Travels with S/Y Thetis

Thetis only

Thetis 2015: Leros to Samos

This web page contains the logs of a 6 day solo sailing trip that I took with S/Y Thetis in the East Aegean. I sailed from Partheni in Leros, where Thetis was launched, to Samos Marina via Archangelos near Leros, Papandria in Lipsi, Marathi, Tiganakia, and a short stop in Mycale, 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.

Route to Samos from Leros
Route to Samos from Leros

Wednesday August 19, 2015, Day 1

Unfortunately 3 hours after I went to bed I woke up because of the heat and the mosquitoes. I found the cabin fan and its batteries, installed the fan, and turned it on. I also put on some mosquito repellent but after another hour of sleep I woke up again and I could not go back to sleep. So, at 4 am I started doing various tasks inside the boat to get ready for the launching. After doing all I could inside the cabin I read. I have been reading The Caiad on the Kindle a long story of a family’s circumnavigation.

When there was some daylight I installed the headsail sheet lines and the roller reefing line in preparation of in installing the large genoa after the launch with the help of the travel-lift operators.

Thetis is launched

All went well. The travel-lift came before 10. I went to the office and said goodbye to my friends and then followed the travel-lift to the “launching pool.” By 1020 Thetis was in the water.

Dimitris, the travel-lift operator, and Nicholas, his assistant, helped me to put up the Genoa. It went up half way and then it got stuck. Nothing we did helped. Thomas, the German rigger, was called and was hoisted up. He could not find what was wrong but suspected the roller on top of the mast. They had to remove the travel-lift with it small crane and bring the large crane to hoist Thomas up to the top of the mast. While waiting  for the crane I tested the toilet head and the engine. The head needed priming and the engine started right away but there was no charge from the alternator. After Thomas fixed the roller and we raised the genoa Panayiotis, the electrician, came. He swore that when he tested all things electrical last week there was no problem. He found that the voltage regulator had given up its spirit. Fortunately he had an old regulator, with a gel setting and he replaced the bad one. Problem solved.

I cast off, with Panayiotis’ help, and departed Partheni at 1400. We motored slowly the 1.7 M to Archangelos [37° 11.9' N 26° 46.3' E] testing the new autopilot driver which worked very well. We arrives at 1430. I dropped the anchor in 3.5 m depth over sand marking its location with the small buoy and let out 25 m of chain. It was very calm and the wind was less then 10 knots from anywhere between SW, W, and NW. There were many boats in the cove, including 2 small ships, the crew of which drove their tenders at an obnoxiously high speed endangering people who were swimming. The local taverna, To Stigma (Το Στίγμα) was full of people having a noisily good time.

I had a nice swim and checked the anchor, it was very well set. I was pleased but very tired. I will report tomorrow but I suspect that I will not go anywhere, just rest and recharge my battery.

By the evening most of the S/Ys and the ships had also left to be replaced by other S/Ys and a Turkish gullet. I lowered the dinghy from its davits, inflated it, and tested its outboard. I then tidied the deck and tomorrow morning I will install the mainsail.

As I was very tired I took a nap. Then I read some more of The Caiad on the Kindle. After I had a celebratory ouzo for starting my cruising for this year I went ashore and walked up to the taverna. Mrs. Europe and her daughter Demetra were pleased to see me because they were wondering why I had not shown up this year. The place was packed. Although the meal was indifferent I got back into the dinghy and returned to Thetis without any misadventure this time.

By 10 PM I was falling asleep.

Thursday August 20, 2015, Day 2

I woke up at around 2 AM, earlier I had burned some mosquito repellent so mosquitos were not the problem but the heat was. I went out in the cockpit and slept for a while but then it got cold I went back into my cabin. I did not wake up again until it was past 6. By the time I had my coffee it was 7.

I started installing the mainsail with all 4 of its battens and its 3 reefing lines. This took of course some time but it was early in the morning and still cool. Then I lowered the sail with the help of the lazy jacks, and covered it. When done with the sail I put up the tent. By then the time was almost 9:30.

Many of last night’s boats had already left the cove but more kept coming. The Stigma taverna is thriving even at this hour. I brought on the cockpit the genset and tested it. It was working well.

It was a slow morning for me after the intense sail installation activity, I even took a nap in the shaded cockpit but mostly I read. While the day was hot it was less so then yesterday. The maximum temperature inside the cabin was 34°C (93.2°F). I had a nice lunch using, for the first time this year, the cockpit table. After lunch I had another nap catching up on my sleep deficit and the 7 hour time jet lag.

After a refreshing swim I strapped on the lifelines, left and right, 2 of the spare Diesel fuel jerry cans. The other two were already in the left sail locker. I did some more house keeping inside the cabins. Now I was ready for cruising.

