This web page contains the logs of a singlehanded sailing cruise that I took with S/Y Thetis in the Aegean Sea in Greece. The logs cover a period of 22 days of sailing in the Dodecanese islands. The cruise originated and ended in Samos (Samos Marina). The anchorages visited are: Agathonisi, Alindas in Leros, Emborios in Kalymnos, Yiali, Eristos in Tilos, Chálke, Alimniá, Panormites in Symi, Nisyros, Yiali again, Vlichadia in Kalymnos, back to Emborios, Xerocambos in Leros, Papandriá and Platys Yialos in Lipsi, Marathi, and finally Klima and Kerveli in Samos. The logs include some historical and geographical descriptions of the places visited as well as several links to other related web sites.
Wednesday July 29, 2009, Day 1
Today my wife Alice left Samos for Washington, D.C., where she will stay for 3 weeks. She will return on the August 21. After I took her to the airport, I returned the rented car and cleared Thetis for departure at the the Limenarchio (Greek Coast Guard) in Pythagorio. Yiannis, the local Aramis Car Rental manager, drove me to the marina. I prepared Thetis for departure. My plan was to sail south and possibly meet with my old Athens College classmate Andreas Daveronas. I have not seen him since the late 50s. He has found me recently on the Internet and we have been exchanging e-mails. He lives in Cyprus, he has a sail boat, and he is an avid sailor. His plan is to also depart today from Cyprus and sail N (North) to Samos and Ikaria, his mother's place of birth.
Yesterday I washed Thetisʼ deck and filled her water tanks. The water-maker pump has still not been received. Now I tidied up the boat and stowed the newly purchased provisions for my trip. The forecasts call for N winds of force 5.
We departed the marina at 1050. It was fairly windy. I raised the mainsail and took one reef, I then opened about 40% of the headsail. We had a nice sail for a while heading for Agathonisi. But the wind started gusting and backing to the E. I rolled in the headsail. By then the gusts were reaching 49 knots and the wind was most of the time over 30 with lows of 25 knots. Up to that time the wind was on our starboard (right) quarter. I started to rig a preventer but I was not fast enough. We jibed. Three of the mainsail's plastic slides broke. Later the wind veered to the W. After reaching Agathonisi I had a rough time lowering the sail.
We arrived in Gaidouravlako, Agathonisi [37° 27.2' N 26° 57.7' E] at 1410 after 18.1 nM under sail. It was very gusty. My first anchoring attempt was unsuccessful. I raised the anchor to try again. It brought up half a shredded inflatable! It took 3 attempts before succeeding in 5 m depth over sand with 35 m of chain. I snorkeled and checked the anchor. It was alright, but with all this wind I was reluctant to put up the tent so I just kept the small bimini.
Earlier I had trouble with the electric head (toilet) pump. It would not operate while we were under sail. But after I started the motor for anchoring it did operate. This is not right because the batteries were fully charged. I will have to look into it but now I was too tired. It was hot. I rested but could not fall asleep.
In the evening I launched the dinghy. It took me about half an hour to do so. This allowed me to open the main hatch and increase the ventilation inside the cabins. I had a nice ouzo but I was too tired to cook. I went ashore with the dinghy to San Giorgio to eat. I have never seen this small port so crowded. The main quay was occupied by a small tanker and there were at least 20 sailboats anchored off with shore lines. Reaching the small fishing harbor with all those lines was somewhat of a challenge. All the restaurants were full of cruisers, mainly charterers. I sat at the Glaros where I had a nice octopus salad and roast κατσικάκι (katsikaki - young goat). Everything was very tasty.
After I returned to my cove the wind was if anything stronger. All night Thetis was tossed around and the wind was about 25 and seldom went below 19 knots. I hardly slept. I put a hose around the snub line (a rope that holds the anchor chain) to prevent any abrasion. The head pump is still not working.
Thursday July 30, 2009, Day 2
The forecasts predict N winds of force 6 for the Samos Sea and force 8 for the Sea of Ikaria and the Navtex is issuing gale warnings. I decided not to sail today but stay put.
After my coffee I attacked the the head pump. I disassembled it and cleaned it, a most disagreeable but inevitable task. After putting it back together it worked. I then replaced the broken plastic mainsail slides, and installed the spray hood. Despite the wind I put up the tent. This was good because it kept the boat reasonably cool with the cabin temperature not exceeding 31° C (88° F).
I spent the day swimming and reading. I started reading the 7th Ramage novel Ramage’s Diamond. By the late afternoon, despite the forecasts, the wind was down to 14 knots. If it stays that way I will leave early tomorrow morning for Alindas, Leros.
I spoke on the telephone with Agmar Marine. The part for the water-maker has still not arrived.
Unfortunately during the night the wind came back. It was 20 knots but with much higher gusts. Despite the wind (and secure in the knowledge that the anchor was well buried in the sand) I slept well.
Friday July 31, 2009, Day 3
I was woken up around 5 AM by the howling wind. I connected the MacBook to the Internet and checked several forecasts. They now indicate N winds of force 6 between Agathonisi and Leros but increasing by the afternoon and through tomorrow to force 7. I decided to take advantage of this and sail to Alindas. So, I raised the outboard.
By 0645 I was on my way. The wind was about 25 knots from the N but it was gusty. I opened the headsail but only 30% of it afraid of the gusts. I was right. During the passage the wind varied from 10 to 40 knots and there were largish seas. We arrived in Alindas, Leros [37° 10' N 26° 50' E] at 1005 after 18 nM. It was calm here in the NE side of the bay. I anchored in 4.5 m over sand and let out 40 m of chain. Thetis settled in about 11 m depth.
