Travels with S/Y Thetis

Thetis only

2013: In Lesvos & Back to Samos

This web page contains the logs of the second leg of a cruise in the northeastern Aegean from the island of Samos to the island of Lesvos and back to Samos. This leg consists of 16 (9 solo) sailing days that I took with S/Y Thetis. The leg started from Plomari in Lesvos where I was joined by Manos and Mary Castrinakis. Manos is an old schoolmate of mine from Athens College and we have taken many sailing trip together. The places we stopped in Lesvos are: Near Cape Ayios Fokas, Apotheka, Skala Eresou, Sigri, Tsilia, and Mytiline Marina. After Manos and Mary left I started singlehanded on my way back to Samos Marina. I stopped in: Ayios Ermogenis in Lesvos, Oinoussa Island, Chios marina and Emborios in the island of Chios, Petrokopio and Vitsilia in the island of Fourni, and finally in Tsopela and Mycale in Samos.

The logs include either some historical and geographical descriptions of the places visited or links to these descriptions. Also included are links to other related web sites.

Routes from Samos to Lesvos
Route in Lesvos
Route in Lesvos

Friday August 9, 2013, Day 12

When I woke up at my usual time around 6:30 both Manos and Mary were asleep. Trying to make as little noise as possible I made my coffee and sipped it in the cockpit. I started reading a book Η Μάννα (in Greek) that Manos had brought for me. When his grandmother died they found among her things a typescript that she had written. It was a biography of her remarkable mother, Manos’ great-grandmother Anna Mela-Papadopoulou the sister of Pavlos Melas the hero of the Macedonian struggle of 1909. She came from an extraordinary family of modern Greek benefactors, writers, artists, and heroes. Among these Penelope Delta a writer of very popular children books, which I had devoured as a child, she was the daughter of Emmanuel Benakis, the great philanthropist. Anna Mela-Papadopoulou was also the great-grandmother of the present Greek prime minister Antonis Samaras.

The Barbayiannis distillery
The Barbayiannis distillery

Around 8:00 I went to the bakery and bought a loaf of fresh bread and then I walked the few km east of Plomari to the famous Barbayiannis ouzo distillery They graciously gave me a private tour. They employe only 19 people and they export their ouzo to many countries. They, like other ouzo distilleries, do not make their own alcohol because for obscure reasons the Greek government prohibits them to do so. Nevertheless, unlike most other distilleries they use Greek produced alcohol made from grapes. To this alcohol they add various aromatic herbs and they distill it, with copper stills, 3 times. The distillate is then aged for 9 months in stainless steel vats. It is then mixed with water and bottled.

By the time I returned to the boat Mary and Manos were up and we started getting ready to depart from Plomari and head west towards Sigri. These preparations were slow and after we cast off and raised the anchor we had to stop to remove the mooring lines, fenders, fold and secure the passarella, and then raise the dinghy on its davits. We finally left Plomari at 1148. The wind was a light 5-8 knot WNW breeze and we motored. Glenn from S/Y Cynasure called me on the mobil phone because he saw us hovering outside the harbor and was worried that we were having some troubles. They too had departed Plomari and had opened their sails and were leisurely tacking their way W.

Inside theBarbayiannis distillery
Inside the Barbayiannis distillery

At 1110 after 5.9 M from Plomari we stopped at a cove [39° 0.1' N 26° 17' E] and anchored in 7 m depth. While it was calm in the cove there was a lot of swell. We swam and cooled off, had lunch, and rested. I noticed a crack at the weld holding the swimming ladder to the swimming platform under the davits.

At 1815 we raised the anchor and headed to Cape Ayios Fokas (Άγιος Φωκάς) about 7 M E of the Gulf of Kaloni. We anchored in 5 m depth with 35 m scope for the night in a nearby cove [39° 0.9' N 26° 10.9' E] at 1920. We had come 11.9 M from Plomari. Here it was calm and there was just a very slight swell.

We had hot showers followed by ouzo together with fresh figs and prosciutto, a real treat, and an assortment of dried nuts that Manos and Mary had brought. All was well except for the swimming ladder. After that we were totally filled and did not need any other food.

During the night however there was a problem: the continuous thumping low frequency sound from a distant disco. We could not imagine how the poor people living closer to this disco put up with it.

Saturday August 10, 2013, Day 13

Entering the Gulf of Kalloni
Entering the Gulf of Kalloni

Because we did not lower the dinghy last night our departure was very easy. We raised the anchor at 0953 and headed towards the Gulf of Kalloni (Κόλπος της Καλλονής). The wind was a very light 2-8 knot NNW breeze and we had to motor. Taking advantage of this we ran the water-maker and replenished our fresh water supply. We arrived at the entrance of the Gulf at 1140 and we entered it following the marked channel. This gulf is 7 M on its major axis (N-S) and about 3-4 on its minor (E-W). According to Rod Heikell’s Greek Waters Pilot Apotheka on the SW side, not far from the entrance, provides the best shelter. We slowly motored to Apotheka and looked at it then we explored part of the E coast of the gulf. By that time there was a stiff SW breeze. We decided that indeed Apotheka was our best bet and we went back.

We arrived in Apotheka (Αποθήκα - storage room) [39° 06.7' N 26° 05.8' E] at 1305 having covered 16.1 M from our cove near Ayios Fokas. We anchored in 5.5 m depth and let out 35 m of chain. The water was too murky to actually see the anchor while snorkeling.

Entering Apotheka
Entering Apotheka

We decided instead of the usual snack for lunch to go ashore and try the local taverna. We launched the dinghy and went there. We were not disappointed by the fair of the Taverna tou Hondrou (Ταβέρνα του Χοντρού - Fat Man’s Taverna). We had a Greek salad, fresh fried squid, fried tomato balls, delicious grilled red mullets (μπαρμπούνια - mullus surmuletus, and mellon.

