Travels with S/Y Thetis

Thetis only

2009: Leros to Samos

This web page contains the logs of a singlehanded sailing trip that I took with S/Y Thetis in the East Aegean in Greece. The logs cover a period of 3 days of sailing from Partheni in Leros, where she was launched, to Samos (Samos Marina) via Lipsi (Papandria, Aspronisi), and Marathi.

The logs include some historical and geographical descriptions of the places visited as well as several links to other related web sites.

Route to Samos
Route to Samos

Tuesday May 12, 2009, Day 1

Thetis was scheduled for an early launch but Panayiotis, the electrician, had observed that the sacrificial anode of the refrigerator underwater heat sink was quite worn. Mastro-Michalis machined a new one which was then installed.

Eventually the travel-lift came and by 1120 Thetis was afloat. No leaks. Everything worked except the water-maker whose motor is back ordered. It is promised to be shipped from the UK tomorrow. We shall see.

Satellite view of Partheni

After Thetis was launched and all systems were checked, we departed from Partheni (Παρθένι) at 1200 and motored about 5 M to Papandria (Παπανδριά) [37° 16.7' N 26° 46.3' E] in Lipsi where we arrived at 1305. The wind was a light 10 knots from the NW. The AIS worked very well and it warned me about a fast ferry which was on a collision course with Thetis. She overtook us just as we were reaching Lipsi with a 0.2 M clearance, and that after I slowed down to let her overtake us. I am still not sure if the AIS is transmitting and if the ships do detect us.

We anchored in 4 m over sand without any problems. It was a wonderful afternoon. I picked up the cabin, establishing some semblance of order now that we were back in cruising mode. I also checked the outboard and the genset. Both worked fine.

In the evening I had a most pleasant hot shower which was followed by an ouzo while watching the sun setting. It was a yachtsmanʼs bliss! It was not to last. As I went inside the cabin to start cooking I saw water. Plenty of water oozing from the floorboards. Salty water. This was a yachtsmanʼs horror. I checked all the throughhulls; all were intact and dry. Nevertheless I shut off all the seacocks and the valves from the fresh water tanks and started to pump. Slowly the water level went down and the bilge dried. With a sponge I removed the last drop. Then I waited. Nothing, no water. I opened one seacock at a time and waited. No new water. I filled a bucket with fresh water and emptied it into the sink. Lots of water rushed in the bilge, much more than a bucket full and it was not fresh but salty. I pumped it out and waited some more. No more water. Then I thought and thought. I reasoned that there has to be some siphoning action that brings in sea water. Once again I closed all the seacocks save the one that empties the sink and repeated the bucket experiment. Same results, sea water. I followed all the hoses from the sink outlet. One thick hose came from the galley sink and another from the bathroom sink but there was also a much thiner hose going to the now removed water-maker. This is the hose that returns the sea water rejected from the membrane. I plugged it and repeated once again the bucket experiment. No water this time. Problem solved. I should had anticipated this. When lots of water was flushed from the sink the water level rose to the water-maker hose which emptied in the bilge and siphoned sea water from the outlet. All this took time. It was past 11 PM when the cabin was back in order. I then had a snack and went to bed.

Wednesday May 13, 2009, Day 2

I kept waking up all night to check for incoming water. There was none. Fortunately it was a very calm night and there were no anchor related anxieties.

Fairly early in the morning I went ashore and cut a basket-full of wild thyme. This I will dry over the summer and will be used for cooking. After returning on board I put up the tent as there was no appreciable wind. I then raised the anchor and departed. It was 1050. The wind was just 8-7 knots. We motored for 3.4 M to nearby Aspronisi (Ασπρονήσι) and anchored in 8 m over sand in an inlet [37° 18.4' N 26° 48.3' E].

After a rather cold swim, I had some lunch and put more order in the boat. She was now beginning to look like a cruise boat.

We departed at 1550 for Marathi. Still there was not much of a wind, just a 5-7 knot NW breeze. We motored all the way. We arrived in Marathi (Μαράθι) [37° 22' N 26° 43.6'] at 1600 after 5.3 M. All the moorings were free. I caught one of Pandelisʼ without any difficulty.

