off while I departed. He was about to walk his 80 kg puppy, Serio, and as I was not completely ready to depart, I said that I would wait for Serio’s constitutional. Being extra careful, I also asked the boat on my other side to hold a line against the cross wind and prevent Thetis from being blown towards Vassiliki after casting off the mooring and stern lines. By that time Anastasis had returned. It was 1040. Thetis departed without any hitch and all these extra precautions were fortunately unnecessary. Once we exited the bay of Lakki the wind was blowing at 25 knots from the NNW with strong gusts over 40 knots. I did not even think of raising the sails. We motored the 5.2 M south to Xerocambos [37° 06.5’ N 26° 52.3' E] where we arrived at 1145. The two new Aloni moorings were occupied. I prepared a line attaching one end to the bow cleat and, while making a slow upwind approach, passed the the lone's end through the ring of a mooring belonging to the rival establishment. This gave me some slack to tie the other end of the line to a bow cleat before the boat was blown downwind.

It was very quiet here except for the unpleasant wind. Despite the wind I put up the tent but it was marginal and after a while I had to take it down again. I swam in the clear water and after having a bite for lunch took a short nap. In the afternoon I pre-cooked some turkey cutlets that I had bought in Lakki. This way they will be preserved for many days in the refrigerator. Later one of the Aloni moorings was freed and I moved over.

I went ashore and met Mike, as we had arranged, and we had a leisurely dinner at Aloni being entertained by Lefteris, Evelyn, and their precocious daughter Stavroula aged 8. When I returned aboard later, the Navtex had received a gale warning.

Friday August 22, 2003 Day 4

I slept well despite the strong gusts. I listened to the AM radio marine broadcast. No more gale warning but there will be strong northerlies. Here at 7 AM it was blowing at 22 knots. I decided not to move the boat but wait here for a weather improvement, possibly tomorrow.

I went ashore for a long walk. On my way back I met another hiker who told me that had I gone just a little further on up the hill past the end of the dirt track I would have seen some WW II Italian villas with wall paintings. Next time I will look for them. Just as I was getting into the dinghy, Lefteris saw me and invited me for a cup of coffee.

I spent the rest of the day quietly on board reading. I finished Century of the Labyrinths by Rea Galanaki an account of the turbulent life of a Cretan family from 1898 to 1998. I started a new very long book: Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond that Corinna gave me. It has to do with the cultural evolution of different people in several continents and how each over time was influenced by environmental and geographical factors.

In the early afternoon Mike came, with his newly purchased used car, and we snorkeled around looking at the moorings. Lefteris’ two moorings are concrete blocks. The others, belonging to another taverna, are either barrels full of concrete, a plow, and an old windlass from a large fishing boat.

I invited Mike for dinner aboard Thetis. I prepared two of the pre-cooked turkey cutlets with fresh tomatoes, capers, olives, onions, and wine sauce. These I served with spaghetti along with a white wine from Crete. After dinner we went ashore and had a beer at Aloni. I am afraid that I cannot keep up on serious beer drinking with either Mike or Lefteris. I met Lefteris’ older brother and we both reminisced about the days of our military service in 1967 during the bleak days of the military junta dictatorship.

Saturday August 23, 2003 Day 5

Both the Navtex and the AM radio broadcast called for force 4-5 N winds and so I decided to leave for Kos and check out the new marina there. After Kos, I will proceed to Telos.

I raised the mainsail while still attached to the mooring and then, at 0745, I cast off. There was a strong N wind, over 30 knots with gusts in the 40s, but since we were heading south and downwind there was no problem and we had a fast sail. Unfortunately after a few miles the wind diminished to about 20 knots. I opened the headsail and we continued sailing. After a few more miles the wind died down to 5 knots. In came the headsail and up came the motor. After motor-sailing past Kalymnos the wind returned to 15-20 knots and once again we were able to sail. We sailed almost to the entrance of the marina in Kos [36° 53.6' N 27° 18.1' E]. There were large waves and the dinghy was tossed around as we were sailing downwind at low speeds.