In Apotheka
Manos & Mary

Manos & Mary having lunch



Back onboard we had coffee and swam. I did some preventive repairs on the swimming ladder. I used stainless steel wire and plastic wire wraps to re-enforce its cracked joint and thus preventing it from deteriorating any farther and braking away.

Later the by now very familiar S/Y Cynasure arrived and we invited Margaret and Glenn for ouzo. We finished the remaining figs and prosciutto. Our guests left and went ashore to try the taverna but we stayed onboard and had some of the leftover pot roast and potatoes that we had put in the oven to bake a couple of hours ago. These we accompanied by Kalami wine vintage 2012.

The rest of the night was peaceful and quiet, no discos here.

Sunday August 11, 2013, Day 14

In the early morning while my guests were still asleep I went ashore with the trash. After getting rid of it I took a walk around the small hamlet. It truly is larger then it appeared from the water. Also, there is a second taverna.

S/Y Cynasure had told us that they will be spending the night in Skala Eressou and they will meet us in Sigri tomorrow. We had a date there to finish the rest of the gin, now that we had tonic water and limes.

After returning to the boat I raised the dinghy and prepared to depart. We left Apotheka at 0920 and slowly motored running the water-maker through the marked channel and out of the Gulf of Kalloni. While in the channel the wind was 5-15 knots NE but once we were outside it was 5-10 SE. This allowed us to open 50% of the headsail and sail blissfully without the engine noise for an hour or so. The forecasts were calling for force 4-5 NW and force 5-6 at the NW corner of the island.

At 1120 we arrived in Skala Eresou (Σκαλα Eρεσού ) [39° 08' N 25° 54.7' E]. We did not stop but we motored very slowly taking photographs. We then went on towards our destination, Sigri. By that time the wind had increased to over 20 knots NW gusting to the 30s. We motor-sailed until the sail was flapping. We arrived in Sigri (Σίγρι) [39° 12.5' 25° 51.2'] at 1305 after 18.2 M.

There were more S/Ys here then I have ever seen before: 3 Turkish, 2 French, one German, and a Dutch. We anchored under the castle in 7 m depth and I let out 40 m of scope. Less then I wanted but I did not want to have a close encounter with another S/Y. I also deployed the small buoy marking the position of our anchor. Soon a Norwegian followed by another Turkish S/Y arrived. While the sea in the gulf of Sigri was fairly rough here behind the Castle it was very calm but still gusty.

We all fell asleep but later in afternoon Manos and Mary swam ashore from the boat and I followed them with the dinghy. The idea was to all return back to Thetis with the dinghy. After we did so we had an ouzo and then went ashore to my favorite taverna the Remetzo overlooking the anchorage. It was crowded, another first. I have been coming here for years but I have never seen such a crowd. Nevertheless we got a small table and did have an excellent meal along with a good local wine, Dafnis & Chloe.

I had a call from Glenn. Bad news! While leaving Apotheka S/Y Cynasure hit a rock and developed a crack on her hull. Water came in but not in large quantities. They were heading back to Plomari to find out where they can have her hauled-out for repairs.

The Geology Museum had a party outside its gates with rotisseries and live Greek music. We walked there and indeed it was rather jolly. We stayed for a while but were too tired to stay for long and after a while we returned to our floating home. All was well except that the party went on and on with amplified music that lasted almost until 6 AM.

The anchorage under Sigri Castle
The anchorage under Sigri Castle

Monday August 12, Day 15

Petrified tree trunk
Petrified tree trunk

This day was dedicated to tourism. We all went ashore in the morning, after putting up the tent, and went to the Geology Museum. There was an illustrated 30 minute lecture in Greek. After the lecture we walked in the petrified forest park and saw several petrified trees and roots, several of which were sequoias. Since there was a nice breeze despite the strong sunshine the walk was pleasant.

After the museum and park visit we bought a number of provisions especially fresh vegetables and fruits.

In the afternoon we wanted to visit the other two sections of the petrified forest park but they closed at 4 PM and we were too late because we all had fallen asleep under the boat’s tent. So, we changed our plans and went instead ashore to the east side of the beech with the dinghy. Manos stayed at the beech while Mary and I walked E, past the park, to the next beech and saw the terrapins.

We had an update call from Glenn. S/Y Cynasure was now in Skala Loutron at the entrance of the Gulf of Yeras and she was to be hauled-out tomorrow morning. He had also located an englishman who does fiberglass work. We all hoped for the best.

Back on Thetis, after a good swim, we had the obligatory ouzo and Manos prepared a ragù with fresh tomatoes, onion, carrots, parsley, garlic, and some tuna. This we ate with some small macaroni which I had bought from the Greek specialty store in Samos.

Sigri Terrapins
Terrapins1 Terrapins2

Tuesday August 13, 2013, Day 16

Last night we all decided to move back east today and stop near the Gulf of Yeras for tonight and then go to Mytiline tomorrow and rent a car for inland explorations on Thursday. Then, on Friday Mary and Manos can drive with the car to the airport for their afternoon flight back to Athens. The forecasts called for winds; this morning of force 5-6 here on the SW of Lesvos, and 4-5 along the S side of the island towards the E.

Around 7 AM I went ashore and got some fresh bread and 3 small freshly made croissants. Back on Thetis I lifted the dinghy and with Manos’ help removed the cover from the mainsail, opened the bimini, and prepared to depart.

By 0820 the anchor was up and we were underway. While under the calms of Sigri we raised the mainsail, still on its 2nd reef, and then headed out. The wind was 10-20 knots NNE and we motor-sailed running the water-maker. We also opened 30-40% of the headsail. Soon we did not need the motor anymore and had a nice sail, past Cape Kopanos and reaching Cape Ayios Fokas. At that point the wind backed to 10-15 knots ESE and we had to roll-in the unhappy headsail and motor-sail once again. We did so all the way to the Mirsini islet when we lowered the mainsail and put up the tent. At 1520 we arrived at the cove of Tsilia (Τσίλια) [38° 58.7' N 26° 30.6' E].

