Travels with S/Y Thetis

Thetis only

2009: Samos to Leros

This web page contains the logs of a singlehanded sailing trip that I took with S/Y Thetis in the Aegean Sea in Greece. The logs cover a period of 9 days of sailing from Samos (Samos Marina) to the Agmar Marine Shipyard in Partheni, Leros where she was hauled out for the winter. Along the way we stopped in several islands: Fourni (Vitsilia), Patmos (Agrio Livadhi, Aspri, Livadhi tou Pothetou), Marathi, and Archangelos. The logs include some photographs and descriptions of the places visited as well as several links to other related web sites.

Route to Leros
Route to Leros

Wednesday October 7, 2009, Day 1

After preparing for departure we left the marina at 0940 heading to Vitsilia, Fourni. The wind was a brisk 15-20 knot NE breeze. As soon as we cleared the marina I saw that the speed log was not working. I stopped the boat and while she was drifting I dove and cleaned the logʼs impeller. This fixed the problem. I raised the mainsail and left it on its second reef. I then opened 40% of the headsail and turned off the engine. We had a nice sail until 1130 when the wind increased to 28 knots and veered N. The seas were fairly large. I reduced the headsail to 25% and continued sailing until 1300. At that time the wind increased even more and I rolled-in the headsail. By 1340 the wind had increased to the mid 30ʼs and veered further to WNW right on Thetisʼ nose. I was then forced to turn on the motor. We motor-sailed for about 2 nM but since we were approaching Vitsilia I lowered the mainsail.

We arrived in Vitsilia, Fourni [37° 32.6' N 26° 30.5' E] at 1415 after 22.4 nM. I anchored in about 6.5 m depth (the depth sounder was not working) and let out 40 m of scope. I put up the tent and relaxed for a while. Later I snorkeled and checked the anchor. It was nicely buried in the sand, but I was very, very tired.

In the evening, after I removed the tent, I raised the spray hood to cut down the wind, because it was very gusty. I had a simple supper of left over meat and potatoes that I had brought from Kalami. There was a fantastic moonrise over Samos. The moon being 3 days past full. By 9:30 I was in bed.

Thursday October 8, 2009, Day 2

Overnight I had received a text SMS message that Alice had made it safely back to Washington, D.C. The night was windy and very gusty, the wind coming from all directions but the anchor held well. Through the night there was a large uncomfortable swell into the cove but by the morning it was less. I checked the weather forecasts. They predicted diminishing winds but it was hard to tell watching the actual weather from the cove.

I installed in the dinghy its oars and outboard. I then went ashore for a 2 hr hike.

Ayios Ioannis
The anchorage in the village of Ayios Ioannis
The anchorage in the village of Kasídi

After I returned to Thetis I swam, and, despite the strong wind, put up the tent. The day was too inviting. I read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and spent the day doing not very much.

Before the sun went down, I removed the tent and had an ouzo watching the sunset. For dinner I made some rice using some chicken stock I had brought from Kalami and a pine nut omelet. I went to bed around 10:30.

Friday October 9, 2009, Day 3

I slept, non-stop, until 6 AM. The swell was less that it was yesterday and the gusts were not as fierce. The forecasts called for only force 4 winds from the N.

Agrio Livadhi

At 0950 we departed for Patmos. The wind was from the NNE at 17-23 knots. I opened the full genoa and had a wonderful downwind sail until about 3 nM from Patmos when the wind diminished I had to motor-sail for a while. But, soon the wind was back and I was able to sail again, albeit slowly, all the way to Agrio Livadhi, Patmos [37° 20.5' N 26° 33.4' E], 15.9 nM from Vitsilia. While still underway I vacuumed the main cabin that had collected some dust.

I anchored at 1145 in about 4 m depth and let out 30 m of chain. The depth sounder was by now so intermittent as to be almost useless. I snorkeled and after making sure that the anchor was all right, I scraped the under-hull from weed and barnacles.

It was very pleasant, calm, without any swell, and very light gusts. I called Agmar and confirmed our October 19 haul-out date.

Later in the afternoon I took the dinghy to the Ayia Thekla islet at the entrance of the cove. I got off and walked to the chapel. It was locked. This is an unfortunate consequence of the growth of tourism in Greece. Until 15 years ago all remote chapels and churches were open but now, after several icons have been stolen, most of them are locked.

