This web page contains the logs of the first leg of a 25 day singlehanded sailing trip that I took with S/Y Thetis in the Aegean Sea in Greece from the island of Samos (Samos Marina) to the Agmar Marine Shipyard in Partheni on the island of Leros where she was hauled out for the winter. This leg covers a period of 11 days and terminates in the island of Patmos (Livadhi tou Geranou). Along the way we stopped in Nisi on Samos, in Turkey (Kirkdilim Liman, Alaçati, Siğacik), and in several islands: Chios (Kato Fana), Ikaria (Atsipades), Fourni (Aspa), and Marathi. The logs include photographs and some descriptions of the places visited as well as several links to related web sites.
Tuesday September 28, 2010
My wife Alice left this morning for Washington, D.C. I started closing our house in Kalami and moving into Thetis. I went to the marina and took a jerry can which I filled with 22 L of Diesel fuel and then transferred it to the fuel tank which is now ¾ full. I also have two full 25 L jerry cans as spares. I hope these will last until we reach Partheni for our haul-out on October 23.
Back in Kalami I pre-cooked 3 turkey cutlets and packed all the perishables which I took to Thetis and stored in the refrigerator.
My plan is to sleep in Thetis tonight, depart tomorrow and stop at an anchorage in Samos for the night. Then, to go to Alaçati in Turkey and visit my friends Arzu and Turgut. Tonight I have been invited for dinner by our friends Drs. Stamatis and Heleni Skoutas in their house in Kalami.
We spent a pleasant evening but by the time I was back to Pythagorio and Thetis it was past midnight.
The night was cold and I had to use a blanket.
Wednesday September 29, 2010, Day 1
First thing in the morning I checked the weather and the e-mail on the internet. Then I washed down the deck and cockpit with the pressure hose. I also topped the water tanks.
We departed at 1000. The wind was light, just 6-8 knots from the WSW. We motor-sailed with the headsail until Poseidonio when the wind became variable and I had to roll-in the sail. I put up the tent and after rounding Cape Prasso we headed for Nisi also known as Ayia Paraskevi (Αγία Παρασκευή).
We arrived in Nisi (Νησί) [37° 46.9' N 26° 59.5' E] at 1240 after 12.6 nM. The bottom here is steep and it has mostly weed but there are few small patches of sand. I anchored in 6.5 m, avoiding the many permanent moorings, and I let out 45 m of chain.
It was calm but gusty with the wind coming mostly from the S but also sometimes from the E and W. Despite all my efforts Thetis was sometimes drifting too close to a mooring for my comfort. I snorkeled and checked. The anchor was OK but the chain was rather close to one of the three anchors from a mooring.
I had a fairly pleasant and quiet afternoon mostly reading. I finished a Greek book The Doctor of Spinaloga. It is an interesting romantic story, reconstructed from diaries, about the life of a medical doctor who was the last director of the Spinaloga leper colony which was the last such in Greece operating until the late 1940s. I continued reading Don Quixote De La Mancha which I had started in Kalami and I started Bram Stoker’s Dracula, both on the Kindle. Books for the Kindle come mostly from Amazon. New editions cost less than their paper cousins but old books, whose copyright has expired, can be downloaded for free from Many Books on the Internet. Recently Amazon has also made them available and their price is $0!
In the late afternoon, while inside the cabin, I heard a motorboat near Thetis. To my surprise somebody called my name. He was Nikos Tsoumakis the proprietor of a nautical/fishing supply store in Vathy. His father owns a sailboat Sonny II which he races in various local races. They were removing for the winter the mooring near Thetis. So, my small problem was solved.
By 6 PM the sun was hidden by the clouds and I removed the tent. I then had an ouzo. I had brought with me from Kalami a small amount of left over chopped meat. Now I used it to make a sauce with onions, garlic, tomatoes, and wine.
For dinner I boiled some spaghetti and served it with the meat sauce I had made earlier. This I served with plenty of graded Parmezan. Half of the sauce was left over for another meal.
Later it drizzled and I put up the spray hood. By 10 PM I was in my cabin.
