Travels with S/Y Thetis

Thetis only

2016: Samos to Kea

This web page contains the logs of the first leg of a cruise in the Greek Aegean from the island of Samos to the island of Kea or Tzia in the Cyclades. This leg consists of 9 solo sailing days that I took with S/Y Thetis. The places visited are: Limnionas in Samos; Evdilos in the island of Ikaria; Panormos (Ayia Thalassa) in the island of Tinos; and finally Vourkari, and Koundouros in Kea.

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 Tzia
Route to Kea

Monday August 1, 2016, Day 1

We got up in Kalami before 5 AM. We closed the house and drove to the airport well in time for Alice’s 7:30 flight to Athens. She will then take a BA flight to Heathrow and then a 3rd to Washington, DC.

After leaving the airport I drove to the marina and prepared Thetis for the August cruise. There was not a single soul in sight in the marina. After rearranging the shore lines we departed from the marina at 0750. Outside the marina, I removed and stowed the fenders and the docking lines.

The wind was 5-14 knots changing direction from NE to NW. I opened about 30% of the headsail, because the wind was too weak for more sail area, and motor-sailed W along the S coast of Samos to the lovely large sandy cove E of Limnionas (Λιμνιώνας) [37° 42' N 026° 38.5' E] on the SW side of Samos. We had come 15.7 M and arrived at 1040. While we were underway I primed the head pump that was not drawing water properly and tightened some loose screws.

I anchored in 4.5 depth and let out 20 m of scope. It was pretty calm and hot. I lowered the dinghy and uncovered it. I then snorkeled to the anchor. The anchor was fine and the cool water was most welcomed. I put up the tent.

In the early afternoon a lovely 8-14 knot breeze came, first from the E and then from the W. I did a lot of swimming, took a nap, and then swam again. In the late afternoon the wind picked up 15-20 knots but still coming sometimes from the E and others from the W. I put up the spray hood. I then inflated the dinghy and motored around the bay.

Back on board I had an ouzo and cooked a turkey cutlet for dinner. I served it with pasta in a fresh tomato sauce I had brought from Kalami. For fruit I had some small black figs (μπουκνάκια - bouknakia), also from Kalami.

By 9 PM I was in my cabin falling asleep. It was a long day.

E of Limnionas
East of Limnionas

Tuesday August 2, 2016, Day 2

The night was uneventful. I woke up, no alarm, just before 6. After coffee I prepared for departure, having already looked at the forecasts which predicted force 4 NW winds increasing by the afternoon to force 5. I decided to go to Evdilos on the N side of the Ikaria island. Then tomorrow or Thursday to either go to Tinos or the N side of Myconos depending on the weather.

I raised the anchor and departed at 0655. The wind was 5-15 knots WNW, mostly a head wind. We motor-sailed with 25% of the headsail. We also head several close encounters with ships in the Samos-Fourni channel. While we were underway I vacuumed and then mopped the cabin floors. I received an e-mail from Alice: she is now safely back home in Washington, DC.

By 1035 we were in the harbor of Evdilos (Εύδηλος), Ikaria (Ικαρία) [37° 37.8' N 026° 11' E] having come 23.2 M. I did not dock the boat in the harbor but anchored off on the E side at 7.5 m depth with 40 m of chain.

After launching the dinghy I snorkeled to check the anchor. It was nicely set. I then went ashore to the town and got fresh bread and some rice. The town was surprisingly clean. While driving the dinghy back to the boat I noticed that if I revved up the outboard its propeller slipped. Later I tried again but it seemed to work alright. We shall see.

All afternoon it was very calm, and unlike yesterday’s afternoon there was no wind. But it was hot. Frequent jumps into the water took care of that. Altogether I swam a lot. I spoke to Alice over FaceTime.

Within the enclosure by the jetty in Evdilos there are two beaches. Both had some people but not a crowd. These were mostly locals, many with children having fun and swimming. Some had brought umbrellas and inflatable mattresses. All was very pleasant and low key, nothing commercial.

Later I looked up on the internet the various forecasts trying to decide what I will do tomorrow. It looked calm, force 4 wind until the late tomorrow afternoon but increasing in the evening especially near Tinos and Andros then on Thursday becoming rough and very windy. I decided to leave early tomorrow morning and sail to Ayia Thalassa in the island of Tinos.

