Travels with S/Y Thetis


Thetis only

2006: Lipsi to Leros

This web page contains the logs of a singlehanded sailing trip that I took with S/Y Thetis in the Aegean in Greece. They cover the second leg of the trip, a period of 9 days of sailing, from the island of Lipsi to Leros (Lakki, Xerocambos, Partheni), where she was hauled out for the winter, via Archangelos, and Kalymnos. 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 to Leros
Route Lipsi to Leros

Wednesday October 11, 2006 Day 12

Lipsi from Space The night was quiet except for some rain around 5 AM. The wind also came. Instead of the almost zero wind of the past few days today it started blowing 10-17 knots NE. The wind-generator which has been silent for several days now started its noisy song and woke me up. No problem with the anchor, however. The sky was overcast. I decided to move from here, Katsadiá, to Archangelos the little island north of Leros.

I raised the anchor at 0945. Although the wind was adequate for sailing, I was forced to keep the motor running because the batteries were down and I also had to run the water-maker to replenish the water supply. I opened 75% of the headsail while I kept the engine running at a low RPM. Moving slowly for 5.5 nautical miles (nM) we arrived in Archangelos [37° 12' N 26° 46.3' E] at 1050. I anchored in 6.5 m letting out 45 m of chain allowing plenty of swinging room since some of the forecasts, not all, were calling for south winds for this evening.

Leros from Space There was only one other boat here, some distance from Thetis, a small traditional sailboat with a German flag and another singlehander. I think that I have seen her before but I am not sure where. I called Olympic Airlines and made reservations to fly from Leros to Athens on the 25th of this month. I also reconfirmed with Agmar that Thetis was scheduled for her haul-out on the 19th. This means that I have just one week left this year to enjoy Thetis.

Later three chartered sailboats full of germans came and anchored, rather inexpertly, nearby. Fortunately they left after a few hours.

The light wind died out and by sunset there was just a very mild breeze from inconsistent direction. The sky also cleared. The humidity which had been around 80% in the past few days is down to 58% but the barometer is also down from the 1012 mB of yesterday to 1008. I do hope that we do not get here the gale winds that have been plaguing the North Aegean for several days now. I also hope that the worst of the thunderstorms have passed since the radio reports heavy downpours in Eastern Crete.

I had a nice swim and I also checked the anchor. By ouzo time things were idyllic. I finished the mystery I had been reading John Dunning’s Two o’clock Eastern Wartime, a page turner with vivid descriptions of early radio.

Unfortunately by 8 PM when it became dark the wind returned. First at 8 knots, then 15, then over 20. It came from all directions. Thetis kept turning round and round like a top. After a while there was lightning and thunder but mostly lightning high up on the clouds but only a few strikes to the sea. I must admit that I have a visceral fear of lightning bolts when I am in a boat although intellectually I know that the probability of being hit is fairly low. The anchor did hold but we were drifting around and our depth fluctuated from 8 to 3.5 m. I have a strong feeling of déjà vu. I have been in this situation before!

I started cooking rice with left-over tomato sauce. By the time the rice was done the thunderstorm had moved further N. The rest of the night was quiet and uneventful.

Thursday October 12, 2006 Day 13

The forecasts called for ESE winds in the morning which later will become N. I decided to depart and first go to Lakki, Leros where I can do some shopping. I need, in particular, gasoline because of the relative heavy use of the genset, and some fruit. I raised the anchor at 0935. The wind was 10-15 knots from the E. I opened the genoa and motor-sailed the 8.2 nM. We arrived in Lakki [37° 07.8' N 26° 51.1' E] at 1115. I anchored in 4.5 depth and after I made sure that the anchor was holding I went ashore with the dinghy and did my shopping.

