Travels with S/Y Thetis

Thetis only

2010: Samos to Islands of the Dodecanese

This web page contains the logs of a singlehanded sailing cruise that I took with S/Y Thetis to the the Dodecanese in Greece. The logs cover a period of 14 days of sailing from Samos (Samos Marina, Mycale) to Marathi via the islands of Patmos (Livadhi Pothitou), Levitha, Leros (Lakki, Archangelos, Partheni), and Lipsi (Papandria).

The logs are illustrated with maps and photographs. They also include some historical and geographical descriptions of the places visited as well as several links to other related web sites.

Route to Levitha
Route from Samos

Thursday July 22, 2010, Day 1

Alice left Samos yesterday to return for one month in Washington, D.C. My brother Nikos is now with his traditional caïque the “Faneromeni” on the island of Schinousa. he has had some medical problems and now we have plans to link and sail together with both our boats. So, I scrapped my plans to sail this month north to the Sporades and decided instead to sail south and meet Nikos.

In the mean time, here in Samos the N wind was blowing at force 6 and with much higher gusts. I departed Samos Marina at 1000 and motored just 1.4 M to Mycale Bay (Μυκάλη) [37° 42.3' N 26° 58.8' E] where I anchored, at 1020, in 4 m depth over sand letting out 35 m of chain. It was calm here but the gusts were at 30 knots. The forecasts called for similar conditions for tomorrow but with the wind subsiding by Saturday. My plan was to stay here until then.

Yesterday there was a fire in Samos. Three airplanes and a helicopter dumped sea water and managed by nightfall to keep it under control. Today the fire-fighting planes were scooping sea water here in Mycale and close to Thetis and dumped it over the burned area, on the north side of the island, to prevent any more flareups.

I relaxed under the tent and did a lot of swimming and snorkeling. I scraped the underside of the boat from the accumulated growth.

For dinner I pan fried two chicken-meat patties (μπιφτεκάκια). They were very tasty along with 2009 Kalami wine.

Afterwords I managed to speak with Alice on Skype.

Mycale Bay
Mycale Bay

Friday July 23, 2010, Day 2

The night was very windy but Thetis was secure and I slept well. In the morning the wind was less strong, just 10-18 knots. I worked on the computer and started reading Alexander Kent’s Passage to Mutiny, the 7th volume of the Bolitho series, on the Kindle.

Later I put up the tent and removed some rust stains from the deck. I kept on reading, listening to music, and frequent swimming. It was a lazy sort of day.

The forecasts called for NW winds of force 4-5 for tomorrow but today was still gusty with peaks up to 26 knots. Also the day was hot with temperature reaching 34°C (93°F) inside the cabin despite the extra shade from the tent.

For dinner I made a fresh tomato sauce, with tomatoes I had brought from Kalami. This I served with pasta and plenty of Parmezan cheese.

I spoke with my brother Nikos. He was still in Schinousa but we agreed to meet in Levitha on Sunday.

The night was very quiet.

Saturday July 24, 2010, Day 3

Today’s forecasts called for for force 4-5 NW winds but by tomorrow these will be down to 3-4 and come from the SW. I decided to depart for Patmos. I prepared the boat and we departed at 0740.

The wind was 5-15 knots from the NE. I raised the mainsail but left it on the second reef. We motor-sailed and ran the water-maker. At 0900 the wind backed to the N at 10-20 knots and I was able to turn off the engine. I shook off the reef and opened the headsail. We sailed in peace until 0940 when the wind backed again to the WNW at 8-15 knots and I had to motor-sail again. While underway, Nikos called. He will not leave Schinousa for Levitha today as he was planning but tomorrow and again he will not go directly to Levitha as we had agreed but to Aegiali in Amorgos. He will then go to Levitha on Monday. It is very frustrating to try and synchronize with my brother.

Livathi Pothitou
Livathi Pothitou or Geranou

We arrived in Livadhi Pothitou (Λιβάδι Ποθειτού also known as Libadhi Geranou - Λιβάδι Γερανού), Patmos [37° 20.7' N 26° 35.3' E] at 1300. Distance traveled was 26.3 M. I anchored without any problem in 6 m depth letting out 40 m of chain. Only the down button of the windlass controls did not work. I later fixed it—it was a bad contact.

