Travels with S/Y Thetis

Thetis only

2012: Samos to Astypalea

This web page contains the logs of the first leg of a 29 day solo sailing trip that I took with S/Y Thetis in the East Aegean in Greece. On this leg I sailed from Samos Marina to the island of Astypalea. On our way we stopped at Mycale and Tsopela, both in Samos, then in Papandria on the island of Lipsi, Partheni in Leros (for some repairs), at the islet of Archangelos, and the island of Levitha. In Astypalea we stopped at Agriolithi, Maltezana, Skala and Livadhia.

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

Route Samos-Astypalea
Routes from Samos
Route in Samos
Route in Samos

Tuesday July 31, 2012, Day 1

Today my wife Alice left Samos for Washington, DC. We woke up very early, at 5 AM, so that we could close our house in Kalami and then drive to the airport in time for her 7:10 flight. My plan was to stop, on my way from the airport to the marina, in Pythagorio and draw some cash from the ATM. Unfortunately the ATM was not working and I had to drive all the way back to Vathy draw the money and then return to the marina in Pythagorio.

Back in the marina, I left the rented car to be picked up by Aramis and prepared to depart. The forecasts all predicted very strong gusts. Eventually I was ready and at 0850 I cast off the mooring line. We did not go far, just around the corner to Mycale (Μυκάλη) [37° 42.2' N 26° 58.8' E], 1.3 M away, where we arrived at 0910. I anchored in 3.5 m depth and let out 25 mm of chain.

It was rather pleasant here and there was only a French catamaran some distance from Thetis. I put up the tent and lowered the dinghy which allowed the use of the swimming ladder. I then snorkeled and checked the anchor. It was very well set, almost berried in the sand.

Alice called me from Athens. She had already checked in to her flight to Paris and her next one to Washington, DC. During lunch I had a very stupid accident. While slicing some bread I cut my finger, rather deeply, with the bread knife. There was a lot bleeding and I had a hard time to stop it. Other then that, it was a nice if hot and windy afternoon. I swam a lot to cool off and read. I was reading Mark Twain’s Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc and at the same time Odyseas Elytis’ To Αξιον Εστί - To Axion Esti both on the Kindle.

Later, there were fierce gusts, over 30 knots, and I let out 10 more meters of scope. The brand new Raymarine ST60+ wind meter stopped working. I suspect a bad contact between the display and its sensor on top of the mast. In the evening I had the obligatory ouzo but then I was too tired to cook my supper.

Wednesday August 1, 2012, Day 2

In the early morning the wind and the gusts were down to less than 10 knots NE. However the wind instrument, although I cleaned all of its contacts, worked only on and off. I decided to go to either Samiopoula or to Vitsilia in Fourni. By 0730 we were under way. We motor-sailed with about 50% of the headsail and ran, for 25 minutes, the water-maker until the tanks were full. While en route the wind increased to 20 knots, now from the NNE, then from the N, then from the NNW, back from the NNE and so on.

When we were close to the SW cove in Samiopoula it looked exposed the the NE and I did not feel like pushing on to Fourni, which is notoriously windy, since the forecast did predict strong gusts. Instead I headed to nearby Tsopela (Τσόπελα), Samos [37° 38.3' N 26° 50' E] where we arrived at 0910 after 8.2 M. I dropped the anchor in 6 m depth and let out 35 m of scope.

I received a message from Alice that she had safely arrived in Washington. The morning was rather gusty and the wind kept changing direction from west to north, and east but by noon it subsided. Everything was fine except for my finger that hurt and the wind instrument that had stopped working all together. I called Agmar Marine and told then about the failed instrument. It was irritating to have a failure on this brand new expensive instrument less than 3 months after its installation. Since it was definitely under warrantee I informed them that I will be in Partheni first thing on Friday morning.

I also had another misadventure. While I was boiling water for my afternoon coffee the burner kept going out. I assumed that it was running out of gas and I removed the gas canister in order to replace it with the spare. The canister hissed and a lot of gas came out. I re-installed it. Then I remembered that this morning I had thoroughly cleaned the galley stove. Maybe I had not properly replaced the burner. Sure enough this was the problem.