In the evening I took a nice hot shower, had a small ouzo, and went ashore. The outboard behaved well. I had an indifferent meal at the Οινομαγειρίον (Oinomayirion - wine & cooked food taverna).

Earlier in the afternoon a tanker ship marked with EKO signs entered slowly, very slowly, the harbor. Maneuvered, almost effortless, and docked stern-to. She then discharged a tanker truck also marked EKO. She then departed and shortly after the island ferry Myconos took her place. After the ferry left the tanker ship returned and the tanker truck drove back into her holding area. Two more trucks were then discharged. While eating I watched these tanker trucks coming and going from the ship. It seems that they were distributing fuel to fuel stations accross the island, then returning and reloading from the ship. Before I finished my meal the last truck was loaded and the ship departed.

Back on board Thetis I raised the dinghy anticipating an early departure but I left the tent on.

Wednesday August 3, 2016, Day 3

I got up around 5 AM. I had my coffee and then at 0543 we departed from Evdilos.

There was hardly any wind, 1-5 knots from the SSW, but there was some swell. We motored for about 2 hrs, running the water-maker and topped the tanks. After that the wind increased to 5-15 knots now from the WNW. I opened about 40% of the headsail and motor-sailed but kept the tent. The swell got worse.

At about 25 M from our destination the engine stalled. That is it did not stop completely but did not deliver much power to the propeller. When I tried to increase the RPM it sputtered. I traced the problem to its fuel supply. After priming its first filter (large Racor) the engine behaved normally.

Contrary to the forecasts at about 1300 the wind increased reaching 22 knots but still from WNW while the swells also increased. Now they were very big. Thetis was tossing all over and there was a lot of spray. I opened the spray hood.

Eventually at 1508 we entered the cove of Ayia Thalassa (Αγία Θάλασσα) in NE Tinos (Τήνος) [37° 39.6' 025° 3.5' E]. We had come 53.4 M. The cove was calm alright but the wind was furious topping 25-30 knots (force 6). With some difficulty I anchored in 6.5 m depth and let out 40 m of chain. With this wind I did not want to launch the dinghy so instead I raised it all the way to the top of the davits. This allowed me to lower the swimming ladder and enter the water. I snorkeled to the anchor. I did not like what a saw and decided to re-anchor.

I used the engine engaged in slow forward to assist the windlass while raising the anchor but I had to go back and forth between the windlass and the engine controls. Finally the anchor was up. This time I anchored in 5 m depth with just over 30 m of scope. After snorkeling again the anchored looked OK but it was covered by dead sea weed. However it was holding well when I tested it by running the engine at maximum RPM in reverse.

I removed the tent to reduce windage. I then had a very hard time sending an e-mail to Alice advising of my safe arrival. Although there was an adequate voice GSM signal the data signal was marginal.

I was very tired. I had my afternoon coffee and rested. By 5 PM the wind, again contrary to the forecasts, was down to 15 knots (force 4). Because of the bad signal I could not get any new weather reports. I only got a several hour old report via the Navtex. I called my brother Nikos and his particular friend Rozina and asked them to please notify Alice and my daughters that I am fine.

I was too tired to cook. I had an early ouzo and 3 slices of a lamb roast that I had prepared before leaving Kalami, a tomato, and some pasta with Parmezan cheese. I went to bed around 9 PM.

Thursday August 4, 2016, Day 4

I woke up at 2:30. The boat was fine and there was no change in the depth but the wind was up again. I read for an hour or so and then I went back to my bed. I got up again at 6:30.

After coffee it was time for “Diesel sports”. First I siphoned 2 jerry cans to the main tank. Despite the gusts of the wind not a drop was spilled. Then the difficult task of replacing the 2 fuel filters: the large Racor, under the chart table, and the smaller one at the engine. There was some water and dirt particles in the large filter. Also Agmar Marine had not installed the proper Racor filter but a smaller one that did not fit well in the enclosure. The small filter was clean but I replaced it anyway. The “new” (3 year old) priming pump under the chart table helped a lot but it did take a long time and many strokes to remove all the air from the lines and filters. But the engine started right away and I kept it running, just in case, for over 15 minutes. After this messy job was over I cleaned up.

Now it was time to add a few more turns to the headsail roller reef system. I had to climb tie a rope to the sail so that it will not unroll and then untie its 2 sheet lines. Then I turned the sail and reef mechanism about 6-8 turns, retied the sheet line, and untied my temporary tie rope.