Good 3G signal here and I sent an e-mail to Alice. I later rigged the dinghy and went ashore for a nice long hike.

After returning to Thetis I could see the large moon, one day short of full, while sipping my ouzo. For dinner I made a rice-pilaf to go along with 2 slices of the pot roast that I had prepared with lemon sauce in Kalami. This along with Kalami wine made for a very nice evening. After eating I spent a considerable amount of time in the cockpit listening to Greek Rembetika and watching the moon. This is indeed a lovely cove.

Moonrise in Livathi Geranou

Sunday July 25, 2010, Day 4

Since the forecast predicted low wind I covered the mainsail and put up the tent. There was no wind at all here and the sea was like glass. I took the trash ashore and then returned aboard.

While settling down for a quiet day in this pleasant cove my brother Nikos called. He is en route to Aegiali. I told him that I plan to depart Patmos early tomorrow for Levitha but I need to know if indeed he will go there himself. This is because the forecast for tomorrow called for force 4 S winds in the morning and then for force 5 in the afternoon. A few minutes later he called back. He will not stop in Aegiali after all but he will proceed directly to Levitha instead. This suited me better as this was not a contrary wind for me either. So, I prepared to depart also. 

We departed Libadhi Geranou at 1100. The wind was just 5 knots from the south. We motored with very bad visibility. On the way I spoke again with Nikos, on the VHF channel 69, as we had arranged.

Thetis arrived in Levitha (Λέβιθα) [37° 0.1' N 26° 28.0' E] at 1500 almost at the same time as the Faneromeni having covered 26.3 M (measured on the water but 24.1 actual on the GPS). I took one of the permanent moorings without any difficulty and the Faneromeni took another next to Thetis.

After a while Nikos’ friend Spyros Papaioannou with his friend Dina arrived with the M/V Marinero. He remembers me as Nikos’ older brother from 1965 when we lived in Voula, a suburb of Athens.

There was no wind in the cove and it was rather humid and hot.

In the evening we all went ashore and walked to the hamlet for dinner. Unfortunately being Greek we went later then the usual Northern European sailors and they were out of their specialty: meat patties (biftekakia - μπιφτεκάκια). But, the eggplant was delicious and so was the fish skaros (σκάρος - Sparisoma cretense) that I ate.

The night was extremely humid.

Monday July 26, 2010, Day 5

Nikos needed to have a blood test and so we decided to go to Lakki, Leros. We departed at 0840. On the way I re-calibrated the new Tridata ST60 Speed Log. We also communicated with Nikos on the VHF and checked the visibility of our boats on the radar. I could see the Faneromeni all right and he could see Thetis but after a while he stopped seeing her.

The wind was 12-18 knots from the S. I opened 40% of the headsail but I kept the tent. I motor-sailed charging the batteries and running the water-maker.

Anchored off in Lakki
Anchored off (arodo - αρόδο) in Lakki

Last night at the taverna I had trouble with my left hearing aid. I replaced its wax guard  but it fell off so I gave up. This morning I woke up with my left ear completely closed as if it was full of water. I tried to put some alcohol with a Q-tip and draw the water out. The Q-tip came bloody. I panicked and then I thought that maybe the missing wax guard was still in my ear.

We arrived in Lakki, Leros (Λακκί, Λέρος) [37° 07.8' N 26° 51.1' E] at 1205 after 22 M. The Faneromeni and the Marinero moored in the Lakki Marina but I anchored off preferring the lack of lights and street noise.

I got into the dinghy and went ashore looking for an ear-nose-and-throat doctor. There were none here but I was told to go to the emergency room of the small local hospital. To make the long story short after a very long wait they looked into my ears and did not see any foreign object but what they did see was puss in both ears but considerably more in the left. They gave me an antibiotic prescription and ear drops.

In the evening we all, Nikos, Spyros, Dina, and I, had a very good meal at the Petrino restaurant.

