Travels with S/Y Thetis

Thetis only

2006: Leros to Samos

This web page contains the logs of a singlehanded sailing trip that I took with S/Y Thetis in the Aegean in Greece. The logs cover a period of 6 days of sailing from Partheni, Leros, where she was launched, to Samos via Archangelos, Lipsi, Marathi, and Arki.

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.

Leros to Arki
Route to Samos

Sunday May 14, 2006, Day 1

Satellite view of Partheni Right after coffee, although it was still windy, about 15 knots from the N, and cold, 18° C (64°F), I started installing the mainsail. Anastasis, as he had promised, came right away to help. The mainsail is not hard to install but it is fussy and time consuming with its reefing lines and battens. The large genoa sail, although simpler, needs two people.

After installing the sails I rode the scooter to Lakki and visited the Limenarchio (Coast Guard). After they looked at my now perfectly in order ship’s papers they issued the apoplous (permission to sail). After I returned to Partheni, Anastasis kindly lent me his car and I took the small gasoline canisters (for the outboard and genset) to a gas station and filled them. I then hosed down the deck which was full of red dust. Now we are ready to depart.

Anastasis and Mu had a social engagement and were not available to help me cast off. I had to rearrange the lines before making a perfect departure at 1430. Everything functioned including the auto-pilot (named Yakoumis). But, as I looked back ashore I noticed along the “pool” the motor-scooter. I had forgotten to leave it inside the fenced yard as I had promised to Yannis Pagonis, the friendly renter. This would not do. Back we went and I anchored. It was too windy for rowing so I lowered the outboard and rode the dingy ashore. After taking the scooter to the yard and returning to Thetis I raised the anchor. It is true that trouble comes in bundles. The anchor was fouled with a large mooring chain. I had to use the trick of tying the offending chain with a short line, lowering the anchor, and after disengaging it from the chain, releasing the line. Now we departed Partheni [37° 11.3' N 26° 48' E], for real this time. It was 1540.

The anchorage at Archangelos
The anchorage at Archangelos

We did not go very far, just away from the yard. We went to the small island Archangelos with its lovely anchorage [37° 11.9' N 26° 46.3' E] just 1.8 M away. I wanted to test some more all the systems and be near the yard just in case. We anchored in 4.5 m depth over clear sand. The time was 1605. Everything worked fine except there was still some water, less than yesterday, entering from the shaft. I tightened the stuffing box some more but I did not want to over do it as it needs a drip of water for cooling.

It is very beautiful here. The wind had died, the sea was smooth, and all the colors were very vivid. Thetis was the queen of the bay as she was the only boat within sight. I rested, sent some e-mails, had a hot shower, I am now enjoying a well earned ouzo. It is wonderful to be cruising again. There are still many tasks to do but not today.

After dusk the stars came out in all their glory in the clear sky brilliance. Then the moon, two days past full, red and large, majestically rose over the silhouette of Leros. I was too tired to cook the pork roast I had bought in Lakki. Instead I made some rice and an omelet. I opened a bottle of red wine. What a great feeling! It was a very quiet night.

Monday May 15, 2006, Day 2

I did several tasks in the morning: I tightened slightly the stuffing box, stowed more things in their proper places, re-organized the cabinet under the chart table, tested the genset, etc. But there were plenty more to be done. I still had to re-arrange the charts that had been scrabbled but this is a time consuming task.

S/Y Vassiliki
S/Y Vassiliki

S/Y Vassiliki left Partheni and I managed to photograph her flying her main sail. We waved goodbye. She will be going straight to Myconos.

I went ashore for a walk and to look for fresh thyme. None was to be found.

At 1210 we departed from Archangelos and headed N to Lipsi. The wind was 6-14 knots WNW which allowed us to motor-sail with the headsail. Unfortunately along the way a new problem manifested. The electricity to the engine circuit was intermittent. I could not readily locate the cause. I contemplated returning to the yard but I reasoned that I should be able to locate the fault in Lipsi. Anyway the distance back to Partheni is not that great, if worst came to worst.

