This web page contains the logs of the third leg of a 48 day sailing trip that I took with S/Y Thetis in the Aegean in Greece. This leg was 11 days of sailing from the island of Tzia (Kea) in the Cyclades to the island of Samos in the east Aegean via the islands of Kythnos, Syros, Rhinia, Donousa, Amorgos, Levitha, and Marathi. During this leg, I was accompanied by Manos and Mary Castrinakis. 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.
Sunday September 30, 2007 Day 26
Manos and Mary arrived at around 11 with a taxi from Korissia. After taking their luggage onboard, Byron picked us up for a short visit to his house in Katevati. Ivi is still under the weather.
Back on Thetis and after a light lunch we prepared to depart. Our destination Loutra, in Kythnos about 15 nM away. We cast off the mooring at 1300. The wind was 18-28 knots ENE, very gusty. We took a reef on the mainsail and sailed on and off, opening and closing the headsail, starting and stopping the engine. All together we managed to sail half of the time doing anywhere from 2 to 6 knots.
We arrived in Loutra (Λουτρά - baths) [37° 26.6'N 24° 25.6'E], Kythnos (Κύθνος) at 1630, after 15.2 nM. There were only two spots free in the small but sympathetic harbor. I manned the anchor and Manos the tiller. It all went very smoothly despite the strong gusts. Manos clearly has not forgotten how to drive Thetis. We connected to the shore AC electricity and turned on the water heater. Had a very nice hot shower. The cost per day here is €8 for the berth and €7 for the electricity.
Following the recommendation of our neighbors, a Greek couple Vasilis and Ioanna with S/Y Nissyros, we had a very good dinner at the Koutsikos restaurant: tyropitakia (little cheese dumplings), and the most delicious lamb chops.
Monday October 1, 2007, Day 27
The wind was howling all night long. This morning it was if anything even stronger. Gusts to the 30’s. The forecasts are dire. Force 8 everywhere in the Aegean at least for today. Certainly we are not going anywhere with the boat.
We had a nice lunch at the Araxovoli restaurant. The sea looks very, very rough. It could be force 9. Indeed the afternoon forecast called for force 9 in most of the Aegean calming down tomorrow to just force 8. It does not look that we will be departing tomorrow either.
In the evening we called a taxi (Yiannis tel. +30 22810 31 272, +30 6944 271 609) who drove us to Chora. We walked around taking pictures and ended up at the Steki restaurant where I had eaten well before. We ate well this time too.
Back in the harbor the wind is definitely stronger than yesterday. It is gusting, inside the harbor, to over 35 knots.
Tuesday October 2, 2007, Day 28
The wind was raging through the night. Forecasts call for force 8 but diminishing by the evening. Maybe we can depart tomorrow.
I finished re-reading Patrick O’Brian’s Desolation Island.
We had several walks. Mary and I also had a soak at the hot spring building in their magnificent, if run down, 19 century marble tubs.
We wanted to get some fuel. There was telephone number posted in the marina for for delivery which we called. The enterprising fuel man said that maybe if he was in the neighborhood he will bring fuel to Thetis and the other 20 or so boats marooned there. He did not.
In the evening we ate again at the Koutsikos.
Wednesday October 3, 2007, Day 29
We decided to risk departure. Thetis was the first boat to leave the harbor. Amazingly enough, considering how crowded the harbor was, we left without any trouble. We left at 0900 thinking of going to Rhinia with a brief stop in Finikas to get fuel. Outside the harbor the winds were 18-28 knots NE and while we were able to sail close to the wind with a second reef on the main there were very gusty and variable in direction. Some gusts were briefly into the 40s with lulls down to 12. But the problem was that there were very large waves. These were almost as large as I have ever seen in the Aegean. Fortunately they were not against as and with the exception of an occasional spray they were quite manageable. Nevertheless the crew got very uncomfortable and all thoughts of continuing to Rhinia were abandoned and we stopped in Finikas, Syros [37° 23.8'N 24° 52.7'E]. We arrived at 1340 after 21.2 difficult nautical miles.
After putting up the tent, a swim, and lunch the crew recovered completely. We carted the jerry cans to the gas station and filed them with 66 L of fuel.