“Faneromeni” in Lakki Marina
Faneromeni in Lakki Marina

Tuesday July 27, 2010, Day 6

I noticed that while the hospital doctor had prescribed 7 x 3 (21) antibiotic tablets the drug store only gave me 16. So, I went ashore and walked to the drug store where I had to buy another box of 16 since they do not sell them in smaller quantities. After the drug store I walked to the wonderful fruit store and bought a supply of fresh fruits. Then I went to the bakery for bread and walked back to the marina. Nikos was busy with various boat related tasks. He wanted to take Faneromeni later to Agmar Marine (now called Moor & Dock) in Partheni for some electrical repairs on his autopilot and flood lights. I too wanted to have them repair Thetis’ swimming ladder that had a broken welded bolt.

I went back to Thetis, had lunch and a rest. It turned out that while I was resting “Faneromeni” departed Lakki and I was not even aware that they did. I could not raise them on the VHF so I called Nikos on the GSM phone. When I spoke with him Faneromeni was on her way to Partheni.

Thetis departed Lakki at 1600. The wind was 4-8 knots WSW, too weak for sailing. I kept the tent and motored running the water-maker. On the way I spoke with Nikos on the VHF. He had already arrived in Partheni and moored on one of Agmar Marine’s moorings. I entered Partheni but the nearby Archangelos was much more inviting so, I turned back and headed there.

We arrived in Archangelos [37° 11.9' N 26° 46.3' E] at 1740 after 10.5 M. I anchored in 5 m with 40 m of chain. There were several other boats here. I swam and checked the anchor.

Later I sent several e-mails (the 3G signal here was stronger than in Lakki). I then read, finishing Passage to Mutiny and started Alexander Kent’s Form Line of Battle! the 9th volume of the Bolitho series, and had an ouzo. For dinner I had leftover rice and roast. By 10:30 feeling rather tired I went to bed.

Wednesday July 28, 2010, Day 7

I woke up early and after my coffee prepared to go to Partheni to joint Nikos and have the swimming ladder repaired.

I raised the anchor at 0710 and by 0730, after 1.7 M, Thetis was swinging from one of Agmar’s moorings [37° 11.3' N 26° 48' E] next to the Faneromeni. Nikos came over with his dinghy and we went ashore and found Mastro Michalis, Agmar’s chief technical officer. He immediately asked someone to attend to Thetis’ swimming ladder.

In anticipation, Nikos and I moved Thetis into the travelift “pool”. Soon the ladder was removed and within few minutes it was back properly welded and re-installed. I then moved Thetis back to the mooring.

Nikos, Renaldo (his crewman), and I went back ashore and started two loads of clothes in the washing machine. We then both purchased several things from the chandlery and I introduced Nikos to Agmar’s owner Angelos Gaitanides. We had a long discussion with Angelos about the repairs to be made on Thetis concerning the cracks on her ribs. First the boat has to be emptied out of everything, clothes, books, spare parts, lines, etc. Angelos promised to find a secure and dry place for these to be stored. After a couple of weeks of drying out they will remove her mast and her floorboards and then move the boat in the covered shed and let her dry completely for several more weeks. Then they will drop her keel and remove several cabinets and bins to expose her ribs. Angelos will try to coordinate this with me so that, if I can, will come for the inspection and damage assessment prior to the actual repair.

Nikos wanted to repair a mast flood light on the Faneromeni but Panayiotis, the electrician, was not in the yard all morning. In the afternoon, when he returned, there were two other boats scheduled for launching so Faneromeni could not enter the “pool” to allow the crane for Panayiotis to reach her mast. By the time the launches were completed the wind, as forecasted, was blowing 20-25 knots from the NW and Nikos was reluctant to move the Faneromeni into the “pool.” Arrangements were made for early Friday morning when, as per the forecasts, the NW wind will be down to 3-4 Bft.

Thetis left Partheni at 1440 and motored the 1.6 M back to Archangelos [37° 11.9' N 26° 46.3' E] where by 1500 was anchored in 4 m depth with 40 m chain settling at 6 m depth. Soon after the Faneromeni arrived, anchored, and took a stern line ashore.

In the evening I made dinner and invited Nikos aboard Thetis. Appetizers were hard boiled eggs with scordalia (σκορδαλιά - a garlicy spread). These were followed with pot roast beef along with crisp baked sliced Kalami potatoes, and then for fruit Kalami watermelon (καρπούζι). All served with Kalami 2010 wine. While eating we watched a marvelous moonrise over Leros.