I put up the tent and snorkeled to the anchor. It was nicely buried in the sand. All was well until two large motor cruisers flying a US flag and registered in Delaware arrived. Delaware registered boats are very seldom owned by Americans, usually they are owned by either Greeks or Turks who want to avoid taxes. These, like almost all Turkish boats had Joker inflatables. One of these cruisers anchored and took shore lines very very close to Thetis. I indicated to her skipper that they were too close and that with my 40 m scope any change of the wind direction, something not too unlikely under these gusty conditions, may cause our boats to collide. My warning was ignored and they proceeded to moor. Indeed later the wind did shift and I was forced to re-locate.
It was very gusty all afternoon with winds reaching 38 knots. Later I spoke via Skype to Alice in Washington, D,C., and to my brother Nikos. He is with the Faneromeni in Fiskardo in Kephalonia in the Ionian Sea.
In the evening I could not resist the temptation and I went ashore with the dinghy to my favorite Italian restaurant Gausi & Marchello. Gausi greeted me with a good hug. I had a plate of mussels in a spicy garlicky sauce followed by oven roasted pork and potatoes with 3 different piquant sauces.
There were strong gusts all through the night but less frequent than in the afternoon. I slept rather well.
Saturday August 1, 2009, Day 4
In the morning there were occasional but very violent gusts, one even reached 47 knots! The forecasts however were more encouraging, calling for N winds of force 5-6 for the Samos Sea to weaken, but there are still gale warnings for the Sea of Ikaria and the Sea of Karpathos. If I see this expected weakening I may sail for either Xerocambos in Leros or Emborios in Kalymnos.
I went ashore and bought a fresh loaf of bread. By the time I returned to Thetis the wind seemed to be down, so I decided to go.
At 1025 I raised the anchor and headed out. The wind was 20-35 knots from the N but less ferocious than yesterdayʼs although very gusty, One gust reached 48 knots. I opened 40% of the headsail and sailed downwind. Most of the time the wind was exactly on our stern and I had to keep jibing about our course to prevent any accidental jibes and possible damage to the sail. It was a thrilling sail dodging the small islands E of Leros and on the Leros-Kalymnos channel.
Later I went up to the taverna and had a nice cold beer. Pavlos, the owner, greeted me very warmly. After I returned on board I put up the tent but although I was very sleepy it was too windy and cold to take a nap under the tent but too hot inside the cabin.
In the afternoon I met the British couple aboard S/Y Black Mist. She is a lovely ferocement boat built in Canada some 30 years ago.
For dinner I went back to Barba Nikolas. There were not many customers and Pavlos entertained me with lots of sea stories. He does a fair amount of sponge diving and fishing.
Sunday August 2, 2009, Day 5
There was a significant increase of the wind at 2 AM. After I got up later I checked the weather forecasts. They predicted N winds of force 6 dropping later today to 5 and then by tomorrow to 4. I decided to head south, and if the wind was good to continue all the way to Yiali, the small island N of Nyseros, other wise to go to Vlichada on the S (South) side of Kalymnos.
I cast off at 0800. The wind was from the N but fairly variable and gusty 25-32 knots. I sailed with 50% of the headsail through the Telendos channel and continued S of Kalymnos to the W side of Kos. At about 1000 the wind died and I had to crank the engine for the first time in this leg. But, by 1115 the wind picked up again to 7-15 knots from variable northerly directions and I was able to motor-sail. It was getting rather hot under the small bimini so I put up the tent. We went past Cape Krikelo, which looks like a bolt-eye - krikelo (κρίκελο) and headed to the W side of Yiali [36° 38.6' N 27° 06.9' E] where we arrived at 1320. We had come 31.4 nM.
I anchored in 5 m depth with 35 m of chain. The anchor was nicely set. It is lovely here. I was too lazy to lower the outboard to the dinghy but later a chartered sailing yacht with a French family arrived. Promptly after anchoring they launched their dinghy and all 4 of them got in and headed to the shore. But their outboard stalled and they started rowing furiously back to their sailboat. They were not making much progress. I lowered my outboard to my dinghy preparing to go to their rescue but, by that time the father had gotten into the water and started towing them and now they were almost there. So, I missed my chance of a good deed.
In the evening I was treated to a spectacular sunset while slowly sipping a glass of ouzo. By that time Thetis was the only boat here. I had brought with me from Kalami a large bag of fresh tomatoes. These are special being organically grown and taste great. I have been using them for salads every day during lunch but I do not seem to consume them fast enough. Tonight I made a tomato sauce with them. Just tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, a bay leaf, and thyme. I then boiled some tagliatelle to go with the sauce. By that time, the moon was up dinner was ready and served in the cockpit. Wind was down. This is the cruising life!
Monday August 3, 2009, Day 6
After checking the weather and my e-mails I prepared to depart. The weather forecasts called for North West winds of force 4-5 but here and now there is no wind at all.
We departed form Yiali at 0830 heading for Eristos in the W side of the island of Tilos. The wind was only 3-10 knots from the NNW (North North West) and we had to motor. Even so, after I opened the headsail it boosted our speed but after 10-15 minutes I had to roll it in because it was flapping. We sailed along the W coast of Nisyros. It is a dramatic and inhospitable coast and so is the NW side of Tilos.
After 20.5 nM we arrived in Eristos [36° 25.9' N 27° 20.8' E] at 1200. It is a long sandy beach. There were a few umbrellas ashore but it does look very low key and attractive. I anchored in 5 m with 25 m of chain. The boat settled in 4.5 m depth. All was well but although calm there was some swell.
