Travels with S/Y Thetis

Thetis only

2007: Samos to Yerakas

This web page contains the logs of the first leg of a 48 day sailing trip that I took with S/Y Thetis in the Greek Aegean. This leg was 13 singlehanded days of sailing from the island of Samos in the east Aegean to the small fjord of Yerakas in the south east Peloponnese, via the islands of Fourni, Syros, Serifos, Hydra, and the Peloponnese ports of Porto Heli, and Plaka. Part of this leg Thetis was accompanied by the S/Y New Life II belonging to Arzu and Turgut Ayker from Izmir.

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 Syros
Route to Yerakas

Wednesday September 5, 2007 Day 1

Once again I am on my own. I took Alice this morning to the airport where she took a plane for Athens connecting to another flight for London and then Washington, D.C. My plan was to sail to Kea, visit there my brother Byron, and also rendezvous with Turgut and his family who will be sailing on Saturday with his S/Y New Life II from Çeşme.

Satellite view of Fourni We left the marina at 1030 heading to Fourni. The wind was 8-12 knots SSW and we motor-sailed. Since S/Y Thetis had made very good time I decided to explore two coves on the E side of the island to which I have not been. First, I entered Ormos Maneta but it did not look too calm so I did not stay. Then, at 1400 entered Ormos Pavlos, a mile or so S, which looked more inviting. I dropped the anchor in 4.5 m depth but it landed on weed. I tried to re-anchor but to my consternation the windlass stopped working. I determined that the fault was in the windlass and not on its electrical supply or its solenoids. I had to raise the anchor by hand, a very strenuous and slow process. Discouraged, I moved further S to the familiar Vitsiliá [37° 32.6' N 26° 30.5 E] where I anchored in 4.7 m depth at 1530. I did not dare to let out more than the bare minimum of 20 m of chain mindful that I will have to raise it by hand.

Further troubleshooting confirmed my original assessment: the fault was in the windlass. I contemplated heading S to Leros for repairs but after talking over the problem and the options with my brother Nikos I decided to sail directly from here to Finikas, Syros where there are good repair facilities and it is easy to anchor off. With this in mind I looked at the weather on the internet. The forecasts called for force 6-7 W winds in the Ikario and for 5-6 in the SW Aegean which are supposed to decrease after midnight. Here the sea was calm.

I had an early dinner and went to bed planning to leave very early in the morning and have a good start for the 80 M to Syros.

Thursday September 6, 2007, Day 2

I woke up at around 1:30 and being agitated I could not go back to sleep. It was just as well. I checked the forecasts again. Things looked encouraging and it was still promised that the contrary winds will calm down as the morning progressed.

I painfully raised the anchor but it helped that it was very calm. We departed at 0300. So far so good! But after rounding Cape Makrocavos the wind was 15-22 knots W dead against our course of 255. The sea was also somewhat rough, not braking but with swells. It was a slow motoring making hardly 4 knots. This slow progress went on until 0900 when we had made only 20 M.

As soon, however, as we reached Cape Papas, the westernmost point of Ikaria, the wind veered to the N and I was able to motor-sail with the headsail making now better than 6 knots. These nice conditions lasted until 1330 when we were near the islet Ktapodi E of Myconos when the wind diminished to 6-8 knots and backed to W. We had to motor but it was not so bad because the seas were appreciably calmer and we were still doing over 5 knots.

While underway I called my friend Lefteris Boyiatzoglou in Syros who runs the Orologas chandlery in Ermoupolis and explained to him my predicament. He called his electrician friend Antonis Dalmyras, who has done some work on Thetis in the past, and he promised to come to Finikas first thing in the morning and look at the windlass. Should a new windlass be needed, Lefteris, can get it in Syros within one business day. Lefteris also told me not to bother anchoring but to use a mooring that belongs to a relative of his. He described it for me.

