Travels with S/Y Thetis

Thetis only

2011: Tzia To Samos

This web page contains the logs of the second leg of a 26-day solo sailing trip that I took with S/Y Thetis to the Cyclades in Greece. The logs cover a period of 11 days of sailing from the island of Kea or Tzia (Koundouros), back to Samos (Mycale, Samos Marina) via the islands of Syros (Grammata, Finikas), Rhinia, Levitha, Leros (Alindas) and Lipsi (Papandria).

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

Route from Tzia
Route from Tzia (Kea)

Thursday August 11, 2011, Day 15

I had been aboard less then an hour and I was falling asleep when the wind, which until then was 10-15 knots, suddenly shot up to 20 and then to 25 and soon to 30 knots with gusts up to 55. It was fierce. Thetis was getting too close to a small motor cruiser to her right that was swinging wildly although it was anchored and had 2 shore lines. First I tightened some more the anchor chain and then I made a sling to the shore line that kept Thetis further to the left of the cruiser. This helped somewhat but was not enough. I started getting ready to deploy the second anchor to really keep Thetis more to the left. The man from the cruiser, Costas, seeing this volunteered to come and help. After we did this and secured the line from the 2nd anchor to a stern cleat Thetis was well 10 m clear of the cruiser. During the day, I spoke some more with Costas and his wife and following my recommendation they re-arranged their shore lines and stabilized her.

Following this late night or rather early morning operation I felt reasonably secure and after closing all the hatches to keep the wind outside I went to bed, it was almost 5 AM. I slept until 7:30. By that time the wind was down to the 20’s and the barometer up to 1007 mB.

Later I joined my cruiser neighbors Costas and his wife Epi for a cup of coffee. It was too unpleasant outdoors so we sat in their cockpit. They are an attractive couple. We all agreed that last night should not be repeated. In the mean-time, the forecasts all called for force 8 winds for most of the Aegean but only 5 to 6 by this afternoon for Kea. We shall see.

I did some computer work inside the cabin and later I spoke with my brother Byron after he had seen the doctor in Chora. He does have an infection but a course of antibiotics should clear it.

In the early afternoon I rode the scooter up to Katevati, where Byron and his friends have houses, and spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening with Byron, Ivi, and Mirka. I then returned to the boat and after a shower, a shave, and a change of clothes, I rode back to Katevati.

We were all invited for dinner by Spelios and Charoula Phillipou. There was the same jolly crowd from last night. By the time I returned to Thetis it was past 1 AM.

Friday August 12, 2011, Day 16

I slept very well last night and did not get up until well past 7. I put up the tent and then transferred to the fuel tank one jerry can. I then fired the MacBook and checked the weather forecasts: it will be much calmer near Kea today and tomorrow but there were still force 7 and 8 winds predicted for the rest of the Aegean. I worked on the computer until it became uncomfortably hot inside the cabin. It is hard to work on the computer in the cockpit because the strong light makes its LCD display very hard to read.

Around 1 PM I drove the scooter to Katevati and spent, once again, the afternoon with my relatives. Later Mirka left because she was taking the ferry to Rafina, and I returned to Thetis.

I removed the tent, washed up, and had an ouzo. Two largish cruisers came, anchored, and took shore lines to the left of Thetis completely crossing both her anchors. However, after I spoke with them, they told me that they will depart tomorrow afternoon. Since I planed to stay put until at least Sunday this was not a problem.

Around 9 PM Byron and Ivi came with their car and picked me up. I also took with me the two empty fuel jerry cans. We drove to the Margarita taverna in Pises where we were joined by Floreta and Evi. The food was fairly good. After dinner Byron drove to a coin operated fuel station where we put 42 L of fuel to the cans for 60 €. Once again we were in “Athenian” time and it was past 1 AM when I returned to my boat.

Saturday August 13, 2011, Day 17

Democritos’ sailboat at Koundouros

First thing in the morning another sailboat, with a couple, came and moored to the right of Thetis taking two lines to the shore. The gentleman controlled the boat while the lady expertly handled the shore lines. They turned out to be Democritos and Katerina, friends of Byron and the rest of the Katevati crowd. Around 11:30 a whole group of people came from Katevati and we all converged on Democritos’ cockpit. Byron, still under the weather, had stayed home.