It was a windy day. I spoke to Rozina. She had looked up the weather forecasts. They were not encouraging either for today or for tomorrow.

I finished on the Kindle The Atlantis Plague a SF story and a continuation of The Atlantis Gene. The story was good but hard to follow because it jumps around very different characters in different places. I started Sword of Honour, a nautical novel.

The rest of the day was fine with lots of reading, swimming, and listening to music. The anchor had not moved.

For dinner I had a rice pilaf and a cheese omelet. I went to bed around 10:30.

Friday August 5, 2016, Day 5

Today is our daughter Corinna’s birthday.

The morning was windy and cloudy. Finally I got a relative strong GSM signal and the data connection started working again although rather slowly. So, I did get several forecasts. The best I could make out of them is that there predict a lull in the strong wind around 2 AM. I will continue to monitor the weather and if the local wind is indeed down I may depart at around 1 AM for Kea. It is 5 M from here to the Tinos-Andros channel where the wind accelerates. It should be less strong once we are W of the channel. We shall see.

Later, after some more swimming and weather monitoring and taking into account that the wind here has been under force 4 for several hours I changed my plan. I decided instead of departing in the early hours tomorrow to depart instead in the evening and cross the channel between Tinos and Andros, where I expected the stronger winds and larger waves, during daylight and the head almost due west to Vourkari in Kea. Since I am familiar with Vourkari arriving there in the early hours should be no problem.

With a plan decided I prepared to depart and did so. The anchor was up by 1755. While here in Ayia Thalassa it was calm, after exiting the cove the waves were very large, and of course, they were on Thetis’ nose. I motored slowly to minimize banging on a heading of 295. The wind was about 18 knots from the WNW. After 4 very difficult miles we finally were able to turn on a heading of 274 to transit the Tinos-Andros channel. In the channel the waves were less ferocious. After exiting the channel the wind was 22-15 knots WNW. I opened part of the headsail and for a while we were doing better then 7 knots of speed. But this happy state did not last. The wind kept changing direction now from the WSW and back to WNW. I had to roll in the unhappy sail and continue motoring.

There was a beautiful sunset. When I turned on the navigation lights I saw that the left red light in the bow was not on. I walked to the bow and found that it was totally broken. This must have been caused by the large waves but there was nothing I could do. I turned on the tricolor light on the top of the mast. It did not work either! All these lights were working few days ago when I checked them.

The rest of the passage was not bad. While approaching Kea there was some traffic, easily seen with the AIS and the radar. I had to take evasive action from one cargo ship.

Saturday August 6, 2016, Day 6

We arrived in Vourkari (Βουρκάρι), Kea (Κέα) or Tzia (Τζιά) [37° 40.3' N 024° 19.5' E] at 0045 after 38.5 M. There was a loud cacophony emanating from the restaurants/cafés. I anchored in 5.5 m depth with 35 m of chain under the lighthouse as far as possible from the noise sources. It was very calm here.

Despite going to bed rather late I woke up about 15 minutes past 7 AM. I had a leisurely cup of coffee, read the news, and checked the weather. They predicted for the Tzia area fairly calm seas with a 4-5 knot breeze from the N to NW.

I then replaced, with some difficulty, the broken red navigation light fixture and found that one of the contacts to the tricolor light’s switch was disconnected. Easily fixed. I then had a nice hot shower and a shave.

I spoke on the phone with Rozina and then with my brother Byron. Nikos and Rozina will not come to Tzia but Byron was expecting me in the Koundouros cove where his house overlooks.

After raising the anchor we departed from Vourkari at 0945. The wind, outside Vourkari’s enclosed area was 10-15 knots NW. I opened 50% of the headsail, but the wind was not steady enough to keep a good downwind course without some serious flapping of the sail. Once again we motor-sailed albeit with low RPM. At least I ran the water-maker and replenished the water supply.

At 1100 and after 7 M we entered the cove of Koundouros (Κούντουρος) [37° 34.7' N 024° 16.7' E]. Despite Byron’s urging to anchor and take a line ashore, I just anchored off in 6 m depth over sand and let out 45 m of scope. After launching the dinghy I snorkeled and checked the anchor, it was well embedded in the sand.

While swimming back to Thetis I noticed that the S/Y behind her was rather familiar looking. Indeed she was the sailing yacht flying the French flag but belonging to the Australian couple John and Angela whom I had first met in Salagonas, Chios in 2011. In the fall of that year Angela had helped me with the harvesting of the grapes in Kalami. Then we had met several more times both in 2011 and 2012 and had exchanged electronic Christmas greetings. I swam over but they did not seem to be on board.