We ate dinner at the Foradenes restaurant with great gusto.
Thursday October 4, 2007, Day 30
We left Finikas at 0855. While the forecasts called for force 6 (22-27 knots) NE we actually experienced very variable winds of 12-28 knots coming from the NE and ENE, mostly against our heading for Rhinia. The seas were large and irregular but not as large as they were yesterday. We set the mainsail to the second reef, but later we removed it and stayed with one reef. We were making good speed, despite the contrary wind motor-sailing but it was a wet and bumpy ride.
Then we had an accident. A large wave, 90° to our course capsized the dinghy. I have been towing this dinghy for several years now and in much larger seas and this had never happened. We faced the wind and slowed down. While Manos held the tiller and kept the boat facing the wind, I struggled to lower the mainsail. Then we tried to right the dinghy before it was damaged. We tried going down wind and bringing it along side to use the halyard but it was impossible, I was not strong enough. Going against the wind, with just barely making headway, about 0.5 knots, to keep the boat under control was better. I slowly brought the dinghy close to the stern and I attached the halyard to its tow line. Then, I winched the halyard and brought the dinghy upright. To our great relief it righted itself. However, we did loose its straw mats. By the time this was finished I was totally winded and exhausted.
The rest of the way was fine. We arrived in the S cove of Rhinia (Ρήνια) [37° 23'N 25° 14.3'E] after 20.5 nM at 1330. We anchored in 3 m depth on this sandy beach and let out 25 m of chain. The wind was about 25 knots and the usually very calm cove here was rippled and was less attractive. None of us felt like swimming.
In the evening we had our usual ouzo and then pasta with tomato and mushroom sauce.
Friday October 5, 2007, Day 31
Thetis departed Rhinia at 0830. The wind was 15-30 knots NE. Later it gusted to 40 and at one time over 50. We raised the mainsail and kept it in the first reef, then we opened about 25% of the headsail. We had a very fast sail to Kedros (Κέδρος) or Dentro [37° 05.8'N 25° 48.2'E] in Donousa (Δονούσα) which we reached at 1400 after 31.1 nM.
It was very windy and the water in the cove was ruffled. Our first attempt to anchor was not successful. The anchor did not hold. But our second in 3.5 m over sand with 45 m of chain was successful. The anchor held. I inspected the anchor by snorkeling. The water was cold but the anchor was well dug in although close to a patch of weed. Nevertheless, I decided to deploy the second anchor as well. I took the anchor with 20 m of chain and the end of a 60 m line in the dinghy. While I drove the dinghy to a suitable spot Manos from the bow paid out the line. Now I felt that Thetis was very secure and in no way at risk of drifting towards the rocks.
The cove has changed somewhat. A restaurant/pension has appeared despoiling the lovely beach. Also the rough path was being paved with flag stones.
Saturday October 6, 2007, Day 32
Other than a little swell, it was a peaceful night. In the morning we lifted the line of the second anchor with the windlass and then slowly its chain and the anchor. After stowing them, we finally raised the primary anchor and departed Kedros for Aegiali in Amorgos. The wind was a slight breeze of 5-6 knots WNW and we were forced to motor. We had some trouble starting the motor. It would not turn until I paralleled both starting and service batteries.
Right away we lowered the outboard to the dinghy and Mary and I went ashore. We wanted to find out the hours that the famous monastery of Hozoviotisa was open. The posted hours are 09:00-13:00 and 17:00-19:00, too late for a morning visit. We rented a car for €25 so that we can visit the monastery in the afternoon. In the mean time, we put up the big tent, swam, and had lunch which was followed by a siesta.
At 4 PM we were on our way to the monastery. During our visit there we met the crew of an American Island Packet 35 who had sailed from NJ. Now they were on their way to Marmaris where they will winter. On our drive back we stopped in Chora. We walked on the narrow almost deserted streets. Most of the stores were shut. We had a very good raki (a drink similar to ouzo) in a café that played lovely Irish music. What a change from the usual cacophony!
Back in Aegiali we returned the car and sat for a pleasant meal at the little alley restaurant.