In the evening I had the obligatory ouzo, after removing the tent, so that I could enjoy the view. I warmed the remaining roast and served it with spaghetti and plenty of grated Parmezan cheese. I sat in the cockpit enjoying the mild night and the starry clear sky.

Ayia Thekla
Ayia Thekla

Saturday October 10, 2009, Day 4

After my morning cup of coffee I checked the weather on the Internet. The predicted wind for today is only force 3-4 NW, and even weaker, but may change by Monday to a southerly and strengthen. Then, they predict force up to 7 for Wednesday. We shall see.

A Caïque in Skala
A Lovely Perama Caïque in Skala

I also received an e-mail from Mark Davis on S/Y Spindrift. He and Monique are actually in Patmos in a cove just N of Skala. This is less than 2 nM from Thetis. They are planning to go shopping in Skala and they will call me later. Now I too needed to go to Skala and do some shopping especially for fresh bread and fruits. But Skala is a fairly long walk from Agrio Livadhi. So, I decided to go with the dinghy instead and on the way check on Spindrift.

Indeed Spindrift was in the first little cove just N of Skala and S of Meloyi. Since the time was fairly early and I did not see any activity on her deck and not wanting to disturb her crew I did not stop but proceeded to Skala with the intention to stop on my way back. After I finished my shopping I started my return to Agrio Livadhi. On the way, I saw that Spindriftʼs dinghy was missing and so I concluded that my friends had already left. As I was approaching Thetis Mark did call. They do not have a mobile phone but he was calling from public phone. I told him that now I know where they are and I will later move Thetis to their cove.

After stowing the provisions, I raised the anchor. It was 1135. We motored the 1.3 nM to Spindriftʼs cove, Aspri [37° 19.6' N 26° 33.4' E], where I anchored in about 5 m depth with 30 m of chain. When the Davises returned we agreed that they will come in the evening on Thetis for an ouzo and then, they insisted, that I will go to Spindrift for dinner.

It was a very good evening, full of interesting stories, and the food, as one would expect from a French chemist cook, was excellent. After dinner we all went ashore and walked to Skala, about 15 minutes away, where we eventually sat in the main square for an ice cream. By the time we were all back to our boats it was almost midnight.

Thetis and Spindrift in the cove of Aspri

Sunday October 11, 2009, Day 5

It was a very calm night, but the forecasts now are calling for westerly winds backing to SW and gaining speed reaching force 7 by Wednesday. Indeed the breeze here is slowly backing to the W.

Mark came aboard Thetis and looked at the weather forecasts on my MacBook. He then used my Skype and called Travelocity to verify their airline reservations first from Leros to Athens and then to Milan. It seems that although Travelocity books on line, for verifications and changes you have to call them on the telephone. Not too convenient and rather expensive when you are cruising. It took him almost half an hour to straighten thinks out. So inexpensive Skype came to the rescue.

By that time the wind had increased somewhat and some chop had developed. So we decided to move our boats few miles E to the Livadhi tou Pothetou cove.

I raised the anchor at 1150 and motored slowly, since Thetis was towing the dinghy with the outboard still on it, the 1.8 nM to our new anchorage. We arrived in Livadhi tou Pothetou [37° 20.7' N 26° 35.2' E] at 1120. I anchored in about 4.5 m depth over a sand patch and let out 30 m of chain. Spindrift anchored nearby.

Monique, once again, insisted that I go aboard Spindrift for a salad lunch.

In the afternoon, after I removed the tent, all three of us went ashore for a nice hike. Back on Thetis we had an ouzo together and then the Davises retired to their boat as they were planning an early morning departure for Lipsi.

I ran the genset for about ¾ of an hour and then made dinner with leftover baked potatoes from Kalami, which I warmed in the oven, and an omelet. I am slowly consuming the contents of the refrigerator. By 10:30 I was in by cabin reading before going to sleep.

Monday October 12, 2009, Day 6

The forecasts now called for Beaufort force 4-5 SW winds increasing to 6 later today and possibly to 7 by tomorrow. They also predicted the possibility of rain.