I swam a lot and finished reading Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc. By the afternoon 3 other boats were in the cove: a Greek charter sailboat with a group of Greeks who took a line ashore, The German cruiser Korali that has been next to Thetis in the marina for the past 2 months, and the Turkish sailboat Lolita. In the late afternoon both Korali and Lolita left and just before dusk a large S/Y with the US flag (Delaware) came and took a line ashore.

For dinner I boiled some spaghetti and warmed 2 slices of a roast which I had already cooked in Kalami. I have lots of fruits and mezedes (tasty snacks) from Samos. I went to bed rather early.

Thursday August 2, 2012, Day 3

I was planning to leave fairly early and go to Lipsi instead of Fourni as per my original plan. Then from Lipsi I could easily go to Partheni before the yard opens at 8:00 AM on Friday. So, when I woke up and looked at my watch it showed just a few minutes past 6, or so I thought as I got up. I made my coffee but I noticed that it was exceptionally dark outside. I then realized, looking at the ship’s clock, that it was 3:15 AM. I had used my watch last night to time the boiling of the spaghetti and I must had left it in its timing mode. So, now it was 6:20 past the time of the pasta and not 6:20 in the morning. By that time I was already had drank half of the coffee and was wide awake. So, I decided that I might as well depart and have a moonlighted passage to Lipsi. The only problem was that it was rather gusty.

I raised the anchor and departed Samos at 0410. I was afraid to raise the mainsail because I did not know how much to reef it for this strange wind that seemed to gust from 0 to 30 knots. Instead I opened the easily adjusted headsail and motor-sailed. The wind kept on changing not only its speed but like yesterday its direction E to W and back to E. I kept opening and closing the headsail and adjusting for either a starboard (right) or a port (left) tack, while changing the engine’s RPM. In addition to the problematic wind there was an appreciable swell of rather small wavelength and Thetis was rolling most uncomfortably. I was afraid that the dinghy would come loose from its stands and kept checking the tension of its straps. A lone dolphin came near the boat and then sped away.

In preparation for our arrival I replaced the windlass controls with its spare because while raising the anchor the “down” button stopped working. We arrived in Papandria (Παπανδριά), Lipsi [37° 16.8' N 26° 46.2' E] at 0810 after a 21.8 mile uncomfortable passage. I anchored over sand in 5 m depth and let out 35 m of scope. There were 3 other S/Ys here and more on the moorings of the adjacent Katsadia.

Here again it was windy and gusty. I put up the tent and found the problem with the windlass controls and repaired them. The day was less hot then yesterday so it was rather pleasant here. I kept reading slowly To Αξιον Εστί - To Axion Esti and started Treasure Island. This is accordance with my campaign to re-read as many of the classics as I can get for free for the Kindle.

As the day progressed many more boats arrived in both coves. By the evening there were at least 21! I had seen a blue sailboat with the Cyprus flag and I thought of my classmate Andreas Daveronas with whom and his S/Y Dora I had spent few days and parted here 3 years ago. I was even tempted to go and ask if they knew him.

After 7 PM I took down the tent and went ashore. I was going to walk to the harbor, about a 40 minute walk, get few provisions and fresh bread and then have an ouzo with grilled octopus. I was about ¼ of the way when my iPhone rang. To my utter surprise it was Andreas. He was in the blue Cyprus boat the First Lady which belongs to his friend Periklis Ierodiakonou (Περικλής Ιεροδιακόνου) who was with Andreas and Dora last time we had met. He told me that they were going to eat at the taverna in Katsadia. I replied that, of course, I will join them after I return from the town. I continued, got my supplies and walked back. It was jolly to see these friends and spend a couple of hours with them. They will be leaving Lipsi tomorrow morning for Leros, where I too will have to go early to Partheni and have the wind instrument checked.

Friday August 3, 2012, Day 4

The good ship S/Y Thetis

After I woke up, just before 6, I got ready to depart for Partheni. After raising the dinghy and the anchor Thetis was under way at 0720. The wind was light and after opening the headsail we motor-sailed for a while. The autopilot acted up. Its motor section of the drive unit fell apart. I replaced the unit with the spare and put it back together although I let the spare unit to steer the boat. We arrived in Partheni (Παρθένι), Leros [37° 11.3' N 26° 48' E] after 5.8 M at 0825.