I started the genset and ran it for 1½ hr. This brought the consumed Ah from -120 to -79 but more important, it tested the genset and allowed me to run the water-maker and test it. After priming the water-maker I realized that it was not filled with biocide as it should. I should had instructed Agmar Marine to had done this after the repairs. At any rate, both the genset and the water-maker worked well. I even filled 2 bottles for kitchen use from the water-maker’s output.

Later I cooked the ground meat that I had bought in Leros. I browned it together with onions and after deglazing the pan with red wine and adding chopped fresh tomatoes and cooking it for an hour or so I made nice sauce. I should had bought carrots and parsley but I did not. For dinner I boiled some spaghetti and served with some of this sauce. There were plenty of both spaghetti and extra sauce. For dessert, I had treat: strawberries sprinkled with Samos Moschato wine and a little sugar.

Once again by 10 PM I was in my cabin falling asleep.

Friday August 21, 2015, Day 3

I slept well until 5 AM, 7 solid hours. After my coffee I decided to leave Archangelos for Lipsi. I put on a long sleeve shirt and lathered myself with plenty of sunscreen because I have had minimal sun exposure after these long months being away.

I then raised the dinghy on its davits and changed the autopilot driver, from the new unit to the old one, to be also tested. After I started the motor I saw that the alternator, although it was charging the batteries, it was doing so at a low level. Not sure if there is a problem. I also connected both the Kindle and the iPad to the DC-AC converter to be recharged.

I raised the anchor and departed from Archangelos at 0830. The wind was 10-15 knots from the NNE, right on our nose, so we motored and ran the water-maker filling 2 more bottles. While motoring I observed that the battery combiner (it combines in parallel the service and starting batteries) indicator light was off. After I shook its cables it turned on again for a while and then stopped.

We arrived in Papandria, Lipsi [37° 16.8' N 26° 46.2' E] at 0945 after 6.1 M. I prepared the anchor but as I was about to drop it a 45' chartered catamaran a little S of Thetis begun raising her anchor. I moved out of her way but it turned out that they were not leaving but were shortening their scope, by a lot. I dropped the anchor some distance away but I did not like Thetis’ proximity to another S/Y. So, I raised the anchor for re-anchoring. While doing so we drifted very, very close to another boat and our keel got tangled to their chain. Fortunately the couple on the other boat were very cooperative and slackened their chain while fending Thetis off. It was a close call to a potentially bad situation, due entirely to my fault. I re-anchored in 6 m depth over sand with over 30 m of chain, deploying the anchor marking buoy, behind the catamaran and not too far from a Turkish gulet.

In addition to the gulet there here 6 S/Ys and many more in the adjacent cove of Katsadia. It was also rather windy 15-20 knots form the NNW. I lowered the dinghy to have access to the swimming ladder and snorkeled to the anchor. It was completely embedded in the sand. After returning to the boat I put up the tent.

Later I investigated the problem with the battery combiner. It turned out that its fuse did not make good contact. I cleaned the fuse and its holder’s contacts and verified that there was no resistance with the multimeter. But after I started the engine the indicator still did not light. Who knows? Maybe the service battery is totally charged. But just in case, I untied the wind-generator whose blades were tied before leaving Thetis last October to prevent overcharging and making noise. Well the wind-generator did work, and this is another tick on my check list.

I noticed that the bottom of the kitchen shelf next to the refrigerator was wet. I removed everything from it and dried it. I was not sure what caused this. Also the head had lost its prime and I had to put extra water on its intake hose and prime it again. While doing so I also noticed that its intake filter was dirty so I cleaned it. Because of this, I also checked the fresh water filter in-front of the pressure pump. This too was very dirty and I cleaned it.

In the early evening I removed the tent and went ashore with the trash. I was very glad to see that now they have replaced the trash bins. I then walked to the town and had my usual ouzo and grilled octopus in the Nikis’ & Louli’s café. I made a nice meal wit other mezedes in addition to the octopus i.e. some very tasty κολοκυθοκεφτέδες (kolokythokeftedes - fried zucchini ball), fava spreads, etc. I then walked to the bakery and got a loaf of fresh bread and some crisini. I am proud that I resisted their very tasty δίπλες (diples - thin fried pieces of dough covered with honey). After that I walked back to Katsadia, about 45 minutes, to my waiting dinghy.

Once again I went to bed around 10 PM and this time slept like a log.

Saturday August 22, 2015, Day 4

By 6:45 I was up and very refreshed. After a leisurely slow start, reading on the iPad the depressing news, I decided to move on to Tiganakia. What I really wanted was to go to Marathi but being Saturday I thought it would be too crowded and I would be better if I went there tomorrow. Then, weather permitting, I would proceed to Samos on Monday.