After snorkeling to check the anchor I scrubbed from the underside of the hull the accumulated algae and barnacles.
In the afternoon, when I was about to make coffee, I discovered that I was out of ground coffee. I had to start the genset to provide 220V AC to the new grinder. This seems an extreme way to get coffee but what a joy it is to drink a cup of freshly ground filtered coffee!
Before sunset I took a hot shower. It is too bad that now that there is hot water I need to economize its consumption because the water-maker does not work. After the shower, I took down the tent and went ashore with the dinghy. There was some surf on the sandy beech and I had to pull the dinghy way up. I walked for about 40 minutes to the Megalo Chorio (Large Village) which actually is not that large. After walking and exploring the village I ended in the very popular To Kastro restaurant where I had a sensational katsikaki souvlas (κατσικάκι σούβλας - young goat roasted on the spit) served with delicious freshly cut and fried potatoes, not the usual unpalatable ones served in the majority of Greek restaurants nowdays. I have not had such a tasty grilled meat for a long time. As the night progressed the restaurant filled with more and more customers and the service was overwhelmed but it did remain friendly. I settled the bill. It was just under 20€ and I walked back to my cove. The moon, being one day short from full, gave a spectacular moonrise over the steep hills.
It was past 10 PM when I got back on Thetis. The swell was now quite appreciable but despite it I slept well.
Tuesday August 4, 2009, Day 7
The swell, if anything, got worse overnight. I received an e-mail from my Athens College classmate Andreas Daveronas; he is in Rhodes with his sailboat and they will be staying there until Friday so I need not head back N right away to meet them. Tired of being tossed I prepared to depart.
At 0820 the anchor was up and we were heading towards Chálke. The wind was 10-16 knots NW which allowed me to open the full genoa and sail downwind. Every so often I jibed to keep the sail from being 180° to the wind. This delightful state of affairs lasted for 2:30 hours after which the wind diminished to 2-12 knots WNW (West North West) and I was forced to crank up the engine and motor-sail.
We arrived in the harbor of Chálke [36° 13.3' N 27° 36.9' E] at 1140. The harbor and the town have been upgraded since our last visit here with Thetis in 1985. Many of the houses have been restored. Also, unlike during that time when the harbor was a nightmare of floating ropes that made mooring next to impossible, now there is a floating dock dedicated to yachts with several available berths. Still, one does have to anchor as there are no permanent moorings. Nevertheless, I decided not to stay but to go on to Alimniá. But I took many pictures before leaving. I did notice that one yacht was anchored-off in a cove just 1 nM South East of to the harbor.
Headed now W to Alimniá, an old favorite anchorage from a long time ago. The large north bay had too much of a swell, and since I did not want to repeat last night’s motion I went to the South Bay [36° 15.3' N 27° 42' E] instead where it was nice and calm. The time was 1250 and we had come a total of 25.5 nM from Tilos. We anchored in 10 m depth over sand and let out 50 m of chain.
I snorkeled to check the anchor. It was alright but Thetis was almost over an underwater wreck of a small caïque, marked with a large buoy. Despite that we were OK. Nearby was a large motor cruiser with a Greek flag. On her were an elderly couple and 3 crewmen. I waived to the couple but they just stared at me. So much for friendly cruisers.
The day was hot. After lunch, a nap, and a refreshing swim, I relocated Thetis away from the cruiser and the wreck. This time I anchored in 7 m depth with 40 m of chain. Again I snorkeled and checked the anchor. It was nicely set.
I had noticed earlier, that one of the oarlocks on the dinghy had come unglued. Now I attended to this. I removed all the dried glue and scraped the joint, then cleaned it with acetone and scraped it again with a pumice stone. Finally, I cleaned it with alcohol and let it dry before re-gluing.
By that time it was getting late and I still wanted to go for a walk and climb to the old Venetian Fort. I did not want to do this climb earlier when it was too hot. Before starting on this hike I did manage to talk to my wife Alice back in Washington, D.C., on the Skype. I got into the dinghy and drove to the N cove. Then I put on my hiking boots and started the ascent to the fort. I had forgotten how steep and difficult it was to reach it. Of course, the last time I had climbed to the fort I was 25 years younger. Eventually I did reach it. There must have been an accident here because now the entrance to the ruin has been blocked with cement. The view was still, as I remembered, spectacular. I took several pictures. Not wanting to be caught in the dark I started on my descent back. In my haste to start for this hike I had forgotten to pack a flashlight; a mistake. Also, I should had taken a walking stick. It was a tough descent and in places very slippery. Soon, the large moon rose, a day shy of being full. It was lovely. By the time I got back in one piece on board Thetis 2:30 hours have gone by. I was very tired.
Now there was a good breeze and I removed the tent. Then I warmed the last of the beans that I had brought from Kalami for dinner in the oven. By 10 PM I was in by cabin.
Wednesday August 5, 2009, Day 8
After checking the weather and the e-mails, I completed the repairs of the dinghy. The predicted winds were of force 4 from the W.
We departed Alimniá at 0830. The wind was 10-15 knots from the W. We motor-sailed with the full genoa and after 21.2 nM we arrived in Panormites, Sými [36° 32.9' N 27° 50.6' E] at 1205. As I was about to anchor the depth gage failed. It had been intermittent for some time now but it usually worked especially at low depths. Now it jumped from showing 8 m to 16, then to 18 although we were slowly going to shallower water. Compounding this problem was the fact that here in Panormites the water is murky. Finally I anchored in what I estimated to be 4 m depth and let out 20 m of chain.