Later I rode up to Byron’s house and we had a light lunch together. After that I returned to Thetis.

I later rode the scooter back to Byron’s house where I left it. Then Byron drove Ivi and me to another taverna at the beach in Pises where we were joined by Thanasis and Pascal and the Sakelariou couple, neighbors from Kampi, the cove south of Koundouros. It was nice to watch the full moon. Again it was past midnight when I bid everyone good-bye, as I will be departing in the morning, and I got back on board.

Sunday August 14, 2011, Day 18

After I got up and had my obligatory cup of coffee I started to prepare for departure now that the gale has been gone for over 24 hours. The preparations were rather complicated: first I uncovered the mainsail, hopping to be able to use it, then I had to loosen the shore line, and then pulling on the line while in the dinghy I went ashore and detached its chain from the rock, then back on Thetis to coil and stow the line and chain. While doing this the boat, helped by the northerly breeze, drifted away from the shore and uncomfortably close to Democritos’ boat. I had to turn on the engine and move away before continuing coiling the shore line and raising about half of the anchor’s chain. After that I lifted the dinghy on the davits. Finally I raised the anchor and we were free from land. The time was 0745.

Our destination was the Grammata cove in NW Syros. The wind was light, 8-15 knots NNE. We motored along the W coast of Tzia until we reached Cape Tamelos. I then raised the mainsail. Out of laziness I left it on the already set first reef. We motor-sailed until 0930 when the wind increased to 10-18 knots and then to 22 but still from the NNE. I turned off the motor and opened 75% of the headsail. We sailed nicely almost the rest of the way.

The anchorage at Grammata

We arrived at Grammata [37° 29.9' N 24° 53.3' E] at 1350. We had come 33.7 actual M but the log showed 35.8 miles over the water due to the opposing current. I anchored in 5.5 m with 35 m of chain in the W cove, the one with the inscriptions. There were 4 inflatables ashore with a large group of young people. Later a sailboat with a family anchored near Thetis.

I lowered the dinghy, and checked the anchor with a mask. After that, I put up the tent. It was hot. I did a lot swimming and reading. Later I washed down the cockpit and pumped some air in the dinghy.

In the evening all the inflatables as well as the sailboat left leaving Thetis all alone in this lovely cove. It was very peaceful and quiet—no lights, no loudspeakers. Only the moon, one day past full, reflecting on the calm water. I had a nice and relaxing ouzo after which I boiled some pasta and served it with the meat ragú that I had made several days ago. I ate it accompanied by a Kyr Yiannis Paranga wine.

After lying in the cockpit enjoying the moon for some time I went to bed around 10 PM.

View from Grammata

Monday August 15, 2011, Day 19

Before the sun illuminated the boat I covered the mainsail and put up the tent. It was a lazy morning and I did a little work on the computer. I did not raise the anchor until 1005. The wind was 10-15 knots NW and we motored to Finikas, 8.2 M away running the water-maker. On the way, when there was adequate GSM signal, I called my Athens College schoolmate Yiankos Krinos who has an old mansion in Syros. I had warned him few days ago, while gale bound in Kea, of Thetis’ arrival but I could not tell him exactly when. Now he was a little taken by surprise especially since he and Sue have a dinner engagement for tonight. He proposed that we meet for a snack and a drink in Finikas around noon.

We arrived at Finikas, Syros [37° 23.7' N 24° 52.8' E] at 1130. I anchored off, as I usually do here, in 5.5 m depth with 40 m chain scope. This is such a good anchorage. There is a small marina with water, electricity, and fuel deliveries. But if you want, you can anchor off, as I do. Either way there are several good stores ashore including a chandlery. Today however, most stores would be closed because it is a holiday, the Assumption of Mary.