Nikolas and the new travelift operator were already lifting a sailboat but Nikolas saw Thetis and indicated that I should moor alongside the “pool.” I put up the fenders and prepared the docking lines and then approached. Nikolas caught the bow line and tied it while I jumped ashore and tied the stern line. I had arrived.

I put up the tent and then looked at the autopilot drive unit that had failed. I found out that the motor wires had become unsoldered. By that time Panayiotis the Agmar Marine electrician had arrived. He had brought with him a spare wind sensor. After opening the instrument panel he disconnected the sensor cable from the mast and connected his sensor to the instrument. It worked. So now, he had to get some help in order to climb up the mast and replace the failed sensor at the masthead. While waiting for the arrival of help he re-soldered the autopilot driver’s motor wires.

In the mean time Mastro Michalis, the technical manager, and my friend Anastasis Raftopoulos, the new Agmar partner came to see me. We spoke for a while. Then my other friend Manolis Kouvaritakis the owner of the S/Y Dafni came along. His boat was going to be launched and he and his daughter will be sailing her back to Athens and try to sell her. My heart bleeds for him. After retirement he managed to realize his dream and bought Dafni. But now with the austerity programs following the Greek economic crisis his pension has been drastically reduced and he can no longer afford her upkeep.

While I was talking to my friends the helper crew came and lifted Panayiotis up the mast. He replaced the wind sensor in no time and re-calibrated the instrument. I was lucky that they did have another sensor available.

I then walked with my MacBook to the office and after chatting for a while with Angelos, the owner, I connected to the yard’s Wi-Fi, got my e-mail, and checked the weather. The wind was supposed to reach force 6 and maybe even 7 by tomorrow afternoon. So I made up my mind to depart early tomorrow morning for Levitha.

At 1130 Thetis was once again underway and motored to Archangelos (Αρχάγγελος) [37° 11.9' N 26° 46.3' E], just 2.8 M away, where I dropped the anchor at 1145 in 6 m depth with 35 m chain.


I had thought of a new trick which now I implemented. I got a thin line 8-10 m long and fed it through a pulley while tying one end to a small weight. I also tied a small fender to the pulley. I then snorkeled to the anchor dove and tied the other end to the anchor. This way I could see at a glance where the anchor is and even more importantly so can other boats and avoid it.

By the evening there were here: 3 French sailboats, 2 Italian, 1 German, a Greek chartered boat with Dutch charterers, a Turkish gulet with a US flag (Delaware), and the Greek sailboat, Thetis.

I had a nice ouzo and then warmed 2 slices of the pot roast and some left-over spaghetti sprinkled with plenty of graded Parmesan grilled for several minutes in the oven. With them I had some Kalami wine.

After dinner I sat for a while in the cockpit, sipping the wine and enjoying the rise of the full moon. I then went to bed rather early planning a fairly early departure for Levitha around 6 AM.

Saturday August 4, 2012, Day 5

I got up a few minutes before 5. Since I had already done most of the departure preparations last evening, raising the dinghy, and uncovering the mainsail, all I had to do now was to drink my coffee and to open the bimini. We departed at exactly 0600.

The forecasts called for north winds of force 5. As soon as we had room I raised the mainsail but left it at its first reefing point. Until 0745 we had a light NNW wind of 4-8 knots and we motor-sailed. At that time the wind increased to 10-15 knots from the N and I opened about 50% of the headsail and then turned off the engine. This was bliss! Because when I am all by myself I sail fairly conservatively over reefed and with less rather then more headsail.

All would had been fine except that the autopilot drive unit, once again, fell apart. The threads that hold its two parts, the motor housing and the linear drive, have been worn down and do not hold. I replaced the drive with the, over 20 year old, spare. It too fell apart with same problem: worn threads. I re-enforced the threads with plumber’s teflon tape, and by electrician’s tape on the outside between the two housing. I then put this “repaired” drive back into operation. The repairs did the trick and we continued our nice sail.