I snorkeled in an attempt to check the anchor but I could not see it in the muddy water. Eventually it appeared that the depth gage recovered its senses and it showed 3.2 m depth, who knows?
I prepared the dinghy and went ashore where I got some very welcome fresh bread from the good bakery and fruits and beers from the small grocery store. It was hot and rather humid with relative humidity at 66%.
In the evening I took a shower and then went ashore for a walk. The restaurant appears not to be operating. Back on Thetis I put some potatoes to roast in the oven and made a salad with tuna, onions, garlic, eggs, fresh tomatoes, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. When the potatoes were done I had a nice dinner in the cockpit under the full August moon. However, all was not perfect because there were mosquitoes inside the cabin.
Thursday August 6, 2009, Day 9
I woke up at 5 AM and prepared for departure. First, I had to answer a number of e-mails and pay several bills on-line. Then, I transferred 2 jerry cans of Diesel fuel and raised the outboard. By 0750 Thetis was on her way to Nisyros. Before leaving Symi we entered the large bay N of Panormites. I wanted to see if it is a suitable anchorage. No it is not, it is too steep and deep for anchoring.
The wind was not strong, just an 8-15 knot westerly breeze. I had not put up the tent in the hope of being able to use the mainsail. But with this wind the sails were almost useless. So, I put up the tent and motored all of the 31.7 nM. We arrived in Pali, Nisyros at 1340. I entered the harbor to check the conditions there. It has been enlarged and its breakwater has been extended. Lots of improvements but still no permanent moorings, you have to anchor. Although plenty of room was available I did not want to bother with mooring, and I anchored-off in 5 m depth and with 30 m of chain just outside the harbor [36° 37.2' N 27° 10.6' E] where two other sailing yachts were also anchored. Thetis settled in 4 m depth. I snorkeled to the anchor and checked it. It was OK.
Later I went with the dinghy to the harbor. A pleasant young man introduced himself as the harbor attendant. The harbor now is run like a marina. He asked me why I did not stay in the harbor since there were plenty of berths. I explained that I am sailing by myself and avoid harbors. He said that he was there to assist with the mooring. I promised him that later in the evening when I return from sightseeing, and if there is still room, I will bring Thetis into his harbor.
I rented a motor-scooter and drove up to the volcano where I walked around and took several pictures.
After I returned back to Thetis I raised the anchor and drove her into the harbor [36° 37.2' N 27° 10.2' E]. I had no trouble anchoring and let out plenty of chain and then went back to the cockpit and engaged the engine in reverse while letting out chain by means of the second controller. The attendant had already rushed to the quay with his scooter and he was ready to catch the stern lines. With his help the maneuver was easily accomplished, the time was 1830. After securing the stern lines I put out the passarella and inquired about water. He called the young lady who is in charge of the water. Soon she came and opened the locked water valve for me. For 5 € I could have all the water I can take until 8 PM. Also, for another 5 € I could have 220V AC electricity until tomorrow. I filled the water tanks with 100 L (Liters) of water. Then I took a long hot shower with plenty of expensive water. After which I topped the tanks again and took down the tent.
After finishing with all the boat tasks I rode the scooter back in the direction of the volcano but after the long climb instead of going to the caldera I went to the picturesque village of Emborio where in 1997 Corinna, Alice, and I had a wonderful dinner at the Balcony restaurant which hangs right over the caldera. It was exactly as remembered it. I asked the young waiter about the boy that was at that time being taught to play the lute by an older man. Yes, that was the waiter’s older brother and the older man his grandfather now in his 90s. His brother has become an accomplished musician who plays not only the lute but the violin and the lyra (λύρα a small violin type instrument). He is much sought after in the island during fiestas, weddings, and christenings. For dinner I had pitakia (πιτάκια) a local specialty something like falafel but much lighter. These were followed by a tasty pork souvlaki (shish-kebab). The ride back to the harbor was also as I remembered it, cold and scary.
Friday August 7, 2009, Day 10
Today I planned to go to Mandraki, the main town in Nisyros, walk in the old streets and climb to the castle. But first I wanted to refill the 2 jerry cans I used yesterday with Diesel fuel and to get some gasoline for the outboard . I took the cans and drove then with the scooter to the one and only fuel station in the island. Unfortunately it was shut. It operates from 9:00 to 21:00 so I went back to Pali. There I bought some fruits and some bottles of water in the small grocery store. After stowing these in Thetis I rode back to the by then open fuel station where I refilled the cans with 43 L of Diesel. I left the cans there as I did not want the day to get warmer for my climb to the castle. So I proceeded to Mandraki.
In Mandraki, I walked around and found the path to the castle. It was a long and hot uphill climb but, the 4th century BC castle was great. It is now well maintained and very clean. After walking back to the town I bought some more provisions and a cut of pork for a roast. On the way back to Pali, I picked up one of the cans from the fuel station. Back on board Thetis, I stowed it and the provisions and rode the scooter back to get the other can. I left the can on the boat and returned the scooter. I then put up the tent. Now we were ready to leave Nisyros.
On the way to Yiali, I noticed on my new AIS (Automatic Identification System) that the large cruiser Pegasus, 55 m, anchored there also had an AIS. After seeing that she had a Greek flag I swam and asked them if they saw Thetis on their unit. They invited me aboard and a man, whom I assumed to be the owner, introduced himself as Dimitris Lemos. It turned out that he knows my cousin Petros Riginos and that his cousin Nikos Lemos was a classmate of mine in Athens College. I was conducted to her bridge and spoke to her captain Vasilis. Their unit did see Thetis but did not receive her name or the vessel type. Not sure what the problem is because with a similar check with Samos Star in Pythagorio they did receive everything.