The Prophet As I was returning, having done all my errants, and while getting ready to step into the dinghy I was confronted by a true biblical spectacle, modern version. A small boat was anchored right in front of the esplanade. She looked like a hand made wooden cruiser. She had an outboard but almost all of her was a cabin. On top of the cabin instead of a small mast there was a large red wooden cross. Next to the cross stood a Greek monk complete with black gown, stove-pipe hat, and a long black beard. He was very thin and tall. On his hand he was holding a megaphone with which he was blasting the town. He condemned the people and asked them to repent their multitude of sins because the time of the second coming is drawing near. At first, his missiles were aimed at the politicians (corrupt) and the journalists (paid liars). Keep in mind that on Sunday there are municipal elections in Greece so this was kind of relevant. Next, his vitriol, and he was a very good orator, was focused on the church establishment and its clergy. He explained that the church is the richest institution in Greece but it is operated by the devil himself. Its priests are all avaricious and decrepit. “Have you ever seen a priest who is not fat or gives alms to the needy?” He went on, and on. Finally he stopped. He thanked everyone for listening to him, raised his anchor, and sped out of the harbor. I did not have my camera with me but after I got back on Thetis I did take a picture but he was too far away. I have never seen a Greek prophet before and on a boat!

Kalymnos from Space We left Lakki at 1310. The wind was 8-14 knots NE. Again, I opened the genoa and motor-sailed the 8.2 nM to Emborio, Kalymnos [37° 02.7' N 26° 55.6' E] where we arrived at 1550. Here I caught one of Barba Nicolas’ moorings. It was very calm. The barometer has gone up now to 1012 mB while the temperature is 26°C (79°F) and the humidity 61%. In the meantime, the Navtex has canceled the gale warning for the N Aegean that it had issued this morning but it does forecast showers and thunderstorms for the seas of Samos and Rhodes.

At 5:30 PM, as I was getting ready to enjoy an ouzo it started to rain. Not hard but steady. It lasted over an hour. Later in the evening I went ashore to eat at the Barba Nicolas restaurant. Pavlos, the owner, son of the original Nicolas, recognized me immediately. After exchanging news he served me a nice meal: salad with Kalymnian hardtack (koulouria), marides (tiny fish), and soutzoukakia (meat balls in a red sauce), and fresh grapes. While eating in the terrace I could see moving lights up on the dark mountain. Pavlos explained that these are people with flashlights looking for snails that have come out after the rain.

Clouds
The Clouds are coming to Emborio

Friday October 13, 2006 Day 14

Emborio
View of Emborio from the W

In the morning I went ashore and walked around the peninsula to the W of Emborio. It looked for a while that the rough dirt road would go completely around the peninsula but it ended on its top where there are several antennae. I had to go cross-country over the bushes to join the road again on the east side. It was a good walk which lasted over 2 hours.

I spent the rest of the day very pleasantly under the tent reading. I also made a nice potato salad using young potatoes that I had brought from Kalami, tuna, boiled eggs, onions, and capers with an olive oil and mustard sauce.

In the evening I went again to Barba Nicolas where I met a British couple who for 12 years now come to to Kalymnos every year. He recently had a heart attack and an invasive operation. This gave us a commonality.

The forecasts call for strong N winds in the next few days starting from tomorrow at noon. Based on this, I plan to move N to Xerocambos tomorrow. It was fairly gusty during the night.

Goats
The Goats move in the new building

Saturday October 14, 2006 Day 15

In the past few days I have been updating the boat inventory list of all the spare parts, tools, etc. The list also contains the location where these can be found within the boat. This list I keep on my iBook laptop computer. This makes it easy to search for any needed item. But, over the years, entropy has increased and the list has become almost useless. Some parts have migrated to a different location, the quantity of others has changed, new items have been added to the boat but are not accounted for in the list, and so on. Hence the needed update. The problem is that doing so is very boring. I work on the list about one hour every morning. I am making progress and I hope to finish it before the end of next week.

The forecast now called for N winds of force 6-7. I went ashore and bought a loaf bread and 6 bottles of spring water. I do not like to drink the water from the tanks and while the water produced by the water-maker is very pure it is also tasteless. So, I use bottled spring water for drinking.

The Reception Committee
The Reception Committee

I cast off at 1100. The wind, as was predicted, was 15-22 knots NNE right on our nose. We motored and ran the water-maker for the 6.2 nM to Xerocambos, Leros [37° 06.5' N 26° 52.3' E] where we arrived at 1220. It was slow going. I caught one of the moorings belonging to the Aloni restaurant, now closed down until next spring. As soon as Thetis was moored we were welcomed by a committee of five ducks. I fed them all the stale bread that I had. They gobbled it down with great gusto and asked, very vocally, for more. At that time, another sailboat came and moored nearby. Right away the ducks left Thetis and went to welcome the new arrivals.