There were 3 S/Ys here including a lovely wooden yawl. We anchored in the small cove just west of Tsilia proper in 5.5 m depth with 30 m of chain. While entering Tsilia we expirenced strong gusts and there were some whitecaps but here it was calm. We lowered the dinghy and snorkeled to verify that the anchor was well dug-in the sand. We had come 38.9 M from Sigri and were about only 12 M from Mytiline.

Later a good size Turkish gullet came, anchored, and took a shore line about 200 m from Thetis. We swam etc. All was well except that the GSM signal kept fading. I barely managed to send an e-mail to Alice who would be flying later today to Chicago. I was unable to call Glenn and find out how Cynasure was doing but eventually managed an SMS. After some time we received an SMS from Glenn. The damage was more serious then they originally thought and he sounded rather discouraged. Tomorrow when we get a good signal I will call them.

We had an ouzo and for dinner Mary and Manos put together the left-overs from last night: some leftover potatoes, and after liberally sprinkling everything with Parmezan he baked them in the oven. They was very good. Tonight was supposed to be the Perseids meteor shower. But although we stayed up until 11:30 we did not see any. We were too tired to stay up any later.

Thetis in Tsilia
Thetis in Tsilia

Wednesday August 14, 2013, Day 17

The cove near Tsilia
The cove near Tsilia

The night was peaceful and pleasant, there was no “music,” and no lights. We passed the morning leisurely. The highlight was going with the dinghy to Tsilia where we explored the ruins of a large house or possibly a small monastery. I managed to make a call from the beach to Glenn. He was on a bus on his way to Mytiline to get materials for the repairs of Cynasure. He described her damage as extensive particularly on her keel. I offered to him, if they needed more permeant repairs, to go to the Agmar shipyard and sail Thetis with them as a safety boat to the shipyard in Leros.

Back on board Mary made a hefty lunch with a salad and an omelet. Finally we started getting ready to move on to Mytiline. We left at 1417. It was calm with a light 8-12 knot SW breeze which later veered to NNW. Although we opened the headsail it only helped us a little. When we got a good GSM signal I was able to look up the Mytilene Marina’s website. They listen on VHF channel 71 but although we hailed them they did not respond. But I also did get their telephone number and Manos called them advising them of our arrival. He also did learn that they have finger pontoons and there will not be a need to anchor or use the passarella.

Entering Mytiline Marina
Entering Mytiline Marina

We arrived in the marina [39° 05.9' N 26° 33.4' E] which is on the S corner of the large Mytiline harbor at 1630 after 12.7 M. At least 2 attendants, wearing “Setur” t-shirts were waiting for us. They guided us to a finger pontoon attached to a floating pier. It took no time until we were moored and connected to both AC and water. In the office a pleasant young lady, checked us in and after many phone calls located a rental car for us. The problem was that tomorrow is August 15, the most important summer religious holiday in Greece. She also gave us keys to both men and ladies WC’s and showers. While they do have free Wi-Fi the signal at our berth was fading in and out. There were only two stores a mini-market and a small but well supplied chandlery. Both WC’s while very clean had broken toilet seats while the showers had neither hooks nor any place to hold soaps or shampoos, you had to put them the floor. There was no fuel dock. The marina grounds were fairly nice and clean. There was some security because the car gate was attended and car access was restricted but this was not so with pedestrians.

I bought a needed fender cover for 9 € and the nice man at the chandlery inflated my fenders. The rental car arrived at 7:30. We all had substantial showers and decided to walk to town. As we were ready to leave the office informed us that the Limenarchio (Greek Coast Guard) was sending two men to check our boat papers. They are such a nuisance and a waste of the scarce public funds. Earlier I had sent an e-mail to my friend Hector Williams who for several years has been directing the archaeological excavation at the Castle. He replied that he was not in the island but he did recommend two tavernas: the Ouranos and the Kastro. We walked, about ½ hour from the marina to the Ouranos which is located north of the castle on the N harbor. We had a good meal with many mezedes (tasty morsels).

Marina Mytiline

Thursday August 15, 2013, Day 18

Today is the Assumption of Mary (Κοίμησις της Θεοτόκου), the 3rd most important religious holiday in Greece. First thing in the morning, taking advantage of the fresh water, Manos and I thoroughly washed the deck and the cockpit.

At about 10:30 we got into the car and Manos drove us out of town to the lovely mountain village of Ayiásos (Αγιάσος). It was crowded and parking was a problem but eventually we managed to do so. We walked up and down the steep narrow streets ending on the town square - plateia (πλατεία). All of its 3-4 cafés were packed and all the stores were open. There was a very festive air with people eating, drinking, and shopping. We bought a flat bread (lagana - λαγάνα) and the most delicious touloumotiri (τουλουμοτύρι) cheese made from goat milk and kept in an goat skin turned inside out. We made a nice brunch with these. Eventually we found a table and had coffee while munching bread and cheese.

Ayiasos1 Ayiasos2
Ayiasos3 Ayiasos4
Ayiasos6 Ayiasos5

After we left Ayiásos we took the road heading south. The plan was to take what was marked on the map as a picturesque dirt road to Perama near the entrance of the Gulf of Yeras where we had been told that there is a ferry across the narrow entrance to Skala Loutron where Cynasure had been hauled out. The road was indeed picturesque passing through a forest of tall chestnut trees and then pines. But, instead of leading us to Perama it led us to Plomari of all places.

