Travels with S/Y Thetis


Thetis only

2005: Samos to Leros

This web page contains the logs of the period that S/Y Thetis was in the Samos region, from the middle of August until late September when she was hauled-out in Leros. It covers two one-week long trips: from Samos to Arki and Marathi, and the final singlehanded trip from Samos to Leros (Partheni) via Agathonisi, Marathi, Lipsi (Papandriá, Harbor) and Archangelos. The logs are illustrated with photographs and maps they also include some historical and geographical descriptions of the places visited as well as several links to other related web sites.

Route near Samos
Route near Samos

Tuesday August 16, 2005

We went for a day-trip from the marina in Pythagorio to nearby Klima [37° 42.6' N 27° 02.6' E]. This was a momentous occasion because it was the first time that my 2-year old grandson Alexander Riginos Shomer came aboard Thetis. My daughter Cynthia, Alexander’s mother, and I had spent the previous morning installing protective netting around the lifelines and preparing the boat for her new crew. In addition to Alexander along for the day-trip were: Cynthia, her husband Scott Shomer, my wife Alice, and I.

Alexander descending the ladder We departed from the marina at 1100. As the wind was only 15 knots NNE we motored the 4.9 nM to Klima where we arrived at 1200. We anchored, had lunch, and swam. Alexander lowered himself, wearing a life vest, from the ladder to the water but he then changed his mind and climbed back up.

At 1750 Alexander pressed the start button, we raised the anchor, and headed back to the marina. While underway, he held the tiller for several minutes. He was very pleased with himself. We arrived at the Pythagorio marina [37° 41.5' N 26° 57.3' E] at 1840 where we moored without any difficulties.

Alexander and Cynthia resting in the front cabin
Alexander and Cynthia resting in the front cabin
Alexander Thetis’ new helmsman
Alexander, Thetis’ new helmsman

August 17-30, 2005

During this time I had Despina, the lady who has been cleaning our house in Kalami, come with her assistant for two afternoons and thoroughly clean all the interior spaces of Thetis (cabins and lockers). Now the boat is sparkling. Also, I threw away the rugs that had become filthy and worn during the long trip and had new ones made. The combination of a a clean cabin and new rugs have made a huge difference on Thetis’ interior looks. Now, other then the scratches on her hull and the slightly bend pullpit she shows no signs of her transatlantic ordeal.

Wednesday August 31, 2005 Day 1

After Cynthia, Scott, and Alexander returned to the US, Alice and I decided to take, for few days, a sailing trip in the nearby islands. We departed Pythagorio at 0940. At first the wind was 8-12 knots from the NNE and we motor-sailed with the full main. At 1145 the wind increased to 15-22 knots NNW and we were able to turn off the motor. It was a wonderful sail to Arki where we arrived at 1400 after 24.7 nM. We anchored in the lovely cove of Glipapas [37° 22.4' N 26° 44.4' E] in 4.5 m over the sand patch.

After launching the dinghy and putting up the tent we had a nice swim. In the evening we enjoyed a glass of ouzo while watching the sunset. We cooked pasta for dinner.

Thursday September 1, 2005 Day 2

In the morning we took a fairly long walk to the S side of the island ending at a lovely tiny sand beach in the Tiganakia area where we swam in total privacy. Back on Thetis we had lunch and at 1550 we departed for the long, 0.9 nM, passage to Marathi. On the way, we slowed down to receive our e-mail because the GPRS signal is weak in either anchorage. At Marathi [37° 22' N 26° 43.6' E] we easily caught one of Pandelis’ moorings.

In the evening we went ashore and were warmly greeted by Pandelis, his wife Katina, and daughter Toola. They served us a memorable dinner of fresh maridakia (tiny fish fried), salad with homemade cheese, freshly baked whole-wheat bread, and expertly grilled fish (sargoi) which were caught that afternoon.

Friday September 2, 2005 Day 3

We were planning to sail to Lipsi but after waking up we felt lazy and stayed here in Marathi. We spent the day swimming and in the evening we took a long walk. Had dinner at Pandelis.

Saturday September 3, 2005 Day 4

The weather had deteriorated and we were experiencing strong gusts. The Navtex was issuing gale warnings for the Sea of Ikaria. Alice did not want us to leave this protected anchorage. We debated whether to just go across to Stretto in Arki but inertia won.

Micelle's Junk Boat Later in the morning we met Micelle who owns a two masted 38-foot junk boat built in India. I have seen this boat before but had never met her owner or seen her underway. We also met a Greek couple from Samos with a small power cruiser Angeliki. All together this is not a bad place to be stranded by the weather. It is attractive and the food ashore is excellent.