I cooked a roast that I had bought few days ago in Lakki. I prepared it with fresh tomatoes, wine, and garlic. While the roast was simmering I had an ouzo watching the sun go down and listening to music. It is a wonderful setting here but this evening it was very windy although the sea was still calm. Unfortunately as the daylight faded the whole shoreline lit up by high intensity lights. Why? Why people cannot appreciate a lovely natural setting and want to change it? Why do they worship ugliness? My mind as I watch this transformation keeps going back to my Atlantic crossing when my friend Manos and I experienced the absolute darkness and the vastness of the ocean. How fortunate we have been to have had such an intense experience! As if to punctuate my thoughts three youths started racing their motorcycles towards the dead end of the road adding noise pollution to the light pollution already provided by their elders.

By the time the roast was ready it was too cold to eat in the cockpit so I moved inside.

Sunday October 15, 2006 Day 16

The little harbor in Xerocambos
The little harbor in Xerocambos

All night the wind was howling gusting to 30 knots. The forecasts called for N winds of force 7 for the seas of Samos and Ikaria. I am not going anywhere today but staying put. In the morning I continued with the inventory project and then I went ashore for a walk. This place used to be very nice 10 years ago with two restaurants and a few houses. But now lots of new houses have been built, most of them of the ugliest “concrete box” school of architecture. How can people ruin such a nice place? A little taste on simple houses can go a long way.

I met the crew of a neighboring sail yacht the Canadian Lady Meg. They sold their house in Vancouver in 2000 and have been leisurely circumnavigating since then. They sailed west in the Pacific where they loved the islands and Australia. They landed in Brisbane, where my daughter Cynthia now lives, and then went N inside the Great Barrier reef. They think that chartering in NE Australia is cheaper than in the Aegean. They told me of a couple, friends of theirs, who own one boat in Australia and one in the Mediterranean. I cannot but shudder thinking of the logistics of this. A sailing boat is a wonderful thing. She can be peacefully anchored in a lovely cove, slowly swaying with the breeze, but also she can be fighting frightful seas and waves. With a well maintained and equipped sailboat you can, if you are not in any particular hurry, go anywhere in the world where there is sea and ocean following the wind and the currents. After all Earth is mostly water. But, she is also a most demanding mistress.

After the sun went down in the evening I had an ouzo but it was too cold to eat supper in the cockpit so I ate a piece of the roast with leftover pasta inside the cabin. I finished reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Pigs in Heaven a very touching story of an abandoned American Indian girl, adopted by a young woman, who is eventually reunited with her grandfather.

Monday October 16, 2006 Day 17

There was less wind during last night than the last two ones, but the forecasts were inconsistent. The Navtex (Greek Weather Service) called for another gale starting this afternoon at the sea of Cythera while another low is moving E. For the sea of Samos they predicted NW winds of force 4-5 increasing tomorrow. The forecast from Athens Observatory predicted for the sea of Samos N winds of force 5-6 decreasing by tomorrow. The Weather on Line predicted 4-5 decreasing to 4 by tomorrow. Take your choice! Based on this fuzzy information I decided to move N just in case the weather deteriorates.

I cast off from the mooring at 0930 and motored N along the W side of Leros. At first, the wind was 12-15 knots NNE and the sea just choppy. I even entertained thoughts to push on for another 10 nM past the N side of Leros as far as Marathi so that I can have a jolly last sail coming back tomorrow. But the wind kept increasing to 25 knots NNW and so did the waves. As a result, I gave up on pushing further and stopped at Archangelos [37° 11.9' N 26° 46.3' E] where we arrived at 1200 after 10.3 nM. I anchored in 6.5 m and let out about 50 m of chain. It was calm here and the wind considerably less but still there were gusts. Thetis was the only boat in the cove.