However there was more trouble. On the way I had looked into the engine compartment and saw some cooling fluid under the engine. Now, after shutting down, I looked again. Even more fluid had been spilt. After carefully examining the cooling hoses and their connection I found the cause. One hose was improperly installed and was rubbing on the alternator belt which had caused a small hole. I repositioned the hose and patched it with tape but, of course, this was at best a temporary measure and in time it could develop into a serious problem.

Later I went ashore and greeted Pantelis, Katina, and their son Manolis. They were expecting Angelos, Pantelisʼ cousin from Samos who is a carpenter and helps Pantelis with his many improvement projects.

After these greetings I went for a long hike around the island. By the time I returned the caïque from Samos had arrived. I sat with the crew, all from Samos, who were full of interesting stories and Samian lore. A wonderful meal was served: squid, salad, and grilled katsikaki (κατσικάκι - baby goat). This was a great and auspicious beginning of the cruising season. After that I said my goodbyes since I was planing an early departure.

The Cove in Aspronisi

Thursday May 14, 2009, Day 3

I woke up at 5 AM. No more water. The bilge was dry. I started preparing for departure to Samos.

We left Marathi at 0630. There was hardly any wind, just 3-4 knots SE, and we had to motor. We had not gone more than 1 M when the faulty cooling hose started leaking fluid. I stopped the engine and while drifting repaired the hose again, this time using stretch-type sailing tape. This tape does not have an adhesive but it stretches and then it shrinks onto itself and bonds. The repair seemed to work but I kept checking it every 5 minutes.

After rounding the the N end of Arki there was a light 7 knot ESE breeze and I opened about 30% of the headsail. We were able to motor-sail for a while but not for very long.

We arrived in the Samos Marina in Pythagorio [37° 41.4' N 26° 57.4' E] at 1045 after 23.4 M. Before our arrival I spoke on Channel 9 on the VHF to the marina and we were expected. I told them that before going to our berth we will need to take some fuel. They asked me to delay arrival by 5 minutes for the attendant to come and help us. I did so and then proceeded to the fuel dock. A charter boat with German charterers was behind Thetis, but very close, as we were approached the dock. As I was approaching the dock she rushed and cut Thetis off demanding the attention of the attendant. So, I missed my approach and had to come about and dock again totally unassisted. With all of that it took over an hour before Thetis was fueled with 100 L and moored to her berth, the same as last year C14. Michalis the attendant helped and there were no problems.

I had already called Aramis and had reserved a car. A few minutes after mooring the car was there. I loaded it with dirty clothes and headed to our house in Kalami. Over 15 years ago the township of Vathy had started building a sewage-treatment plant some distance out of town, near Cape Kotsikas. The idea was to avoid dumping the raw sewage in the harbor. But after a lot of concrete pouring the plant was abandoned and lay there as an eyesore for 15 years. Now the powers-that-be remembered it and are about to resurrect it and are laying pipes. Half of Vathyʼs waterfront is excavated and the Kalami road is now a very dusty dirt road. Very bad!

All day one hears heavy construction noise. If they do complete the project all will be to the good of course but if once again they abandon it…

May 15-18, 2009

I spent these days in Kalami. Agmar Marine sent me a replacement cooling hose and I replaced the patched one. After installing it, I turned on the engine and tested it. No leaks. On Monday May 18 I brought the powerful house vacuum cleaner from Kalami and throughly cleaned the cabins by first washing all surfaces and vacuuming everything. I also topped the water tanks and washed the deck and the cockpit. Now Thetis was ready to resume her cruising.

From Agmar Marine there was still no word about the water-maker motor. No point in going back to Leros this week. My plan now was to sail to the Athens region and meet with my wife Alice who will be flying from Washington, D.C. To that effect, I called Olympic Marine in Lavrio to request a berth from June 2 to 5. They do not take reservations but they indicated that there should be no problem in accommodating Thetis and that I should call them the day before arrival.

In the marina there was a small ferry, the Samos Star, with an AIS system. I went and met her captain. He invited me to the bridge and I was able to verify that Thetisʼs AIS was transmitting.

I washed many clothes in Kalami and then moved them as well as many provisions to the boat. My plan was to depart very early on Tuesday May 19 for Chios.

On Monday evening I moved into the boat. I had dinner at the marina restaurant where I met an Austrian couple from S/Y Artemis. I had met them before in Agathonisi. I went to bed at 9 PM.