Sunday September 4, 2005 Day 5

The day was very similar to yesterday. There were very strong gusts and the sea, outside of the anchorage, looks very rough. The Navtex continued to issue gale warnings. We stayed here in Marathi. Had wonderful fish for diner at Pandelis.

Monday September 5, 2005 Day 6

This was a day out of hell! In the morning there was a break in the weather and while still windy it was manageable so we decided to depart since we were anxious to get back in Samos and dispense with several social obligations before our next guests who were due to arrive on Sunday. We left Marathi at 0830 for the 25 nM passage to Pythagorio. We raised the mainsail and set it with two reefs. The wind was about 20-25 knots NE, not favorable. As a result we were motor-sailing and tacking. All went fine until 9:30 when the engine sputtered and died.

I suspected that the failure was caused by a dirty fuel filter because although I had thought about changing them, I did not do so on account of the heat in Marmaris and later in Pythagorio. This is a disageable task not only because of the messy filter-change but because of the long manual pumping needed to bleed all the air from the filter lines. I now changed the primary filter, near the engine, which needs the least amount of bleeding but the filter was very clean. I then changed the secondary filter, near the fuel tank. This was dirty but certainly not clogged. I then started hand-pumping the little priming pump. I pumped and pumped and pumped for an hour but no fuel came out of the bleeding valves. I then disassembled all the fuel lines and tried to suck the fuel with the small hand pump I normally use for changing the oil. No fuel. I finally located the problem to the fuel tank. The output pipe at the bottom of the tank was clogged. With a long wire, and after many attempts, I managed to unclog it. Now we had fuel again and all that was left was to reassemble the lines from the tank to the filters and then to bleed the system.

The cabin was a mess, with spilled fuel and the contents of two lockers thrown around. Also, while working in this mess the boat was being tossed by the considerable seas and I was breathing the wonderful aroma of Diesel fuel which had made me a little nauseous. In the mean time, Alice was sailing the boat. We had to tack every few miles. We had made over 20 sea miles from Marathi but we were still 15 miles from Pythagorio. I assembled the lines and started pumping the bleeding pump. Then disaster struck. The small aluminum bleeding cap slipped out of my hands and fell into the oily mess under the engine. After clearing the oil with paper towels and looking for the small yellow cap we could not find it. Flashlights, mirrors, coat hangers were for nought. In the mean time, the wind died down and we were moving at less than 2 knots and that was not even at our desired direction.

At least 2 frustrating hours later the cap was miraculously found lodged in a crack of the engine insulation. Joy! Now back to bleeding. After some pumping Alice tried cranking the engine. It coughed, a good sign! More bleeding, more cranking, more coughing. Finally at 1730, 8 hours after it died, we were rewarded with the music of the engine. We were 10 nM from Pythagorio.

By 1845 we were safely moored in the Pythagorio marina [37° 41.5' N 26° 57.3' E].

Sunday September 18, 2005 Day 1

After a couple of weeks in Samos our summer vacation was over and we had to return back to Washington D.C. I drove Alice, early in the morning, to the airport where she boarded the plane to Athens and then to D.C. via Paris. I was going to sail Thetis to Leros where she will winter at the Agmar Marine Partheni shipyard. After leaving Alice, as it was too early yet to return the rented car, I drove to the marina where I stowed food supplies and my clothes, topped the water tanks, and lowered the dinghy from the deck into the water. There was hardly any water pressure to really wash the deck. I then drove to the Aramis office in Pythagorio and returned the car. They graciously drove me back to the marina.

Route to Leros
Route to Leros

I cast off from the Pythagorio marina, without any problems, at 0935. After clearing the harbor I stopped the boat and washed her dirty deck and cockpit with many buckets of sea water. There was hardly any wind, just a SSW breeze of 3-8 knots. We motored for 16.7 nM to Agathonisi. The visibility was bad.

I anchored at 1310 in Gaidourávlako [37° 27.2' N 26° 57.7' E] in 5 m depth. This is a very pleasant cove, not too far from the harbor yet it usually free of other boats. Thetis was all by her self. I swam and checked the anchor. I later took a nap under the tent.

The evening was lovely. The wind was still low but from every direction, the sea, however, was flat. For super I made pasta with tuna. It was a wonderful night with the full moon. After eating I spent over 2 hours in the cockpit doing nothing but listening to music and enjoying the moonlit sea. It is good to be in the boat and alone for a while.