Thetis arrived in Finikas (Φοίνικας), Syros (Σύρος) at 1940. I looked for the mooring that Lefteris had described but I was not sure which one it was. Since it was calm I anchored off [37° 23.8' N 24° 52.8' E] in 4.5 m depth over sand. We had come 80.1 M from Fourni.

Needless to say I was very tired, too tired to cook. I took a hot shower and went ashore for a quick meal. I ate at the Dionysos restaurant. By 9:30 I was in bed.

Satellite view of Syros
Satellite view of Syros

Friday September 7, 2007, Day 3

Satellite view of Finikas It was a quiet night. As he had instructed me at 8:00 I called Mr. Antonis the electrician. He was already on his way to Finikas. I went ashore with the dinghy and picked him up and his toolbox. He opened the windlass but it seemed OK to him. Still, it was not working, even with the chain removed thus without any load it would only turn very slowly. He asked me to operate it while he observed the voltage on the service battery. It dropped almost to zero. He then asked me to cross the batteries and operate the windlass from the starting battery. The windlass worked! I was astounded. He then opened the compartment where the service batteries are stored. They are not easily assessable. The service batteries consist of six 2V batteries in series. These are heavy duty deep discharge batteries specially made for forklifts. After disconnecting all the loads he measured the voltage of each one of the batteries. He found that three of them were shorted. Clearly this is the problem and not the windlass. I needed new service batteries. I called Mr. Christodoulou, the owner of the small company that made them, in Piraeus (tel. +30 210 41 70 689). Yes, he said he does unconditionally guarantee his batteries for 5 years but mine were now 9 year old and it was highly probable to have failed. I must say that until now these batteries have worked flawlessly. He promised to make me a new set over the weekend and ship them to Syros on Monday morning. He then spoke with Mr. Antonis who gave him instructions on how to ship them so that we can have them by Tuesday. He, Mr. Antonis, will pick them up from the ferry, drive them to Finikas, and install them. He then helped me move the boat to the mooring that Lefteris had told me to use. Now I am stuck here at least until Tuesday.

I spoke on the phone with Turgut. The revised plan now is for New Life to depart early tomorrow from Çeşme and sail directly to Ermoupolis in Syros where I will meet them and help them navigate through the formalities of entering Greece.

Later I also contacted my Athens College friend Yankos Krinos. He and his wife Sue are not in Rumania as I expected but are still here in Syros. We met in the evening and went together for dinner to a new restaurant O Asotos Yios (Ο Άσωτος Υιός). It turned out that they were celebrating their 22nd wedding anniversary. We had fun there. In the mean time a nasty 25 knot S wind developed. Fortunately by the time, close to midnight, that I went with the dinghy back to Thetis the wind had calmed down and I avoided the wet ride I was expecting. I slept well.

Saturday September 8, 2007, Day 4

A S/Y must have ran aground on the lighted reef at the NW entrance of Finikas bay. In the early morning hours I saw a mast leaning behind the reef. Later there was some activity with several boats coming and going to the reef. I was not sure what the situation was.

The forecasts were fairly benign and New Life should have a fairly good sail although the distance from Çeşme to Ermoupolis is almost 100 M. Turgut and I spoke later on the phone. They have left but not as early as he had hoped, the revised, revised plan, now was to spend an overnight in Myconos and sail to Ermoupolis tomorrow.

I used the starting battery to operate the windlass and lowered all 65 m of the new chain into the sea, measured 5 m lengths, marked them with rubber color coded markings, and then raised the chain back into the chain locker.

Later I went ashore and rented a car which I drove to Ermoupolis. I walked around in this lovely town, bought some provisions, had a fresh orange juice etc. It was a gorgeous day with bright sunshine but comfortably cool. I have not enjoyed such pleasant weather for several hot months now.

Back aboard Thetis I had a swim and then had a lazy afternoon reading under the tent. Because I did not want to deplete the starting battery I ran the genset.