After reaching the marina and lowering the sails I hailed the marina on the VHF channel 9, which was their listening frequency according to my Heikell guide. They did not respond. I tried channel 16 but again there was no response. I proceeded to enter the marina and at its entrance I saw sign to hail them on channel 77. This time they responded and the attendant came with an inflatable and guided me to a berth. A second attendant helped with the docking lines. I was told that I was lucky to find a free berth because the marina is usually full. It is best to call ahead and make a reservation. The time of arrival was 1250 and the distance from Xerocambos 28.1 M.

Entering Kos Marina
Entering Kos Marina

A company owned and operated by three local municipalities owns and manages this marina. It is well run and efficient just like the marinas in Turkey. All the facilities are very clean. This is definitely a first, if not in all of Greece, at least for the Aegean. After I connected the battery charger to the shore AC power and put up the tent, I walked across the street and got some fresh bread for lunch.

I was tempted to rent a motor scooter and stay here for two days but although it is a nice marina I really do not like staying in marinas. I’d rather be in quiet coves or small harbors. So, most likely I will leave Kos tomorrow.

While resting in the cockpit a 50' charter boat anchored and berthed on the outside quay just across from Thetis. I watched what seemed a large number of young Italians disembarking with numerous duffle bags and knapsacks. They disappeared in record time. While I cat-napped under the tent I heard a sound. The charter boat had dragged her anchor and was being bashed by the waves against the concrete quay while a young blond fellow was valiantly but ineffectually fending her off. I went to help. I tried telling him that the boat had to be re-anchored but he understood neither Greek, English, nor my broken French and Italian. I ran back to Thetis and hailed the marina attendants, on the VHF channel 77, and explained the situation. Now I was really impressed. Almost immediately the inflatable tender arrived to be followed by at least 4 more attendants on bicycles. They took over and moved the charter boat to safety.

Thetis in Kos Marina
Thetis in Kos Marina

I later walked around the marina facilities. I was drawn into the chandlery store that had all sorts of good stuff. My eyes fell on an Eno stainless steel galley stove. This is the same brand as the heavily rusted one in Thetis whose oven has never worked properly. It looked about the same size. I enquired about its dimensions and price. After some fumbling a young man measured it and a young woman wrote the dimensions on a piece of paper, which she gave to me. She told me that the price was about 1000 € but if I was interested they will give me a good discount. Back on board Thetis I checked the size. Its dimensions were exactly as the dimensions of the old one but I had some reservations whether the replacement would be easy or not. After some more thought I decided to investigate further the “discount” and the installation procedure. I went back to the store. There were several customers buying small things. I waited for my turn and then asked the young lady to let me see the stove’s manual because I was very interested to purchase it. I also asked about the discount. She told me that I will have to come back tomorrow after 11 AM. I explained that I was going to be leaving in the early morning. She lost interest in me and started serving another customer who was buying a paintbrush. Since I was not 100% sure about buying the stove, I left. Thus for lack of interest they lost a possible large sale.

I then walked into the town looking for a florist because I wanted to send some flowers to Alice because tomorrow is our 36th anniversary. I found the florist but they could not deliver sooner than Tuesday. Frustrated I walked back to the boat.

In the evening I looked up in the Alpha Guide for a good place to eat. I settled for the highly recommended Petrino. After some difficulty and a long walk I found it. Its garden was as good as the guide described it. The food and the service were another matter entirely. The food was at best mediocre but not cheap. As for the service, despite the airs, it was most disappointing. I have eaten for much less much, much better.

Sunday August 24, 2003 Day 6

Cape Krio
Cape Krio

First thing in the morning I scrubbed the deck with fresh water and soap. I then paid the marina dues of 15.4 € and departed, without any difficulties, at 0920. The forecast called for N winds of force 4. I raised the mainsail and managed to sail for about half an hour with a 18-knot N wind. But after rounding Cape Fokas the wind died down completely and I had to motor. This went on until we passed Cape Krio (Knidos) when the wind picked up again to 15-20 knots W. Once again we could sail with the main and the full genoa. It was a most pleasant sail and it lasted almost to Livadia bay in Telos. There it was calm but somewhat breezy.