We arrived at the lovely cove of Papandriá [37° 16.8' N 26° 46.2' E] in S Lipsi at 1315 after 5.7 M. I dropped the anchor over sand in 4.5 m depth and let out about 30 m of chain. In the mean time, the breeze had died. It is nice and peaceful here – only a quiet French sailboat near by and a British boat in the next cove, Katsadiá.

I easily located the bad contact that caused the intermittent problem with the engine circuit and fixed it.

Satellite view of Lipsi

Tuesday May 16, 2006, Day 3

Satellite view of Arki & Marathi It was rather windy all night and I had to turn off the wind generator because it was making too much noise.

In the morning, after coffee, I looked at the forecasts received on the Navtex and on the Internet. They all called for decreasing winds by Thursday. I spent some time vacuuming the cabins and cleaning them.

At 0945 I raised the anchor and headed for Marathi [37° 22' N 26° 43.7' E]. It was very gusty and the wind was a headwind. For a while it veered and I opened the genoa but only managed to motor-sail for 2 M. Then the wind backed against us and we had to motor the rest of the 8.5 M. We arrived at 1145 and I caught one of Pandelis’ mooring without any trouble. In addition to Thetis there were 3 other yachts here: a Dutch, a German catamaran, and a Halberg-Russy without a flag.

It was calm in the cove although there were gusts over 25 knots with utter calms in between. I put up the tent, a first for the year, and had lunch in the shaded cockpit although it was kind of cold. Later the wind increased and I had to remove the tent. Now it was too hot in the direct sunshine. If I was not so pleased to be back sailing with dear old Thetis, I could even say that conditions were almost unpleasant.

I finished reading the Arturo Pérez-Reverte novel The Seville Connection. It is a well written mystery with an investigative priest from the Vatican trying to find a mysterious computer hacker in Seville, suspects being two priests and a nun! Very enjoyable. I started a heavier book on evolution by Richard Dawkins The Blind Watchmaker.

In the evening I had a hot shower followed by an ouzo after which I went ashore. Pandelis and Katina were pleased to see me. They now have a second grandson born to their daughter Tula on February. While their establishment was not really ready for the season they assured me that a nice meal could be provided. But before sitting down to eat I went for a nice walk around the little island. The meal was, as usual, very good: salad with local goat cheese and caper leaves, freshly made dolmadakia (fresh vine leaves, from Samos, stuffed with ground meat and spices), and two small grilled lithrinia (red snappers) which were swimming just few hours ago.

Wednesday May 17, 2006, Day 4

The night was windy. I looked up the forecasts. They predicted for the Samos Sea northwesterly winds of force 5-6 which, by tomorrow, they will be down to 3-4. I tried to decide whether to sail to Samos today or tomorrow. If I were to sail today there would be some spray but I could, most likely, use the sails. Tomorrow on the other hand, the sea will be calm and maybe I will have to motor all the way. However, the sea in the Arki channel did look nasty and there were strong gusts. I decided to wait for tomorrow but move across to Arki and at least get rid of the accumulated trash.

After saying good-buy to Katina and Pandelis I cast off the mooring at 0945 and motored the 0.7 M to Glipapas, Arki [37° 22.4' N 26° 44.4' E]. I anchored at 1000 over a patch of sand in 4.5 m depth and let out 45 m of chain.

As usual, it was very nice here and Thetis was all alone. After making sure that the anchor was holding I went ashore, and after dropping the trash into a bin, I walked for about 40 minutes to the “mini market” in the hamlet. It was closed and a sign informed me that it will open after 5 PM. Today being Wednesday, when all stores in Greece are closed, this meant that it will not open until tomorrow evening.