Late lunch in Kountouroudiá
Late lunch in Kountouroudiá

From Plomari we did drive to Perama. It was very hot there. We had some cold drinks in a café and made inquiries. The ferry does operate but it can only hold people and motorbikes, no cars. Also, Skala Loutron is not its destination but Kountouroudiá which is a good walk to Skala Loutron. So, we decided to drive around the gulf to Skala Loutron. We sent an SMS to Glenn alerting him to our coming but there was no response. Mary drove us as planned and we did go to Skala Loutron and there was a primitive shipyard there but there was no sign of Cynasure. It was very hot and the place looked very desolate. I tried calling Glenn but there was no answer. We were told that there was another shipyard in Kountouroudiá the ferry terminal. We drove there and sure enough there was Cynasure on land with many scars on her hull and keel. I knocked but there was no answer. We then all sat in the local taverna and asked the owner. It turned out that he is also the owner of the very primitive shipyard and he had hauled out Cynasure himself. He, of course, knew all about Glenn and Margaret. They were not staying in the boat but at the village of Loutra, further inland. We had an ouzo with some delicious grilled ladotiri (λαδοτύρι - a hard Lesvian cheese) and octopus. We then decided to drive to Molyvos or Mithimna on the NW side of the island. I drove. We had driven only a few km when we saw Glenn walking and we picked him up and drove him back to Kountouroudiá. There he sat with us inside the air-conditioned car and brought us to date. The damage although extensive was less serious then he feared. The Englisman seems to know what he is doing and although the repairs will take several days Glenn hopes that Cynasure will be in the water by the end of next week and she will be alright. We said good-by to Glenn and wished him the best of luck and then drove away.

Somehow I took the wrong turn and instead of the road to Mithymna we ended back in Mytiline. Roads here are not always well marked. After getting lost for a while within the town we got back to the Mithymna road and drove there. By that time it was past 7 PM. We walked in the picturesque but very touristic village and had some drinks and coffee before driving back. It was almost 10:15 when we got to the boat. We had a light snack of bread, cheese, and some left over cold cuts and called it a night.

This was a long, tiring, but very interesting day. We had after all seen a good portion of this lovely island.

Friday August 16, 2013, Day 19

Despite the glare from the marina’s lights I slept very well because I had left the cockpit table in place to shield my cabin’s port from the light. While Manos and Mary were still asleep I made my coffee, and read for a while. I then unstrapped the two jerrycans of fuel from the deck and siphoned the Diesel fuel into the main tank. The new siphon hose, which operates by shaking it up and down, works like a dream. Not a single drop of fuel was spilled. Now the tank was full.

When Manos got up he drove me to the nearest fuel station where we re-filled the jerrycans with 36.6 L for 50 €. Back on Thetis I secured the cans on the deck with their straps. I then went to the WC facility and and had a shower and a shave.

By that time Mary was up and washed and ready to go. We took the small gasoline canister and got into the car, and drove to the town center. We had the other day spotted a large very old-fashioned café/patisserie. After parking we went there. While Mary and Manos had a large breakfast I had a Turkish coffee and a galactoboureko (γαλακτοπμούρεκο - a sweet made of custard and topped with filo covered with honey syrup). After the breakfast we walked to the Cathedral, Mary taking lots of pictures. The streets were full of fabulous shopping with little specialty shops, fruit stands, bakeries, patisserie, fishing gear, etc. I bought some tomatoes and two lead weights for the auxiliary dinghy tie-down straps. On the way back to the marina we stopped at the filling station and re-filled the canister with gasoline for either the outboard or the genset.

While Manos and Mary were packing, I went with the car to a nearby supermarket and bought some provisions. Back on Thetis we had a light lunch and then around 2 PM Mary and Manos left with the car. First they wanted to visit the primitive artist Theophilos Museum and then go to the airport, return the car, and catch their 5 PM flight back to Athens. My plan was to sail a few miles south and stop for the night near the entrance of the Gulf of Yeras there to collect the boat and myself. Then, tomorrow maybe sail south to Oinousses.

First I topped the water tanks, and then I unhooked the water hose and the electricity and stowed the hose and the power cord. After that I went to the office and settled my bill which was 37.12 € for the 2 days. It was beastly hot. Back on the boat I hailed the attendants with the VHF. They came right away and untied the mooring lines while I backed Thetis away from the finger pier. The time was 1315.

While the boat, under the control of the autopilot, was moving away from the large harbor, I removed the fenders, the lines, and stowed them in the sail lockers. Then we were really underway. There was a 8-15 knot NNE breeze but I was too lazy to open any sail since the apparent wind was only 3-6 knots. We motored for 10.6 M and at 1710 we were in the Ayios Ermogenis (Αγιος Ερμογένης) cove [39° 01' N 26° 32.7' E] where I anchored in 9 m depth with 50 m scope.

It was calm but there were gusts and some swell. I lowered the dinghy and snorkeled to the anchor. It was well set but the bottom was mostly weed. I rested and waited for the sun to go down. I put some order in the cabins and closets and removed the tent. I then had an ouzo but was too tired to cook. Instead I had some cold cuts and cheese with the fresh bread that I had bought in Mytiline. I went to my berth at around 10 PM.

Saturday August 17, 2013, Day 20

This was a very unusual day. It started normal enough. I got up just before 6 AM, had my coffee, checked the weather, and prepared to depart for Oinousses. The forecasts for this region were not too bad. Force 5-6 NW. After raising and securing the dinghy I pulled up the anchor and departed from this cove in Lesvos heading south. The time was 0812.

The wind was 8-12 knots NNE. After setting a waypoint on the GPS/Chart-plotter just west of Oinoussa (the largest island of the Oinousses), some 31 M away, I set the autopilot on its auto-track mode and opened about 50% of the headsail. I did not put up the tent but opened the bimini. We motor-sailed until 1030 when the wind veered now from the ENE at 5-12 knots, this allowed me to turn off the engine.

We had a wonderful sail until we were almost 2 M away from our destination waypoint. I then realized that something was terribly wrong. The waypoint I had set for W of Oinoussa was totally incorrect. Instead of being between Chios and approaching Oinoussa we actually were approaching Uzur Ada in the Gulf of Smyrna east of the Karaburnu peninsula. I had made a mistake and set the waypoint in the wrong place. Now I had to go against the wind, round Cape Karaburnu, and travel an extra 30 M before getting to where I wanted, i.e. Oinoussa. I have never in all the almost 30 years with Thetis had made such a stupid mistake, but as they say "to err is human but to really screw up you need a computer."