Later, sometime after I had returned to Thetis, the largish inflatable from Pegasus came. The uniformed crewman said that Mr. Dimitris invites me for a tsipouro (a distillate similar to ouzo). It turns out that Mr. Dimitris, the owner, is not the Dimitris Lemos I had met earlier but Dimitris Papadimitriou. Pegasus has a small crew of 17, all Greek, and there were about 10 guests. Everything was very cordial. Iced tsipouro and platters of mezedes (snacks) kept coming. The owner said he has a house in Schinousa. The house turns out to be the huge property that takes a whole peninsula. He does know Costas Negrepontis the pilot. He even invited me and my wife to visit them any time we sail there. I did not dare tell him that my wife is an archaeologist. I thought that the house was owned by the convicted antiquities smuggler Christos Michaelides. Dimitris Papadimitriou is the nephew of Michailides and has inherited that property. He himself, also a graduate of Athens College, is a shipowner and head of the Liquimar company that managers oil tankers. Their headquarters at Alopekis steet in Athens is very impressive.
After Pegasus departed and after several Skype calls, I started cooking the roast with fresh tomato sauce. I then removed the tent and had an ouzo to celebrate the sunset. I spoke with my class mate Andreas. They are now in Kos and we agreed to meet in Xerocambos, Leros. I had an early supper as I was planning to depart in the wee hours for Kalymnos. By 9:30 I was in bed.
Saturday August 8, 2009, Day 11
I had set the alarm for 2 AM but somehow it either did not ring or I did not hear it. When I woke up it was a few minutes before 3 AM. I made a cup of coffee and by 0335 the anchor was up and Thetis was under way. The wind was 10-20 knots NW, right on her nose. Motoring was the only option. It was rather choppy and there was some banging and spray. Not much fun. I raised the spray hood. Other than that it was an uneventful 24.8 nM passage. We arrived in Vlichadia, Kalymnos [36° 55.9' N 26° 57.9' E] at 0805. There was only one other sailboat with a German flag and a young couple with a toddler aboard. I anchored in 4.5 m (estimated because the depth sounder was not working) and let out 25 m of chain. The anchor appeared to be holding but soon the wind backed further west and Thetis drifted fairly close to the rocks on the E shore at less then 4 m depth. At that time the German boat left. So I re-anchored about 20 m further W. I snorkeled and checked the anchor. It seemed OK.
Vlichadia now seems to have many more houses than it did in 2000 when we were here last. I am not sure if the museum is open, it looks more like a taverna. I will go and check it out in the evening. I put up the tent.
After a light lunch I lay down in the cockpit for a well deserved nap but in less than an hour I was woken up by the heat and cacophony of the loud “music” blasted by two different tavernas. No, this will not do. I decided right then to leave for the much more peaceful Emborios.
Up came the anchor at 1350 and we were soon out there fighting the headwind spraying and banging. During the banging the front cabin air fan fell off and its wires broke. We arrived in Emborios [37° 02.7' N 26° 55.7' E] at 1545 after 10.1 nM. I caught one of Captain Costasʼ moorings without any trouble. The situation here was much better. It was fairly windy but calm and cooler, but most importantly there was no infernal music. I may stay here tomorrow also and rest. Maybe take a long walk in the morning?
Later I started the genset to have 220 V AC and operate the soldering gun to repair the broken fan. After the repair, I rested reading under the tent and took several dips in the cool clear water. Near Thetis there was a new Jeanneau, the S/Y Papalina, flying the US flag and showing Wilmington as her home port. I suspected that she was from Turkey. Sure enough two ladies from her swam near Thetis and greeted me. They told me that they were from Istanbul. The boat is owned by Memduh and Silet Eremel and they keep her in the Marti Marina. They invited me over for a raki (a drink similar to ouzo but not aromatic). Memduh is a retired psychology professor and she is a business woman. They and their guest couple are very attractive people. They are now on their way back to Marti Marina to leave the boat and then fly to Michigan to install their daughter, who will be starting in a PhD program in psychology.
Later I went ashore for a short walk. I saw an interesting sign: “Take a free shower to the Restaurant”. I ended in Captain Costas taverna where I had a wonderful meal of octapodokeftedes (οχταποδοκεφτέδες - octopus balls), fresh squid, and tiny fried shrimps. The squid was OK but the other two dishes were superb. While I was eating a lovely 5 year old girl, who two weeks ago at Barba Nicolas had given me as gift a seashell from her collection now came and hugged me as an old friend. I wish my grandson Alexander was here to play with her.
Despite the howling wind I slept very soundly.
Sunday August 9, 2009, Day 12
This morning was very windy with fierce gusts. The forecasts called for NW winds of force 6 for the Samos Sea persisting today, tomorrow, and Wednesday.
I went ashore for an 1 hr-long hike. On the way back a bought a 6-pack of spring drinking water, I do not like drinking the water from the tanks. While I was hiking, my new Turkish friends with S/Y Papalina departed and the elegant S/Y Jaramas with a Turkish flag took her place.
In the late afternoon a US flagged ketch anchored at a distance. She dragged and after 2 more unsuccessful anchoring attempts she finally took a mooring. Later, while swimming, I met the couple from her, also swimming. They are Americans from Florida from where they first sailed few years ago to the Caribbean and then to the Med. Their boat was built in Taiwan. They have been wintering in Turkey but now they are investigating hauling-out in Partheni because it costs less. But they have been taking direct flights from Turkey to the US because they have a small dog. A few years ago they had a bad experience with Greek customs. He is convinced that they are harassing US flights, so they are not sure if they want to winter their boat in Greece.