We arrived at Levitha (Λέβιθα) [37° 0.15 N 26° 28.2 E] at 0910. Just before entering the cove I rolled-in the headsail and lowered the mainsail. We had come 19.5 M from Archangelos. There were 4 S/Ys on the moorings and there were at least 5 free mooring. I easily caught one of them and tied the boat to it with a temporary line. Then, after lowering the dinghy, I replaced this line with a stronger one and a cleat so avoid any abrasion. It was hot under the sun. I jumped into the water to cool off and then I covered the mainsail and put up the tent.

I read relaxing under the tent and finished reading To Αξιον Εστί - To Axion Esti. It is a long poem by the Nobel winner Odysseas Elytis praising the sea, describing Greek travails during and after WWII, and mankind with all of its virtues and failings. Part of this poem has been made into an oratorio and orchestrated by Mikis Theodorakis and it was very popular during the troubled years of the Greek junta in the 60s and early 70s. While the full poem is hard to read it is also very beautiful.

I also tried to repair the ST4000+ drive (which I called Yiakoumis) but its motor leads where the power cable is soldered have come off the motor and were broken. These I could not repair. Instead I re-enforced some more the old unit (Arapis) and hoped for the best.

By the evening more boats had arrived: there was a very large motor cruiser, 3 newly arrived French sailboats, a French catamaran, 2 British S/Ys, 2 Italian, a large Greek chartered catamaran, and Thetis of course.

After I had a hot shower I went ashore and walked to the hamlet. I was very well received by the whole family (the seniors Dimitris and Irene and their sons Tassos and Manolis) whom I now know for almost 20 years. Manolis’ children were there also: little Dimitris, a charmer of 4, Katerina 5, and Irene 11. I had, as usual, a nice meal of roasted goat, salad, grilled cheese and fresh figs. I was very glad to see Mr. Dimitris, who is 5 months older than me, doing well after his heart attack. We two have a common bond with our diseased hearts.

Sunday August 5, 2012, Day 6

Today is my youngest daughter Corinna’s birthday. She is now with her mother in Washington together with our grandson Rohan and her husband Siva.

I prepared our departure for Astypalea. I cast off the mooring at 0650. While inside the protected cove I raised the mainsail and left it on its first reef. All started well with a nice downwind sail on a heading of 167. I could only use the mainsail and not the headsail without the pole, which I never use unless there is more crew then just myself. The motor was off and the autopilot was well behaving.

After a few miles away from Levitha the iPhone got a signal and I received my e-mails. I sent a message to my wife Alice and to my brother Nikos Riginos advising them that I was underway to Astypalea. The wind was about 10-15 knots from the NNW and we were doing around 5 knots. All was well.

Then, all of a sudden, there was a crushing sound and the autopilot driver, once again, fell apart while the boat went wildly off her course. After grabbing the tiller and restoring a semblance of order, I thought about the situation. Despite my re-enforcements the worn thread holding the motor case and the linear drive actuator driver arm together were weakened by both their movement and by gravity. After temporarily lashing the tiller I used 2 hose clamps and 2 longish tools to stiffen the joint and re-assembled the autopilot driver. We were back in businesses for the next 10 minutes. Then the driver fell apart.

I then hand steered the boat for the next 2.5 M while thinking what else I could do with the two errand autopilot drivers. One, the newer one, was beyond repair since there was no way to solder back its wires to its motor. The other, the older one, had its plastic threads so worn out that despite re-enforcements it will not hold together. Then I thought of another improvisation. I lashed the tiller, we were still under sail, and started to work on the old unit. While repairing it the boat would go off course and I had to stop the repair, correct the course, and lass the tiller again. But I took my time. I put plumber’s tape on the plastic threads and screwed the two housings together. Then I wrapped, as tight as I could, the joint with filament tape. I found in the tool box a long steel tweezers. These I put at the bottom of the drive and again held them together with hose clamps and more filament tape. After I connected this strange looking autopilot drive it seemed to work, but I was not sure how long it will hold together.