I took the trash ashore and prepared Thetis for departure. Spindrift had already left earlier. We departed at 0945. The wind was a light 8-12 knots southern breeze and the sea was calm. We motor-sailed with the full genoa the 7.5 nM to Marathi [37° 22' N 26° 43.6' E] where we arrived at 1105. There were no other boats in the cove. This cove is well protected from the S but it is somewhat exposed to SE. I caught one Pandelisʼ moorings, closer to the shore. I was hopping to weather the expected southerlies here.

All the Pandelisʼ children and grandchildren were now gone, only Pandelis and Katina were still here. I helped Pandelis to remove the nice new buoys and replace them with the old ones for the winter.

Later a largish yawl the Calypso II flying a Maltese flag arrived. The couple on her had a very hard time catching a mooring. Eventually they gave up and anchored. As I was worried that she may drag and drift towards Thetis, I went to them with the dinghy and told them that anchors here do not hold very well and that strong winds are expected. They said that they had lost their steering and could not maneuver to a mooring. I asked for the end of a long line and took it to the closest mooring. With that they were able to warp their boat to the mooring and thus secure her. They did not thank me for the help. It takes all sorts!

Later I spoke with Alice on Skype and then had an ouzo. After that I took a walk and went to Pandelis for dinner. As there were only Pandelis, Katina, and I, we all sat and ate together. Katina had made, as usual, an excellent grilled fish, taramosalata (ταραμοσαλάτα), and a green salad. Pandelis would not even hear about me paying.

The night was quiet but the boat kept mildly rocking.

Tuesday October 13, 2009, Day 7

This was a windy and cloudy day. The forecasts were dire: Force 9 on the Beaufort scale for the Sea of Ikaria and force 8 for the Sea of Samos. Here and now it is at least force 6 and Thetis is dancing on the swell while the wind is howling. Rain is expected and the wind should attenuate by tomorrow.

I was getting ready to go ashore for a walk when I saw Pandelis preparing his caïque to tow his row-boat and his speed boat (to be used for his return) to Augusta in Arki. I did not want him to undertake this all by himself in this seriously deteriorating weather so, I volunteered to go with him. He very gladly accepted my offer. While he drove the caïque I stirred the speed-boat. We arrived in Augusta without any mishap. The usually very calm harbor was “boiling” with nasty chop.

Pandelis securely moored the caïque and then dragged the row-boat ashore. While he washed his boat with a pressure hose I took a leisurely 1½ hour walk to the NE side of the island. Unlike the west side the east side of the island was calm but I could see how angry the sea was further out.

After I returned from my walk and Pandelis and I were getting ready to depart with the speed-boat, the S/Y Calypso II arrived at the same time as a heavy squall with pelting rain. Why these people chose to leave the much more protected cove in Marathi and a safe mooring to come here and risk anchoring facing the weather and backing stern-to the hard quay with their defective steering was a mystery. By that time all the fishing boats had either departed to a safer harbor or had been dragged ashore. All the people shook their heads but rushed to help the English couple. They, too, were not thanked.

Despite the one squall after another we made it back to Marathi safely but wet. Some water had accumulated in the dinghy but Thetisʼ cabin was dry.

The barometer kept falling. By 5 PM it was 1007 mB down from the 1014 of yesterday at that time. I ran the genset for an hour and I finished reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I started reading Anatole France’s Penguin Island on the Kindle.

In the evening I ate with Pandelis and Katina. It was very, very windy throughout the night.

Wednesday October 14, 2009, Day 8

The wind this morning was about 16 knots from the W. I finished reading Penguin Island and started a new book on the Kindle: Poul Andersonʼs The Man Who Came Early.

Later in the morning, as I had promised Pandelis yesterday, I took my multimeter and helped him troubleshoot the electric connections to his speed-boatʼs bilge pump. The fuse was burned and the pumpʼs motor was stuck, but the rest of the circuit was fine. We disassembled the pump and rotated its shaft. I went back to Thetis and found a slow-burning fuse of the proper rating and after Pandelisʼ burned fuse was replaced and was re-assembled, the pump started purring.

As forecasted, the wind died down to a 5 knot NW breeze. However, more strong southeasterly winds were predicted for tomorrow. I decided to move closer to Leros. My plan was to go today to Archangelos and be poised tomorrow to move to sheltered Partheni. So I said my good-byes for this year to Pandelis and Katina.