Monday September 19, 2005 Day 2

Thetis in Gaidouravlako, Agathonisi I woke up fairly early. Taking advantage of the cool morning I went ashore for a long walk in the surrounding hills. When I returned I connected to the Internet via GPRS and checked my e-mail and the weather forecast. I received an e-mail from Alice, she had arrived safely in D.C. but was having some problems with the house telephones. The forecast called for the same weather as yesterday. The wind here was very light. Giving up any hope of sailing, I put up the tent.

I raised the anchor at 0950 and departed from Agathonisi. Outside the cove the wind was 5-10 knots from the ESE. I opened the genoa and motor-sailed. When we were about one mile from Arki the wind died and I had to roll-in the flapping sail. I headed for Marathi. There was not a single boat in the cove. I easily caught one of Pandelis’ mooring [37 22.1' N 26° 43.6' E]. The time was 1230 and we had come 12.1 nM.

Later in the afternoon a French S/Y and 4 charter sailboats full of Englishmen arrived. They were lively but not too noisy. The evening was nice. I went ashore to Pandelis and had, as usual, a great meal. They made for me a small selection of fresh tiny kalamarakia (squid) and maridakia (small fish) and a salad. These were followed with a grilled rock fish (stira) that was caught this afternoon. They wanted me to try a freshly made apple pastry but I had no room for it. I promised to come back for it tomorrow morning.

Tuesday September 20, 2005 Day 3

It was a lazy morning. I did several tasks to prepare the boat for her winter layover. Later in the morning I went ashore and as promised tasted Katina’s apple pastry. It was good. But even better was the hot loaf of her bread that she gave me to take in the boat. I chatted with Pandelis about batteries, their charging, and general care.

I departed from Marathi at 1315. I headed for Platys Yialos in Lipsi but the SW breeze had brought a bad smell from a garbage burning site few miles S of the cove. Instead of stopping, I continued and headed for Katsadia. There was hardly any wind. The wind-meter was reading 2-4 knots and the direction kept changing from E, to SE, S, SW, and W. We arrived at Katsadiá/Papandriá [37° 16.8' N 26° 46.2' E] in Lipsi at 1505 after 8.2 nM. I anchored in 5 m depth over sand. There was a motor cruiser and a S/Y on the E cove (Katsadia) while Thetis was all alone here in the W cove (Papandriá).

In the late afternoon I walked to the town, 20 minutes up and down the steep hills, and had my usual fantastic grilled sun-dried octopus with my ouzo. The new concrete quay and the old floating docks now appear to have water and electricity, at least there is a posted sign with a telephone number to call promising these services. But, I did not see a single boat connected. At the docks I met the German boat S/Y Lucania II next to which Thetis spent at least two winters in the Agmar shipyard. It was nice to see that her crew is back cruising after the motor-scooter accident they had last time I saw them in the Spring of 2004. The walk back to my cove was a delight illuminated by the almost full moon.

Wednesday September 21, 2005 Day 4

It was a quiet night but in the morning a SW breeze came. It was not very strong just 8-12 knots but by the early afternoon an uncomfortable swell had developed and I decided to move to a more comfortable anchorage.

I raised the anchor at 1420 and motored 2 nM north to the harbor of Lipsi. There instead of the quay and docks I headed S to the shallow cove which is well sheltered from the SW wind. I anchored [37° 17.5' N 26° 45.8' E] in 5 m depth over mud and weed. The water was murky and I could not check the anchor by snorkeling so I tested it by vigorously revving the engine in reverse. It held well.

Next to Thetis was a lovely old small wooden boat the S/Y Sea Bird with a Greek flag. Later I met her owner Stathis Valkanas, his Filipina wife, and their two darling children Sofia aged 4 and Costas aged 3. They all spoke fluent Greek and English.

In the evening I went ashore to the town and ate grilled chicken at the Nave, a small restaurant in the village square up the hill.

Thursday September 22, 2005 Day 5

In the morning I went ashore and bought fresh bread and fruits. Then, at 0935 I pulled up the anchor and headed to Archangelos the small uninhabited island N of Leros. The sea was calm and the wind 4-8 knots NNE which allowed me to open the genoa and motor-sail.

After 6.2 nM we arrived in Archangelos at 1050. I dropped the anchor right in front of the tiny chapel [37° 11.9' N 26° 46.3' E] in 6 m depth over sand. The sea was a lovely turquoise color and very translucent. I had a very nice swim while checking the anchor.