In the evening Thetis had visitors: Lefteris and Kaite Boyiatzoglou. We all had a nice ouzo. After they left, I made spaghetti with fresh tomato sauce which I had brought from Kalami.

Sunday September 9, 2007, Day 5

While waiting for a call from Turgut advising me of their arrival I observed the reef with the binoculars. Now I could not see the mast that I was seeing yesterday. But later the tug boat that last evening was hovering around the reef came again, this time towing a large crane. Few hours later I could see the crane lifting a mast with a very torn sail.

Eventually an SMS came from New Life. They are on their way from Myconos and are estimating arrival in Ermoupolis by 1140-1200. I went ashore and drove to Ermoupolis to wait for them. I sat in a waterfront café and ordered an orange juice and a toast. Before my order arrived New Life entered the harbor. I helped them with their lines and they moored. There was a terrible swell and the comings and goings of the ferries aggravated it further. Clearly this is a most uncomfortable anchorage.

Turgut and I walked to the limenarchio (coast guard). They tried to call customs, who actually issue the transit log, but could not find whoever was supposed to be on duty. They finally said “no problem come back tomorrow”. I told them that yes but since the swell here is so uncomfortable, dangerous even, could we move New Life to Finikas? They were sympathetic but could not take such a serious decision by themselves. They called their superior and told me that she will be here in a few minutes. Indeed she soon arrived in an official car. She was very understanding and after writing down New Life particulars gave her permission for her to move to Finikas as long as her skipper returns tomorrow to complete the formalities. But, she also noted, that since all the crew had Turkish passports, these had to be stamped by the police as a first step of the formalities. We could, she suggested, take this step today. But the police station was too far to go on foot so she gave me instructions how to drive there by car. One wonders what the crews of arriving boats do without a car at their disposal.

Turgut and I then got into the car and tried to follow the officer’s instructions. After several false starts in the narrow streets we found the police station. The young officer there was fairly cordial. He laboriously entered the particulars of each passport into his computer. Then, he repeated this process now entering the particulars by long hand into a large ledger. Eventually and with a flourish he duly stamped all 4 passports and the crew list.

New Life cast off to sail to Finikas and I drove back. After I got onboard Thetis, I had a nice swim and lunch. Later just as I was just starting to make my afternoon coffee I was hailed on the VHF by New Life. They were approaching the bay. I went ashore with the dinghy and found out that on the inner side of the quay there was one berth just about to be vacated by a large inflatable. However, the inflatable’s anchor was fouled. I indicated to New Life, which had by now arrived, to circle so that they can have the more desirable inner berth. After the inflatable finally left, they entered and with my help they were soon moored. They immediately were connected to the AC electrical power and to the water supply. After I hugged Orhan, whom I had not seen for over 3 years, and Dilek, I left them to rest since they all appeared exhausted.

Back on Thetis I swam some more, ran the genset, took a shower, and had an ouzo. I finished reading the Cradle of Saturn by James P. Hogan, a SF novel that I had enjoyed very much. To my consternation I discovered that I had forgotten its sequel back in Kalami.

Later, I met the Aykers and we drove to Dela Gracia where we had a nice dinner at the O Asotos Yios taverna. By 1030 we had all retired to our boats.