I launched the dinghy and went ashore where I met Yankos and Sue. We sat at the Dublin taverna/café where we had a beer and some snacks. It was good to see my friends, even for a short time, whom I had not seen since last June. They gave me a bag full of figs that they had just cut from their tree. It was almost 4 PM when I returned aboard Thetis.

Later I went ashore again. The Maistrali chandlery was open and I bought two fender covers, for 44 €, to replace two that were torn. Also the local grocery store was open and I bought some fruit and San Michali cheese, a local specialty.

Back on the boat, seeing that there was good 3G signal here I did my banking on the Internet. For dinner I made an omelet with some left-over pasta with ragú. I also ate, maybe too many, of the delicious figs.

Tuesday August 16, 2011, Day 20

Before departing Syros I went ashore and bought a loaf of fresh bread, then after lifting the dinghy, I raised the anchor at 0820 heading to the uninhabited island Rhinia W of Myconos. The wind was 10-22 knots NW. The autopilot, once again misbehaved, making wild fluctuation predominantly to starboard. I re-calibrated it but the deviation was exactly 1° as before. As soon as we cleared Cape Velostasi, the southernmost point of Syros, I set a course of 086 for the South Cove in Rhinia. I then opened about 90% of the headsail but kept the tent to keep me comfortable under its shade. We motor-sailed all the way arriving at 1200.

There was a large motor cruiser named South anchored off at the Rhinia’s South cove’s entrance and 2 more moored with shore lines as well as a sailboat. I anchored in 3.5 m depth [37° 23' N 25° 14.3' E] and let out about 38 m of chain. All was well but the wind kept on increasing, inside the cove, to 18-22 knots and new boats kept coming. The cove was becoming rather crowded. I counted 8 sailboats, and 5 cruisers. Two sailboats in particular anchored closer to the shore and were uncomfortably close to Thetis. Fortunately both of them left before the evening and were later replaced by a small fishing caïque anchored at a comfortable distance.

South Cove, Rhinia

For dinner I made spaghetti with more of the left-over meat ragú. I went to bed early because my plan was to sail at around 2 AM for Donousa and, if conditions were favorable, push on to Levitha and get the Sea of Ikaria behind me before the strong winds that were being forecasted materialize. To that end before dinner I had already set the mainsail on its second reef and had raised the dinghy on its davits.

Thetis at Rhinia
Thetis at Rhinia

Wednesday August 17, 2011, Day 21

We departed from Rhinia at 0210. While still in the cove I raised the mainsail already on its second reef. The wind was 10-25 knots from the NW which after opening 30% of the headsail allowed a gentle sail on our heading of 114. This blissful conditions lasted almost all of the 30 M to Donousa during which time I only every so often let out more or lessened the headsail. But, around 0730 the wind decreased to 5-15 knots and the sea developed a large and irregular swell. The headsail was very unhappy and was flapping either to the left or to the right. I had to roll it in and start the engine to give some power to the boat and prevent the swell from altering our course and jibing the mainsail. Nevertheless we kept on going.

Thetis arrived in Levitha [37° 0.15' N 26° 28.2' E] at 1245 after 63.5 actual M and 61.4 miles over the water. Already there were a number of sailboats on the moorings and only 3 free moorings were left. I headed to one of them but its small rope, used for hooking it, was missing. I tried to lasso it with my already prepared line but I was not fast enough and it slipped away. A young man who was swimming came and on my second pass pulled the end of my line through the buoy. He was part of a 59' charter boat full of young people. Nice youth! After Thetis was stable on the mooring I lowered the dinghy and secured the boat with a cleat and another line. This I always do when on a mooring to prevent chafe. I noticed that part of the heavy aluminum guard around the anchor roller had sheared off. No idea when and how. Metal fatigue, I suppose.

After that I swam, put up the tent, had some lunch, and rested for couple hours. I finished The Girl Who Played with Fire and started the last of the series The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. This mystery series is so fast paced that keeps you completely engaged.