After a while two charter boats arrived one with the Swiss flag and the other with the German. Both had a terrible time anchoring and had to make at least 3 attempts. They made the classic mistake of slowly lowering the anchor with the electric windlass and at the same time reversing the boat fast. Doing so does not allow the anchor to reach the bottom and settle, it is towed. You would think that sailing schools and charter companies would explain this.

In the evening I had an ouzo while watching the sunset. Then I made rice with real chicken stock, which I had brought from Samos, and served it with a mushroom-mustard-balsamic vinegar sauce. The night was very beautiful with a very clear starry sky. Later, after the moon rose, there were some strong gusts from almost every direction but the anchor held well.

Friday September 23, 2005 Day 6

This is my last day of this mini-cruise. Tomorrow Thetis is scheduled to be hauled-out. At 7:30 I went ashore for a long walk. It was cool. Later in the morning I swam and spent some time reading under the tent. Also, I did a number of tasks preliminary to the winter lay out. I cleaned all electrical contacts and covered them with vaseline. I cleaned the batteries with baking soda (it counteracts any acid overflow) and then covered their poles with vaseline. I also cleaned the bilges and engine compartment. After these task I swam some more and then rested.

In the early afternoon the by now familiar outline of the S/Y Sea Bird appeared. They came next to Thetis and anchored. In the evening her whole crew came for a visit. The younger members went wild over the “brown cookies” from Samos. These are made with olive oil and honey and are covered with sesame seeds. They are my grandson Alexander’s favorites, I like them too.

For dinner I made pasta with fresh tomato sauce. My last night afloat was very enjoyable.

Saturday September 24, 2005 Day 7

Sunrise at Archangelos I woke up fairly early although the night was very calm. The sunrise was very beautiful, I took several pictures. I raised the anchor for the last time this year at 0800. Before going to the yard I motored across from Archangelos to check a possible anchorage [37° 11.5' N 26° 46.6' E] in Leros that is well protected from the S winds. It is not as good an anchorage as it looks because it is deep and then it gets shallow very quickly and at depths of 3-5 m there is lot of weed with very few patches of sand so the anchor may not hold well here.

While motoring to Partheni I called Agmar on the GSM phone. They told me that there is another boat in the “pool” but as soon as she is raised Thetis is to enter. I motored slowly and drifted for a few minutes outside the pool. I was then waved in and entered [37° 11.3' N 26° 48' E] at 0845. This is the end of the 2005 sailing. Next to the “pool” was the S/Y Vassiliki with my friend Anastasis Raftopoulos and his very large dog Serio. While waiting for the travelift we exchanged our news and agreed to meet for dinner tonight.

At 1000 Thetis was lifted out of the water and moved to her winter place. While Panayiotis and Nicholas, the travelift operators, were installing her supports I had a nice chat with Angelos, the yard owner and manager, and Mastro Michalis, the technical manager. We discussed the dirty fuel tank problem and how to make bleeding of the fuel lines easier. They had several ideas.

I rented a motor-scooter for € 7/day. I drove to the stores and got some fruit and bread. Then it was time to work. I removed the main sail, lowered it to the ground, transported it with the cart to the paved area for washing the sails, washed it with lots of fresh water and soap, rinsed it, and raised it on the drying mast next to the paved area. While waiting for it to dry, I filled the dingy with fresh water and placed in it all sorts of lines to soak. After a few hours when the sail was dry, I lowered it, folded and bagged it. Then I carted it back and raised it with the winch on Thetis’ deck and stowed it in the front cabin. Phew! one of the hardest tasks was behind me now.

For dinner I went out with Anastasis to the Mylos restaurant where we had a very nice meal of seafood. A gentleman who was sitting with his family not far from us kept staring at me. He looked vaguely familiar. It turned out that he was Mr. Vasilis Psarambas the boat inspector from Kalymnos. He has been following Thetis’ trips on the internet.

September 24-28, 2005

These days were very busy. Washed and stowed the headsail, all the lines, anchors, chains, the dinghy, foul weather gear, etc. Made a long “to do list” for Agmar and discussed it with Mastro Michalis and Angelos.

Every night Anastasis and I went to dinner together.

Finally, on Wednesday September 28 I said goodbye to dear Thetis and boarded the plane to Athens and from there to Washington D.C. I hope that in the spring of 2006 we can resume our travels.

The statistics, since Thetis was launched in the Spring of 2004, are:

2005 Statistics
Total Distance 6793 nM
Time at Sea 78 days
Engine Time 755 hr
Solo Time 148 hr
Fuel Consumed 1381 L
Water Consumed 1872 L