Thursday September 30, 2010, Day 2
I was woken up a few minutes before 3 AM by the shallow water alarm. The wind had veered to WNW and Thetis had drifted to 2.9 m depth right next to an anchored rowboat. I immediately started the engine and moved the boat to deeper water. Not to be caught like last time I also turned on the Radar. After installing Yiakoumis, the autopilot, I started raising the anchor. As usual trouble breeds more trouble. The chain was tangled and brought up the anchor of a small fishing boat. I used the snub line to hold the fishing boat’s anchor and lowered Thetis’ chain until it was untangled. I then released the snub line and the fishing boat’s anchor fell harmlessly back into water. By 0300 Thetis’ anchor was up and she was clear of the land and its dangers.
I was not sure what to do next. I was to meet my friend Turgut in Alaçati between 5 and 5:30 PM but after this uncivilized departure time I would arrive way too early and he had told me that I have to meet him so that he can navigate Thetis through the tricky channel. I could go back to Mikri Lakka, anchor, and then depart again at a later time. But I hated to backtrack. A third option would be to go to the lovely Kirkdilim cove and wait there for a few hours but that is kind of risky since I would not have checked legally into Turkey. The final option was to go to Emborio in Chios and then turn back for 15 nM to Alaçati. So, unsure of what to do I headed for Emborio.
I ran the water-maker and refiled the tanks and some bottles with water that I use for cooking. The wind was 12-18 knots N on our port side. I uncovered the mainsail and raised it and then I opened the genoa. I managed to sail without the engine all of 10 minutes. Then the wind veered to NW and became a headwind. I rolled-in the genoa and motor-sailed at low RPM with the mainsail helping, just a little. The seas were rather confused. Later I also sent an e-mail to Turgut advising him that I am on my way and plan to arrive around 5 PM as we had agreed.
Around 0800 the wind diminished to 8-15 knots NW and the mainsail was flapping. I had to lowered it. Decided, after all, to head for Kirkdilim and I changed course. We arrived in Kirkdilim Liman [38° 08.6' N 26° 33.8' E] at 1040. The distance from Nisi was 30.4 nM. The cove was totally deserted, a real treat, and very calm. The water was a lovely emerald-green color. I anchored in 5 m depth and let out 25 m of chain.
I put up the tent and had a nice long swim. Then, after a light lunch I took a nap. We departed Kirkdilim at 1507. The wind outside the deep cove was 10-15 knots WNW right on Thetis’ nose. I motored and kept on the tent. Turgut and I had already exchanged a number of SMS messages. He was going to hail me on the VHF channel 69 as soon as he arrived in Alaçati from his office Izmir. Then he will meet Thetis, at 4:45, with his dinghy and guide us in through the shallow water to his private pier in front of his house. Sure enough he was hailing me at 4:15.
When we reached Alaçati Bay (also referred to as Agriler Liman), I lowered the tent and with an eye on the chart and depth sounder slowly motored towards the first set of red and green buoys marking the channel. Indeed Turgut was waiting there with his dinghy. He then guided us through the channel and the shallows to his pier. By 1830 and after some tight maneuvering Thetis was docked using Turgut’s mooring and docking lines, right next to New Life II [38° 15.6' N 26° 22.8' E]. The distance from Kirdkidlim was 14.4 nM and from Nisi, Samos 44.8 nM.
The house is small: living room, kitchen, and two bedrooms. It is part of a brand new upscale development. Each house faces the waterfront and most of them have their own pier. Turgut now keeps his New Life II permanently here. All facilities like water & electricity are provided at the pier.
Turgut was very much surprised by my gifts of Samos Nectar sweet wine, Samos ouzo, and Kalami 09 wine. He loved the label. After I had a hot shower, we drove to the village of Alaçati, the Greek Αλάτσατα (Alátsata). The old village has now been totally restored and wealthy people from Istanbul and Izmir have bought the houses paying outrageous prices. We were joined by Arzu there and had a nice dinner in a rather fancy restaurant.
Despite the Aykers kind offer I did not sleep in their guest room but I slept in my berth in Thetis–I just used their guest bathroom.
Friday October 1, 2010, Day 3
Today was a typical frantic day. We drove with two cars, Arzu’s and Turgut’s, to their house in Izmir. On the way we stopped for breakfast at a restaurant near Urla, the Greek Βουρλά where the Nobel winning Greek poet George Seferis was born. I just had some fruit. At their house we left one car and picked up their son Orhan. He is now heavy-set and looks very much like his father. We then drove to the site where Turgut’s company has a very large brand new warehouse and their new office building, to house 150 employees, is under construction. It is almost finished and will be occupied by November. It is large with very modern architecture and luxurious. Business is booming.