We motored upwind and then motor-sailed downwind again and finally at 1910 entered the cove of Ayios Ioannis (Άγιος Ιωάννης) [38° 30.8' N 26° 13.8' E] in Oinoussa (Οινούσσα). We had travelled 62.4 M. The sun by then was at a low angle and I could not see the bottom and choose a sandy spot for the anchor. So, I anchored blind in 7 m depth and let out almost 40 m of chain. It was calm here.

I had an ouzo, made an omelet and a salad, and then called it a day at 10:30.

Sunday August 18, 2013, Day 21

Around 4 AM I woke up feeling that something was wrong. Indeed it was. We had dragged our anchor and Thetis had drifted out to sea. I immediately turned on both the radar and the GPS/Plotter. I then started the engine and turned on the navigation lights, the deck lights, and engaged the autopilot. I raised the anchor and after turning off the deck lights headed slowly back into the cove. Again I had to anchor blind but this time I did so in 4.5 m depth with 30-35 m scope. Thetis settled in 7.4 m. As soon as the sun comes up I will snorkel and check the anchor and if needed re-anchor. I did not go back to sleep.

After my coffee I re-ordered the left cabin that serves as the storage room and changed sheets on my bed. By that time there was enough light so I snorkeled and checked the anchor. It was on sand but not well buried. I started the motor and reversed increasing the RPM to a high level. I then snorkeled and check it again. This time the anchor was under the sand.

Later I took the dinghy to the little fishing harbor. There was a lot of swell there. Nevertheless I stepped ashore and walked to the town. There were not too many people. I bought 6 size D batteries for the lantern and the cabin fan and walked back to the dinghy.

I had not received any e-mail from Alice and I was worried. I waited until 3 PM (8 AM EDT) and called her. She was fine but she was buried under work preparing the next edition of the Torch.

I spent the rest of the day reading under the tent. It was very windy and there were gale warnings on the Navtex. I might be here tomorrow also. I checked the anchor again. It was in the same place and showed no difference. It had been holding Thetis at 6.5-6.7 m depth although the wind was shifting direction.

I prepared a ragù with chopped meat that I had bought in Mytiline. I browned the meat with a little olive oil, added chopped onion, carrots, parsley, and then some red wine. I let it to simmer in low heat for about an hour. When the sun was low I removed the tent and then I had a gin and tonic with a slice of lime, courtesy of Manos. I then boiled about ⅓ of a spaghetti package and served it with the ragù. There were plenty of left overs for at least 2 more meals.

It was very windy and gusty. I was sick of the howling wind. I was in bed by 10:30. I got up several times checking the GPS and our depth. We did not move. Other then these brief anchor checks I slept well.

Monday August 19, 2013, Day 22

In the morning, after coffee, I looked at the forecasts. It seems that the wind will be less strong today and tomorrow. I decided to move on. First to look at a cove W of the town and stay there if it is attractive. If not, to proceed to Chios and take a look at the marina and if it is as I suspected the same as it was last time I was there in 2004, then I can moor side-to and stay there. As a last resort I will proceed further S to Emborio.

I raised the anchor at 0840 and departed. The wind was 10-20 knots from the NNE. I looked at the cove W of the town but it did not look too appealing so I headed for Chios. I opened about 75% of the headsail and turned off the motor. I sailed as far as the marina entrance. The sea was fairly rough.

I rolled-in the sail and and entered the eternally unfinished “marina[38° 23.2' N 26° 08.4' E]. It was unchanged from 2004 and there was plenty of room to moor side-to. I exited the marina and rigged bow and stern mooring lines and the fenders. Then I slowly entered again. The wind was strong and gusty, over 20 knots. There was no one to help with the lines. I inched the bow to the concrete jetty and threw the stern line ashore, then I ran to the bow and holding the bow line jumped ashore. After tying it I ran towards the stern which in the mean time had moved away so I jumped back into the boat, brought her parallel to the jetty and jumped ashore again and secured the stern line. The time was 1030 and we had come 8.7 M from Oinoussa. I rigged two spring lines and I put up the tent. All was well. I had arrived to Chios. It was calm inside the “marina.”

I noticed across from Thetis along the main road a fuel station. I walked there, about 10 minutes, and asked for a fuel delivery. Then I walked back. By the time I was in Thetis the mini-tank had arrived. We filled the fuel tank with 35.6 L of Diesel for 50 €.

The eternaly unfinished Chios Marina
The eternaly unfinished Chios Marina

I spent the rest of the morning and the afternoon reading. I started a new book: A Geological Companion to Greece and the Aegean, since the The Atlantis Gene: A Thriller was getting a little boring with its cliff hanging reversals.

Later I took a hot shower and walked to the town, about 1 hour. All the stores were shut. This was disappointing because I was hopping to do some light shopping. I sat in a café at the harbor and had a fresh orange juice. Then I walked inland, guided by my map, looking for the famous Hodja taverna. It is the oldest taverna in the town of Chios and back in 2004 Manos and I had a great meal there. I did find it and had another very good meal: grilled mastello (μαστέλο - a Chian soft cheese), followed by psaronefri (ψαρονέφρι - pork tenderloin) with dried figs and sour apples along with a Chian ouzo. After I finished I asked the taverna to call for a taxi to take me back to the marina.

The Castle in Chios

Tuesday August 20, 2013 Day 23

Because last evening all the stores were shut, this morning I walked to a supermarket about 20 minutes away. I got there about 10 minutes before its opening time so, I sat in a shade and read until then. When the store opened I bought some bananas, cold cuts, and a small bottle of olive oil because the oil form Kalami was almost gone.