Around 10:30 PM the wind started coming from all directions: NW, as it did all day, SW, and from the S. Thetis was holding. Then during the night there were very strong gusts, again from many direction but there was no mishap.

Thursday July 29, 2010, Day 8

I woke up early being concerned that Thetis may drift to shallow water. We were facing SE gusts of 10-20 knots and we were already in 3 m depth. I decided to re-anchor and then deploy a shore line.

I anchored this time in 6 m depth with 35 m chain and then took a line from the stern to a rock ashore. The boat then settled in 4.2 m depth.

The rest of the day was lazy spent in reading, swimming, etc. My ear infection was now doing much better. I also, taking advantage of the rather good 3G signal tried to order a broadband VHF antenna compatible with the AIS but was totally frustrated. They do not list the Simrad IS 50 model nor do they show you how to order an antenna. They only list dealers. I sent e-mail to several but either they did not respond or their responses were negative. The site does have an option to communicate with Simbrad but it leads you to a dead link. Finally, I gave up on Simbrad and ordered a Shakspeare 5215-AIS antenna from West Marine.

In the evening I had the obligatory ouzo and then at 9 PM went for dinner to Faneromeni. Her crewman Rolando had prepared a roast chicken with spaghetti. This was one of the best meals I have ever had on the Faneromeni. While eating we were once again rewarded by an orange moonrise over Leros. The moon was now a few days past full.

The wind during the night was less gusty and I slept well.

Friday July 30, 2010, Day 9

In the morning, after I put up the tent, I was picked up by the Faneromeni’s dinghy at 0730. I had volunteered to crew for Nikos and help him dock in the Agmar Marine “pool” so that Panayiotis can repair the deck flood light on her mast. We started on the way to Partheni but during this short distance Faneromeni’s autopilot stopped operating properly. We first tied on a mooring buoy and waited while another boat was being launched. We were then told to enter the “pool”. The wind was a light breeze of 5-10 knots and with a crew of 3 we docked without any difficulty.

Shortly after we docked the crane arrived and Panayiotis and his tools were lifted to the Faneromeni’s foremast. The trouble was a cracked sealed beam. He also cut off some corroded cables, soldered new leads, and replaced the flood light. Problem fixed! After Panayiotis came down, he looked at the autopilot. It seems that its rudder sensor was defective. A new one had to be ordered.

I also discussed with him the problem that my new Tridata ST60 had developed in the last few days. It indicates not the speed over water from its impeller but SOG from the GPS. According to its less than clear manual this was set by the “Dealer Calibration” function. To reach this, according to the manual, one has to press simultaneously two buttons and hold them for 12 seconds. But the instrument did not reach this function. Panayiotis suggested that maybe the impeller sensor cable made a bad contact. I will check that.

We then left Partheni and returned back to our Archangelos cove which I learned that the locals call it Scrinia (Σκρινιά). As soon I was taken to Thetis, Faneromeni departed for Lipsi Harbor. I had lunch and then removed the shore line (caves - κάβος) and raised the anchor at 1320. We headed for Lipsi, but not for the harbor but for Papandria. On the way, I ran the water-maker and motored at low RPM to allow enough time for re-charging the batteries that had provided 130 Ah. The wind was 10-15 knots NW, a head wind. I also tried to fix the Tridata but to no avail.

We arrived in Papandria [37° 16.8' N 26° 46.2' E] at 1430. I anchored in 6 m depth with 45 m of chain. It was very calm here. I received an e-mail from my friend Onder Yildiz with the S/Y Pandora. She was in Samos Marina and the family was today in Agathonisi. Maybe they will come here in Lipsi tomorrow. I also sent an e-mail to Raymarine support asking for help on the Tridata.

Papandria, Lipsi
Papandria, Lipsi

In the evening, after sundown and after removing the tent I went ashore and walked for about 40 minutes to the town where I met Nikos. We sat at my favorite “Blue Tents” café which now sports a new sign: “Nick’s & Louli’s”. We ordered their grilled octopus and ouzo as well as other mezedes (μεζέδες - appetizers).

