This web page contains the logs of the first leg of a 25 day singlehanded sailing trip with S/Y Thetis in the Eastern Greek Aegean and the Northern Dodechanese. This leg took 8 days and originated from Samos Marina. The places visited are: the island of Fourni (Vitsilia, Petrokopio), Arki, Marathi, Klima in Samos, and back to Samos Marina.
The logs are illustrated with photographs and maps. They also include links to other related web sites.
Thursday September 11, 2008, Day 1
Finally, I can go cruising. I moved in Thetis and after getting ready we left the marina at 1000. Everything seemed to be working properly. The wind was a nice 15-25 knot breeze from the ENE. I raised the mainsail, setting it on its 2nd reef, and opened about 50% of the headsail. It was a nice gentle downwind sail towards our destination, the island of Fourni. Later, after reaching the small island of Samiopoula, the wind, as usual there, changed direction now coming from the WNW at 12-20 knots. After a brief period of motor-sailing we were back sailing with the headsail now reduced to 30% as the wind had increased to 18-30 knots.
When we were crossing the Fourni-Samos channel a Turkish flagged container ship overtook us in a collision course. I had to make a very sharp maneuver to avoid her. She seemed totally oblivious to Thetis’ presence. Other than that, the passage was great fun. While sailing, I rigged the small bimini so I was comfortably under its shade.
We arrived in Vitsilia (Βιτσιλιά), Fourni (Φούρνοι) [37° 32.7' N 26° 30.4' E] at 1455. I anchored in 3.5 m depth over sand and let out 30 m of chain. After shutting down I snorkeled and checked the anchor. It was nicely embedded in the sand.
I also checked the new internet connection of the computer. In the past years, while in the boat I had been connecting my MacBook computer using my mobil telephone as a modem connected to the computer via the Bluetooth interface. I had been using my mobile phone provider’s, Vodafone, GPRS signal. This had gotten to be rather expensive because I easily exceeded the allotted amount of data. After some research I opened a dedicated data account with Cosmote. I now have a USB dongle which plugs directly in the computer. It uses a 3G signal, if available, or a GPRS signal. It is significantly faster than my previous arrangement and it costs about 30€/month for 5 Gb of data. I can be upgraded to unlimited data for 40€/month and to no data allotment (at high price per Mb) at 3€/month. This will be good for the months that Thetis is on the dry. It worked here very well and I got my e-mail and checked the weather.
It was a long day and I was too tired to prepare an elaborate dinner. I just boiled some pasta on which I poured some garlic flavored hot olive oil and freshly grated Parmezan cheese. This I ate accompanied with red wine from our 2007 vintage in Kalami. It was most satisfactory. By 10 PM I was asleep in my cabin.
Friday September 12, 2008, Day 2
I woke up early. As it was 5 AM I decided to get up. It was still dark outside with brilliant stars and Orion over the island. I made a cup of coffee and put on some music on the iPod via the boat’s radio. After leisurely sipping the coffee it was 6:15 but was still dark and I was rather surprised. Then I looked at the ship’s clock. It said 3:15. I looked at my watch again. I had forgotten it on its timer mode, 6:15 hours had elapsed since I boiled the pasta. It really was 3:15 AM. I could not go back to sleep after my double Greek coffee (aka Turkish coffee). Instead I turned on the computer and checked the weather forecasts. It was expected to be calm for the next few days with winds from the NW of force 3-4 on the Beaufort scale. I also finished reading the 6th Ramage novel Ramage & the Guillotine. I continued reading Jane Mayer’s The Dark Side and Poul Anderson’s Genesis on the Kindle. This devise promises to be a great space saving on board since it has a storage capacity of 200 books and it is about the size of a paperback.
When daylight finally came I launched the dinghy. The outboard worked fine. Since our arrival here we have consumed about 70 Ah of electricity and the service batteries are 12.3 V. I ran the genset and charged them back to 40 Ah. Later I checked the battery fluids. They did need topping with a fair amount of fluid.
I put up the tent and spent a quiet lazy day reading, listening to music, and swimming. In the afternoon I started cooking a roast beef that I had bought in Samos. I cooked it with fresh tomatoes and wine. In the evening I served it with rice. While washing the dishes I tried running the genset but to my frustration it refused to start. I went to bed early.
Saturday September 13, 2008, Day 3
I did not get up this morning in the middle of the night but at 6. It was time to move on. The sea was very calm and the wind 0-5 knots SSE. I decided to first do some exploring of Ayios Minas, the third island of Fourni. If I was to find a really good anchorage there I will stay, if not, I will go to the familiar Petrokopio on the W side of the island of Fourni (the Fourni group consists of three islands: Fourni, Thymaina, and Ayios Minas).