The jury-rigged autopilot is driving Thetis

The jury-rigged autopilot is driving Thetis


Detail of the jury-rigged autopilot

Route in Astypalea
Route in Astypalea
Cape Exopetra
Approaching Cape Exopetra with the jury-rigged autopilot

In the mean time, the wind had veered west and I was able to open part of the headsail. At that time we were doing better than 7 knots over ground. Miles went by and the autopilot was holding. We finally were approaching our waypoint Cape Exopetra (Κάβος Εξώπετρα), the southeastermost point of Astypalea. Alas the autopilot now, while still together, stopped working. It just quit. By that time the wind was gusting to the mid 30s. I hand steered.

After rounding the cape the gusts were truly fierce. Fortunately I could still use the autopilot in its stand-by mode to just hold the tiller in one place. This allowed, with great difficulty, me to roll-in the headsail and, after correcting the course, to lower the mainsail. I was lucky that the sail came down and I lashed it to the boom without any damage from flogging.

With the sails now down we motored to the cove of Agriolithi (Αγριολίθι) or Agrelidi (Αγρελίδι) [36° 35.04' N 26° 25.4' E] in Astypalea. As we were entering the cove, despite the strong wind into the 20s and gusts into the 30s, the autopilot did hold the tiller straight as we slowly motored allowing me to prepare the anchor. There were 2 other S/Ys here. I anchored in 5 m depth over sand and light weed and paid out 40 m of chain. Thetis settled in 7.5 m depth. The time was 1245 and we had come 27 difficult and way too eventful nautical miles.

I lowered the dinghy and after a refreshing jump into the water I put up the tent, despite the wind and the gusts. One of the two S/Ys was in the small western inlet with an abandoned kiln. They had taken a line ashore. The other, not very far from Thetis, was Amalia with a US flag and three young men. I snorkeled and checked the anchor which was well set. Because of the gusts, just to make sure, I also checked the anchor of my neighbors. I then spoke to them. To my surprise they were not Turks as I expected neither were they Americans nor Greeks. They were Israelis and had sailed here from Israel. They were very friendly and invited me aboard for a cup of Turkish coffee.

I was rather tired after I swam back to my boat. I had a snack and rested. I finished reading Treasure Island on the Kindle which I remember reading as a kid in the Greek edition of Classics Illustrated—I still see the pictures of the bloody pirates and the treasure—and the real novel in English when I was an officer on duty in Greek army. I started reading, again on the Kindle, Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya.

A small S/Y with a couple and a completely torn German flag arrived. They dropped their anchor very close to Thetis and started to drift completely out of control. They almost collided with Thetis. The lady revved up the engine and avoided the collission at the last moment while I frantically was racing with a fender. In the mean time the gentleman payed out more and more chain while their boat was still drifting. To my great surprise after she dragged for some distance her anchor caught and now she was swinging some 150 m away from Thetis.

After my rest and the afternoon coffee I concentrated on the autopilot. I took the motor from the old unit and put it in the new unit’s housing. I had re-solder the lead which necessitated to ran the GenSet to power the soldering iron. I then re-enforced the two housing the same way as I had done with the old unit before. I tested it and it worked. But I was still very bewildered. Why did the threads of both units, one with metallic threads the other with plastic, have worn out? and why both units twist and rip their power leads off their motor?

Later I spoke with Alice who is in Washington via Skype. Our grandson little Rohan was with her while his parents were out shopping. He looked so handsome! By the time I had finished with this call and completed my autopilot repairs and put the tools away it was almost 9 PM. I was too tired to cook dinner. I had to put up the spray hood to be able to sit in the cockpit because of the gusts. I made a quick omelet with cheese and the leftover spaghetti. After eating I sat for a few minutes in the cockpit and watched the stars and the moon rise but by 10 o’clock I was in bed.

Monday August 6, 2012, Day 7


It was a windy night with gusts up to the 30s. I woke up with an idea about the twisting of the autopilot drives. They must twist because I had re-assembled them incorrectly. There must be something, a notch maybe, in their case that prevents the motor from rotating and braking off its leads. So, I resolved to later look into this. But I also decided to bite the bullet and call Agmar Marine to ask them to get me a new autopilot driver and send it to me. Because for me, a singlehandler, the autopilot is perhaps the most vital piece of equipment after the sails and the engine, even more vital then the windlass which after all I could make do without. When under way without an autopilot one has to be glued to the tiller and cannot look around the boat, observe and adjust the sails, and possibly prevent a dangerous situation from developing. The autopilot is like having a crewman. Raising and lowering the sails without such a crewman is very hard and has a big risk, especially with strong winds, of damaging them. I had to wait until 9 AM to call them about this.