After that we drove, it seemed for ever, to Eskifoça to look at 5 Kangal puppies. The Aykers are interested to adapt one for Orham, their previous dog having died from old age. Then back to Izmir where Orhan stayed and we continued onward to Alaçati. We had dinner in Cesme by the new marina. By the time we returned and I got back to Thetis I was exhausted.
Saturday October 2, 2010, Day 4
In the morning Turgut and I went to the village of Alaçati. It was the market day. Endless displays of fruits, foodstuff, clothes, tools, you name it. The market covered many city blocks. We sat down for a chai (tea) and then bought some fruits and other supplies.
Back to the boats I helped Turgut prepare New Life II for departure. We were to take her to Siğacik where tomorrow she will participate in a race. In the late morning we were joined by a couple Turgut’s friends: Halil and Semra Akman. We actually had met years ago when Turgut took me, in 2002, to his electrical supply store in Izmir to buy material for the old New Life’s electrical refit.
We departed Alaçati and sailed towards Siğacik. On the way we stopped by Cilga Cave [38° 12.2' N 26° 39.0' E]. It was brisk and no one else wanted to swim. But I did and snorkeled to the underwater cave while New Life hovered. Unfortunately New Life’s underwater flash light did not work. It was nice but dark inside going over 10 m in. I could not see very much but on the way out the water was illuminated by the sun and now I could see thousands of tiny fish.
Courtesy Turkut Ayker
After that we proceeded to Siğacik where now is a brand new marina called “Teos Siğacik Marina” and looks very nice. We unloaded New Life’s anchor and chain to lighten her up for tomorrow’s EAK II race. Then, there was a reception for the race’s participants where I met lots of sailors, a number of them familiar with the Thetis Website and my friendship with the Aykers.
By 8 PM we left Siğacik with Turgut’s car which was had come driven by the faithful Mustafa, his driver. On the way back we took a diversion to Urla where we had a very nice seafood dinner at a restaurant very close to the Seferis house.
By the time we returned to Alaçati and I got into my bed in Thetis it was almost midnight.
Sunday October 3, 2010, Day 5
In the early morning I had a very nice bike ride with Turgut’s bicycle. I rode about 20 minutes, against the wind, to the old village of Alaçati and then 15 minutes back, with the wind.
Then Turgut, Arzu, and I drove back to Siğacik. On the way we stopped at a fancy bakery in Alaçati for a light breakfast and supplies. At Siğacik we were joined by Halil, Semra, and another friend of Turgut’s, Ziya, a dentist from Dusseldorf. New Life II was then franticly prepared for the afternoon race.
The start of the race was delayed and all 22 participating boats were milling around the starting point for almost two hours. Of course, this being Turkey there were plenty of mezedes (snacks) and drinks to occupy the crew. Serma’s stuffed peppers were fantastic.
Eventually the race started and there was frantic activity. Halil was the skipper. Arzu was in charge of the genoa with me assisting. She is very competitive. The race lasted about 2½ hours and New Life was overall second but first in her class. Everyone was very, very pleased.
Returning to the new marina was a very confused affair with all 22 boats arriving more or less one after the other. Then there was the award ceremony. After the present commodore gave New Life’s cup to Turgut, Turgut (a past commodore) took the microphone and said that his Greek friend was very helpful in winning the race and he hopped that this will be the beginning of Turko-Greco racing relations. This was very kind of him because his Greek friend was mostly ballast during the race. After that Turgut became the new master of ceremonies and awarded the rest of the cups.
On the way back to Alaçati we stopped at fast-food restaurant where we all had a lentil soup, Arzu and Turgut had a donner and I spinach pide. By 9 we were back in their house. We all had a small glass of limoncello that I had brought from Kalami and as we were all very tired we went to bed.