Very windy in the evening, force 7 rather then the predicted 6. For dinner I had some of the pork roast with rice.
Monday August 10, 2009, Day 13
Despite the strong north wind I prepared to leave Emborios for near-by Xerocambos in Leros. The forecasts still call for force 6, locally 7, for today and tomorrow.
We departed at 0810. The wind was 20-32 knots from the N. We motored the 7 nM to Xerocambos [37° 06.5' N 26° 52.4' E] where we arrived at 0935. Luck was with me because there was one vacant mooring, all the rest were occupied. The cove was full of boats. It was very gusty and it took me 4 attempts before I managed to catch the mooring.
Next to Thetis was the German yawl S/Y Santana also with a singlehandler. He was about to swim over and help me moor but before that I had caught the mooring. I met him later. Dietrich is 71 and very fit. He usually has a “girl friend” with him but often he is alone. His boat is in mint condition despite being 35 years old.
Later I spoke with Andreas Daveronas. Not to my great surprise, they are still in Kos reluctant to brave the strong contrary winds. As soon as the winds subside they will come here. I told him not to rush and I will wait.
In the evening I went ashore to the Aloni restaurant where I met Mike and Nicola my British friends from S/Y Gordian Knot. We were joined with Lefteris, Aloni's proprietor, and his brother-in-law Miké the baker. Miké is also a fanatic sailor who frequently races in Greek regattas. While eating, a terrible fire broke out up the hill near the garbage dump. Fortunately in a hour or so it was under control. A miracle this, considering the strong winds. By the time I went back to Thetis it was midnight.
A new, very unwelcome, development has happened here. The large football (soccer) field is now illuminated by very high intensity flood lights. This in addition to the fairly new street lights on a street that leads to nowhere has ruined this idyllic cove. It is amazing how the locals are so hell bent to downgrade their lovely island. What is missing to complete the destruction of Xerocambos is a loud disco. Real soon now…
Tuesday August 11, 2009, Day 14
Fairly early in the morning I went ashore and walked, about 1 hour, to Lakki. I wanted to visit the Tunnel War Museum about which I heard from my brother Byron. I asked for directions. It is located about 1 km NE of the town, past the harbor. I walked there. The museum is inside a tunnel dug by the Italians before WW II as part of the island fortifications. It is rather interesting but somewhat claustrophobic. The tunnel is kept dark to accentuate the effect and it is full of diverse war related items: guns, ammunition boxes, bombs, uniforms, bicycles, old photographs, etc. All nicely exhibited but in no particular order or theme. They also continuously show a black & white film about the Battle of Leros during WW II, when German paratroopers invaded the island and defeated the British and their (by then) allies the Italians. It never ceases to amaze me the effort expended by my fellow humans to obliterate their own kind. Nor can I really understand the total fascination and preoccupation that war has on us. Is not science and discovery more interesting and noble?
After I got back to Lakki from my visit to the museum, I bought some provisions, including bottled water, and took a taxi back to Xerocambos. The rest of the day I spent aboard Thetis. I updated some of the harbor notes on the Cruising wiki, read, and swam a lot. The day was windy.
In the evening I had an ouzo and made tagliatelle for dinner which I served with left-over roast. After I ate I went ashore to Aloni where I had a drink with Mike, Nicolas, and another British cruising couple.
Wednesday August 12, 2009, Day 15
The wind this morning seemed less fierce than it has been during the past few days. In the morning I did a number of boat tasks. First I siphoned 2 jerry cans of Diesel fuel into the main tank. Then I inspected the house batteries. To do so I have to practically dismantle the stern part of the cockpit and unscrew 10 screws. Also to actually see the level of the battery fluid I needed to use a mirror and a flashlight. After this inspection, I vacuumed the cabins and washed down the cockpit.
Later Andreas Daveronas called and told me that they were on their way and will arrive within one hour. About that time S/Y Santana departed freeing one mooring, all others were still occupied. I took the dinghy to that mooring, tied it there, and swam back to Thetis and waited. Soon, S/Y Dorothea, Andreasʼ boat, arrived. I swam back to the dinghy and gave them the mooring line. S/Y Dorothea is a 50 ft Beneteau. In addition to Andreas there was his wife Dora (short for Dorothea) and another Cypriot family, Periklis and Maria Ierodiakonou. It was wonderful to see Andreas again after almost 50 years and to meet Dora and his friends.
In the evening we all went ashore and sat at the Kyma restaurant. Andreas had gone ahead and had ordered a ton of excellent fresh fish, mostly barbounia (μπαρμπούνια - red mullets). We all had a great meal with a lot of reminiscences form the old Athens College days. We also made the plan to sail tomorrow to Lipsi.
Thursday August 13, 2009, Day 16
Thetis departed Xerocambos at 0835. This departure was not smooth. First, the thick mooring line was wedged on the cleat and it took a while to cast off. Then, the knot meterʼs impeller was fowled and I had to dive, while the boat was drifting, and clean it. Once we got going the wind was 15-20 knots NNW, once again contrary to our course. Thetis motored and so did Dorothea. We arrived in Papandriá, Lipsi [37° 16.8' N 26° 48.2' E] at 1105 after 13.8 nM. I anchored but after I snorkeled and checked the anchor I was not satisfied. So, I re-anchored in 4.5 m depth with 35 m of chain. I snorkeled again and this time I saw that the anchor was well dug-in. In the mean time Dorothea caught one of the 5 new moorings in the nearby Katsadia cove.