In the mean time Byron had come and was ashore. I went to him with the dinghy to get him. The outboard propeller was once again slipping at high RPM. Byron did not want to come aboard but wanted me to go with him up to his house on the Katevati hill. On my way back to Thetis to get dressed I stopped at my friend's S/Y and called. The Slacks came out of their cabin and we had a brief but joyful reunion. Since I could not spent any time because Byron was waiting for me ashore. I then went to Thetis, got dressed, took 3 bottles of Kalami wine from different vintages, and went back ashore.

We drove to Byron’s house in Katevati where I met his wife Ivi, her mother Areti, and their house guests Petros and Mary Matsoukas. We were soon joined by Ivi’s grown up son Dimitris, Spelios and Thanasis (their neighbors and childhood friends). Wine bottles were opened, mezedes (appetizers) were brought, and we all exchanged our news etc. Although Byron and Ivi wanted me to stay for lunch I felt quite full from all the mezedes and was getting a little sleepy. Spelios loaned me his motorbike and I drove down the steep and hazardous dirt road of Katevati.

Back on board I had a nap followed by coffee. Angela called me and I joined them in their S/Y. They have been living now on her for over 8 years but they have ordered her replacement in Holland and the new boat is under construction. She too will be an aluminum hull.

After I left them I went ashore and rode the motorbike, while there was still daylight, back to Byron’s house. We had an ouzo while watched the sky during the sunset turn from red to dark. We then all left at 9:30, with Byron’s car, and drove to the cove of Pises, N of Koundouros, where there was a panigyri (fiesta). A large table had been reserved at the taverna there. We were joined by my sister-in-law Mirka, Thanasis and Pascal, Evi (another childhood friend), and others. Lots of food, wine, and conversation. I did not return to Thetis until almost 1 AM.

Sunday August 7, 2016, Day 7

My first task this morning was to remove the outboard’s propeller and figure out what causes it to slip. I did. There is an elastic sleeve between the propeller and the shaft. Its purpose is to allow the propeller to slip if it hits an obstacle and thusly prevent damage of its blades. But in this case the elastic was cracked (age?) and the propeller slips with just sea resistance at anything but low RPMs. Byron, after hearing of this, called an outboard repairman in Korisia, the main harbor of Kea in the same large cove as Vourkari. The repairman thinks that he can locate a replacement propeller in Lavrio and have it shipped to Kea by tomorrow. At any rate, I will have to go to Korisia anyway to get some fuel and other provisions.

Today’s arrangements with Byron were to wait for his call, later is the morning, and then go with the dinghy and meet the crowd for swimming in the cove at the end of the dirt road down from Katevati, not very far by sea from Thetis. The word “morning” here has a different meaning. It was after 1 PM when Byron called. Fortunately, expecting this, I already ate a light lunch. I went to the cove and met all the people. In addition to people from yesterday I also met Evi’s daughter Alexandra, Emily, Thanasis and Pascal’s daughter, and Charoula, Spelios’ wife. All was fine except some very annoying, and dangerous, jet skis.

Around 3:30 the group started packing to go up in Katevati for lunch. I excused myself, having already eaten, and I returned to Thetis for a much needed nap and coffee. John and Angela sent me some very nice underwater photographs of my anchor buried in the sand.

Thetis’ Rocna anchor in the sand

At about 7:30 Byron came and we he drove me up to Katevati. I left with him some bottles of Kalami wine to give to our Brother Nikos and Rozina. We had a drink and watched the lovely sunset. Then, sometime after 10, we went to a modest taverna in Kambi, a few km south of Koundouros. There we had a pleasant quiet dinner. I was back in the boat early, that is before 1 AM. There were mosquitoes.

Monday August 8, 2016, Day 8

I transferred one more jerry can of Diesel fuel to the main tank expecting to take all 3 empty cans for refill after Byron would pick me up. I also repaired the engine control box’s wooden handle that had broken yesterday. It was a windy morning.

When I later spoke with Byron he had no news about the outboard’s propeller and although he tried several times he was unable to reach the repairman with whom he had placed the order yesterday. So I was on stand-by.

I went over to my friend’s boat and informed them of the impending shopping expedition to Korisia with Byron and asked if they wanted to come along. Angela definitely did but John wanted to stay with their boat.