During the lovely sunset I had an ouzo following which I went ashore and walked to the hamlet. A whole troop of Italians from a large charter sailboat walked with me and engaged me in conversation. They had chartered their boat from Kos and were now on their way back and were very nervous about the previous and now the newly forecasted gale. At the hamlet there was only one small table, the rest were set for large groups. I sat and was warmly greeted by Mr. Dimitris, his wife Irene, and their now grown sons Manolis and Tasos. They were all asking about Aliki. After taking the order, Manolis, asked me if I would mind sharing my table with an Italian couple which, of course, I did not mind. The couple, who were very friendly and attractive, had come all the way from Veneto in a lovely large green sailboat. Their last stop was in Amorgos where they had spent several days due to the gale. When they arrived here in Levitha all the moorings had been taken so they had to anchor and take a shore line. I ate a fairly large and very fresh grilled κέφαλος - kefalos (Mugil cephalus - Flathead mullet or Grey mullet) and a salad. It was delicious. Fried calf liver was offered, one of my favorites, but I resisted the temptation and chose the fish. After I finished eating, although the party at the hamlet was on going, I left because I was tired. Back on board I slept like a log.

Thursday August 18, 2011, Day 22

I woke up after a good night’s sleep. The forecasts now called for strong N winds increasing by tomorrow and maybe reaching gale strength. I decided to push on and get the Sea of Ikaria behind me while the wind was not that strong. After preparing, I departed Levitha at 0800. I raised the mainsail, while still in the cove, but left it on its second reef. Outside the cove the wind was not very strong just 10-15 knots NW and I was able to open the headsail and sail but not to Papandria in Lipsi where I wanted to go because that would have us fighting a headwind and going against the considerable chop. Instead I headed for Xerocambos in S Leros. The autopilot keept acting up. It was working fine for a couple of weeks but yesterday and today it keept turning to starboard when in its Auto mode but it was tolerable when in the Track mode. We had a nice sail all the way to Xerocambos other then having to adjust the headsail from 25 to 35 %.

We entered Xerocambos (Ξηρόκαμπος) but I did not like it because there was a lot of chop, so I kept going motoring against the wind along the E coast of Leros to Alindas (I had already rolled in the headsail and lowered the mainsail before entering Xerocambos). We arrived at Alindas ('Αλινδας), Leros (Λέρος) [37° 10' N 26° 50.4' E] at 1315 after a tonal of 27 M. I anchored on the NW side of the large bay in 6 m depth over nice sand letting out almost 50 m of chain.

It was nice and calm here but very, very gusty. I think that Thetis’ wind meter had broken because it only indicated wind up to 14 knots when I believe it was much higher. Later I checked the anchor with a mask—it was completely buried in the sand. I put up the tent and had lunch: prosciutto and figs from Syros. I then, since there was a good 3G signal here, I called Alice in Washington.

Earlier I had spoken to George, our caretaker in Kalami. The good news were that the new sewage pump has been installed and the municipal sewage was not going to the sea anymore. The bad news were the the grapes were ripening very fast and had to be harvested very soon. I had to get back to Samos as soon as the gale subsides and not later then next week as I was planning.

The evening was pleasant other then the fierce gusts. The wind would be down most of the time and then for a minute it would rip across the bay at what I estimated to be around 30 knots and then go back to zero. During these gusts the noise was deafening. The anchor was holding very well.

As the sun was setting I removed the tent and then had my ouzo. For dinner I had left-over spaghetti. The wind became even gustier and Thetis was tossed all over.

Beautiful sailing yacht at Alindas

A lovely 70' sloop came and anchored nearby. She was a sight to behold. After dark she was completely illuminated by the flood deck lights from her spreaders. This is a rather common enough practice with large yachts. It seems to me that it is a rather ostentatious saying to all: “look at me, look at me, see what a large and expensive yacht I have!” In this particularly case the yacht was so beautiful that she had no need of such vulgar advertising.

Friday August 19, 2011, Day 23

I had trouble sleeping with the howling wind and all sorts of creaking noises as Thetis was swinging right and left. Dark thoughts overcame me. Suppose the snub brakes, suppose the chain gets jerked from its roller, etc. Finally I decided to set the 2nd anchor, just in case… It was about 2 AM.

