Travels with S/Y Thetis

Thetis only

2006: Samos to Limnos

This web page contains the logs of the first leg of a 20 day sailing trip that I took with S/Y Thetis together with my wife Alice in the Greek Aegean Sea. The logs cover a period of 11 days of sailing from Samos to Limnos or Lemnos (Ormos Thanos, Myrina) via Chios (Salagonas, Limniá) and Lesvos (Sigri).

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

Route to Chios
Route to Limnos

Sunday June 11, 2006, Day 1

Satellite view of E Samos
Satellite view of E Samos

After a 20 day interruption to attend to family business in Washington D.C., I am back onboard Thetis together with my wife Alice. Our plan is to sail to the cove W of Mourtia, spend the night there, and get settled in the boat. Then, tomorrow morning we will depart early for Chios.

Last Friday, Thetis became one of the first boats to have a permanent berth in the Pythagorio Marina which commenced limited operation on June 1. Now both water and electricity are available at every berth. What is not yet available are bathroom facilities, and attendants. I spoke with the young men, Manolis and Michalis, who will be running the show. They printed for me a contract. For details follow the link Pythagorio Marina.

In preparation for this trip, I changed the frayed and leaking exhaust hose and I installed a new head pump that I had bought from West Marine at a significantly lower price than in Greece. We also bought many provisions and stowed them.

We cast off at 1100 after returning the rented car and getting the stamped blessing of the Limenarchio (Coast Guard), loading the boat with our personal belongings, and filling the tank at the marina station with 22 L of Diesel fuel. There was almost no wind, just a 10-15 knot NE breeze. We motored for 10.3 M and anchored at 1230 in the lovely cove of Mikri Lakka, W of Mourtia [37° 45.5' N 27° 01.6' E]. We dropped the anchor in 4 m depth over sand and weed. The holding here is good.

We spent the afternoon getting organized and settling in for the cruising life. Ashore, there were a group of Greek families camping. They had come here with small boats and inflatables for the long weekend, tomorrow being a holiday in Greece, the Holly Spirit day. One of the campers was Mr. Yiokarinis, the third generation owner of the famous Samos ouzo distillery. He recognized Thetis and came over to greet us.

For dinner we cooked spaghetti with tomato sauce. While eating this, and as if to help us celebrate our first night of cruising, the full moon, a large orange disk, rose over Mt. Camel in nearby Turkey. It illuminated the Mycale Channel with a reddish light which soon changed to silver. It was a great sight. Ashore, the campers had lit fires and were also having a jolly time with their cook-out. It was a very enjoyable night. We went to bed early as we were still having some jet-lag from the 7 hour time difference between here and Washington. Our plan was to leave for Chios as early as possible. The weather reports were very benign calling for force 4 NE winds.

Monday June 12, 2006, Day 2

Satellite view of SE Chios
Satellite view of SE Chios

I woke up at 1:30 and I could not go back to sleep, so, I decided to depart. After a cup of coffee and with a minimum disturbance to Alice, who was asleep, I raised the anchor and at 0210 we were on our way. While there was hardly any wind and we had to motor it was still wonderful in the full moon. I turned on the water-maker, verified that it worked, and replenished the water in the tanks. At a distance I could see two large ships with lots of lights which I took for ferryboats but as we came closer I could see their navigational lights. These indicated that the ships were sail boats. Indeed when we were about 1 M away I saw with the binoculars that they each had 4 masts and a lot of canvas. Other than that, the going was completely uneventful until sunrise at 0535 when the wind increased to 10-14 knots NNE. I raised the mainsail, turned off the motor, and opened 50% of the headsail. It was a great sail and at times we were making better than 7.5 knots. Unfortunately this blissful state of affairs lasted only 1½ hr after which the wind subsided to 5-8 knots N and we had to motor-sail the rest of the way.

We arrived in Salagonas, Chios [38° 13.3' N 25° 54.9' E] at 1330 after 68.5 M. Here there was a slight southerly breeze so we anchored in 5 m depth to allow for the boat to swing in every direction without getting to waters shallower than 3 m. It was, as usual, very nice and tranquil here but the water was almost too cold for comfortable swimming. Later a German sailing boat came and anchored very near Thetis. While we were resting the sky got covered by scattered clouds and while it was too cold under the tent it was too hot without it.

For dinner we cooked a roast beef that we brought from Samos. We cooked it with a lemon sauce and served it with very young baked potatoes from Kalami. It was delicious.

Tuesday June 13, 2006, Day 3

Ayia Dynamis
Ayia Dynamis

Today we did not move Thetis but stayed here to enjoy this lovely anchorage. In the morning we launched the dingy, which was lashed on deck, rigged it, and went ashore to the nearby Ayia Dynamis cove. From there we walked for about 20 minutes to the Olympoi Cave. We had to wait for a while and then we were taken for the “tour.” We two were the only tourists and we had two guides. At the little store we bought some Chios specialties and then walked back to the dinghy.