Sketch of Telos
Sketch of Telos

Telos or Tilos (Τήλος) is a fairly remote and off-the-beaten-track island. It is not very picturesque but it is quiet and truer to its traditions than the more developed neighboring islands.

Telos has had an interesting history. It seems that the island was connected to Asia Minor and elephants roamed its land. When the island was separated from the mainland around 10,000 years ago, the descendants of these elephants evolved into a more compact size. Remains of these small elephants have been excavated.

According to the mythology, the island was named after Telos the son of the sun Helios and Alia. Alia got sick and the dutiful son came to this island to find herbs to cure his mother’s sickness. After she was cured he built a sanctuary dedicated to Helios-Apollo and to Poseidon. He became its first priest.

In antiquity the island was fairly prosperous and had founded a colony in Sicily named Gela. Telos was a member of the Delian league. The island was famous for its export of perfumes. The poetess Erinna who was said to be a “female Homer” was from Telos. In the third century Telos was allied with Rhodes. In 226 BC there was an earthquake that destroyed part of its citadel, near today’s Megalo Chorio. From 42 BC Telos came under the Romans.

During the middle ages Telos was known as Episcopi and was under the Knights of St. John from 1309 to 1522. It withstood several attacks by the Turks. Later Venetians and pirates raided the island. This continued as late as 1821 when the revolutionary Greek boats from Mykonos and Spetses raided it.

In 1912 Telos was occupied by the Italians, who called it Piscopi, and then in 1943 by the Germans who destroyed all of the island’s livestock. Finally, in 1948, along with the rest of the Dodecanese, Telos was united with Greece.

In the 1990’s the mayor of Telos, a member of Greenpeace, banned all hunting on the island and declared it a wildlife refuge. Since then, there is an active environmental conscience on the island and it is known as the Green Island of the Dodecanese.

Once the sails were down I hailed the Limenarchio (Coast Guard) on the VHF channel 12 and asked them about conditions in the small harbor. This harbor did not exist when I was last here in 1985. It is not even mentioned in last year’s edition of The Greek Waters Pilot. After some hemming and hawing they advised me to moor either stern-to or bows-to. I rigged the fenders and the stern lines, moved the dinghy to the bow, and prepared the anchor. The harbor of Livádia [36° 25' N 27° 23.15' E] is small and narrow, not wide enough for an adequate length of chain to be deployed. I dropped the anchor close to the S quay and backed to the N. A helpful German lady from a nearby yacht came to catch my stern lines. Unfortunately the anchor did not hold and I had to repeat the maneuver once again. This time the anchor held and with the help of the lady I was securely moored. The time was 03:45 PM and we had come 37.5 M from Kos.

Telos Harbor from the E
Telos Harbor from the East
Telos Harbor from the S
Telos Harbor from the South

It was very hot. I deployed the passarella, covered the sails, and I put up the tent. Then I walked on the E side of the harbor and jumped into the clear water to cool-off. On the quay there were electricity and water outlets but they were, as usual, locked. There was no informative sign either.

Around 6 PM a young foreign lady came and said that she had the key to the outlets. She asked all the yachts if they needed any water or electricity. Both Thetis and a lovely wooden Swedish yawl, that came after we did, wanted to connect with the shore power. The young lady said that she would unlock the outlets but first we should move our boats to make room for a large catamaran that was due. I pointed out that, yes, we could make room for another yacht of about the size of Thetis but no rearranging could ever make room enough for a catamaran. She, however, did insist. Although it was in vain, we did re-arrange the boats and made some room. It was hot! Later when the catamaran arrived she could not fit and anchored off. The space so painfully created remained vacant. Finally the lady opened the outlets and collected our electricity fee of 2 € each.

After a hot shower I went for a walk. I also bought a map of the island. I had dinner at Irina, a waterfront taverna, which looked sympathetic. The food was not great but then, it was better and at half the price of the touted Petrino in Kos.

The harbor at night was not very comfortable. It has a very intense illumination and the Blue Sky taverna, right over the harbor, was very noisy into the wee hours.