Byron called me in the late morning. He finally did reach the outboard technician who had located a replacement propeller in Lavrio for 130 €. If we still wanted it he will have it send with this evening’s ferry. So far so good but the shopping expedition had to be postponed for tomorrow morning. I was happy about the propeller but I was hopping to depart fromTzia tomorrow. But … I let Angela know and also told them that my evening invite for ouzo was still on.

I then drove the dinghy, slowly, to the cove we had met yesterday and joined Byron, Ivi, Mirka, and the others for the “morning” swim. It was just past 1 PM. Again I had already had a light lunch, a small nap, and coffee. I stayed with the group until they were leaving for their late afternoon lunch. Then I went back to Thetis.

The Amzer Zos came, as we had arranged, just after 6 PM. We had a nice time sipping some ouzo and eating some light snacks. After they left I called Byron. I went ashore intending to walk along the road until he came. I had a hard time securing my dinghy on the little concrete landing platform. It was completely taken over by a largish dinghy from a motor cruiser. It was tied side-to taking almost all of the available space.

After a while Byron came and picked me up. Tonight the dinner was at Ivi’s and included the whole Katevati group. No word about the propeller. Both Byron and I came to the conclusion that if it had not arrived in Korisia we should cancel the order. He called the technician and left a message to that effect. Ten minutes later the outboard technician returned Byron’s call. To our surprise he had received the propeller and we will pick it up tomorrow morning.

The dinner guests arrived. They were Mirka, Spelios, Charoula, their son Vasilis with his attractive wife, Emily, Alexandros and a friend, another fellow Athens College alumnus. The dinner went very well and we all, as usual had a very good time. But as Byron was getting sleepy he drove me back down to Koundouros. Mirka came along to make sure that he stayed awake.

The dinghy from the cruiser was gone but my dinghy was on the rocks because her little anchor line was untied. I will have to retrieve the anchor tomorrow morning. I made it back on board Thetis just before 12:30. A new record for Tzia.

Tuesday August 9, 2016, Day 9

This was a frustrating but productive day. The plan was for Byron to pick up me and Angela some time after 9 and then we were all to go to the harbor of Korisia get the new propeller, provisions, and fuel. I put all 3 empty jerry cans in the dinghy but we did not start until 10:30. I picked up Angela we drove the dinghy to the little beach near the small landing quay. There we pulled the dinghy up on the sand and I removed the propeller from the outboard. The idea was to have it with us and compare it to the new one. We carried the cans and our shopping bags up the hill and sat in the shade of the little chapel and waited for Byron.

He came together wit Ivi at around 11 and after loading his car we drove to Korisia. Our first stop was a bank with an ATM. There was a problem with Byron’s card and he and he had to apply for a replacement card. This took some time. While he and Ivi were occupied inside the bank Angela and I bought from a near by butcher some luza, a local specialty like prosciutto.

We then drove to Vourkari and found the technician with the new outboard propeller. Fortunately it was fine and matched the old one. Then we bought some fresh fruits and vegetables after which we sat at a café and had some fresh orange juice. Ivi was to meet a lawyer so while she was waiting for him at the café the rest of us drove to a fuel station and filled the empty cans with 65 L of Diesel fuel for 77 €. Then we went to a super market and did some more provision shopping.

Back in Vourkari we picked up Ivi and then stopped at another supermarket for more shopping. It was almost 4 PM by the time we returned to Katevati. I was planning on departing today but now I was too tired to do so. With Byron’s help Angela and I carried the fuel cans and the my provisions to the small landing quay. In the mean time John came to the beach with his dinghy which we loaded with Angela’s shopping. Also in the little beach swimming were Alexandros and Emily with friends. Alexandros came and helped me install the new propeller on the outboard. We launched the dinghy and tested the propeller. It worked very well, no slipping this time. We then went to the quay and loaded the cans and provisions and took them to Thetis.

After taking Alexandros back to the beach I had a very late lunch and coffee but it was too windy for the tent. I put 2 of the cans in the left sail locker and lashed the 3rd on the deck. I then stowed the provisions. While doing so I discovered an extra loaf of bread. Clearly it was Angela’s. I took it to he boat. We sat in her cockpit and had some wine.

After saying goodby to my cruising friends I returned to Thetis and had my dinner: cold slices of lamb roast and pasta. I was in my bed before 11 and slept well.