I did so without any real difficulty and after adjusting the tension of the 2nd anchor’s line to distribute the load and minimize the swing I felt much better and was able to go back to sleep.

All morning Thetis was tossed around and the gusts were so strong that I could not put up the tent. I worked with the computer in the cabin. The forecasts were now all issuing gale warnings and predicted force 8 and 9 winds for most of the Aegean including the Sea of Samos where we were. One of the forecasts, Meteo (Athens Observatory), indicated a possible lessening of the wind by the evening.

I called Avgi Papagalou, Mirka’s (my sister-in-law) childhood friend from Egypt. She has a summer house near here at Crithoni. We agreed to get together in the evening.

Around noon the wind was down somewhat and I was able to put up the tent and have lunch and a nap in the cockpit. This also prevented the boat from getting too hot inside the cabins. I finished reading A Stolen Life a true account of an 11 year old girl who was kidnapped, raped, and kept imprisoned by a maniac for 18 years. It is a very disturbing and painful story. I am glad that the book was over.

Around 3 PM the wind came back with a vengeance and I had to remove the tent. I did so with great difficulty.

In the evening I took the dinghy ashore near where Thetis was anchored because I did not want to go against the wind on my return. So, I walked about 30 minutes to Avgi’s. On the way I noticed that the Italian restaurant, owned by Guisi, that used to serve such good food and had closed down last year was now open. However, Avgi told me that it is now owned by an Italian couple but its food is nowhere as good as it used to be. I had a very good time with Avgi and her very spry mother.

When I returned to Thetis it was almost midnight and the wind was definitely less then last night. I easily fell asleep.

Saturday August 20, 2011, Day 24

Waiting out the gale at Alindas

Around 3:30 AM fierce gusts woke me up but after I checked the anchors and made sure that everything was alright I went back to sleep.

Later in the morning I transferred 2 jerry cans of fuel to the main tank. It seemed that there was less wind and gusts then yesterday a fact confirmed by the forecasts that now predicted force 4-5 for tomorrow. Nevertheless the gale warnings for Samos Sea were still in effect.

I read a lot and I was tossed a lot. Fortunately I was able to keep the tent for a good part of the day.

For dinner I went ashore, tired of the motion, and tried the Italian restaurant. The same attractive Albanian waitress, Anna, was there who now seems to be the cook. The food however was not spectacular, a far cry from the old days.

The night was, once again, very gusty.

Sunday August 21, 2011, Day 25

The gale warning for Samos Sea was now rescinded but it was still in effect for the western part of the Sea of Ikaria and for the Kafireas. The forecast now for the Sea of Samos from this afternoon and evening called for northerly winds of force 4-5.

I sent an e-mail to Raymarine describing the problems with the autopilot and all the troubleshooting that I have done. Maybe I will depart later today for Lipsi.

I finished reading on the Kindle Ramage’s Signal and started Ramage’s Devil, the 13th in the series, since I was missing the 12th.

Eventually I decided to depart from Alindas and head N to Papandria in Lipsi and if the waves are too rough to go either to Archangelos or even Partheni. I started to prepare for departure around 11:30. First I had a snack because I was not sure when I would be able to have even my usual light lunch. Then I started the engine, disengaged the primary anchor’s chain from the windlass capstan while securing it with the snub line (a rope with a hook that grabs the chain). With the capstan free I started raising the secondary anchor’s line with the windlass’ rope drum. When I finally got to the end of the line and to the 20 m chain, I secured this chain with a second snub line and transferred its end to the capstan which I now engaged. When the windlass raised the second anchor I removed its chain and carried the anchor to its bracket astern. I then carried its chain to the port sail locker. After that I coiled the long line and stowed it to the starboard sail locker where it belongs. Now I was done with the second anchor and its tackle. It was now the dinghy’s turn. I raised it to its davits. I then started raising the primary anchor. It was hard work on the windlass and I had to assist it by engaging the engine to slow forward. But, when I thought that I was home free the anchor came up but it was hooked to a heavy chain from a mooring. I had to use the snub line to hold the mooring’s chain while I lowered the anchor freeing it with the help of the boat’s hook. And that was that! We were now free to depart. The time was 1230.