I raised the anchor at 0930 and motored along the coast to the N and E. The first attractive cove I came to, just across from Ayios Minas, was Gria [37° 36.1' N 26° 32.1' E]. I entered it but the bottom was very deep, Thetis almost touched the shore and we were still at 12 m depth. I did not stay. Not much further to the E, still on Fourni island, I spotted a lovely cove. It was in a dramatic setting and almost land-locked. I entered the cove [37° 36.4' N 26° 31.3' E] thinking that here is a great discovery. The depths were good but the bottom was all weed, all the way to less than 6 m depth, where for sure the anchor will not penetrate the weed and hold reliably. The only anchor good for this bottom would be a fisherman’s hook but none of the usual yacht anchors. Too bad! I then aimed towards a large cove on Ayios Minas island. It too, looked promising and well protected but alas it is dominated by a large fish farm with several sordid support structures scattered on land transforming a once nice cove to a bleak and polluted landscape. I definitely did not want to stay there. So, I headed for Petrokopio. On the way I ran the water-maker but its water production, now that it is leaking, was seriously reduced. I will try cleaning it with alkaline solution and see if it can be improved, but I doubt it.
Thetis arrived in Petrokopio (Πετροκοπιό) [37° 33.6' N 26° 29.2' E] at 1220 after motoring altogether 14.2 M. There was only one other boat here with a small American flag. She looked US made but the small flag usually indicates Turkish ownership. As I was anchoring the couple from her were getting into their dinghy and heading away. I anchored in 7 m. It was hot. I snorkeled and checked the anchor and then I put up the tent and had lunch. After that I had a great nap.
I started reading Fatty Goodlander’s Collected Fat on the Kindle. Later, while I was drinking a cup of coffee I noticed that the couple from the American flagged yacht were out of the cove and were trying to start the outboard of their dinghy after which they started rowing against the afternoon breeze. I lowered my outboard on my dinghy and went to their rescue. They were very grateful. They were not Turks after all but Americans. They invited me aboard their boat for an ouzo at 7. They had sailed their boat the S/Y Spindrift, from Maine few years ago. Mark is a retired classics and archaeology professor. His wife Monique, who is French, is a biochemist. They are now both retired. Interesting people! They too, are very frustrated with the Bush administration and are very upset that Obama is losing ground on the polls to McCain/Palin. I could not agree with them more.
Sunday September 14, 2008, Day 4
In the morning I prepared a CD with the “Harbors of Thetis” notes (now most of these are available on-line at the Cruising Wiki) for Spindrift. In the past few months I have been transferring this information into this wiki, a really remarkable on-line cruiser’s guide that covers the whole world. At the same time I checked for e-mail and the weather. The predictions were light southerlies for the next few days but they will get stronger by the end of the week. Today the sky is overcast and the humidity is 76%.
After delivering the CD to Spindrift I washed the deck and the cockpit and then prepared for departure. My plan was to sail to Arki, spent the day there and tomorrow, after the weekend crowd has left, to go to my favorite Marathi and have some good fresh fish.
We departed at 1015. There was no chance of sailing because the wind was 2-4 knots from the SW, light and on the nose. As the clouds cleared I put on the bimini. The 17.6 M passage was unremarkable. We arrived in Glipapas (Γλίπαπας), Arki [37° 22.5' N 26° 44.4' E] at 1340. By that time it was hot, 33° C (91.4° F) inside the cabin. I anchored in 3.5 m depth, on sand, and let out only 25 m of scope as I was afraid drifting into shallow water if the wind were to come from the SE.
I snorkeled and checked the anchor. It seemed OK but it was not really dug-in despite my reversing the boat. While I was in the water with the mask, I scrapped the accumulated weed from the hull. Surprisingly enough there were very few barnacles despite the long period that the boat spent in the marina. I put up the tent, had lunch, and a nap. In the evening I went ashore and walked to the hamlet. My Italian friends with their French flagged S/Y La Dolce Vita were at the harbor. Their cute baby is now grown to a cute little girl.
After I returned back on Thetis I put in the oven some potatoes from Kalami with lemon and thyme. When they were done I ate them with some more of the endless roast-beef. They were delicious. I put on some classical music, turned off all the lights, and sat in the cockpit enjoying the almost full moon. This is the life!
Monday September 15, 2008, Day 5
The weather predictions were almost the same as yesterday’s: light southerly winds until Wednesday then westerlies and stronger. My plan was to get back to Samos by Thursday, stay a few days to take care of a few odds and ends, close the Kalami house for the year, and leave for the final cruise until October 6 when Thetis will be hauled-out in Leros. There is a good possibility that Thetis will meet with Turgut and Arzu with New Life.
I spent the morning on a number of boat-keeping tasks. First, I transferred 2 jerry cans (about 50 liters) of fuel into the tank. Then, I flushed the water-maker with an alkaline cleaning solution. This solution will remain in the water-maker until tomorrow. Maybe it will improve its water production. At any rate, next year I will be changing all of the seals in its pump. After these tasks I read. I finished The Dark Side a chilling account of how the Bush administration has subverted US laws and violated many international treaties to descent into barbarism and systematically torture its prisoners.