Anchoring single-handed with strong gusty winds is tricky. You adjust the boat to move slowly up wind aiming for a turquoise patch of sand ahead and avoiding the darker patches of weed. But because of the wind you must maintain some speed in order to have positive control of the boat. You put the engine in neutral, mentally calculating that the wind will stop the boat over the desired sand patch, you lock the tiller on the autopilot, and then you go to the bow where the already prepared anchor is ready for dropping. If the wind maintains its speed and direction, and if your estimates are correct, then the boat will drift and stop where you want her and you will drop the anchor on a good spot. After that the wind will push the boat downwind and you can let out a length of chain before snubbing it and thus setting the anchor. But, with strong gusts two undesirable things can happen: the wind dies and you overshoot the spot, or the wind increases and you undershoot. In either case the boat stops right over the undesirable weeds. When that happens, you must try again. With a crew of two or more this maneuver is rather easy. One crew member stays at the cockpit controlling the rudder and the motor while another on goes to the bow and directs the helmsman.

After we anchored I snorkeled and checked the anchor. It was nicely set.

The afternoon was very pleasant but by the evening clouds began to roll-in. I boiled some spaghetti and served it with another slice of the roast. For the first time in several days now it was warm enough to eat in the cockpit which was sheltered from the wind by the sprayhood.

Tuesday October 17, 2006 Day 18

It was somewhat windy, 13-18 knots, early this morning the sky was overcast and there was some drizzle. By 10 AM the temperature inside the cabin was only 19°C (66°F) and I wished that I had a cabin heater. The forecast was dire: winds of force 9 were predicted for all of the Aegean except for the sea of Samos, our location, where it was predicted wind of force 7 NW increasing later. So far Thetis was smug here and should the need arise we were only 2 miles away from Partheni where we can hole-in.

I spent the morning reading inside the cabin because it started to rain for good, sometimes heavily. The Navtex now had revised its gale warning and called for winds of force 10! After seeing this forecast I decided that I should not take a chance and move right away to Partheni. So, I pulled up the anchor at 1430. I should have done so earlier. The sheltered cove of Archangelos had given me a false sense of security. Now, as we motored outside the cove the wind was over 35 knots NE with frequent gusts into the upper 40s. We slowly, fighting the head winds, entered the NE cove of Partheni [37° 11.5' N 26° 48.3' E] at 1535, a distance of just 2.1 nM.

Partheni
The Cove of Partheni with Agmar shipyard in the background

The cove of Partheni is one of the best “all weather shelters” in the East Aegean but anchoring with this strong wind was not easy. By that time it was raining rather heavily and I had to wear storm gear. My first attempt at 6.5 m depth was successful and the anchor held, but if I were to let out 50 m of chain, which I should with these winds, Thetis would drift too close to an already anchored French sailboat. To make maters worse, the Frenchman started yelling at me. His voice was drowned by the howling wind and I could not hear him but I gathered he was, and rightly so, uncomfortable with the proximity of the two boats, during one of the many wind directions. Slowly and painfully and with the help of the engine engaged forward at slow RPM and the autopilot holding the course, so that the windlass would not be overtaxed, I raised the anchor. We moved further away from the anchored boats and under the pelting rain dropped the anchor at 7.5 m depth. Amazingly my good luck held and this second attempt was also successful. This time I did let out 50 m of chain and we were not too close to any other boat. But, the wind now had reached 40 knots with very high gusts in every direction. Thetis was gyrating all over. Without wasting any time I lowered the outboard into the dinghy and prepared the second anchor. I took the anchor and its 15 m chain and 80 m line in the dinghy and tied the end of the line to Thetis’ bow cleat. I then drove the dinghy away and when I was at the end of the 80 m line and at about 45° from the primary anchor I dropped the second one. Back on Thetis I pulled on the line and adjusted the two anchors so that both were holding the boat. This limited the gyrations and Thetis was now stable and secure.

While I was adjusting the anchors a local boat with a large outboard and two men in storm gear came by and asked if I needed any assistance. By that time Thetis was as secure as she could be under the circumstances but the rain was very heavy. I thanked the men for their kindness and assured them that things here were under control. In the mean time, the French boat had raised her anchor and had re-anchored but now she was dragging. The two locals went to her assistance. One of them climbed onboard and helped her re-anchor again with two anchors this time. After that, they climbed on a small unattended Dutch motor cruiser and set a second anchor for her. Although I did not need their help I must acknowledge these two “good Samaritans” who came during this most foul weather to help unknown to them yachtsmen.