The wind here was rather gusty, 15-22 knots from the NW although all of the forecasts called for winds no stronger then force 5. I raised the dinghy and prepared for departure. We left Lipsi at 0925. The wind was fairly strong, gusty, and against our N heading. We motored while charging the Kindle and the iPad, while doing so I had turned off the solar panels so that the engine’s charge regulator will not get confused with a voltage higher then of its making. To my relief and delight both the service and starting batteries were automatically paralleled and the indicator light was correctly lit. Fortunately, although the wind was on our nose the waves were not very large and it was not a bad ride.

We arrived in my favorite place in Tiganakia [37° 21.5' N 26° 45.1' E] at 1100 after 7.1 M. Near by was an Italian S/Y, a catamaran. Closer to Arki there were a number of “ships.” I anchored in 8 m depth over sand and let out 45 m of chain. This Rocna anchor is amazing! It was very nice here.

I lowered the dinghy, not because I was planing to use it, but to free the swimming ladder. I then snorkeled and looked at the anchor. It was completely buried in the sand. I put up the tent and relaxed. All was well with me and Thetis but I am very depressed by:

  1. The political/financial crisis in Greece, and
  2. the miserable plight of the refugee flood into the Greek islands.

Both of these issues are well covered in the international press but it is hard to comprehend the human dimension of the misery caused nor of the amazing capacity of my fellow Greek citizens for self-denial and delusion.

For over a month now the banks in Greece do not work normally. Under the capital controls imposed by the radical Greek government after their negotiation consisting of bullying and shameless lying to both their electorate public and the lenders to Greece had failed, Greeks were allowed to draw from their bank accounts, via ATMs, only 60 € per day. Then this was relaxed to a weekly maximum of 420 € either in a lump sum or in several withdrawals, causing a lot of problems to both individuals and small businesses.

My own brother Nikos, owner of the traditional Greek boat the Faneromeni that has been declared a national monument cannot afford to cruise this summer because of refueling difficulties. Yet, here I see many Greeks with motor cruisers, large and small fast inflatables, jet skis, etc. all of which certainly consume more fuel then the Faneromeni. How do they do it? Have they a horde of cash withdrawn before the imposition of capital controls? Do they all have foreign bank accounts and if so how do they access them?

There is another problem with Thetis: the food shelf next to the refrigerator that was wet yesterday and I had dried it is still moist today. Where is the water coming from? Its adjacent shelf is perfectly dry. It cannot come from a deck leak because the deck was totally dry. We shall see.

Today is a quiet day certainly cooler then yesterday. I had to install the spray hood to shield the cockpit from the wind.

In the evening, as the sun was setting, I had my ouzo. Later, I had for dinner leftover spaghetti, some bread, cheese, and fruits. Once again by 10 PM I could not keep my eyes open and I retired in my cabin trying to read. It was hopeless!

Sunday August 23, 2015, Day 5

I slept soundly until 7. The morning was very windy with gusts up to 24 knots. There were only two other boats here: a catamaran without a flag, and a very large trimaran with a 7 man crew. I did not recognize her flag.

There was again a problem with the head the pump drawing sea water and I had to prime it. Also the GPS, just like it did last year, takes a very long time to acquire a fix after it is turned on. Both I and Panayiotis, the Agmar electrician, checked its connections and antenna but we were unable to located the cause for this. However, after it acquires it first fix the unit works normally.

Later in the morning I started preparing to relocate to near-by Marathi. I removed the tent to make it easier to catch a mooring, prepared a bow line, etc. When all was ready I raised the anchor and departed from Tiganakia. The time was 0945. We motored slowly because we were towing the dinghy with its outboard and also to maximize charging of the batteries during the short 1.5 M passage. We arrived in Marathi [37° 22' N 26° 43.6' E] at 1030.

Although there were several free moorings I had a very hard time catching the one that I had selected. After 3 attempts I changed my strategy and after preparing another line I approached the mooring in reverse from the stern. This time I caught it easily with the hook and passed the end of the prepared line through its ring. But unfortunately, the other end of this line that I had secured on a stern cleat came off. I caught the errant line with the hook and repeated the maneuver, this time successfully. I moved the bow line to the cleat in the middle of the boat and and after going to the mooring with the dinghy I passed its end to the mooring’s ring. Then I undid the stern line, relocated to the bow and pulled the mooring ahead. Finally after removing the now useless stern line I added a stronger line to bow cleat and secured its end to the mooring with a large cleat and slackened the looped back bow line. I do this routinely when tying the boat to a mooring to avoid any abrasion of the looped bow line.

After mooring my immediate neighbors from the Italian flagged S/Y Necton invited me for a coffee, good Italian coffee. I had seen her in the Agmar shipyard. They were two Italian families, the one who owns the boat lives in Cape Town, South Africa.