We departed at 1055. The wind was 5-8 knots NNW and we motored to Archangelos [37° 12' N 26° 46.3' E] where we arrived at 1300 after 11.6 nM. At the cove, the day-trip boat Magellanos was already there and anchored exactly at the spot I usually put down my anchor. So I had to anchor closer to the shore at 4 m depth (estimated since the depth sounder is now inoperable) and let out 30 m of chain. This was fine for a while but if the wind were to change and come from the south, Thetis would drift dangerously close to shallow water.

Later, after Magellanos left, I re-anchored in 5.5 m estimated depth with 35 m of chain. I then snorkeled and made sure that the anchor was well set.

I finished reading the short Poul Andersonʼ story The Man Who Came Early and I started Jules Verneʼs Around the World in Eighty Days, which I had downloaded into the Kindle by the free public domain books in Manybooks. It was very calm and pleasant here, but by 5 PM it got to be a little cold. In the meantime, the barometer keept rising. By 7:30 PM it was indicating 1015 mB up from yesterday's 1007. Crazy weather! Now, 7:30 PM, it is as calm as it can be and the sea is as smooth as glass. Yesterday at this time the wind was howling and the sea was boiling. The calm continued through the night.

For dinner I cooked some rice using left-over vegetable stock and served with a cutlet in lemon sauce.

Thursday October 15, 2009, Day 9

Once again the forecasts continued to call for force 7 SE winds by this afternoon combined with thunderstorms. Because of these predictions I had called Agmar yesterday requesting, if possible, to haul-out Thetis earlier then on the scheduled 19 of October. In the meantime, here and now it is calm, but the breeze, after 8:30 AM, started to shift SE.

Fearing for the worst, since Archangelos is exposed to the south, I raised the anchor at 0950 and slowly motored the 1.9 nM to Partheniʼs cove Ayia Matrona [37°11.5'N, 26°48.3'E] where we arrived at 1015. I had already (afraid of repeating the fouled anchor experience I had here in 2006) prepared a small fender with a trip line attached to the anchor. Right after I anchored a bearded sailor from a Dutch ketch informed me that I was over his second anchor to the N. His boat was at that time held by his first anchor to the S, so I was not aware of his N anchor. I told him that he should have marked his anchor especially now with the expected strong southern winds when more boats may seek shelter here. I raised my anchor and moved to another spot and prepared to drop it for the second time. But the Dutchman yelled at me that at that spot there was another unmarked second anchor from another boat. On my third attempt farther from all boats I hoped that I was cleared. It was a 5 m depth with 40 m of scope.

I called Agmar to inquire about the re-scheduling of Thetisʼ haul-out. I spoke to mastro-Michalis, their technical director. After asking me where the boat was and hearing that she was so close to the yard he asked if I could come right away. So at 1120 I once again raised the anchor and moved 0.3 M next to the yards travel-lift “pool” [37°11.31′N, 26°48.02′E] where I caught one of their moorings and waited for further instructions.

While waiting, I started making a sauce with the last remaining fresh tomatoes, then I had my lunch.

After a while the travel-lift came and Nicholas, the travel-lift attendant, waived to me to enter the “pool”. By 1300 Thetis was out of the water and was being driven to her winter resting place.

This is the end of Thetisʼ travels for 2009.

October 15 to October 25, 2009

Ayios Isidoros
The Ayios Isidoros Islet in Leros

Since Thetis was hauled-out earlier than planned I had several more days to prepare her for the winter. This was fortunate because despite Nicholasʼ efforts we could not find someone to help me. The only person he managed to locate came down with the flu.

There were many tasks to be performed, just like last year. I was fortunate that that Andrew and Karin brought their S/Y Cresswell Jenny here and hauled her out. Andrew was a great help when I was folding the newly washed sails. This is almost impossible to do by my self.

There was considerable socializing with Andrew and Karin as well as with Mark and Monique Davis who had hauled-out their Spindrift in the Evros yard in Lakki.

2009 Vital Statistics
Total Distance 913 nM
Time at Sea 68 days
Total Time Underway 167 hr
Total Solo Time 110 hr
Total Engine Time 65 hr
Total Fuel Consumed 437 L
Total Water Consumed 1965 L