I had brought from Kalami a homegrown watermelon. Now I took it with the dinghy ashore, cut it in half, and sliced the other half into bite size chunks. These, on return to Thetis, I put in the refrigerator. By that time it was a little past 9 and I called Agmar and asked if they can locate a replacement autopilot driver arm for me. I hope they do so and soon. Following this I washed the deck and the cockpit, and cleaned the shelf at the companionway.

Later I spoke again with the three Israelis from Amalia. They have sailed here from Israel. This is their third time in Greek waters. They came via Kastelorizo, Rhodes, and Kos. They plan to go to Naxos because they have heard that it is good place for kite skiing. Given the expected even stronger wind they asked me for routing advice and where there are good shelters along their way.

I had lunch and read for a while but the wind and the gusts became even stronger. So, I decided to go to nearby Maltezana expecting it to be less windy. Up came the anchor at 1330 and I motored slowly towing the dinghy with its outboard still on it. The wind outside the inlet was fierce often close to 40 knots and predominantly from the N. After 2.4 slow miles we arrived at Maltezana (Μαλτεζάνα) [36° 34.5' N 26° 23.1' E] at 1410.

I anchored off the beach at 4.5 m and let out, just to be on the safe side, 35 m of scope. The boat settled at 5.6 m depth. Amazingly the wind here was much weaker, about 15 knots, and there were no violent gusts. There were here 2 large sailboats moored at the head of the dock, a German and an Italian S/Y anchored off, and of course a Greek S/Y: Thetis. An hour so later Amalia also arrived and anchored off.

Around 6 PM I went ashore to explore. There were 2 basic mini-markets, a bread outlet that brought fresh bread at 9:30 AM, and 2 restaurants: one by the sea and the other, and inland an attractive looking pizza-pasta place called Κόκκινο πιπέρι (Kokkino piperi - Red pepper). Alas my old favorite Asterix was no longer working. I asked, and the rumors that I had heard about its owner’s untimely death were true.

Back on board I swam and read. At sunset I had my customary ouzo and then I went, once more, ashore and went to eat at the Kokkino piperi. The food was very good. I had a their special Astypalean salad of letuce, arugalo, local soft cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and pine nuts. This was followed by their plat-de-jour: κατσικομακαροναδα (katsikomakaronada - spaghetti with goat meat). It was very tasty. Their portions were large. At the end of the meal they brought me a small glass of an excellent limoncello (a liquor made from lemon rinds).

The night aboard was pleasant and quiet as there was little wind and no fierce gusts.

Tuesday August 7, 2012, Day 8

Thetis Maltezana
Thetis at Maltezana

This was a fairly lazy morning. Around 9 I received a call from Agmar; they have located the autopilot tiller driver in Belgium and it costs €650. It should be here in 3-4 days. We shall see. Nevertheless even if it is a day or two late it would be a relief.

I went briefly ashore and got a loaf of fresh bread, 4 oranges, and a few slices of smoked turkey. Later I swam ashore from the boat and walked for a while along the beach. Back on the boat I finished reading Uncle Vanya and started Ramage at Trafalgar the 16th of the series.

In the late afternoon I connected the iPhone to Skype and spoke with Alice and then I had the pleasure of seeing on the small screen little Rohan our grandson. My he has grown and he is so handsome! Agmar called me and confirmed that the autopilot tiller driver has been ordered from Belgium.

I stayed on board and made a tomato salad which I had for dinner along with some rice and some slices of the endless pot roast. I also enjoyed the watermelon from Kalami. But what I did not enjoy during the night were the gusts and the mosquitoes. I had a hard time sleeping.

Wednesday August 8, 2012, Day 9

There were a lot of mosquitoes. They must be local here in Maltezana. I looked at the weather forecasts: gusts and gusts, and more gusts. The S/Y Amalia with the Israelis left waving good-bye.