As we were driving the dinghy back to Thetis we saw a young man rowing ashore the inflatable dingy from the German yacht. I assumed that he must have been the son of the couple we had seen yesterday. But then we saw him getting into a car and driving away. About half an hour later we saw the German couple arriving on foot and getting into their dinghy. We asked them if they had another passenger and they said they did not. They were very surprised, and so were we, that a local will be using their dingy. Later they told us that some items that they had left in the cockpit were missing. This is the first time that I personally have come across such an unpleasant incident in Greece although about 10 years ago my brother’s inflatable was stolen in Ios.

In the evening we went ashore. The plan was to walk to the mediaeval village of Mesta and have dinner there. I had forgotten though how far it was. After walking for over 1:20 hr we were getting rather tired and the village was nowhere in sight. Fortunately a friendly native with a car gave us a lift and drove us the rest of the way. The little village square was dramatic, as usual, but now a large TV screen showing the on-going “World Cup” dominated the square and was attentively watched by a group of men sitting in front of it in a row of chairs. Despite this, we had a nice meal at the Meseonas restaurant where 2 years ago Manos and I had eaten. When we finished, the friendly proprietress called a taxi to drive us back. This turned out to be the only taxi operating from Mesta. Its driver, Demetris Kokkinos, has just come from Athens to stay in his native village. He can be reached at +30 6972 543 543.

We returned to the waiting Thetis without any episode.

Wednesday June 14, 2006, Day 4

Satellite view of Limniá region in Chios
Satellite view of Limniá region in Chios

We departed Salagonas at 0750. Initially the sea was calm but after rounding Cape Mesta the wind was 10-20 knots NNW and there was significant chop slowing Thetis down to 4 knots. Not only we had to motor but the chop even prevented us from running the water-maker (air was getting into the intake line) to replenish the water that we had consumed. We debated whether to go to Psara but chose to go to Limniá in Chios the harbor of Volissos.

We arrived in Limniá [38° 28.2 N 25° 55.1' E] at 1150 after 18.4 M. The harbor was calm and empty. We docked side-to after two attempts. We wanted to visit the monastery of Ayia Markella but it was too far too walk and we could not find a car. All the local tavernas had installed huge TV screens for the Wold Cup. I did not think that eating in anyone of them will be an option.

In the afternoon, after siphoning the Diesel fuel from a jerry can into the main tank, we walked for 30 minutes up the hill to Volissos. There we found the old-fashioned wood-burning bakery open, despite being Wednesday afternoon when all stores are closed, and we got a loaf of crusty bread. We walked for a while around the town and then had an ouzo at the platia (square).

Back onboard Thetis, Alice made some rice and served it with left-over roast. We retired early as we were planing to depart for Sigri, Lesvos in the wee hours. The forecast for tomorrow was a benign 2-3 knot wind from the south.

Alice in Limniá
Alice in Limniá

Thursday June 15, 2006, Day 5

Route to Limnos
Route to Limnos

I woke up at 3 AM and prepared to cast-off. Alice also got up to help. We removed all the lines and kept only the stern spring line and went into reverse while Alice pushed off the bow from the quay with the pole. When we moved forward, we easily cleared the quay and the fishing boat docked ahead of us. But as soon as we motored outside of the harbor trouble struck. We lost all DC power to the engine. This is very dangerous because if the alternator does not receive any voltage while the engine is running its diodes can burn. I immediately turned off the engine. Fortunately there was no wind and I troubleshot while Thetis was drifting, Alice kept a lookout for traffic. Yes, there was no electricity delivered to the engine panel. I made a temporary connection with a a jump-line and power was restored. By the time all these were done and we were under way again, it was 0400. Alice went back to sleep.

Still there was no wind but we did have a spectacular sunrise. As the sun rose the temperature also rose and it became uncomfortably hot in the cockpit. As there was no wind and no chance of sailing we put up the tent. As we approached our destination Sigri, Lesvos however, the sky started to cloud. By the time we entered the bay the sky was gray and a local 15-18 knot cold breeze from the S greeted us. We anchored without any trouble E of the Sigri Castle [39° 12.5' N 25° 51.2' E] in 4.5 m depth at 1135 after 47 M. Later as the breeze came from the NW, as forecasted, we changed position and re-anchored closer to the N shore in 5 m depth over sand.

I looked at the electrical problem. It had disappeared. Very frustrating! I suspected the ignition switch. I put some spray and tightened the connections although these are very hard to reach. Now everything was normal but just in case, I kept the jumper cable handy. The only other problem left was a small water leakage from the propeller shaft. There was no more leakage from the exhaust hose. I tightened very slightly the stuffing box because I did not want to over overtighten it. There should always be a drip of water to cool the shaft. We shall see if this is adequate.