Monday September 10, 2007, Day 6

This morning was devoted to my favorite and most delightful sport, that of appeasing the Greek bureaucracy. Turgut, Arzu, Dilek, and I drove to Ermoupolis and while Arzu and Dilek went window shopping Turgut and I had the privilege of visiting the customs office. Confirming my expectations the one and only official authorized to issue transit logs was not there. We had to wait. I suppose my expression of total disgust was so apparent that his superior offered to complete the paper work while waiting for the needed official. He entered, longhand, all the information from the ship’s papers, into forms in triplicate using sheets of carbon paper. Then he entered the same information in a blank transit log. After that he went over each individual page of the 4 passports and made entries into more forms. Then we waited. Eventually the customs high priest came. Now he, like his police colleague yesterday, laboriously copied the information from the forms into his computer. He was not the world’s greatest typist. Amazing how modern technology has made the Greek bureaucracy even less efficient. After all this, he gave us another paper which we were to take to another office within the customs building. There we paid 45 € and the lady put no less than 4 separate stamps on a receipt which we took back to our typist friend. He then blessed the completed transit log with several more stamps and signatures. Now all we had to do was to take it to the limenarchio (coast guard) one building down the street. There we met the friendly officer lady we dealt with yesterday. Another lady officer took the newly issued transit log and once again copied all the information on her computer. Next she went over the passports, page by page, and entered more info in the computer. After that she looked over New Life insurance certificate. There was some confusion because she thought that New Life’s declared value was the liability coverage and it was less than the required 300,000 €. I pointed out the error of her ways and showed her the appropriate section clearly stating liability coverage of 61.3 € million! She was appeased. We thought we were done. Not so! She placed a phone call and after a while a scruffy fellow, un-uniformed, appeared. He now checked all the information that she had entered into the infernal computer. Then he too looked at the passports, page by page, and finally we were done. Total invested time 1½ hrs, add to this the 1 hr expended yesterday. I was very pleased that Greece, a member of the European Union, has such vigilant officials and I was now re-assured that no undesirable yacht will ever escape their scrutiny and enter into Greek waters to disturb me.

On the way back to Finikas we stopped at the new chandlery store, part of the Marina chain of the Greek marine giant Lalizas, and did some shopping.

Later in the evening we drove to Piscopio and visited Yankos and Sue Krinos in their gracious mansion. After a drink with the Krinos’ we all drove, with 2 cars, to Ermoupolis and had dinner. After dinner we saw at the harbor a very unusual ship named The Ship of Fools. It was crazily decorated with horns and bells. It turned out that it belongs to at group of actors from Holland who are touring the world and support themselves by giving performances. A crowd had gathered watching the young actors and their ship. One spectator lady made a wonderful comment: “the ship of fools is visiting the country of fools.”

Tuesday September 11, 2007, Day 7

As we had prearranged, I picked up Turgut at the quay and he helped me move Thetis to the small marina in anticipation of Mr. Antonis the electrician arriving with the new batteries. Before actually moving the boat I called him. He was at the ferry which had not yet unloaded but he expected to pick up the batteries and be on his way within half an hour. We moved Thetis and waited. Sure enough Mr Antonis’s truck arrived with the batteries in less then 40 minutes. Everything went smoothly with the installation except for a moment of panic. The new batteries were 5 cm taller than the old ones but they did fit. They were 490 Ah instead of the 450 Ah of the old ones. Another minor problem was that unlike the old ones they did not have caps with floats that allowed topping their fluids from the sail locker without dismantling the stern compartment cover to get access to them. I called Mr. Chritodoulou and he promised to send the caps with floats. At any rate, by 10:30 the batteries were installed and tested. The electrician’s fee was a very reasonable 180 €. I paid him and we were done, free to leave Syros.

Route to Yerakas
Route to Yerakas

After some provision shopping, we returned the rented car, and called for a fuel delivery. I topped the tank with 54 L of fuel and was ready to depart.

Satellite view of Serifos
Satellite view of Serifos

S/Y Thetis departed Finikas at 1210, our destination Livadhi (Λιβάδι) in Serifos (Σέριφος). New Life II, which is longer and thusly faster than Thetis will be sailing later but most likely both boats will arrive at the same time. The wind was a light breeze of 5-10 knots SW and the only option was to motor. The sea was very calm. Thetis arrived in Livadhi [37° 08.7' N 24° 31' E] at 1630 after 24.3 M. New Life was 4 M behind. I anchored off in 10 m depth, while New Life docked at the quay.