Monday October 4, 2010, Day 6
I woke up at 6 AM. Turgut was already up and working at his computer. He loaned me his wireless modem/dongle and I connected my MacBook to the Internet. I first sent and received e-mails and then looked up the weather forecasts. They predict fairly strong NW winds here of force 5-6 but locally in the Sea of Ikaria of force 7. While in the Chios Channel 6 and only 4 in the southern coast of Chios. This pattern will hold for today and tomorrow but the winds will lessen on Wednesday.
With this information I planed to go today to Chios, most likely to Kato Fana, stay there all of tomorrow and then push on to Fourni on Wednesday. Turgut and Arzu will be going back to Izmir.
Before they left for Izmir a nice breakfast was served. Complete with breads, olives, fruits, jams, cheeses, etc.
After Arzu and Turgut left I started my departure preparations. I first, taking advantage of the calm conditions here, I lowered the dinghy from the deck. This took me almost 40 minutes. I then pumped it because it was low on air. After finishing with the dinghy I uncovered the mainsail in hope for a favorable sailing wind. After disconnecting the AC power and untying several lines I cast off at 1200.
I motored slowly, running the water-maker, in the shallow water following the course that Turgut had shown me on Thursday. When Thetis was out of the 2 nM channel I raised the mainsail and set it on its first reef. I then opened about 40% of the headsail. The wind was 15-20 knots from the NW and we had a nice comfortable sail for a while. But, I could see white caps in the Chios Channel. Taking advantage of the benign conditions I had a light lunch before reaching the white caps.
Soon the wind increased to 20-28 knots, still from the NW, and there was considerable spray. I raised the spray hood and closed all the hatches. We still had a good broad reach sailing at a good speed. When we were near Chios I lowered the Turkish courtesy flag and checked for a GSM signal. There was a fairly strong 3G signal from Cosmote, my Greek provider. I took advantage of this and called my brothers. I could not get my brother Nikos Riginos so I called his particular friend Rozina. I then connected the MacBook and called Alice in Washington, D.C. via Skype. It was good to hear her voice. Our children Corinna and Siva had already left for Princeton.
After rounding Cape Masticho and headed NW the wind was against us and I had to roll-in the headsail, turn on the engine, and motor-sail. We arrived in Kato Fana (Κάτω Φανά), Chios (Χίος) [38° 12.3' N 25° 55.6' E] at 1740 after 24.9 nM. I anchored in 4.7 m and let out 35 m of chain. It was, as usual, very nice here and Thetis was all alone. But, there was no GSM signal.
Back to my old habits I had an ouzo while the sun was setting. It was a little chilly and I had to put on long pants and a sweater to sit comfortably in the cockpit.
For dinner I prepared a pre-cooked turkey cutlet with a fresh lemon sauce and rice. While emptying overboard a plate of grape seeds the plate slipped out of my hand and went into the sea. I felt rather stupid.
I went to bed by 11 and slept well.
Tuesday October 5, 2010, Day 7
In the early morning I lowered the outboard to the dinghy and I went ashore at 8 AM. I took a 2 hr very pleasant hike.
Back on Thetis I covered the mainsail and put up the tent. I also dived and recovered the plate that I had inadvertently thrown overboard yesterday. The anchor was well set.
In the late morning there was a 5-10 knot southern breeze and Thetis settled in 4 m depth. Later the wind backed. The anchor was still well set but the wind never exceeded 12 knots. By the afternoon it was chilly in the cockpit and I removed the tent.
I turned on the engine for about 10 minutes to warm the water and then I had a very nice hot shower. But the pump that empties the shower water did not work. Its motor turned but there was no pumping action. I had to use the hand pump to do so.
There was a lovely sunset which I enjoyed while sipping my ouzo. For dinner I made spaghetti with the last of the meat sauce.
Because my plan was to depart very early in the morning I went to bed by 10. But, I did not set the alarm. The idea was to wake up naturally.
Wednesday October 6, 2010, Day 8
I woke up at 4 AM and prepared for departure. Thetis departed Kato Fana at 0440. The wind was 4-8 knots from the NE and we had to motor. Near Chios we had a close encounter with two large fishing trawlers, they did not have AIS. I had to drastically change course in order to avoid them.
A couple of hours after our departure the wind veered to the N and I opened the headsail although I was not sure if it will help. During the passage there was good 3G signal reception and after updating the e-mails I got the latest forecasts. The prediction for today and tomorrow was NW winds of force 4-5 for the Sea of Ikaria and for the Samos Sea. But by Friday the winds will be force 6-7. During this sedate passage I vacuumed and dusted the cabins.