By the time I was back onboard Thetis it was almost midnight. The local taverna in Katsadia was blasting loud music.

Nikos at the Blue Tent Café
Nikos at the “Blue Tent Café”

Saturday July 31, 2010, Day 10

I was woken up at about 4:00 AM by a mosquito that managed to enter my cabin, despite the mosquito screen on its port. This is the first for this cruise. The bad music from the taverna was still on.

The rest of the day was slow and lazy. I did a lot of swimming and reading. I finished Alexander Kent’s Form Line of Battle! on the Kindle and started re-reading Alexander Kent’s Command a King's Ship, the 6th of the Bolitho series. I re-glued the seals of the refrigerator door. I also ran the genset for 1½ hour because the batteries were somewhat discharged. I spoke with Alice on back in Washington, D.C. on Skype.

The Yildiz Family
Melis, Nefiz, Elif, & Onder Yildiz at Nick’s & Louli’s café

In the evening I walked to the town. My friends the Yildiz family: Onder, his wife Nefiz, and their lovely daughters Melis and Elif had already arrived with the S/Y Pandora. We all went to the Nick’s & Louli’s café for ouzo and grilled octopus where we were later joined by Nikos and his particular friend Rozina who had arrived by an early morning ferry. After that we all went to the Kavos taverna where there was live island music. Nikos had heard about this and had reserved a table. It was great. Old friends, new friends (Nikos did not know the Yildiz), good music, and good conversation. Melis, the oldest daughter, has grown to a beautiful and very personable young lady and looks as if she is her mother’s younger sister. Elif is now full of inquisitiveness and daring. She without any second thought went into the kitchen and placed an order without knowing any Greek!

By the time I had walked back to the cove and boarded Thetis it was past 1:30 AM.

Sunday August 1, 2010, Day 11

The morning was quiet. I read, connected the computer to the internet, checked the weather forecasts, the e-mails, and then swam.

“Faneromeni” entering Papandria
The Faneromeni entering Papandria

In the late afternoon the Faneromeni came in Papandria. She anchored and took a stern line to a rock. Right away the Pandora entered the cove. She was on her way to Lakki but stopped here for an exchange of gifts. I went over with the dinghy while she was hovering and gave them a bottle of Kalami wine 2010 and they gave me some boat made cupcakes and an apricot jam from Turkey.

In the evening Nikos, Rozina, and I went to the local taverna in Katsadia, the cove just east of Papandria, where we had a reasonable meal. Blisfully no loud music tonight.

Monday August 2, 2010, Day 12

First thing in the morning, while relatively cool, I walked to the town and bought fresh bread and other provisions including a bag of frozen shrimps which I brought back to Thetis before 10 AM.

By that time it was very hot. I jumped in the water to cool off and then I put up the tent. Later Nikos told me that he had heard from our cousin Petros and his wife Angie that they were planning to come here in Papandria with a motor cruiser as they were in the neighborhood. This put a damper on my plan to invite Nikos and Rozina tonight for a pilaf with shrimps. Nothing further was heard from Petros all afternoon until about 7 PM when a largish cruiser entered the cove and anchored off. It was them. We all met in the Faneromeni for about 1 hour when Petros and Angie went back to their cruiser and departed for Patmos to join their friends who were there with a 30 m crewed chartered Turkish gulet.

Nikos and Rozina came later to Thetis and we had the rice and shrimps after all. This was followed with a watermelon I had brought from Kalami.

Tuesday August 3, 2010, Day 13

The Faneromeni left for Partheni early in the morning. The autopilot part had arrived and arrangements were made for Panayiotis to install it. Later, at 0820, Thetis followed. There was a very light, less than 10 knots northerly breeze. I put up the bimini and motor-sailed with the headsail.

While underway I ran the water-maker and re-filled the water tanks. Also, after finding the Olympia Radio (the Greek VHF service) MMSI I made my first DSC call from the new VHF transceiver. To my delight they responded and the VHF tuned automatically to their workingg frequency. This was a good test.

Unfortunately the charging current from the high power alternator was intermittent. It was sometimes 40-50 A and then it was down to less then 10 and back to 40. I called Agmar Marine and informed them that I too had a problem for Panayiotis to look into.