Later I went ashore with the dinghy and then, together with the Aykers we got a taxi and went to the main village up the hill: Chora (Χώρα). There, we walked in the lovely narrow and steep alleys ending at the platia (square) where we had ouzo and mezedes (snacks). When we were ready to go back to Livadhi we had a hard time getting any of the four taxi telephone numbers to answer. It took over ½ hour of trying before we got an answer. Soon we were on way back to our boats. The plan for tomorrow was to head for Hydra. The forecasts called for strong winds starting on Thursday.

View from Chora

View from Chora

A Street in Chora

A Street in Chora

From a Fountain

Over a Fountain

Arzu, Dilek, Turgut, & Vasilis

Dilek, Turgut, Vasilis, & Arzu

Wednesday September 12, 2007, Day 8

The plan for today was for both boats to sail to Hydra. Since Thetis was the smaller and hence the slower I departed at 0650, following a route S of Sifnos. The forecasts for today were fairly benign and indeed the wind along the way was no more then 5-10 knots SSW. During the first 15 M there was an appreciable swell but eventually it calmed down. The apparent wind was about 10 knots at 30°- 40° to our portside (left). I raised the mainsail and motor-sailed all the way to Hydra. This passage was an easy one other then some heavy traffic consisting of large ships coming from or going to Piraeus.

Satellite view of Hydra

Thetis arrived in Molos (Μόλος), Hydra (Ύδρα) [37° 19.5' N 23° 24.8' E] at 1720 after 58.9 M. New Life, that had taken a route N of Serifos, was already there and anchored. I anchored in 5 m depth and let out about 45 m chain but I had to re-anchor because we drifted too close to a charter boat full of Swedes that had let out only 20  m chain. Turgut came and helped me during the re-anchoring maneuver.

Later we had a nice meal on board New Life. My friend Orhan has been like a ghost hardly visible. He sleeps all day and stays up all night working on his computer.

The plan for tomorrow was to head W and either stay at Zoyeryia in Spetses or in Porto Heli, then on Friday go to Leonidio, on Saturday to Yerakas, and on Sunday to Monemvasia. All of these are fairly short passages.

Thursday September 13, 2007, Day 9

S/Y New Life
S/Y New Life II

During the night the wind rose to 10-15 knots NE and Thetis drifted close to the shore at about 4.5 m depth. yesterday while snorkeling I saw that her anchor was rather close to a large chain lying on the bottom. This morning, in order to avoid fouling our anchor to this chain, I re-anchored again, now in 7 m depth.

After a brief appearance on the cockpit all of New Life’s crew disappeared and for the rest of the morning there was no sign of life. I spent my morning reading and listening to music. After lunch I prepared for departure: removed the tent, opened the new bimini, raised the outboard, etc.

We departed for Porto Heli at 1300. The wind was a nice 10-15 knot ENE breeze. I raised the mainsail. The sailing was downwind. I tried opening the headsail but it was blanketed by the mainsail, so I rolled it back in. Later, after clearing the island of Dhokos, the wind backed to NE and I opened the genoa. It was not a fast sail but it was pleasant.

I spoke on the GSM phone with Mr. Zagoraios the manager of the Christodoulou company, the battery maker. They have the cups with the floats ready for shipment. I asked him not to ship them but to give them to my brother Nikos instead who could then give them to Manos Castrinakis who will be joining Thetis at the end of the month. The total bill for the new batteries as well as the cups was 1530 €, not cheap!

We arrived in Porto Heli (Πορτοχέλι) [37° 19.5' N 23° 08.8' E] at 1615 after 16.8 M. As is my usual preference, I did not dock although there was space, but anchored off in 5  m depth with 30 m of chain. It was very calm in this landlocked bay. New Life was already docked to the quay.

In the evening I went for a long walk and later joined the New Life and we went to eat at the Morias restaurant that specializes in grilled chicken. The chicken was tasty but a little too greasy for my taste. The night was very calm.