After returning back onboard Thetis I did some more maintenance tasks: fixed the loose snaps on the instrument panel, cleaned some more in the cabins and storage bins, washed the dinghy, etc. The water temperature was a cool 17°C (63°F)—too cold for me to swim although the sea was very inviting.

In the evening I went ashore again for another long walk. I also collected some fresh thyme for cooking. I ended in the little taverna the Stretto. I was warmly greeted by the proprietress kyria Angeliki and her son Isidoros. They remembered me and Alice very well and she even reminded me that Alice had given her an anti-mosquito bracelet 2 years ago. I ate fairly well: wild rabbit in red sauce and a salad.

Back on Thetis I checked the navigation lights, which I had forgotten to check before leaving Partheni. They all worked except the red and the green bow lights. These I will have to attend to. The night was lovely with many stars. I listened to classical music. There is nothing more wonderful, at least for me, than living in a sail boat exposed to mother nature and leisurely cruising the beautiful Aegean islands with their enchanted anchorages. It fills me with a feeling of peace and oneness with the universe which is almost metaphysical.

Thursday May 18, 2006, Day 5

Arki to Samos
Route to Samos

This was another quiet night, there was hardly any wind and the sea was flat. After coffee I prepared the boat for the departure to Samos. I lifted the outboard from the dinghy and in a fit of optimism uncovered the mainsail. At 0800 the anchor came up and we departed from Arki. I decided to go S around the island rather then around the N side as I usually do. The wind was almost nil, 4-8 knots NNE. There was not a chance to use the sails. It was motor all the way. Other then that, it was a totally uneventful passage. Since I still had a few tasks to do, especially raising the dinghy on deck, before leaving Thetis I did not go to the marina. Instead I headed few more miles E into the Mycale Channel and anchored in Poseidonio [37° 42.7' N 27° 03.3' E] at 1306 after 28.8 M. I dropped the anchor in 3.8 m depth over sand and weed and let out about 40 m of chain. I vigorously reversed to test the holding because here it is not always very good.

Later I fixed the red and green navigation lights. They were heavily corroded. Their cables will need to be replaced with new ones this winter.

In the evening I had an ouzo, listened to music, and read. For supper I had some more of the pork roast with spaghetti. All was well except that there were several man-eating mosquitoes.

Friday May 19, 2006, Day 6

This was the last day of this trip. I will be leaving Thetis at the Pythagorio Marina while I travel back to Washington, D.C. on family business. I expect to be back in 2-3 weeks and resume my travels with the boat.

First thing I raised the dingy on deck, lashed it down and covered it. This operation took me about one hour. I then prepared the docking lines and fenders and weighed the anchor at 0910. There was some light breeze but from the W so, once again, I had to motor. After 5.1 M we arrived at the Pythagorio Marina [37° 41.4' N 26° 57.5' E] at 1015. There was no one there to help but I managed to moor by myself. I am getting a little too old to jump in and out of a semi-secured boat but everything went rather smoothly.

The marina is still not operational and as far as yachts are concerned it does not look that much has been changed since last fall. The most significant improvement is the road which is now paved up to the last 50 m. It would be almost un-greek to have completed the road after just 5 years! I spoke with a Mr. Moustakas who appears to be the new manager. He gave me a list of mooring rates, effective June 1. He expects both the electricity and the water to be available for yachts by the end of next week.

It took me a while to sort everything out and prepare Thetis for her lay-over. I had to remove the knot-meter sensor, shut-off the camping gaz, disconnect most of the electricity but leave the wind-generator on, check the fluids of the batteries, etc.

While waiting for the rented car to arrive I reflected that when I am singlehandling and arrive at a harbor I am very nervous but after having secured the boat I feel a great relief. It seems that my dear Thetis is not any more hanging on a thin thread, me, subject to the weather and the fickle fates and courting all sorts of accidents. Now she is safe. But after just a few days on land I miss my precarious existence at sea and cannot wait to cast off from the security of the harbor and seek new adventures.