In the evening, we all went to the restaurant ashore in Katsadia. On several of my previous visits I had found this restaurant closed, but now it was open. They told us that they stay open from June to September. The food was very good and once again we all had a good time.
By the time I returned to Thetis it was still windy. The headʼs pump stopped working once again.
Friday August 14, 2009, Day 17
This morning was very calm. The forecasts now called for only force 4 northerly winds, a far cry from the force 5, 6, and 7 of the past few days.
I went with the dinghy to see Dorothea off. They will go to Samos and they hope to leave the boat in the marina while they make an excursion to Kusadasi and Ephesos. The ladies will return to Cyprus from Samos on Monday by air while Andreas and Periklis may take the little ferry to Ikaria and Evdylos, where Andreas’ mother comes from. They will then sail Dorothea back to Cyprus. I, in the mean time, plan to spend a few idle days in the neighboring islands and then return to Samos.
It was wonderful to re-unite with my old classmate Andreas. We reminisced about many long-forgotten incidents from our early youth and of other classmates. We both pledged to meet again, especially now that we have discovered a mutual passion for the sea and the cruising life. Andreas, Periklis, and their wives urged me to sail to Cyprus. I think that I will do so, maybe next year.
After Dorothea left I went ashore and walked to the town where I got some fresh bread. When I returned to Thetis I attacked the problem with the head. I completely dismantled its pump. I found some dirt in its water input filter and a bad gasket. I cleaned the filter and replaced the gasket with a spare. After re-assembling, installing the pump, and priming it, it worked. I was very pleased to have solved this problem.
I spent the rest of the day swimming and reading. I finished Dorothy Dunnettʼs 7th and last of the Nicoclo books, Caprice and Rondo. There was a lot of loud and unattractive music blasted from the restaurant in Katsadia. I was glad we went there yesterday, today it would have been unbearable.
Saturday August 15, 2009, Day 18
I debated with myself what to do today: stay here, move to the harbor of Lipsi, go to Marathi, go to Arki, or anchor off in Platys Yialos. The forecast for the Sea of Samos is a benign force 4-5 NW wind but strong winds are predicted for the rest of the Aegean. Marathi would be crowded in this calm and long 15 of August weekend. 15 of August is the Dormition of the Theotokos; a big holiday in Greece. I finally decided to go to Platys Yialos, and if I did not like the conditions there, go on to Glipapas in Arki.
Thetis departed Papandriá at 1020 and motored, because the wind was only 8-14 knots NW and once again contrary. On the way, I repaired the snub line whose end had started to unravel. After 6.1 nM we arrived in Platys Yialos, Lipsi [37° 18.8' N 26° 44.5' E] at 1130 and anchored in 5 m depth with 35 m of chain out. I checked the anchor with the mask and it was fine.
Later, several small speed boats and inflatables arrived and some swell developed. Nevertheless I decide to stay. I noticed some water under the sink but I could not locate its source. I tightened the hose clamps.
In the early evening I went ashore and took a long walk. On my return I noticed that the taverna was open. All other times that I had been here it was closed in the evening. I inquired and was told that indeed they were open. They do stay open in the evenings from the middle June to middle of September. I decided to try out the taverna. But before doing so I returned to Thetis where I washed and had the obligatory ouzo. Back to the taverna I had a moussaka and a salad. The food was not exceptional but not too bad either.
The swell during the night was appreciable and the boat rocked a lot.
Sunday August 16, 2009, Day 19
The swell in the early morning had gotten so bad that I could not sleep. I woke up at 4:30. The National Greek Weather Service had issued on the Navtex a gale warning for the Sea of Ikaria. Yet, both Meteo (Athens Observatory) service and Poseidon still predicted force 4-5 winds for the Sea of Samos. For a while I considered returning to Samos but finally I made up my mind to go either to Marathi or Arki.
I raised the anchor at 0725. The wind was 10-17 knots from the N. I motored slowly because I had left the outboard still on the dinghy. We arrived in Marathi [37° 22' N 26° 43.6' E] at 0820 after 3.4 nM. It was crowded: 2 sailing yachts and 11 motor cruisers, all of them from Turkey, US flagged and registered in Delaware. As luck would have it, one of Pandelisʼ moorings was free and I caught it without any trouble. He has upgraded his moorings. New large buoys, new lines, etc.
After mooring I went ashore where I was greeted by the family. Everyone was here: Manolis, Pandelisʼ son, with his wife and kids, the youngest a 7 year old charmer Odysseas, and Tula, Pandelisʼ daughter, with her kids. Katina, thin as always, was making bread while Pandelis was cleaning some squids by the sea. All was well with them except that Pandelis had hurt his arm while lifting a heavy box.
There was a lot of dinghy activity during the day between the cruisers and lots of attractive children having a good time. What was not attractive, however, was the crews driving their inflatables around the moored sailboats at very high speed. This went on all day. I finally lost my patience, took the dinghy and went to the cruiser with the most active crew and told them:
They should respect the laws of their host country and not exceed 5 knots in an anchorage and especially where people are swimming. Had they been back to their home state “Delaware” they would have faced a very stiff fine. Instead of braking the law they should act as gracious ambassadors of their own country.
After this sermon the inflatables did slow down. Pandelis later told me how glad he was that I spoke up because he was tempted to do so himself but also he did not want to antagonize his customers.
There were fierce gusts all day. I took a long walk, starting just before sunset, and then returned to the boat for a shower. When I went to Pandelis for dinner, Katina told me that she had put aside a milokopi (μιλοκόπι - a flat fish) for me that was caught just a few hours ago. It was absolutely delicious, I only left the bones.