At 1245 we left Arki and after crossing the vast distance of 0.8 M while enduring myriad hardships and privations we finally reached Marathi [37° 22.6' N 26° 43.6' E] at 1300 where I easily caught a free mooring. S/Y Spindrift was there plus a British flagged Hallberg-Rassy, the Claudia B. I am not sure but I think I have met her before. Later Monique and Mark came aboard Thetis and we had a cup of coffee together. Shortly after, Spindrift departed for Agathonisi. Maybe we will meet again.
In the evening I went ashore. Pandelis, sporting a beard, greeted me very warmly at the dock. I thought that he was cultivating a new nautical look but no he had a boating accident and was hurt so that he has trouble saving. About a month ago he was entering Port Augusta in Arki with his speed boat. Aboard were his two young grandsons. The kids leaned dangerously overboard and he grabbed them. This momentary distraction was enough. His boat collided with another. Pandelis was badly hurt in his arm and head. Now he is better. Katina and her daughter Toola greeted me with hugs and kisses. In the mean time, the couple from S/Y Claudia B also came to the Pandelis restaurant for dinner. We were introduced and sat at the same table. Peter and Claudia are not British but German. They have sailed extensively. Peter has crossed the Atlantic twice. Last time they went with their new Hallberg-Rassy to the Caribbean and then up the eastern US coast to NYC and Cape God. They are very nice and interesting people, as most long time cruisers tend to be. Peter had a successful software company specializing in finite-element modeling. I am very familiar with this modeling from my own PhD thesis work. The food: tiny calamari, salad, and a grilled very fresh fish was, as usual here, excellent.
Back on Thetis I enjoyed the full moon. All was well except rowdy noises from two charter boats. One cannot have everything.
Tuesday September 16, 2008, Day 6
First thing in the morning, right after my cup of coffee, I went ashore for a long hike around the little island. After I returned to Thetis I continued flashing the alkaline solution through the water-maker. I put up the tent and checked the weather. It will be fine for the next 2 days. SW winds of force 4-6 on the Beaufort Scale. I finished with the water-maker and after flushing it with clean water tested it. Not much improvement. It makes only 0.31 L/min instead of the normal 0.45.
I swam a lot and read under the tent. I finished the second Fatty Goodlander book Chasing the Horizon: The Life and Times of a Modern Sea Gypsy. It is autobiographical. He is an interesting man and I have been enjoying his columns in Cruising World magazine. He recently joined the Cruiser Log forums.
I had brought from Kalami 3 pillow cases full of herbs that I had cut in May and left to dry: oregano, thyme, and bay leaves. Now I cleaned them, removed their stems, and distributed them in 3 sets of plastic bags. One set for Washington, a second to go back to Kalami, and one to stay with Thetis. I called Agmar Marine and confirmed the haul-out date of October 6.
In the evening I had a nice dinner chez Pandelis: salad, dolmades, and oven roasted baby goat, followed by fruits. Before going ashore I had enjoyed a pleasant ouzo in the cockpit while watching the sun setting behind the island. I plan to depart tomorrow.
Wednesday September 17, 2008, Day 7
The forecasts called for today W to SW winds of force 4-5 on the Beaufort Scale. I decided to take advantage of the these southerly winds and sail to Samos today, stay at some pleasant cove in the Mycale channel and go to the marina tomorrow. I have been expecting an e-mail from Turgut but nothing came so I am not sure about their plans.
We departed Marathi at 0900. The wind was 10-25 knots variable but mostly from the SW. I raised the mainsail, still it on the 2nd reef, and opened 75% of the headsail. We had a nice sail until 1100 when the wind diminished to 4-10 knots, now WSW and still fairly variable. We had to motor-sail. After 26.2 M we arrived in Klima, Samos [37° 42.4' N 27° 02.3' E] at 1410. I anchored in 6 m depth and let out 40 m of chain.
While lowering the mainsail one of the rivets that holds a lazy-jack line broke. I drilled the remaining rivet out and re-riveted them. Fortunately I had the right tool for this.
In the afternoon, while relaxing, I heard a loud thump on the hull. To my amazement it was caused by a large cable spool, semi-submerged. I used the boat hook to guide it away from Thetis. I grabbed the camera and photographed it. Now I have seen everything!
Later I received a telephone call from Turgut. They are planning to leave Çesme on Sunday September 21 and clear Greek customs in Chios. Then we may meet in Fourni. These plans, of course, are tentative and subject to revision from either side.
It was a lovely evening celebrated with ouzo while the sun went down. Had the last of the roast with rice and then had the pleasure to watch the lovely moon-rise over the mountains in Turkey.
Thursday September 18, 2008, Day 8
We departed from Klima at 0830 and by 0915, after 3.7 M, we were at the Samos Marina fuel dock. It took forever to re-fuel because a large Turkish motor cruiser was ahead of us. They seemed to have an endless capacity for fuel. While waiting, her owner explained that he makes regular excursions to Greece for re-fueling since the price is 60% cheaper here then in Turkey. Finally, I refilled the tank and jerry cans with 74.5 liters. I docked without any problems and settled my account with the marina. Soon Mr. Vasilis from Aramis Cars rental delivered the car that I had ordered.