Sunday October 7, 2007, Day 33
The night was very quiet. Early in the morning while the crew was still asleep I prepared for departure. First, I took ashore the trash because in the next few days there will not be such an opportunity. Then, I raised the outboard and pulled up the anchor. Once again the engine would not start unless both batteries were paralleled. We departed at 0730.
The sea was very calm and there was hardly any wind just a 0-5 knot breeze. There was not even a thought of sails. We motored. I started the water-maker and checked the starting battery. Sure enough, its cables had gotten loose. All I had to do was tighten them. Problem solved. Eventually the crew made their appearance.
After a few hours of motoring and reading under the tent we reached Kinaros where there was a very light 3-6 knot breeze. I opened 30% of the headsail and motor-sailed making almost 6.5 knots. We arrived in E cove of Levitha (Λέβιθα) [37° 00.1'N 26° 28.1'E] at 1230 after 27.7 nM. We easily caught one of the moorings since it was calm and we were the only S/Y there.
We had a relaxing afternoon, reading, swimming, etc. In the mean time, several other yachts arrived providing the usual spectacle of missing the moorings and yelling between the cockpit and the bow.
In the evening Manolis, one of Mr. Kamposos sons, the king of the island, came with his skiff and visited every yacht collecting the mooring fee. Thetis, of course, is an old friend and was not charged since we always eat at their cozy little restaurant. Unfortunately Manolis told me that his father Dimitris had a few days ago a mild heart attack. Their caïques was at the time in Patmos and after frantic phone calls a boat came and took Dimitris to Kalymnos and the hospital. The good news is that he is now out of danger and recovering.
Later we walked to the hamlet where we were greeted by kyria Irene and were served a wonderful fresh grilled loutsos (a long fish).
Monday October 8, 2007, Day 34
We departed Levitha at 0745. The starting battery gave no problem, clearly it was the loose contact that I had fixed yesterday. The sea was calm and there was no wind. We motored to Marathi. We were about 2 nM away from Marathi when the engine suddenly lost its RPM and gave black smoke from its exhaust. When I placed it in neutral, however, it worked fine and all indications were normal. But after I engaged it again there was no power. I suspected right away that something must have been caught by the propeller, maybe a fishing line or a net. I could not see. So I put on my bathing suit, took my mask, and jumped into the water. Sure enough the propeller was fouled by what looked like a black and purple bathing suit. Manos, handed me the knife and I removed it. It turned out that it was a corset! After that, the engine worked fine again.
Later I swam ashore and met Pandelis. While we were making small talk a small motor cruiser with a couple arrived. The lady looked familiar but I could not place her. It turned out that they were Mr. and Mrs. Benetos Mathaiou who own the famous restaurant Benetos in Patmos. I was surprised by how young he was for such a renowned chef.
I finished reading Barbarossa the Pirate by Yiorgos Leonardos. It is a historical novel about the lives of the two Barbarossa brothers, the most notorious pirates in the Mediterranean in the 1500s. They were from Lesvos and their mother was Greek. The younger of the two also became the admiral in chief of the Ottoman fleet of Suleiman the Magnificent.
Later we went ashore for a hike ending at Pandelis where kyria Katina served us some very fresh fish and other delicacies. She also gave me a loaf of her wonderful bread to take with us to Samos.
Tuesday October 9, 2007, Day 35
I cast off the mooring at 0610. The wind was light 5-15 knots NNE. First we motored to the N of Arki, then motor-sailed for about 10 nM after which we motored the rest of the 24.3 nM to the Marina of Pythagorio in Samos where we arrived at 1040. We docked at our usual berth.
Andrew and Karin of the S/Y Cresswell Jenny were there and it was nice to see them again. I had already arranged to rent a car from Aramis. We drove the car to Kalami where we did lots of laundry and spent the night. For dinner we ate at the Kotopoula (chickens) restaurant.
Wednesday October 10, 2007, Day 36
The day was spent in Samos. We left Kalami early in the morning and drove for 2½ hours to the west end of the island to Ayios Isidoros where there are 3 shipwrights who still make traditional wooden caïques. We took lots of pictures of the 5 boats in various stages of completion. Manos was exited but also disappointed not to meet any of the shipwrights. From there we drove straight to the airport and Manos and Mary departed for Athens. I went back to Kalami and finished the laundry.