The rest of the day was kind of dull. I swam a lot and read while the wind, as usual, howled. I took a long walk ashore and then read some more. I finished Ramage at Trafalgar.

Several S/Ys came and went. In particular 2 Italian ones each with 6-7 people arrived. They went back and forth—forward and reverse—for about ½ hour until one of them moored on the dock. The other continued back and forth for another ½ hour until she dropped a stern anchor and also moored with a lot of commotion on the dock. A couple of hours later they both departed. Go figure! Then an hour later they came back. After a lot of indecision they anchored and rafted not too far from Thetis. It took them close to another hour before they accomplished this feat.

I started reading on the Kindle Charles Dickens’ Child History of England. In the late evening I went ashore and after a long walk ended at the Kokkino piperi where I had a pleasant meal of their version of saganaki (a dish of melted cheese) and beef patties.

Maltezana quay
The quay at Maltezana

Thursday August 9, 2012, Day 10

This was another uncomfortable night because of the mosquitoes. They penetrated my cabin despite the window screen, burning earlier a mosquito coil, and using anti-mosquito spray. In the early morning I actually saw one of my tormentors and killed it. It was full of blood, most likely mine.

Approaching Skala
Approaching Skala

After my coffee I prepared to depart. I raised the dinghy and then the anchor at 0755. I then made a very bad mistake. I was sure that I had seen yesterday all the S/Ys coming from the west using the channel between the islet and the small island Ligno or Glykonisi (Γλυκονήσι). I made no account however that they all had crews and and must have kept a lookout on their bow. I proceeded, carefully and at a low speed, under 2 knots, motored through this channel but despite this I hit an underwater reef. There was a bad ugly sound and Thetis stopped dead with a jerk. Fortunately I immediately reversed and freed the boat from the clutches of the reef. But I was very shaken and very angry with myself. How can I be so stupid? As soon as we were underway, now around the Ligno (Λιγνό) island, I checked the bilges. There was no extra water but after sponging the little there was I will be watching it for the next several hours.

First I headed for the harbor of Skala (Σκάλα) [36° 32.9' N 26° 21.2' E]. I did not intend to stay there but I wanted to take a look because my brother Nikos had told me that there have been some improvements in the last few years. We arrived there at 0845 after 3.4 M. There was now a new breakwater and a new quay with room for 4-5 visiting boats. There were no permanent moorings and one had to anchor.

We then motored around the Castle and arrived at Livadhia (Λιβάδια) [36° 32.5' N 26° 20.7' E] at 0910 after a total of 4.7 M from Maltezana. I anchored in 6 m depth with 40 m of chain. I lowered the dinghy and then I snorkeled and checked the keel. It had a small scrape but other then that it looked OK. There was no evidence of any bending or other damage. I then checked the anchor. It was nicely set in the sand. After I returned onboard I put up the tent. There was only another boat here: a trawler with an Italian flag called Indian. She was anchored further out in the cove.

I spent the rest of the morning swimming and reading. The wind here was the same as in Maltezana; 10-20 knots from the NNW but even more gusty. Agmar called and informed me that they expect the autopilot driver tomorrow morning and that they will immediately ship it via ACS (a Greek courier service) with the ferryboat Kalymnos which will arrive in Skala on Saturday morning.

In the late afternoon I spoke via Skype with Alice, Rohan, and Siva in Washington.

Around 6 PM I went ashore with my MacBook in my knapsack intending to walk to Skala and use an Internet café because of some work I needed to do for the Cruiser Wiki. As soon as I stepped ashore I ran into the ACS courier in his motorbike. I spoke with him, Mr. Manolis, and I explained that I will be expecting a package with the ferryboat on Saturday. He told me that the F/B Kalymnos arrives around 10 AM and he assured me that he will call me as soon as he has the package and he will deliver it right here. Their office stays open on Saturdays until 3 PM. We shall see.

I walked to Skala, about 30 minutes, and found a friendly Internet café. I did some computer work but could not upload a photograph that I wanted to. I then found a motorbike rental place and rented one for €10/day until Saturday evening. This way I could do some island explorations while waiting for the autopilot driver.