I wanted to check out a possible small anchorage just S of Cape Drepano in the island of Ikaria. The cove is under a three story Hellenistic tower at a site called Drakanon (Δράκανον). We arrived to the cove named Atsipades (Ατσιπάδες) [37° 41.1' N 26° 21.8' E] at 1050. The distance from Kato Fana was 36 nM. There is nice sand but the cove is steep, very deep, and then it gets shallow very quickly. Also, after rounding the cape the wind increased by over 10 knots and while the cove is sheltered there was appreciable swell. I anchored in 4 m depth and let out 25 m of chain but it was not comfortable. Although I looked carefully at the shore with the binoculars I did not see any path leading to the tower. At any rate, I was reluctant to leave Thetis unattended for the time it would take me to climb to the tower. So, I decided to leave.
We departed at 1125 for Fourni. The wind by now was from the N at 10-18 knots and once again I opened the headsail which gave Thetis an extra knot. After passing the narrow channel between the island of Thymena (Θύμαινα) and the islet Kesiria (Κεσιρία) we arrived in the Aspa (Άσπα) cove [37° 33.9' N 26° 28.3' E] which is just N of Elidaki (Ελιδάκι) and Petrokopio (Πετροκοπειό). The total distance from Chios was 44.7 nM. The cove was very calm and sandy, but windy and gusty. I anchored in in 6 m depth with 40 m scope. Thetis settled in 7 m.
There was no 3G signal here, just 2G GPRS so I could not use Skype to call Alice, I just sent e-mails. It was too windy and too cold for the tent but the sun was strong, if not hot. I snorkeled to the anchor. It was very well dug-in. Since the water was comfortable I had a pleasant swim snorkeling around the cove.
Later, after 5 PM, when the sun was low on the horizon it got cold. The barometer was falling down to 1009 mB from the 1016 of a couple of days ago. But it was not humid despite the gathering clouds. I dressed warmly and had my ouzo in the cockpit. I then cut 2 potatoes from Kalami wine, into slices, coated them with olive oil (also from Kalami), and baked them in the oven on a metal tray. These are the low-fat dieter’s “fried” potato chips. After they were done and crispy I coated a turkey cutlet with egg and bread crumbs and cooked it in the frying pan with a little olive oil. I also made a tomato salad. These made for a nice meal which I ate, despite the chill, in the cockpit.
The oven had made it toasty inside the cabin and I had a good sleep.
Thursday October 7, 2010, Day 9
Despite the howling wind I slept well. I checked my e-mails and the weather. The Greek Weather Service (EMY) is now issuing a gale warning for the Sea of Ikaria with NNE winds of force 7-8 while the forecast for Samos Sea is NNW wind force 6 and locally 7. Not so good! These conditions should last well into Saturday. I contemplated going to either Patmos or Marathi. In Patmos I could get some needed fuel and provisions and there are many anchoring choices. In Marathi it would be less windy than Patmos, there are secure moorings and no need to anchor, and the food is very good. Also I prefer not to be in Marathi during the weekend, assuming that there may be day-trippers and other cruisers. Finally I decided to go to Marathi first and on the weekend to Patmos.
I departed at 0930 with light rain. Near Fourni it was very gusty and I motored running the water-maker. After reaching Cape Agridio the wind was a more reasonable 15-28 knots from the NNE. I opened the full genoa and motor-sailed. After 1-2 miles the wind increased to 20-38 knots somewhere between from N to NE. I turned off the motor and sailed sometimes doing 6.7 knots and other times 4 knots. We almost reached Marathi this way under sail. But when we were less than 2 nM away I had to motor-sail again.
In the Marathi cove there were 3 other boats: a charter S/Y, an Italian ketch, and a British S/Y. Plenty of free moorings. Despite the gusty wind I easily caught one Pandelis’ moorings [37° 22' N 26° 43.6' E] at 1225. The distance from Fourni was 16.1 nM.