Back on Thetis I prepared to depart. Again the “marina” was deserted and there was no one to give me a hand. I re-arranged some lines and removed the rest. It was fairly windy and I was wondering if I could move the boat quickly enough away from the concrete jetty without scraping her. I let go the bow line and quickly went astern and let go of the stern line while reversing. As soon as we were clear of the concrete I shifted forward and keeping an eye on the depth gage I made 360° turn and headed out of the marina. I then made a sharp turn to the E avoiding the shallows near the marina’s mouth. I set the autopilot to auto and although it was quite rough I crawled to the bow and collected the bow lines and the fenders. Back in the cockpit I removed the stern line and stowed all the lines and fenders in the sail lockers. Finally we were on our way to Emborios. The time was 0840.

The wind was 15-25 knots N. While we were under power I ran the water-maker. Now I opened about 50% of the headsail, turned off the engine and we sailed almost all of the 14.6 M to Emborios (Εμπορειός) [38° 11.2' N 26° 1.8' E] where we arrived at 1150. I have been here many times but I have never seen this rather small cove this crowded. There were 2 motor cruisers and 4 S/Ys, a Canadian, a Norwegian, a French, and a German charter boat. I anchored in 6 m depth but let out only 25 m because I wanted to stay clear from the other boats. I put up the tent and snorkeled to the anchor. Fortunately it was well set.

Later a large motor cruiser came, anchored near the cove’s entrance and took two stern lines ashore. Then a 55' Halberg Rassy with a German flag came and and anchored between the large cruiser and the Canadian S/Y, and also took a stern line ashore. By that time the wind was shifting and the Canadian also took a line ashore. Thetis which was not far from the Canadian S/Y was now in danger of colliding with her. I let out 10 more meters of chain and I too took a line to a rock. I had hardly finished doing so when a Bulgarian flagged S/Y arrived and did the same. Of course all these arrangements upset my plans. I was planning to raise the dinghy tonight and then make an easy and fast departure very early in the morning heading past the island of Ikaria to Fourni, a passage of about 44 M.

I finished reading the The Atlantis Gene: A Thriller. It was long and although its basic story line is clever its characters, both good and bad guys, are always on the verge of getting killed but are either saved or fatally wounded and recover or they actually do die and then they are resurrected. I started Ramage & the Saracens the 17th novel in the series.

My friend Turgut had told me that he has a favorite taverna here but I did not recalled its name. So, I send him an SMS asking him. He replied almost immediately. The taverna is called the Ηφαίστειο - Volcano. When the sun went down I removed the tent, had an ouzo and then went ashore to this taverna. I had a pleasant meal of hand made τυροπιτακια - tiropitakia (small cheese pies) and ντάκος - dakos salad (salad over hard tack) both of which were excellent. The main dish however, their specialty, spicy mussels was overcooked.

Wednesday August 21, 2013 Day 24

Moonrise in Emborios

I woke up at 4:30 AM. After a quick cup of coffee I started getting ready to leave Emborios. But it was not so easy with the shore line. I first prepared the davits so that as soon as the shore line was on board I could raise the dinghy. Fortunately the moon, one day shy from full, provided good illumination. I then loosened the shore line and got into the dinghy and pulled on the line as fast as I could so that I could get to the rock. I removed the line which was attached to a chain looped around the rock (the chain prevented the line from being abraded on the rock). I had to do this fast before Thetis drifted and re-tensioned the line thus making it impossible to remove. Fortunately I was fast enough and removed the chain with the line from the rock. After that I started pulling the line and thusly propelling the dinghy towards Thetis. When I got there Thetis was close but still clear of the Canadian S/Y. I attached the dinghy to the lifting clips, lowered the outboard, climbed on Thetis, and raised the dinghy with the shore line still in it. Then I coiled the line and placed it as well as the chain loop into the sail lockers. I then realized that I had forgotten to run the tie-down dinghy straps with their extensions around the dinghy while she was in the water. I managed to do so with the help of the boat hook without lowering the dinghy back into the water and loosing precious time because Thetis was drifting closer and closer to the Canadian S/Y. When the dinghy was lowered on the davit stands and strapped securely down I started the engine and turned on the navigational lights and the deck flood light. I raised the anchor and slowly exited the cove. The time was 0455.

There was hardly any wind just a 0-5 knot northerly breeze definitely not strong enough to for Thetis’ heavy cruising sails. We motored and while there was no wind there was an appreciable and rather uncomfortable swell. Our destination was Fourni over 40 M away. Fortunately by 0630 the wind had increased and veered to NNE. I opened the full genoa and we blissfully sailed without the drone of the engine. This happy state lasted until 0820 when the wind backed to the N. By that time the swell had increased and the sail kept loosing its wind, flapping, and catching it again. I reduced it to 75% and started the engine to prevent the wide course fluctuation caused by the swell. At 0950 it was hopeless and I rolled-in the sail. But at 1040 the wind was 4-8 knots NNW and now I was at last able to motor-sail with 40% of the headsail. When we were less then a mile from the narrow channel between Fourni and Thymaina islands, I rolled the sail in and we motored to my favorite anchorage of Petrokopio (Πετροκοπιό) [37° 33.6' N 26° 29.2' E] in Fourni (Φούρνοι). The time was 1255 and we had come 44.5 M from Emborios.

After clearing the Fourni-Thymaina channel the wind increased and there were fierce gusts up to 27 knots. Within the Petrokopio cove it was calm but gusty. I anchored in 6 m depth over sand and let out 40 m of scope. Thetis was gyrating all over the place. In the cove there was another boat a sailing catamaran with a very torn flag, possibly French. She was anchored and had taken a line ashore. There was no sign of her crew although her dinghy was still hoisted. I lowered Thetis’ dinghy and snorkeled to the anchor. It was well set in the sand. Back on board I put up the tent despite the wind. I then rested for a couple of hours.