Satellite view of Spetses & Porto Heli

Friday September 14, 2007, Day 10

S/Y Thetis
Courtesy of Turgut Ayker

I had a good night’s sleep, save for one mosquito that in the morning found its way into my cabin and tyrannized me. In the morning I siphoned 1 jerry can of fuel into the main tank, put up the tent, and went ashore.

First I re-filled the can at the gas station with 22 L of Diesel fuel, got gas for the outboard, and re-inflated two of the fenders that were deflated. Then I shopped at the AB supermarket next to the gas station. AB stands for Brothers Vassilopouli. Their father had a fabulous grocery-delicatessen store, the best in Athens, very close to my father’s store and they were friends. His sons expanded this to a large chain, one of the best in Greece, with stores through out the country. Next I got some fresh bread, posted a check to Mr. Christodoulou for the batteries, and walked to New Life on the quay. Turgut told me that he was planning to depart at noon.

Back on Thetis I stowed the provisions and the jerry can but I noticed that one of the fenders that I had just inflated was now flat again. Obviously it was defective. I went back ashore and bought, from the marine store next to the gas station, a new one.

I raised the anchor and departed at 1200. Destination: Plaka. the harbor of Leonidio. The wind was 5-12 knots WNW but there was a considerable swell. I opened the genoa and sailed, albeit rather slowly. After 17 M we arrived in Plaka (Πλάκα) [37° 08.8' N 22° 53.6' E] at 1540. New Life was already there moored side-to. There was some swell and I knew that the holding here is not so good. I approached behind New Life, also side-to. Turgut and Arzu helped me with the lines. Thetis was moored in no time. But, with the swell both boats were dancing and fenders were being squeezed on the concrete quay.

Satellite view of Leonidio Region Shortly after mooring I heard a loud banging sound. I could not locate its source right away but I was alarmed. It turned out that although the depth indicated on the sounder was 5 m the mole had a pedestal extending from its wall towards the sea for about 1 m. As the swell pushed Thetis towards the concrete her keel was hitting this pedestal, hence the ugly sound. The situation was not tenable and I had to relocate the boat, right away. Turgut untied the lines and I moved the boat further out where the mole had no pedestal and the swell was less severe but still it was far from comfortable. We then decided to also move New Life and deploy her anchor to keep both boats off the concrete. I was hoping to make a sling from both boats and the anchor. New Life, with my help now, untied and re-moored. I got into the dinghy and tried to tie a suitable sling, but it did not have the desired effect because the anchor chain was too heavy to allow a good angle for the sling. So, after plan A failed we formulated plan B. Turgut and I got into the dinghy and dropped Thetis’ secondary anchor with 20 m of chain. At the end of the chain we tied two lines terminated one at each boat. This did the trick but all together it took us 2 hours before we felt that out boats were secured. There simply was no time, at least today, to visit the famous Elona Monastery, 1 hr by taxi, that we intended to do.

We were just about to relax after all this activity when the limenarchio (coast guard) officer, who in a characteristic fashion of his ilk was conspicuously absent while we were struggling, showed up. He wanted to see the ship’s papers, not here, but in his office, and to collect the harbor fees. Later, Turgut and I went to the wretched office. He not only scrutinized the papers from both boats but he also wanted to see our competence certificates. Never, ever, either in Greece or anywhere else has an official ever asked for this, keep in mind that these are private boats not carrying passengers for a fee. Then he started the inevitable laborious calculations of the harbor fees. These were an outrageous 10 € for each boat. Please note that proper marinas in Greece with attendants, mooring lines, sanitation facilities, electricity, etc. charge about 15 €. I made strong representations to the officer. How can such a dangerous harbor without any facilities cost so much? All together we spent almost an hour in his clutches before paying the ransom money.

We all ate at the local taverna. This was the only pleasurable activity we had in Plaka. To make matters worse the lights from the quay spilled into in my cabin and together with the relentless swell I could not go to sleep. I had to put the cockpit table and arrange cushions around it to shield my cabin’s port from the light.