We had a nice dinner ashore at the Remetzo restaurant.

Sigri and its Castle
Sigri and its Castle

Friday June 16, 2006, Day 6

Petrified Sequoia in the Museum
Petrified Sequoia in the Museum

In the morning we went to see the new Geological Museum. It is a wonderful museum with many informative exhibits on the geological history of the Aegean and many examples of petrified trees. We walked around its yard which has several petrified trees that were excavated in situ. All together a worthwhile visit.

After the museum, we did some provision shopping and then returned to Thetis for swimming and lunch. I finished reading the book A Man After His Own Heart by Charles Siebel. It is an account of a heart transplant with many digressions within digressions of personal recollections and history of medicine. It is rather interesting but somewhat frustrating with so many digressions.

In the afternoon we walked S of Sigri for about 30 minutes to a marshy area where there is a muddy pond with terrapins. These are small, about 30 cm long. As soon as we approached the pond they stuck their necks out and started swimming towards us. As soon as they reached the shore they walked towards our feet pursuing us with great determination, kind of spooky. I think they are used to being fed by visitors and were after food and not after our toes, but am not so sure.

We had dinner onboard consisting of leftovers.

Lots of hungry terrapins
Lots of hungry terrapins

Saturday June 17, 2006, Day 7

The Wreck near Sigri
The Wreck near Sigri

I was sound asleep in the morning when Alice woke me up as it was time to depart for Limnos. After lifting the outboard on Thetis we raised the anchor at 0550 and headed out of Sigri Bay. On the way out I took several pictures of a sailboat that ran aground on one of the reefs. According to the locals she had a crew of Ukrainians who tried to enter the bay on a stormy night 2 years ago. It is a chilling sight!

There was no problem, this time, with the engine electricity. There was not much wind either, just 5-10 knots ENE. We raised the main and motor-sailed. The sea was very calm. On the way we had to cross the shipping lanes to and from the Dardanelles. This is a very busy area. At one time, we could see at least 9 ships. Our radar was very active making sure that we were not on a collision course with any one of them. Other than the tension due to traffic we arrived at 1445 without any trouble in our destination Ormos Thanos in Limnos [39° 50.4' N 25° 04.7' E] after 52.8 M.

We anchored in 4.5 m depth over sand letting out 35 m of chain. We tested the holding by reversing the engine. All was well. Since the last time that Thetis was here the nice bay has changed. It is no longer isolated, now there two establishments on the beach with umbrellas and reclining chairs and worst of all loudspeakers blasting techno “music.” The cacophony was overwhelming.

In the evening we went ashore and had a long walk along the lovely beach. It is amazing the human propensity for destroying even the most attractive areas that nature has given us. Fortunately by 9 PM the noise stopped and peace was temporarily restored. We enjoyed our dinner of pasta with mushrooms in the cockpit.

Sunday June 18, 2006, Day 8

It was very calm and quiet during the night and we slept rather late. Later in the morning I started maintenance of the the water-maker. I mixed an alkaline solution, started the genset (a small gasoline powered generator) to power the water-maker and circulated the solution through its membrane. I then left the solution to soak the membrane for 5-6 hours.

Later in the morning, when the infernal sound from the beach started blasting us again, we raised our anchor and moved to the cove W of the little island [39° 50.4' N 25° 04.1' E] where it was quieter. We anchored in 4.5 m depth and let out about 35 m of chain. The bottom here is sand and the holding very good. We swam to the beach and in general had a nice if lazy day.

In the afternoon, I started the genset and and recirculated the alkaline solution thru the water-maker for about half an hour. I then drew many buckets of water and cleaned the deck and cockpit.

In the evening we went ashore with the intention of walking to the village of Thanos where 4 years ago I had a nice meal of grilled chicken. But it turned out that the road from the W cove led us instead to the town of Platys. We looked for a restaurant without a TV and had a reasonable meal at the Zimbabwe.

Monday June 19, 2006, Day 9

In the morning I finished reading Alexander’s Kent Midshipman Bolitho. This is the first of the Kent nautical novels I have read. I liked it but it is not up to the literary standards of Patrick O’Brian. Following this I started a new book by Oliver Sacks Uncle Tungsten. It is an autobiography of his boyhood years in post WW II London. During this time, under his uncle’s tutelage, he discovers the wonders of chemistry.

At 0940 we raised our anchor and as there was no wind we motored the 4.95 M to Myrina [39° 52.5' N 25° 03.5' E] the main harbor of Limnos. We arrived at 1030 and since there was room in the small area reserved for yachts we had no trouble mooring stern-to. Here both water and electricity are available and we took advantage of them.