After 5.4 M we arrived in Partheni at 0920 and I caught one of Agmar’s moorings. By that time Panayiotis was already in the Faneromeni. He had the new autopilot rudder sensor but a new support fixture was needed. This was fabricated and was installed by the early afternoon. Now Faneromeni’s autopilot was working properly.

Next Panayiotis came to Thetis. He checked the wire harness from the alternator to the smart regulator etc. but found, like I did, no fault. Fortunately the intermittent problem manifested itself. He suspected that it was caused by the carbon brushes on the alternator slip rings. He promised to come back tomorrow, remove the alternator, take it to the shop, disassemble it, and check it.

We made arrangements with the help of the Irene, Agmar Marine’s efficient secretary to rent two motor scooters which were soon delivered. I took both gasoline canisters, one for the genset and the other for the outboard, to a fuel station and re-filled them.

Later we rode the scooters going to a restaurant. But while re-fueling them at a gas station Nikos called Avgi, Mirka’s (our sister-in-law) childhood friend who has a house in Leros. It turned out that she had some cousins from Canada and were having a BBQ to which she invited us. Before going there we were to meet in Alinda. After the gas station I told Nikos that I will stop for a minute and pay for the scooters. While there he zipped by and then I lost him. He was no where in Alinda or anywhere else. Tried calling him no answer. So I decided to forget it and go by myself to a restaurant. Then he called. They had stopped at a zacharoplastio (ζαχαροπλαστείο - pastry store) without saying anything. There were still there! Eventually we did go to Avgi’s. There was her mother, an aunt, a sister and her husband who turned out was Niko’s classmate in high-school, and the Canadian cousin. Eventually we all had a grand time.

The night back onboard Thetis was hot and several mosquitoes had penetrated inside my cabin. I did not sleep well.

Wednesday August 4, 2010, Day 14

After coffee I rode the scooter to Lakki and withdrew some euros from the ATM. I also bought some of the very tasty wine-soaked Leros cheeses and fruits. On the way back to Partheni I bought a fresh loaf of bread and did some more shopping in a brand new supermanket just a few km from Partheni.

When I returned to Thetis it was 8:30 and Panayiotis was already onboard removing the alternator. He then took it to the shop for disassembly.

The Faneromeni departed and I spent some time reading and answering e-mails. In the mean time Panayiotis re-installed the alternator.

I had some lunch and a swim to cool down as the day was rather hot. I then cast off the mooring and departed at 1300. We had not gone more then a mile when the alternator stopped charging all together. I called Panayiotis and informed him of this and told him that I returning to Partheni. This was very frustrating. I caught the same mooring and waited for Panayiotis.

He came around 14:30. After checking every single cable to the alternator and the regulator and turning on and off the engine we isolated the problem. The cable from the thermocouple temperature sensor from the alternator to the regulator was open. This sensor is a safety device and when the alternator overheats the regulator shuts it down until it cools to a safe temperature. Panayiotis tried to repair the cable but because the break was right at the thermocouple he did not succeed. I instructed him to remove it. Once that was done, the alternator, once again, appeared to work properly.

At 1520 I cast off for the second time and headed for Marathi where the Faneromeni had gone. The wind was very light, 4-15 knots NNW so we motored the 12.8 M and ran the water-maker. During this time the regulator worked without a brake. I tried to raise the Faneromeni on the VHF channel 69, as we had arranged. There was a lot of radio traffic in Italian, so I called Nikos on the GSM phone. Rozina answered and reported that the cove was crowded and they did not find a free mooring but had anchored and taken a line ashore. I did not like the idea of doing the same because the cove is rather deep and has an unreliable bottom full of weeds. So, I approached with some apprehension, thinking that if there was no mooring I will go to an alternate anchorage.

We arrived in Marathi [37° 22.1' N 26° 43.6' E] at 1730. As lack would have it there was one free mooring belonging to the Marathi taverna. I quickly caught it and all was well.

Around 9 PM I went to Pandelis where I was joined by Nikos and Rozina. We had lots of very tasty mezedes (μεζέδες - appetizers). The whole Pandeli’s clan was there doing a brisk business.