By the time I finished with the anchors it was past 1630. I was wet to the bones and tired but satisfied with the results of the effort. I retreated into the shelter of the cabin and made my self a well deserved cup of coffee. Somehow I had the feeling that this was going to be a long night. At 1730 the barometer was down from the 1011 mB of this morning to 1004 mB while the cabin temperature was 18°C (64.4°F) and the humidity 80% and it continued to rain very heavily. By 2000 the barometer had reached 1002 mB but the wind was only 14 knots. Are we in the eye of the storm or out of it? At 2100 the barometer was at 1001 mB and the rain had slacken.

Earlier I had made a fresh tomato sauce with pine nuts and used it to cook a risotto. Not a bad meal in the middle of a gale! The lazy-jack lines, which help when lowering the mainsail, were banging on the mast. I had to put on the storm gear and go outside and re-tension them. Also during the very heavy rain, water started leaking inside the cabin near the mast. I suspect from the cable feed-throughs at the base of the mast.

By the time I went to bed at 2300 the wind was down, the rain was only a drizzle, and the barometer had risen to 1004 MB.

Wednesday October 18, 2006 Day 19

The night, all things considered, was surprisingly quiet and I slept well. By 0700 when I woke up the barometer had risen to 1008 mB but the cabin temperature was 17°C (63°F) and the humidity 79%. There was no rain. I checked the forecasts. The wind was predicted to shift and by tomorrow morning to come from the S0 with force 4. Also predicted was a possibility of more thunderstorms but not as intense as yesterday’s. I listened to the local radio. Leros was been declared in a state of emergency due to considerable flooding damages caused by yesterday’s storm. I guess Thetis and I were lucky to escape with no damage. I could not make up my mind whether to stay here or to move back to lovely Archangelos and spend there my last night afloat.

It started to drizzle. After it stopped and the sky cleared, I decided after all to move to Archangelos. But before, I had to lift the second anchor and before that, I had to pump out the dinghy which was semi-sunk totally flooded with rain water. After pumping the dinghy, I tried to recover the second anchor but it was impossible to do so by hand from the dinghy. It was hopelessly fouled around the mooring of the nearby small Dutch motor-cruiser which during the storm had dragged. I thought that maybe there was a chance of recovery if I could use Thetis’ powerful windlass. I raised the primary anchor and then, after placing some fenders, I slowly approached the cruiser and rafted to her. But even the windlass could not lift the fouled anchor. The French yachtsman who was yelling at me yesterday came with his dinghy and apologized for his yelling. He said that the gale made him extremely nervous. Weren’t we all! He then offered to help me. But even our combined efforts had no results. The water, which is never very clear here, was completely muddy from the rain. Free diving was impossible from lack of visibility. It was hopeless. I needed a scuba diver. I coiled and secured my long line on the cruiser and after thanking the Frenchman for his help departed at 1130.

The sea was fairly calm and we quickly motored the 2.1 nM, arriving at Archangelos [37° 11.9' N 26° 46.3' E] at 1145. No problem anchoring this time at our usual spot. The sun came out and bathed us with glorious sunshine. I spread all the wet clothes from yesterday to dry. I had a nice last swim and relaxed reading on the cockpit.

Later, I used the GPRS to connect my iBook to the internet and looked at the forecasts. The Athens Observatory site predicted S winds of up to force 7 for the early morning hours. This made me nervous since this cove is exposed to the south. Not wanting any more adventures before my haulout appointment for tomorrow morning I decided to go back to Partheni.

At 1805 I raised the anchor and motored back. There was only a very light breeze of 4-6 knots. I anchored in 6 m depth right next to the Agmar travelift “pool” [37° 11.3' N 26° 48' E] at 1820.

It was very calm here. I enjoyed a last ouzo in the cockpit watching the sky changing colors while the sun set. Later I boiled some spaghetti and ate it in the cockpit along with the last of the roast.

Thursday October 19, 2006 Day 20

Thetis now on Land
Thetis now on Land

It was a quiet night and the predicted force 7 S wind did not materialize. The sea was very calm and I could easily had stayed in Archangelos. Around 0800 there was some movement in the yard and the travelift started to slowly move towards the “pool.” Nicolas, one of the operators, waived to me to get into the “pool.” After hanging fenders and setting lines I raised the anchor and motored into the “pool.” He and two other operators were waiting at either side ready to receive the lines. By 0830 Thetis was out of the water.