Later I spoke with Alice on Skype since we had a reasonably good connection. She will be flying overnight on Sunday from Washington, D.C. to Athens and then on Monday afternoon to Samos. I need to be back in the marina by Sunday at the latest. I also spoke with our caretaker Yiorgos. He had broken his arm and I was very worried about him. In the mean time, the grapes in Kalami are almost ready to be harvested. I hoped that we could delay this until Alice comes.

While maneuvering the boat I had noticed a certain tremor at the tiller. I now looked carefully and found that the safety nut on the bolt that clasps the tiller on the rudder post was cracked. This was a potentially very serious problem because if the clasp was to get loose we may loose control of the boat. I ramaged in the spare parts and to my delight found the same size nut as the cracked on, albeit not a locknut. I quickly replaced it.

In the evening the wind was less fierce. I removed the tent and I had my obligatory ouzo. Then I made a good salad, fried 2 small potatoes and made an omelet with the some left-over meat ragù.

Thursday August 22, 2013 Day 25

Once again the wind was howling this morning. I am sick of this constant gusty wind that has hardly stopped since the late June. I decided to relocate to Vistsilia, a cove on the E side of the island, in the hope that there it will be less gusty. The forecasts encouragingly called of wind force 3-4 NW. I got ready and pulled up the anchor at 0835. The wind was 15-22 knots and there were plenty of white caps. We motored slowly round Cape Agridio and arrived in Vitsilia (Βιτσιλιά) [37° 32.63' N 26° 30.6' E] at 0930 after 4.03 M.

While the sea was somewhat rough outside the cove, inside there was only a light swell. I dropped the anchor in 4.5 m over sand and let out 30 m of chain. Thetis settled in 6.5 m depth. I reversed vigorously and waited for about ½ hour to see if the depth would change. Then I lowered the dinghy and got ready to snorkel and check the anchor. But while I was doing this the wind changed direction now coming from NW and Thetis had slowly drifted toward the shore at 3.5 m depth. I snorkeled and did verify that the anchor was well buried under the sand. Since we were now in shallower water and the cove shallows rather quickly I reduced the anchor scope to 25 m but the wind kept changing direction and the boat was all over the place. Fortunately, except for a small trechandiri (a Greek traditional fishing boat) near the shore, there were no other boats here.

I put up the tent and had a quiet day mostly reading and swimming. I kept alternating my reading between Ramage & the Saracens and A Geological Companion to Greece and the Aegean. I also washed down the cockpit that had accumulated a lot of bread crumbs and washed the dinghy.

When the sun was at a very low angle I removed the tent and had an ouzo. I then boiled some spaghetti and had it with the remaining meat ragù. By that time the moon, one day past full, rose over the sea. It was a glorious sight. A huge red disc painting the calm sea pink. Although I have been in this cove many times this is the first time I have seen the full moon rise here. Other times it was either earlier or later in the year and the moon rose behind the cliffs. While calm, there was a lot of swell. Suddenly the shore was illuminated by a an approaching car’s headlights. There was some movement from the shadows and the lights went off. But now another light appeared in the water moving along the cliff. I realized that it was a spear fisherman.

Friday August 23, 2013 Day 26

It was a quiet night other then the annoying swell. This morning there was heavy dew and the cockpit was soaked while in the cabin the relative humidity was 80%, the highest of this cruise and a number that I had not seen since mid May. I prepared to depart for Samos and at 0840 we were underway.

In the hope of sailing I had uncovered the mainsail but the wind was only 4-8 knots NNE too close and too light for our course of 066. So we motored. At least I ran the water-maker and filled the water tanks. About an hour later the wind backed to NW and I raised the mainsail, leaving it on its 2nd reef, and opened about 75% of the headsail. Sailing at last without the engine sound. It was not to last. After a very pleasant hour the wind died down to 2-5 knots NNW and I had to roll-in the protesting headsail and motor-sail for a while. It was very calm. Finally when we were just a couple of miles from Samiopoula I lowered the mainsail. When we were less then a mile from the reef infested Samiopoula-Samos channel the sea changed from dead calm to choppy with white caps. The forecasts had predicted NW winds of force 3-4 for this morning and NE for late afternoon.

I decided not to stop in Samiopoula as I intended because the sea floor there steepens very quickly and one has to drop the anchor very close to the rocks which is fine with the prevailing NW winds but with easterly winds one risks the boat drifting to the rocks. So, I headed instead to Tsopela (Τσόπελα), Samos [37° 38.3' N 26° 50' E] about 2 M east of Samiopoula. We arrived there at 1200 and anchored in 4.5 m with 25 m of scope. The bottom here is all sand. We had come 16.6 M from Fourni.

Soon the dinghy was in the water and I snorkeled to the anchor. Its chain was looped but the Rocna anchor was well buried in the sand. I put up the tent. The wind, while fairly light under 10 knots, came from all directions and Thetis was swinging around. There was, as usual, some swell and we were rocking.

In the late afternoon I went with the dinghy to a tiny, totally inaccessible by land, beach W of Tsopela that I had spotted on our way in. It was lovely and the water there was absolutely clear. There was not even a hint of any flotsam and jetsam. Also, the cliffs provide some shade and I thoroughly enjoyed myself in this beautiful place.

Tiny cove near Tsopela
Tsopela1 Tsopela2

Back on Thetis and after the sun went behind the cliff I removed the tent and had an ouzo. I then made a salad with tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, etc. I also made an omelet with last night’s leftover spaghetti with meat. For a change instead of the usual Kalami wine I opened a bottle of red Tsandali Moschomavro. All was well but for the swell that was getting worse. It was a quiet if rather rocky night.