The sky was cloudy and it was gusty but very calm. I had a light lunch and worked for a while on the MacBook. I then realized that I was out of ground filter coffee and I could not make my afternoon cup unless I fired the genset to operate the 220V coffee grinder. Instead I lowered the outboard to the dinghy and went ashore with the coffee beans and the grinder. Kyria Katina, who had already noticed the arrival of Thetis, welcomed me. I ground my coffee using her power plug. After going back to the boat and having my delayed afternoon cup I went ashore again for a longish walk around the north side of the island.
Later, after a hot shower I went to Pandelis for dinner. It was around 7:30 and already dark. I met Pandelis and his son Manolis who are engaged in shutting down the place for the winter. I also a met an elderly Swiss couple whom I had met here a few years ago. They have sold their sailboat and now they were staying in the rooms for a few days. Dinner was, as usual excellent: Katina’s salad, grilled τσιπούρα (gilt-head bream - Sparus aurata), fresh grilled vegetables (zucchini, carrots, and caper leaves), followed by a homemade lemon-rind spoon dessert.
By 10 o’clock I was in my cabin falling asleep.
Friday October 8, 2010, Day 10
There was a lot of wind during the night but I slept fairly well. Thetis was very secure, tied with two separate lines to the mooring. The morning was rather cold. The hotter it ever got today inside the cabin was only 22°C (71.6°F) but the day started at 16°C (60.8°F).
In the morning I stayed mostly inside the cabin working on the computer and reading on the Kindle. By noon it was warm enough under the sun for me have lunch in the cockpit.
Later in the afternoon I had a nice swim. The water was actually warmer than the ambient temperature. I also took a walk around the south side of the island.
I spoke with my friend Manos Castrinakis on the GSM phone. He is back in Athens from the US and expecting his wife Mary next week. He kindly invited me to spent a night with them, before my flight to Washington, in his apartment in Athens.
Around 8 PM I went to Pandelis for dinner: same salad as yesterday, octopus and zucchini balls for appetizer, and then a pot roasted young goat (κατσικάκι). I had brought with me a bottle of the last limoncello we had made in Kalami. This we all, including the Swiss guests, sampled.
The night was very, very windy but the forecasts predict the gale to be over by tomorrow.
Saturday October 9, 2010, Day 11
The night was cold down to 14°C (57.2°F) inside the cabin. It is amazing the difference of one month or so. In August with all the hatches open the lightest sheet was intolerable and now I need two blankets with all the hatches battened down and the companion way closed.
The early morning was very windy but by 10 AM the wind was down to 20 knots and less gusty. I printed the recipe for limoncello that I had promised to Katina and went ashore and gave it to her. I then said good-bye to these kind and hard working people.
Back on Thetis I had a light lunch in the cockpit without the tent. I have not had the tent up since Tuesday. I then prepared for departure: raised on board the outboard, removed the strong mooring line and its cleat, uncovered the mainsail, etc.
We departed at 1320. Outside the cove I headed upwind and raised the mainsail. The wind was 16-25 knots NW and this allowed me to sail to Patmos with 40% of the headsail, doing better then 6.5 knots. There were however some fairly large and irregular waves. I approached Livadhi tou Geranou (Λιβάδι του Γερανού) and after rolling-in the headsail and lowering the mainsail, I motored in the cove [37° 20.6' N 26° 35.3' E] at 1510 after 8.6 nM. I dropped the anchor in 5.5 m depth and let out 40 m of the chain. The boat settled in 6 m.
The cove was very calm and I had it all to myself as there were no other boats. The taverna appears to be shut for the year. Despite the cold I snorkeled and checked the anchor which was nicely dug-in. Since the water temperature was 24°C (75.2°F), several degrees higher than the ambient, the water was very pleasant and I had a nice long swim. After I dried myself I covered the mainsail, put on warm clothes, and settled in the cockpit reading under the warmer sunshine.
I tried to fix the errant shower pump. I dismantled it but did not succeed in repairing it. Its motor is alright, and all the hoses are clear but the actual pump has a leaky membrane. I had no spares for this.
In the late afternoon I went ashore and after disposing the accumulated trash took a pleasant walk. I noticed a large number of feral cats, poor things have now lost the food from the taverna. After the walk, I had my obligatory ouzo while watching the sun dip behind the mountains. For dinner I had the last of the turkey cutlets with rice and a balsamic vinegar and capers sauce.
It was a nice but cold night. I had to use two blankets, long underwear, and a pullover.