We agreed to get together in the evening for dinner. The cove was not as crowded as I was afraid: 4 S/Ys, 3 largish motor cruisers, a very large motor cruiser, and a trawler. Pandelis, with his M/V Katina, stopped on his way to Arki, and spoke to me. I will see him later.

I put up the tent and I swam a lot and then swam ashore and greeted Pandelis, who had returned, Katina, and their daughter Toola.

In the evening, after a nice hot shower and a shave, I went ashore to Pandelis for dinner. Kyria Katina chose for me a very nice and very fresh fish to be grilled. I sat with my new Italian friends. The second couple and their 3 children aged 9 to 19 live in Milano and this was their first sailing cruise. There were a jovial group but I did not get a chance to talk very much with Mr. P.

Pandelis is very upset about the political/financial disaster in Greece although his business has not suffered other then having fewer Greek customers. Most of his customers have been with large motor cruisers, few of then Greek, and the majority were Turkish. Fewer Europeans with S/Ys then other years.

One positive observation, it seems that my talking to large Turkish cruisers about the dangerous speed of their tenders driven by their crews and subsequently similar polite suggestions by Pandelis have had some effect. Most of the tenders today were driven by their crews, although a lot back and forth, at civilized speeds. May this last.

After I returned to Thetis I went to bed right away because my plan was, after consulting the weather forecasts which predicted gusty winds from the NW of force 5 to 6, to depart very early and make a run for Samos.

Monday August 24, 2015, Day 6

During the night I woke up sometimes after 2 AM to go to the bathroom and then I decided that I might as well depart for Samos and arrive early. But first I had to have my obligatory large cup of Turkish coffee. I then went with the dinghy to the mooring buoy and removed the line with the cleat but left the double line through the buoy’s ring allowing an easy escape. After that I raised the dinghy on its davits, and in anticipation of sailing I uncovered the mainsail.

When everything was ready I cast off. The time was 0340. I motored slowly, watching the GPS/Chart-plotter and the radar and rounded Tiganakia and Arki. My plan was to raise the mainsail at that point. That was a mistake, I should had done this while still within the protected Marathi cove and taken 2 reefs. As it were the wind after rounding Arki was 18-28 knots from the NNW, a head wind, and the sea was quite rough. As a result I gave up all hope of sailing and continued motoring.

The ride while not dangerous was slow, wet, and uncomfortable. While closing all the hatches, the small hatch in-front of the main cabin would not latch no matter what I did. As a result plenty of water came into the cabin, most of it on the floor. It was good that I had already installed the spray hood. I sat on a cushion at the companionway, protected by the hood and watched our slow progress on the instruments. Then I noticed water coming in the main cabin from the rear left window. This window was replaced a year ago and gave no trouble last summer. This year, however, this window as well as all the other windows were “serviced.” So, now it leaked.

Muddy water from the tanks

Another problem manifested itself. With all the shaking despite Agmar’s cleaning of the water tanks now the water coming from the faucet was very muddy.

So the passage went: watch instruments, wipe floor, wipe galley, and repeat. There was no traffic whatsoever. As I expected after coming abreast of the little island of Samiopoula the waves got less furious but the average wind speed did not change very much although the gusts now were in in the low 20s.

After 27.05 M we arrived in Mycale [37° 42.2' N 26° 58.9' E], less then 2 miles from the marina, at 0930. I anchored in 4.5 m depth over sand and let out 20 m of chain. Here it was calm but still windy. There were no other boats.

After Thetis was secured I looked at the hatch problem. It had been ripped off from its 2 screws and its hinge did not budge. The hinge’s stiffness is adjustable by a large hexagonal screw. Even after I got the right tool I could not turn this screw. I lubricated and finally resorted to using the windlass’ lever on the hex tool before I loosened it. I scrambled to find larger replacement screws. After I found them I added some glue compound suitable for fiberglass into the screw holes and waited the requisite 20 minutes for it to dry. I then did re-installed the hatch. Success! I quickly closed it and latched it. I do not plan to risk opening it again until Thetis is back in the yard.

I put up the tent, swam, and rested. Later I started packing for moving from my Thetis home to my home in Kalami.

Sometime before 6 PM I hanged the fenders and docking lines and I removed the tent. At 1800, after contacting Samos Marina on VHF channel 9, I raised the anchor and motored to the marina. Her usual berth was occupied but Michalis, the friendly attendant, directed me to a berth on the NW corner, where the restaurant used to be. I had a little difficulty because of the strong gusts in turning Thetis in the narrow space of berth C45 [37° 41.5' N 26° 57.2' E] but with the help of Michalis’ tender we got her in and secured her. The time was 1815 and we had come 28.9 M from Marathi. This trip was over.

After a while while I was still securing the boat for her stay here, Alexis from Aramis delivered my rented car and by 8 PM I was on my way to Kalami. My next project is the harvesting of the grapes and winemaking.