Nicolas told me that he knows a diver and he will call him to make arrangements for him to look for my errant anchor. I walked to the office and Antonis, their customer relations man, called for me a car rental agency. I usually rent a motor-scooter but now it can be chilly and I thought a car will serve me better.

By the time Thetis was at her winter place and on her supports the car was delivered. It will cost me €25/day. I removed the cushion covers and the rugs. These I drove to Platanos and left them at the cleaners. They should be ready by Tuesday. I also stopped at the Olympic Airlines and got my ticket for Thursday morning, a week from today.

Nicolas did make contact with the diver who came around 3 PM with a large inflatable and together we went to the cove. He dove right next to the Dutch cruiser and following the line he located the anchor and chain. The line was completely fouled by the concrete mooring of the cruiser. He things that the mooring actually had dragged over Thetis’ line. Soon anchor, chain, and line were recovered. The damage: €80. I am relieved.

The boat now has been transformed from being a live thing, swaying with the sea and the wind, to just being a structure, a building, an inanimate object. But the funny thing is that her master’s body sensations lag in time. While at sea he felt normal and natural, but now, with the boat on land he feels that she is moving. She seems to him that she is swaying and shaking with the light breeze. Strange! Also, inside the cabin, with the rugs and covers gone she is not as inviting. She is no longer a home but a place that needs work, lots of work.

Friday October 20 to Thursday October 26

I completely emptied the left sail-locker, washed it, and lowered all the lines stowed there, washed them, and placed them inside the dinghy which was on the ground next to Thetis. I then filled the dinghy with fresh water and let the lines to soak, thus removing all the salt. I washed all the fenders and their covers, the left sail-locker, the anchors, and their chain. I removed the headsail, tied it into a bundle and left it on deck ready to be lowered for washing.

For years now I have been trying, unsuccessfully, to find someone here in Leros to hire for 2-3 days to help me with the heavy tasks especially with the washing and folding of the sails which are very difficult for one person to do alone. This need is becoming more acute as I am getting on with years. This year I even contemplated bringing someone all the way from either Samos or Athens. My brother, Nikos, found me in Athens a Filipino who was willing to come but he wanted €80/day for 2 days of work and 2 days of travel. If I were to add his transportation and living expenses this would amount to €300/day which I found too much. In desperation I kept asking everyone: the yard’s owner, the technicians, restauranteurs, store owners, etc. I even asked Yiannis who rents scooters, although this time I had rented a car. Well, Yiannis knows a kiosk owner whose kiosk is in Gourna, right across from an old Italian army building labeled “Gazerna” which is now used to temporarily house illegal immigrants who have been caught while attempting to enter Greece. He recommended Kamal a Pakistani refugee. I finally met Kamal. He is not available for Saturday but he is available on Sunday and Monday. I made arrangements to pick him up on Sunday morning at 9. We shall see how this works out.

I had a nice meal on Friday evening at Guisa’s & Marchelo’s italian restaurant in Alindas.

On Saturday morning I hanged to dry the lines from the left sail-locker which were soaked in fresh water overnight. I transferred Diesel fuel from the jerry cans and topped the tank because it is best to stay full over a long period. I put some fuel preservative in the tank and the two of the jerry cans that are still full. I washed the other two cans. After they dried I transferred the fuel to them and washed the other two. I emptied the two small gasoline canisters: one for the genset and the other with gasoline-oil mixture for the outboard. I then washed them. I put fuel preservative in the genset and the outboard. I cleaned all the electrical plugs, instrument connections, and exposed posts in the engine room with contact cleaner and I then coated them with vaseline. This keeps them corrosion free. I put biocide solution in the water-maker.

I emptied the right sail-locker and washed it. I washed all the lines from this locker and soaked them in fresh water overnight in the dinghy.

I feasted on all the leftovers thus emptying the refrigerator. I then washed it.