Courtesy of Turgut Ayker

Saturday September 15, 2007, Day 11


I did not sleep well and woke up at 5:30. I did various small boat tasks while waiting for New Life to show signs of life. We had decided last night to depart at 8:00. Around 7:30 Turgut came to Thetis for coffee. We formulated our escape plan. We will first go with my dinghy and raise my 2nd anchor. Then, with the help of Arzu and Turgut, Thetis will move out. After that, New Life will move and then raise her still deployed anchor.

When we tried to execute this plan there was a hitch. The 2nd anchor was well embedded and would not come up despite mine and Turgut’s efforts. I was afraid that it might be fouled in some hidden mooring. It was time to try something else. Turgut came aboard Thetis and we cast off while Arzu pushed Thetis’ stern. Turgut manned the windlass and started raising the anchor. As soon as the boat was away from the concrete I joined him and we used the windlass to pull on the line until we reached the chain. Fortunately it was calm. We removed the primary anchor’s chain from the capstan and used the windlass to haul the secondary’s chain. It worked and we finally raised the anchor. With Turgut at the tiller I used the dinghy to ferry the chain and the secondary anchor to the stern and then, with his help, stowed the chain in the sail locker and the anchor on its bracket. After that, I brought Thetis alongside New Life and Turgut jumped off. New Life disengaged without any problems.

We departed Plaka at 0940. We were very glad to be away from this miserable place. There was only a SE breeze of about 5 knots. As we motored along the coast of Peloponnesus I put up the tent. New Life stopped briefly at Kyparisi to buy fresh bread and other provisions. Thetis just entered the bay, I took some pictures and then, proceeded to our destination.

Thetis arrived in Yerakas (Γέρακας) [36° 47.1' N 23° 05.1' E] at 1430. There were no other yachts here save for a small motor cruiser. Nevertheless I chose to anchor off. I anchored in 4 m just across from the tavernas without any problem. I noticed that my old favorite restaurant the Mezedopiion does not exist any more. Also an ugly building has sprouted along the left bank. Other then that, the place is unchanged and still charming.

Exactly 11 years ago, on September 15, 1996 Thetis was anchored at the very same spot. With me then was my dear college roommate and ever since close friend Lewis Unger. We were on our way to Malta and Sardinia. This was Thetis’ first long trip. Unfortunately Lewis is no longer with us. He died last spring. His death has left a void in my soul that will never heal, but I will never ever forget him.

Later, after New Life II arrived and moored stern-to the quay we all went for a walk along the shores of the lagoon. There is now a new asphalt road from Monemvasia. We sat in a nice café, housed in a restored storage building.

For dinner we ate at the Blue restaurant. We had an assortment of mezedes (tasty appetizers) and some of us had the makaronia tou psará (fisherman’s spaghetti). It was quite tasty.

The forecasts for tomorrow, however, called for very strong winds, possibly a gale. The collective decision, based on this, was not to sail tomorrow to Monemvasia, as planed, but to stay here and maybe call for a taxi or rent a car to take us to Monemvasia.

The Village of Yerakas
The Village of Yerakas

Sunday September 16, 2007, Day 12

The Cyclopean Walls from Zarax
The Cyclopean Walls from Zarax

Today there are elections in Greece to elect a new government. I had a lazy start. I went ashore but it seems all of the New Life crew were asleep. I walked up the hill to the classical Greek castle, Zarax, and wandered around its cyclopean walls. It is such a pleasure to walk around such places without the presence of any other human being. Your mind keeps wondering about the people who moved these large boulders. What were they like? What did they do when they were not working as they watched the froth of the sea like I did? Did they try to appease angry Poseidon?