Saturday August 24, 2013 Day 27

The broken anchor swivel
The broken anchor swivel

The departure this morning from Tsopela was very difficult. All started normally enough and fortunately the wind was light. It looked that it was going to be an early start. As usual I raised the dinghy on the davits, secured it, opened the bimini, and started raising the anchor. But something was not right. With the wild swings of the boat during the night the chain had looped around over itself and now the anchor came up with a loop of chain, several meters long, fouled around it and hanging from it. This was not a great problem. I got the boat hook, lowered the anchor a little, and with the hook untangled the chain. I then lowered the anchor to the bottom and started raising it again with the windlass. It came up as usual. But as the windlass was pulling it over the bow roller I herard a snapping sound and the anchor dropped into the water while its chain was in the boat. The swivel that connected the anchor to the chain and allows it to rotate without tangling the chain, broke. The bolt connecting the two rotating parts of the swivel had sheared. Fortunately the water was clear, the wind light, and it was only 6 m to the bottom and I should be able to retrieve the expensive Rocna anchor. The immediate problem though was that Thetis was slowly drifting towards the rocks. I went astern, engaged the engine, and maneuvered the boat upwind and away from the rocks. I then removed the secondary Brittany anchor from its holder on the stern pushpit, grabbed an assortment of cleats and some tools and went to the bow placed the Brittany on the anchor roller and attached it to the chain. Then, back to the cockpit I maneuvered the boat away from the rocks and to a place that I thought was near where the Rocna had dropped. I lowered the Brittany and let out 20 m of chain. Now Thetis was secured and I had time to contemplate and plan my next move, that is how to recover the Rocna.

There were two aspects of this. The first was to locate the Rocna and the second was how to raise the 25 kg anchor when the windlass capstan held the chain with the Brittany on the bottom of the sea. I raised the dinghy above its stand, way up on the davits. This gave me just enough room to lower the swimming ladder. I got the small anchor buoy with about 18 m of a thin line, put on mask, snorkel, and flippers and got into the water. I started a methodical search pattern in circles increasingly larger around Thetis. As luck would have it I soon located the Rocna. It was only in about 6 m depth. I dove and tied the end of the small buoy line to it thus marking the spot. I swam back to the boat and got a heavier 30 m line one capable of holding the Rocna’s weight. I then swam back to the anchor dove and tied the heavy line to the anchor and untied the bouy line. I then made a knot between the end of the heavy line and the end of the light buoy line. Then, once again, I swam back to Thetis trailing the holding the buoy with its line still attached. There was just enough of the line to allow me to secure it on a stern cleat. So now both anchors were attached to Thetis. I took a small brake to catch my breath. I went to the bow and let out 5 m of the Brittany chain and pulled on the buoy line. I repeated this until I got to the thick line. I untied the buoy line from it and led it over the left (port) anchor roller and secured it to a bow cleat. After putting away the buoy and its thin line I went back to the bow. My plan was to come as close as possible to the Rocna by releasing the Brittany chain and pulling on the Rocna line. After releasing almost 50 m of the chain and pulling the heavy line we were on top of the Rocna. I secured the chain with the hook of the snub line and released the chain capstan. I then fed the thick Rocna line around the windlass rope-drum and raised it with the help of the windlass. The problem now was how to get the Rocna to the starboard (right) bow roller which was occupied with the chain that held the Brittany. In the mean time, I went back to the stern, lifted the swimming ladder and once again secured the dinghy on its stands. Back on the bow I engaged the capstan and raised the Brittany with the windlass. Then I headed out of the cove into the open sea away from all rocks. The sea was blissfully still rather calm. I tied the Brittany and with the tools removed it from the chain thus freeing it. I then carried it to the stern and put it on its holder. Now with the Brittany out of the way I could concentrate on the Rocna while Thetis was slowly motoring under the autopilot control. I brought the end of the chain around the the bow rollers to the port side and attached it with two cleats to the Rocna. I then lowered the anchor with the thick line still attached until it was hanging by the chain. I attached the chain to the capstan, on the starboard side, engaged the capstan, and brought the anchor up with the windlass on its correct place. I removed the thick line and secured the Rocna. All done! The time was 0940 and the whole adventure took just over 1½ hour.

Now we were on our way towards Pythagorio. The wind was about 10 knots from the NE, a head wind so we motored running the water-maker. After we rounded Aspri Cavoi the wind increased to 20 knots and stayed that way until we were almost at Samos Marina. At 1130 we reached Mycale [37° 42.3' N 26° 59' E] about 2 M E of the marina. We had come 9.2 M from Tsopela.

I anchored in 5 m depth with 30 m of chain. Here it was fairly calm but the wind was gusting to over 25 knots. Thetis was the only boat here. I put up the tent and swam checking the anchor.

In the afternoon I wanted to make coffee but I had run out of ground coffee so I ran the genset to power the grinder. After coffee, taking advantage of the genset I ran the water-maker and filled it with the biocide solution because it will not be used for the next few weeks. I also talked to Alice on Skype.

Today is our 47th wedding anniversary. Who could believe that 47 happy years have passed since I married that lovely American girl while serving as a 2nd lieutenant in the Greek army?

When the sun went down I removed the tent and covered the mainsail. I treated myself with a gin and tonic. For dinner I had left over salad and pasta with the last of the ragù. I had been cleaning the refrigerator since my plan was to move Thetis first thing in the morning to the marina where she will stay for a while.

I finished Ramage & the Saracens the one before the last of this entertaining series of nautical historic fiction.

Sunday August 25, 2013 Day 28

I prepared Thetis for her stay in the marina. I covered the dinghy and raised it on the davit stand. Then I took out the docking lines and hanged the fenders. I also packed.

By 0840 all was ready and I raised the anchor and slowly motored the 1.5 M to the marina. I hailed them on the VHF channel 9 and Mr. Yiannis the senior attendant answered. They were expecting me. After entering the marina I went to Thetis’ usual berth C05 bow-to. Mr. Yiannis handed me the mooring line and he caught and secured the bow lines. The time was 0855.

I put the bow ladder and replaced the temporary bow lines with the more permeant ones with the shock absorbers, set spring lines, etc. I emptied and cleaned the refrigerator and put all perishable food in boat bags to be taken to Kalami. Soon the rented car from Aramis arrived and I was on my way to Kalami.

This is the end of this cruise.