Early on Sunday morning I put back the dried lines into the left sail-locker and hanged to dry the ones from the right locker. I then drove to Gourna and picked up Kamal who was waiting for me. It turns out that he is not a Pakistani as I was told but a Palestinian. He is around 40 years old, quiet, and personable. Our communications are a mixture of English and Greek. He has been in Leros for 9 months while his wife and young daughter are still in Syria. He supposedly has a work permit and is now legal and hopes to be able to bring his wife and daughter whom he misses very much. As soon as we got back in the yard he fell on the work with great enthusiasm. We lowered the already bundled headsail and using my folding cart we took it to the tiled area that Agmar provides for washing the sails. Before spreading the sail we had to hose and mop the area. After the tiles were clean we opened the sail, spread it, hosed it with fresh water, and cleaned one side by scrubbing it with a soft brush. We then repeated the cleaning on the other side. After that we slowly hoisted the sail to dry on the mast provided by Agmar. As we were hoisting it we kept hosing it to remove any residual dirt.

While the headsail was drying Kamal washed the tent, the sail cover, and all the cushions. We removed from the mast the mainsail. We also removed all the running rigging lines, washed them, and put them in the dinghy to soak overnight. When the headsail was completely dry we lowered it from the mast, spread it on the tiles, folded it, and bagged it. We then carted the bag to Thetis and raised it on deck. By that time it was late in the afternoon. I asked Kamal how much he usually gets paid. He hesitantly told me €20. I gave him 30 and he was delighted. I then drove him back to Gourna and agreed to pick him up, at 9 on Monday morning.

On the way back, I drove E of Partheni to the little chapel of Ayia Matrona. During the terrible years of the Greek junta (1967-74) the military camp in Partheni was used as a concentration camp for political prisoners. A number of artists among these prisoners painted some vivid frescoes in the this chapel. After years of neglect these frescoes have been restored and the chapel has been declared a monument.

The Frescoes of Ayia Matrona
Matrona Fresco: Mary Matrona Fresco: Jesus
Matrona Fresco: Jesus Matrona Fresco: Peace

On Saturday evening, while things at the yard were quiet, I had a long conversation with Angelos, the owner of Agmar. We discussed possible improvements. I want a small bimini to provide a little shade while moving under sails. While the existing tent is very good and large, covers from the mast to the stern, it is supported by the boom and cannot be used when underway with the mainsail. So, we discussed biminis and canvas materials. We also discussed the feasibility of a hot water and a cabin heater.

Thetis now on land without her sails stripped from her upholstery covers and rugs is less than inviting, nevertheless I still have the illusion that she is moving with the swell and responds to the breeze. I walked around the yard where there are now over 150 boats. It is amazing the variation in the shape and designs with which all basically address the same engineering problem: how to use the power of the wind and to provide comfort to passengers and crew.

I finished reading Reef a very touching and sensitive story of a young man serving an aristocrat in Sri Lanka who in a very subdued way encourages him to grow, read literature, and become a chef with his own restaurant in the UK.

On Monday morning I picked up Kamal again. This time we washed the mainsail and raised it on the Agmar mast to dry. While it was drying he washed the dinghy. He cleaned it so well that that it is now almost like new. After the sail dried, which took several hours, we folded it, bagged it, and then carted it to the Agmar office because I want it to go back to its maker, Alpha Sails, for minor repairs. After we stowed the headsail in the front cabin and all the lines in the sail-lockers I drove Kamal back to Gourna. I was very pleased with his work and appreciative for his help so I gave him €40. Poor man, he almost kissed me.

On Tuesday the work continued. All the battery operated devices had to be opened and their batteries removed. Then their contacts had to be cleaned and covered with vaseline. All the exposed mast lines had to be washed and after drying covered with plastic. The headsail reefing mechanism had to be oiled and wrapped in plastic. The windlass had to be oiled. The spinlock line-clutches had to be washed and sprayed with silicon. The winches, after washing, had to be covered. On, and on.

By Wednesday afternoon most of the work was done. I went over with Angelos the long list of tasks I am leaving for Agmar to do.

By Wednesday afternoon I ran out of things to do so I relaxed having a last ouzo in the cockpit. I kept on reading Jared Diamond’s Collapse : How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, a long but very interesting book. It is doubtful if I will finish it before my departure; this, most likely, will have to wait for next year. On Thursday morning I will be flying to Athens where I will stay for 2 days after which I fly to Washington, D.C. The nice summer and the sailing season are over. Poor Thetis will have to cope all by her self for the next 6 months.

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

2006 Season’s Statistics
Total Distance 1071 nM
Time at Sea 75 days
Engine Time 191 hr
Solo Time 99 hr
Fuel Consumed 295 L
Water Consumed 749 L