The latest forecast still calls for a gale in the Sea of Ikaria but the conditions do not look bad for the Sea of Samos. I plan to make my passage back tomorrow unless the conditions change.
Monday August 17, 2009, Day 20
I checked the weather. Sill a gale in the Sea of Ikaria but only a force 5 NW wind for the Sea of Samos, so I decided to go. Anticipating a good sail I uncovered the mainsail and set it on its second reef.
We departed at 0840. As soon as we cleared the cove I raised the mainsail and opened about 75% of the headsail. It was a nice, if slow, beat with the wind 40° off our bow at 10-16 knots N. Until about 1100 we alternated between spells of pure sailing and motor-sailing. At that time when we were about 6 nM from the Mycale Channel the wind veered to NE and 10-15 knots and we had to motor. There were strong gusts and a very bad chop.
We arrived in Klima, Samos [37° 42.4' N 27° 02.4' E] at 1300 after 26.7 nM. I anchored in 6 m depth (estimated since the depth sounder did not work) and let out 40 m of chain. But, when I snorkeled to check the anchor, I saw that it had not caught and it was slowly dragging. Nevertheless before re-anchoring I covered the mainsail and put up the tent. I re-anchored, now in about 5 m and again with 40 m of chain. The boat settled in about 7 m depth and the anchor held.
Later the wind died but it was fairly hot, 32° C (90° F) inside the cabin. Still later in the afternoon the wind was up again gusting to 25 knots. It was not too bad but I was tired of the howling wind. I snorkeled several times to both cool off and to check the anchor, but it was fine. Around 7 PM I removed the tent and raised the spray hood to shield the cockpit from the wind.
I had an ouzo and cooked some rice which I served with the last of the roast from Nisyros. It was still rather tasty. Fortunately the wind decreased during the night.
Tuesday August 18, 2009, Day 21
It was a slow morning. The forecasts call for northerly force 7 winds for the Sea of Ikaria and for force 5, locally 6, for the Sea of Samos. The Navtex has canceled its gale warnings. Here in Klima the wind was 10 knots from the N.
At 0900 I raised the anchor and headed past Cape Gatos to Kerveli, but first I entered the Poseidonio cove to check it out. There were several sailing boats and it was kind of crowded, more crowded then it used to be before Samos Marina became available. Before that time I was mooring Thetis in Poseidonio. It is a cove secure from the meltemi but the holding is not very good because of the thick weed and loose mud at its bottom. I did not stay there but continued motoring to Kerveli, Samos [37° 43.8' N 27° 02.2' E] where we arrived at 1000 after 4.6 nM.
I first anchored in 4 m depth but Thetis settled in 2.5 m which was too shallow for my comfort. With the depth sounder being inoperable sometimes judging depth is error prone. The sounder does not work when the engine is running but when the engine stops it sometimes works after a few minutes. So, I re-anchored the boat, after I let out 25 m of chain, settled this time in 4 m depth. I snorkeled and checked the anchor. It was nicely set in sand.
Around noon an English speaking father with a little girl, not totally comfortable swimming, swam near Thetis, looked at her, and left. Half an hour later they were back. The little girl, wearing swimming goggles, kept staring, sort of expectantly, at the boat. I asked her if she wanted to come aboard for a visit. Immediately she started up the ladder followed by her father. Her name is Anna and she is 9 years old. Her father Steve is of Greek descent and they live in New Jersey. After I told him that I went to school in NJ, he asked which school. Well, it turns out that his brother also went to the same school, the Stevens Institute of Technology. Soon, we were joined by his wife and their older daughter, Vassiliki, aged 10. Anna, whom I had already shown around the cabin, was very excited and conducted a thorough tour for her older sister. They particularly admired the galley stove and the tiny bathroom. It was fun to have children aboard Thetis and I felt a longing for my own grandson Alexander.
Later I took the dinghy and went looking for a distant cousin of mine, Pythagoras Moraitis, who I belive has a house here. He is a retired teacher and while I have not met him two years ago, when I was here, I had met his older brother, also a retired teacher. After asking around I did find him. He remembered my father, his uncle, very fondly. It was nice to finally meet him.
For dinner, having absolutely no wish to eat in the lousy taverna here, I made some spaghetti and used the remainder of the last tomato sauce I had brought from Kalami. Also I grated the last of the Parmezan cheese. It was a good simple meal on a quiet pleasant night.
Wednesday August 19, 2009, Day 22
This is the last day of this cruise. After my morning coffee, I raised the dinghy on deck, a fairly complicated and lengthy procedure. I then put up the tent, as there was no appreciable wind.
We departed from Kerveli at 0945. I intended to stop in Klima and wait for the day to cool and then, in the evening, go to the marina. But I changed my mind because after rounding Cape Gatos there was a good easterly breeze down the channel that made sailing possible. I opened 50% of the headsail; the mainsail was covered and was too much trouble to raise for such a short distance. Instead of stopping in Klima, I sailed to Cape Kanoni [37° 41.7' N 26° 58' E] which is just 1-2 nM from the marina. We arrived there after 7.5 nM at 1100. I anchored in about 6.5 m depth and let out 40 m of chain. The sounder did not work.
Although I suspected that the sounder is faulty, just to eliminate all other possibilities I opened the instrument panel and cleaned with contact spray all the electrical contacts to the instrument. It did no good.
Soon there were, once again, ferocious gusts up to 30 knots. This is getting rather tedious. In the mean time, the Navtex issued another gale warning, the forth since the beginning of this cruise. Our average has been a gale every five days!
I did not go to Kalami but spent the night on the boat. I will be moving to our summer house early in the morning while the day is still not too hot.