This document contains the logs of the sixth and final leg of the return trip with S/Y Thetis from the Greek Aegean island of Samos, to her base in Glyfada, near Athens. The leg is from Linaria, Skyros to Glyfada. The places seen on the way are: Batsi, in the island of Andros, and Vourkari in the island of Kea. The logs are illustrated with maps and photographs, and also include some historical and geographical descriptions of the places visited as well as several links to other related web sites.
Sunday September 20, 1998 Day 18
I slept later then I intended to but at any rate, by 0705 we were on our way to Karystos, Evia. The forecast was for a wind from the NNW at 15-20 knots. This was good because I had been very apprehensive of going through the Kafireas channel with unfavorable wind. The Kafireas or Kavo Doro strait, between the large island of Evia and the island of Andros, is notorious for its ferocious gusts and large waves.
As I was raising the main sail, a rain squall hit the harbor of Linaria just about ½ mile away form us. We had escaped it! I kept the full main without any reefs since the wind was not too strong, and the waves not particularly large, and no squalls were visible ahead of us. We were able to sail fast and comfortable for a while, with a partially unrolled genoa. As the wind increased to 25-28 knots, I reduced the main to the first reef and continued to sail nicely on a broad reach. However, a downpour did catch up with us. Lots of water, not made any more enjoyable by the leaky window. But it only lasted half an hour or so.
Later the wind increased some more and became more northerly. By this time, we were running almost directly down wind. The waves also became appreciably larger. The genoa was totally ineffective and was flapping a lot. I lowered it and replaced it with the stay sail, in the inner stay. This took some doing and it was a miserable wet job because of the large waves which were drenching the bow. While doing so, I managed to knock off the lens of my sunglasses and lose it overboard. But once the small and more efficient sail was up the going got much better. The knot meter indicated that we were doing near 7 knots but according to the GPS our ground speed was over 8.5 knots. This was caused by the favorable south-going current. A very fast moving Greek Navy ship appeared, heading directly toward us on an overtaking course. I tried to raise them on channel 16 of the VHF, which they are supposed to monitor, by they did not respond. As they approached without the slightest indication of any attempt to avoid us, I maneuvered frantically to get out of their way. As it was, they overtook us with less than ½ mile separation. So much for the Greek Navy.
Although my plan was to go to Karystos, I realized that with this wind and waves, the last 10 miles would be a very uncomfortable beat. So I revised my plan and decided to go to Andros instead, which was a few miles further, but these were easy downwind miles.
As we entered the infamous Kafireas Strait the wind actually diminished to 10-15 knots and I had to motor-sail. As usual, in the strait there was a lot of commercial traffic but as the visibility was good, there were no problems. By 1700 we were dropping our anchor off-shore in Batsi (Μπατσί), Andros (Άνδρος) [37° 51.5' N 24° 47' E]. This was a very good passage helped by both the wind and the current because while the actual distance was 64.1 nM, the log indicated only 58.1.
It was a lovely autumn evening in this good anchorage. While Thetis was swinging on her anchor, I watched the reddish tint of the sunset and the lights of the little town being reflected in the calm waters. There was a certain bite in the air after the sun went down. The temperature was 20°C. This is most likely the evening before last that I will spent aboard Thetis for this year. I am glad to be going home and I have missed the warmth and companionship of my wife and yet, at the same time, I am also sad that the journey is coming to a close. Anyway, I can only feel a great satisfaction that despite all the odds I have managed to sail as much as I have this year. There are many questions, of course. Are my heart problems behind me? Will I be able to sail an ocean? Had I had a harder time than the one I did have, would I have been up to it? At any rate, it is nice to be dry again. I hope to be in Vourkari tomorrow and, weather permitting, in Glyfada by Tuesday.
I felt so attached to Thetis, that I had no desire to go ashore. I stayed aboard and had an ouzo instead and later cooked supper. I stayed up rather late updating Thetis related files on the computer. It was a very peaceful and quiet night.