The wind was brisk but not too strong, maybe 10-15 knots (force 4 as forecasted) but there was a considerable residual chop, again not too bad. We motored, since we were going against the wind and the chop, running the water-maker. We arrived at Papandria (Παπανδριά), Lipsi (Λειψοί) [37° 16.8' N 26° 46.2' E] at 1345 after 8.7 M. I anchored in 3.5 m depth and let out 35 m of chain. There were many sailboats here and I did not have too much of a choice as to where to drop the anchor.

I put up the tent, lowered the the dinghy and then snorkeled to check the anchor. It was nicely set.

I spent the rest of the day quietly reading and swimming. For dinner I made pasta with tuna, olives, and capers. I had decided to go to Samos tomorrow so that we can harvest the ripening grapes on Tuesday.

Monday August 22, 2011, Day 26

This was a long and difficult day! I was woken by the howling wind around 5 AM. I checked the anchor and all seemed to be OK but while I was in the bathroom I heard a shrill whistle. I got out in a hurry. Thetis’ anchor, despite how well it was set in the sand yesterday, had dragged and we were about to collide with an Italian sailboat upwind from us. I immediately started the engine and avoided the collision by a hair. I then, with some difficulty because of the broken roller guard, raised the anchor. After this I moved away from other boats and re-anchored temporarily in 14 m depth so that I could prepare for our departure.

The anchor held long enough to allow me to raise the dinghy. Eventually we departed Lipsi at 0620. The wind I estimated to be 10-20 knots from the NNE, a headwind, and there also was a bad chop, also against our course, Thetis motored against the wind and chop at an average of 4 knots. There was an appreciable amount of banging and spray. As the short waves got larger and the bow was dipping the anchor got loose and I had to crawl to the bow and rescue it. This took a great effort. I got it into the chain locker but by that time I was thoroughly drenched.

At last we approached Samos (Σάμος) the waves became smaller while our speed increased up to 5-6 knots. I ran the water-maker. At 1250 we arrived at Mycale (Μυκάλη) [37° 42.2' N 26° 58.8' E] where I anchored in 3.5 m depth with 25 m of chain. We had come 27.9 M.

Not far from Thetis was a familiar looking sailboat. She was the Amzer Zo the sailing yacht that I had met few weeks ago in Salagonas, Chios. They recognized Thetis and started waving. After putting up the tent, I lowered the dinghy, and checked the anchor. Then I went over and greeted them. In addition to Angela and John they had a guest, Anneta, also from Australia. I invited them to come with me tomorrow to Kalami and help me and George to harvest and crush the grapes.

I spent the day at Mycale swimming and reading. In the evening I covered the outboard and the dinghy and then raised it. We left Mycale at 1900 and motored to the Samos Marina [37° 41.441' N 26° 57.45' E] where we arrived at 1915. We had come a total of 29.5 M from Lipsi.

After I moored Thetis with the help of the marina attendant, Alfred from the Austrian S/Y Lumme on the adjacent berth, handed to me a glass of ouzo and a souvlaki. What a wonderful welcome to the marina!

I spent the night on board and had all the leftovers for supper.

Tuesday August 23, 2011

Harvest, Anneta
Courtesy Angela Slack

Early in the morning I removed the spray hood and the bimini and put them together with the computer and lots of dirty clothes in the trunk of the rented card that was delivered to me last night by Aramis. By 7:00 or so I was on the side road at Mycale and picked up Angela and Anneta. John decided not to come being reluctant to leave his boat unattended. We drove to Kalami where George, our caretaker, was waiting for us for to harvest and crush the grapes.

The Harvest
Harvest, Angela, George, Anneta

Angela, George, and Anneta

The Yield

The yield

Crushing, Angela

Angela crushing the grapes
Courtesy Angela Slack

Relaxing, Angela, Anneta

Now enjoing last year’s vintage

Six days later
Pressing, George

George preparing the press

Into the barrel, George, Vasilis

George & Vasilis fill the barrel

The must was ready and was poured into the barrels.