View of Yerakas from Zarax
View of Yerakas from Zarax

After I returned from my hike I spent some time in New Life II looking with Turgut at her anchoring chain measuring system and trouble shooting it. It consists of small magnets epoxied on the capstan. A sensor senses them as the capstan turns and the instrument, and after having been calibrated, calculates the length of the chain paid out. Unfortunately it seemed that these magnets had come off. I also looked at the manual of the DSC VHF. What a great device! Again, unfortunately, Bavaria Yachts, who installed it did not program or provide a vessel ID which made all the features of the unit useless.

Back on Thetis I had a light lunch and spent a pleasant afternoon reading under the tent being cooled by the strong breeze.

Tonight we were going to eat in New Life. Arzu, however, wanted to go back to the pleasant café before dinner for an aperitif. I had decided to make a pizza as my dinner contribution. So, before going to the café, I peeled some fresh tomatoes and put them to simmer for the sauce. I also made the dough and left it to rise. The plan was to let both the sauce and dough while being at the café. It backed fired! When I returned onboard the sauce had burned. It was not usable. Change of plans! I quickly made a new topping with tuna fish, capers, and olives. I rolled the dough on the cockpit table, after dusting it with flour, using a filled water bottle as a rolling pin. After letting it rise for another ½ hr I covered it with the topping and baked it for 25 minutes.

The dinner aboard New Life was good. The pizza was passable. Arzu’s spaghetti with sausage, her salad, along a nice chilled white Turkish wine were very good.

Monday September 17, 2007, Day 13

The old government was re-elected. We made arrangements for a taxi to drive us to Monemvasia. The taxi came at 9:15 but the driver was reluctant to take 5 passengers. Now, the 3 member crew from the British S/Y Amada also wanted to go to Monemvasia. Since I had been in Monemvasia several times I let the taxi go with the Aykers and I, along with the Amadas waited for its return.

Monemvasia, The Lower Citadel
Monemvasia, The Lower Citadel

Eventually we got in Monemvasia. The Aykers had stayed in the new town, while the Amadas and I proceeded to the castle. They stayed in a café and I walked to the upper Byzantine castle at the top of the rock. I wandered around having a great time imagining the Byzantines, the Franks, the Venetians, the Ottomans, and finally the modern Greeks during the war of independence. So much history, so many peoples!

When I descended back to the citadel I was parched and hungry. I sat at the Kanoni restaurant and ordered a cold beer and some food. Soon I was joined by one of the Amada crew. We two were later discovered by another crew member who told us that he and his wife were at the other side of the restaurant. We joined them. Next, the four Aykers walked in. They sat in another table and after finishing eating and the Amadas left I joined them also. It was very jolly.

Monemvasia, The Fortifications

Monemvasia, The Fortifications

Monemvasia, The Town

Monemvasia, The Town

The Monemvasia Marina

I called for a taxi. The Amadas were staying longer and the Aykers were going to rent a car and also return later. Before heading back to Yerakas the taxi, same as in the morning, I stopped at the new Monemvasia Marina and I took some pictures. It had not changed very much since I was last here in 2001 but they seem to have gotten rid of most of those horrible floating pontoons.

Later in the evening the Aykers returned to Yerakas with the rented car. Their plans had changed completely. They now plan to leave with the rented car around midnight and drive to the Athens airport. There Orhan and Dilek will catch a 6 AM flight for Chios, from where they will take the small ferry to Çeşme where they will be met by Turgut’s driver who will drive them to their house in Izmir. Two days later they will fly to Istanbul and start their term at their universities. The seniors, Arzu and Turgut, will drive back from Athens stopping on their way to visit Sparta and Mystras. They will not be back here in Yerakas until late tomorrow evening. Then, early on Wednesday morning they will sail to Mylos and make their way to Marmaris where they will leave New Life and return to Izmir to attend to some urgent family affair. Given all these changes of plan, I too made new ones. Now I planed to depart tomorrow morning and sail to Elafonisos.

We all met for the last time this year at the restaurant and after several toasts said our farewells. I am sure we will meet and sail again together next year. We do enjoy so much each other’s company.