I walked to the National Bank of Greece and arranged for €700 to be deposited on Mr. Psarambas’ account (of the Neognomon), the fee for the boat inspection and its certificate which he promised to send to me in Samos (which he did).

In the evening there was a strong downpour accompanied by violent gusts. A Swiss flagged boat the M/S Chantal that was anchored off, but inside the harbor, dragged. The elderly couple on board were not very skillful and in their efforts to moor stern-to the quay they fouled their anchor to the chain of a charter boat and could not disengage it. Fortunately Thetis’ Swedish neighbor had his dingy in the water with its outboard on and went right away to help them while receiving verbal encouragement from British, German, and Greek sailors. Soon the squall was over, Chantal was moored and order was restored.

We had a Diesel delivery of 80 liters (€85) which re-filled the fuel tank and one jerry can.

After hot showers we walked across the harbor to the Glaros restaurant where we had a very good grilled fresh fish along with an excellent Lemnian dry white wine Linmea Ge (Lemnian Earth). A nice ending to a long day.

The only problem were the strong street lights which made sleeping hard.


Tuesday June 20, 2006, Day 10

This day was devoted to terrestrial tourism and to the water tanks.

Last fall I had asked Agmar Marine to clean, in addition to the fuel tank, both water tanks. These have over the years collected a brown sediment and whenever the tanks are shaken the water comes out of the faucets muddy. Unfortunately because of an oversight this work was not done. Before leaving Partheni, however, Angelos gave me a tank cleaning liquid. The instructions on the bottle were to empty the tanks, put a solution of the liquid, let it stand for 5 hours, empty it, and then flush the tanks with clean water. Now that we were docked next to a water outlet and we were planning to be away from the boat for a few hours was the opportunity to do this treatment. So, early in the morning I started draining the tanks. This took almost 2 hours. In the mean time, I had prepared 40 L of the solution and as soon as the tanks were empty, I poured it in.

We had made arrangements last night to rent a car (€30/day) which was waiting for us. First we drove to the Kaveirio, the ancient site devoted to the worship of the Kaveiroi the obscure deities also worshiped in Santorini. Alas, we were half way there when I realized that I had forgotten to take the camera. So, no pictures. The site was clean and attractive. The rather bored guard was very glad to see visitors and gave us a full guided tour. We then headed for Hephestia but got lost in the dirt roads. When we eventually got there there was not much to see because there was an on-going Italian excavation. It was very hot. Alice, who is a trained archaeologist, was disappointed. After having lunch in a cool shaded taverna in a village along the road we returned for a rest to Thetis.

Later in the afternoon and after 6 hours had elapsed since we had filled the water tanks with the cleaning solutions we started draining them. The liquid that came out of the tanks was a vivid yellow color. We then put some clean water and drained the tanks again. The water coming out now was clear. We re-filled the tanks. Let us hope that in the next few days, especially after the water is shaken that we have clean and not muddy water out of the faucets.

In the late afternoon, after finishing with the tanks, we drove to several villages. Alice was especially keen to visit Kornos where they make halva (a sweet made of sugar and sesame paste). Indeed after asking around we found the outlet and bought several packages to take with us back to Samos for gifts. We then drove to the villages of Sardes, Daphne, and Katalako. In Sardes we tried to find the advertised Mandela restaurant but it was not open. On the way back to the harbor we found Camping Gaz at a grocery store behind the Glaros restaurant and we replaced our spent canister.

After taking hot showers in Thetis we drove to the Thanos village which is only 4 km from Myrina. There at the Tasos restaurant we had, as I had 4 years ago, a nice grilled chicken along with tomatoes and peppers stuffed (yemista) with rice and ground meat.

It was, again, hard to sleep because of the street noise and especially because of the high intensity street lights. I do not like harbors!

Wednesday June 21, 2006, Day 11

We were not going to stay in the harbor for another night of bad sleep. But, before we left we had to visit the Archaeological Museum which Alice had not seen. We walked there. It is housed in a restored mansion on the waterfront of the N side of the town. After this visit we returned the rented car and bought some provisions including 6 bottles of white wine.

We departed from the harbor at 1200 after topping the water tanks. The departure was easy and we had no problems. We motored the 4.8 M back to West Thanos [39° 50.3' N 25° 04.5' E] where we anchored in 4.5 m over sand. The time was 1300.

We spent the quiet afternoon swimming and taking naps. The only problem here were the large number of flies.

For dinner Alice made a tray of delicious baked very young potatoes from our garden in Kalami. I also cooked two smoked pork chops that we had bough in Samos with mushrooms and red wine. This was an experiment which was semi successful. We went to bed early for a good night’s sleep before our passage back to Lesvos.