When I returned to Thetis I saw 2 more S/Ys anchored nearby. For dinner I made some spaghetti and served it with roast beef and Kalami wine. The night was rather breezy.

The conformable anchorage at Livadhia

Friday August 10, 2012, Day 11

Chora & Skala
Chora & the harbor, Skala

After my cup of coffee I put up the tent and then transferred one jerry can of Diesel fuel to the main tank. I was not sure if I would refill the can here in Astypalea or not because the motorbike did not have a place for its easy transport. I then checked the bilges; no water.

After these tasks I went ashore and rode the motorbike, first towards the dam of the artificial water collection lake, then I took the road to Panormos, a cove on the NW of the island. The road was very scenic but after it became a dirt road which kept on deteriorating I turned back. At the town, Chora, I bought some supplies and then returned to the boat.

In the evening I first rode the motorbike to Ayios Konstantinos SE of Livadhia and then to Chora where I walked to the castle. After walking around the castle for a while I got back to the motorbike and rode down to the harbor, Skala. I walked from the harbor to the shop area and then I saw the ACS office. There was Mr. Manolis who definitely remembered me and the package that I am expecting tomorrow. He seemed to be absolutely amazed that an older man would travel all by himself with a sailboat. In the mean time, the young lady at the office checked on her computer and confirmed that the package was now in Kalymnos and will be on tomorrow’s ferry that will arrive sometime between 10 and 11 in the morning. Manolis will call me and then bring it to Livadhia.

I then sat at the Karabo restaurant where I had a good meal. After that I rode back to Livadhia and went aboard Thetis.

Street in Chora

A typical narrow street in Chora

Church in Chora

A Church in Chora, note the usage of an ancient column

Castle View

Skala from the Castle


The wall of the Castle

Saturday August 11, 2012, Day 12

This morning I wanted to take advantage of the motorbike so, I set out on another exploration. Yesterday I had bought a Road map of Astypalea. Maps of most Greek islands used to be rather rudimentary and inaccurate until Road about 10 years ago started making high quality and accurate maps. Now this map did show the road that I took yesterday to Ayios Konstantinos forks to the N and eventually leads to Panormos. So I took it. There was a fork with a sign “Vatses” and “Kaminakia”. I followed it and after a while there was a sign “To Vatses” and another “To Kaminakia”. Since I knew that Vatses was not on the way to Panormos I took the latter expecting another fork after some distance. I did not see any. The dirt road was very rough at places with steep uphills and downhills. It was also very beautiful in a stark and wild way. It was very windy. To make the long story short I ended in Kaminakia (Καμινάκια) a cove on the SW side of the island and quite far from Panormos (Πάνορμος) which is on the NW. I should had studied more carefully my good map. The cove does look like a reasonable anchorage if rather desolate. But the bike ride here was rather scary.


The desolate interior



Later in the afternoon I had a nice Skype call with my daughter Corinna who was now back in Washington, DC. What a treat it is to be at an anchorage and talk and see, live, your daughter and your grandson. In the evening my wife, after returning home, also called me on Skype.

After the call I went ashore, rode to Skala, and returned the motorbike. The young man at the Lakis-Manolis bike rental insisted that I must have had a spill because the bike had new scratches. This was not true. Eventually the older man, maybe his father, relented and after paying the agreed upon €20 I left. The moral of this story is that when renting a bike or a car from an unknown to you place you should photograph all its scratches before leaving the premises.

The package with the autopilot driver arrived and I received it.

I then walked up the hill to Chora (Χώρα) where I bought some tomatoes having finished all the ones I had from Kalami. I then walked downhill to Livadhia and returned to Thetis. After removing the tent I had an ouzo. While doing so a dismasted sailboat with a large crew, maybe 10, arrived and after a lot fuss anchored not too far from Thetis. She was a very sad sight and I could not help but thinking that this could happen to anyone even me, regardless of experience. Evidence my too close encounter with the reef 3 days ago.

The dismasted sailboat
Dismasted S/Y Dismasted S/Y

For dinner I chopped some of the pot roast and used it as filling for an omelet. I also finished the last of the watermelon. By that time the wind had almost died. In preparation for a morning departure I raised the dinghy with the davits.