Monday September 21, 1998 Day 19
This was a very off key day. To begin with, the Navtex forecast called for NW wind force 4 temporarily 5. Well, at 0850, the time we raised the anchor to head for Vourkari, Kea, the wind was 0, yes zero. Later in the morning it blew a very modest 3-5 knots from the SW. We had to motor all the way to Vourkari. There were some heavy clouds on the horizon. One in particular looked for a while as if it was going to develop into a water spout, but it did not. Scary! I called Nikos with the Autolink and asked him if he could make a reservation for me to go to Samos on Friday (to check on the construction project) and return on Saturday and then change my return reservation on the BA flight to Washington, D.C. for Tuesday.
We dropped the anchor in Vourkari [37° 40' N 24° 19.5' E], Kea or Tzia at 1330 after 25.8 nM of motoring. As soon as the anchor was down the wind came at 12-16 knots from the W! So much for the forecast. After launching the zodiac, I went ashore to call Nikos and check on the reservations. Bad news. All BA flights to London, where I am to connect to the D.C. flight, were booked until October 10. That got me depressed. I went back to Thetis and started reading a new C. S. Forester Hornblower novel and finally fell asleep.
In the late afternoon, after a nice hot shower, I went ashore again and took a long walk to Korissia. When I got there, the wind started blowing in earnest from the W, raising clouds of dust. Also, a very dark nimbus cloud descended over the island and it started to sprinkle. Since, I had foolishly left all the hatches open, I started walking back at a fast pace. By the time I got back to the zodiac it was still drizzling and the heavy downpour had not started yet. But an oil slick was all over the quay. I later learned that it was caused by the restaurants dumping their frying oil. What a shame! By the time I got back to Thetis, the zodiac, its painter, and my hands were covered with the foul substance. While cleaning with soap the grease from the painter and the zodiac the deluge finally arrived. It came down hard but it did not last for more than half an hour. It was followed by a most dramatic sunset, with a golden sky over the angry sea. The wind changed direction to NW.
I was definitely not interested in getting back to the oil slick, so I spent this last night cooking and eating in the cockpit, enjoying the quiet night, since by then the wind had died out completely.
Tuesday September 22, 1998 Day 20
I am depressed because this is my last day aboard my beloved Thetis. Also the overall uncertainty about my return flight home is getting me down. Maybe, if I do have to wait for so long until I can go back, I could take a short trip with Thetis to the Peloponnesos. That would be a consolation. We shall see…
The wind was up this morning 5-15 knots NNW. I went ashore to buy a fresh loaf of bread. It was the most expensive ½ kg loaf I had bought in the whole summer, 290 GRD, and one of the most insipid. I guess we are getting closer to Athens.
I raised the zodiac and lashed it on the deck. Departed from Vourkari at 0915. I raised the main and as it was getting more windy, I raised the stay sail instead of unrolling the genoa. We had a lovely sail with a 25 knot wind until Cape Sounio. I had a wonderful view of the temple of Poseidon. This is the very spot where Theseus’ father, Aegeas, plunged into the sea, which was named Aegean after him, after seeing the ship returning from Crete flying black sails indicating that his son was killed by the dreaded Minotaur.
After rounding the cape, the wind died out. I had to lower the jib and motor-sail with only the main. After passing Patroklos island the wind picked up to 8-15 knots and I was able to unroll the genoa and sail. It was a slow but peaceful sail to the island of Fleves. I packed my clothes and prepared the boat for her long stay in the marina. I called Nikos and gave him my estimated time of arrival at the marina. It was a cloudy but warm and pleasant enough day. After Fleves, we were sailing at the stately pace of 1.5 knots. Nevertheless it was beautiful.
These are the waters where I grew up and where I first fell in love with the sea. Every inlet, every rock, brings back many memories. This slow pace is like my youth unfolding as a silent movie in slow motion. After passing Kavouri, I finally gave in and rolled in the genoa and started the engine. Here we are just across from Voula, where my brothers and I grew up. Here is the small island, our nisaki (νησάκι—islet), Katramonisi where we used to go every day, and sometimes at night, during the summers. It is only 1.5 mile away from Voula but our rite of passage was to get there by swimming.
We arrived at the Marina 4 in Glyfada at 1630 after 35.3 nM. As usual, our normal berth was taken and we had to raft, in a temporary arrangement, alongside the Faneromeni. Thank goodness, that Nikos was waiting for us and helped me secure Thetis.
The total distance traveled from Skyros to Marina 4 is 125.2 nM. We covered them in 21.3 hours.