This web page contains the logs of the second and final leg of a 15 day singlehanded sailing trip that I took with S/Y Thetis in the Greek East Aegean (Dodecanese). The leg covers a period of 9 days of sailing from the island of Telos to Samos via the islands of Yiali, Kalymnos (Emborios), Leros (Xerocambos, Partheni), Lipsi (Katsadia, Platys Yialos), Marathi, and Agathonisi.
The logs are illustrated with photographs and maps and also include some historical and geographical descriptions of the places visited as well as several links to other related web sites.
Monday Aug 25, 2003 Day 7
Before leaving Telos I wanted to take a hike, but I did not want to spend another uncomfortable night in this harbor. Right after listening to the 7:00 AM radio broadcast for marine weather, which called for force 4 W winds, I got ready for the hike. I packed my knapsack with water and climbed the road heading for the abandoned Mikro Chorio (small village). The map was not particularly accurate. The only accurate maps are the ones published in the series Road, but, alas, they do not yet cover all the islands. I kept climbing the already by 0730 hot asphalt road towards the Megalo Chorio (large village). Fortunately the dirt road turnoff for the Mikro Chorio was marked. The approach to this ghosttown is indeed impressive. On the way I spoke to the only person I met, a man who was gathering wood. He told me that the village, which was the most populous in the island, was too remote from the sea and had no water. In older times people lived way inland because of the fear of the pirates, but as this fear receded the rationale also went away. So, eventually people abandoned the village and moved to the harbor of Livadhia. He was born in the Mikro Chorio and, like the rest of the villagers, he still owned property there. Now the only building that is not abandoned is a restored house that is being used as a bar/disco. It actually does look attractive. The marked “parking” area in this wasteland is kind of ludicrous. I wandered around the village. It was very spooky and hot. It was good that I had a supply of water with me. I took several pictures. It was near here that they had found the skeletons of the famous pigmy elephants but I was not able to locate the spot. On the way back I found an old footpath and it was much more pleasant than walking on the hot asphalt road. Altogether the hike took me about 2½ hours.
After I got back to the harbor I bought a fresh loaf of bread and prepared the boat for departure. My destination was Yiali, the small mining island north of Niseros, which has a very attractive and quiet anchorage. I cast off the stern lines and started raising the anchor. The crosswind, however, pushed Thetis, the minute that she was free of her lines, uncomfortably close to the S side and towards the boats moored side-to. I raised as much chain as I dared before actually colliding, hoping that the anchor will be dislodged. I then ran to the cockpit and applied full reverse power and right tiller. I had to maneuver dragging the anchor in a very limited space with the wind not helping either, all the while a well-wisher from ashore was offering me bad advice. Ignoring the advice I applied forward power and slowly we turned towards the harbor exit with the stern missing a fishing boat by a hair. It was tough! We were outside the harbor by 1040, and I raised the rest of the anchor chain.
The sea was very calm and there was no wind. I motored with the tent still OneColumn2........ After a while a 10-12 knot SE breeze came and I opened part of the headsail. No sooner had I done so, the breeze died out. But soon it came back, from the SW this time. Once again I opened the headsail and we motor-sailed with the tent. It was still very calm but when we cleared Cape Psilo, the north-easternmost point of Telos, the wind increased to 20 knots and came from the west. The sea also became very choppy. I turned off the motor and we sailed for a while at the amazing ground speed of over 7.5 knots since we were helped by the N setting current. When we reached the east side of Niseros the sea became calm again and the wind lessened to under 2 knots. We motored around the island. Once again, after clearing the island the bad chop returned, and so did the wind. I stopped the motor and sailed all the way to the anchorage at the SW corner of Yiali [36° 38.5' N 27° 06.9' E]. The time was 1400 and the distance from Telos 17.8 M.
I dropped the anchor in 7 m depth over sand. The water here was very nice, clear, with turquoise reflections. It was fairly calm but with some swell, not uncomfortable. After taking a rest, I snorkeled to check the anchor. The water temperature was 29°C (84°F) the same temperature as inside the cabin. This is the warmest water that I have measured so far this year. The anchor was well set and I enjoyed further snorkeling.
I spent the rest of the day reading and listening to music. For dinner I prepared a turkey cutlet with balsamic vinegar and red wine. I then looked at the stars and particularly at Mars rising. The Red Planet this year is very close to Earth. The closest approach will be the day after tomorrow when it will be a mere 34,649,589 miles away, the closest it has ever been in recorded history. The next time it will be near Earth will be in 2287. I also watched several constellations that I identified with the use of the excellent paperback book The Stars by H. A. Ray. It was a most peaceful night —no noise, no intense lights.
Tuesday Aug 26, 2003 Day 8
My plan was to spend the day here in this nice anchorage and rest. Tomorrow I will fight my way north and go to either Vlychadia or Emborios on the island of Kalymnos. Over night I had received a Navtex weather forecast calling for force 4 WNW winds for Rhodes Sea and 4 locally 5 NW winds for Samos Sea. In the mean time, the AM radio morning forecast was aired at 0630 instead of 0700 as it had been for the last couple of weeks, if at all. This lack of consistency or lack of previous announcements is, of course, maddening. At any rate, the morning forecast was essentially the same as the overnight one.
I spent the early morning applying teak oil to the passarella and to the outboard stand. The rest of the morning I spent reading with an occasional jump into the warm clear water. I wanted to do some extensive snorkeling around the reefs but I got scared off by the strength of the current that was setting at over 1 knot.
In the early evening I took the dinghy for a long ride near the mining loading dock where I went ashore for a walk. This island is very strange. Where Thetis is anchored it is deserted and lovely but towards the center of its south side it is an open-pit mine. Huge machines dig-in these pits and enormous conveyor belts deliver the soil to the dock where large ships cart the island away. This is exploitation and environmental rape at its the worst yet I have to admit that there is a surrealistic beauty to these operations. It reminds me of the 60s Antonioni’s film The Red Desert. I took many pictures because I suppose with digging at this rate in a few years Yiali will be no more. In the mean time, it is a beautiful anchorage despite the industrial dragons that consume it and channel its soil to the giant rollercoaster-like conveyors and to the hungry bellies of rusted steamers.
On my way back to Thetis I was treated to another lovely sunset. I prepared the boat for a very early departure. Anticipating beating against the north wind I installed Pavlakis the spray-hood. I cooked rigatoni with a mushroom and fresh tomato sauce. This I ate along with plenty of wine. The Navtex forecast called for force 4, locally 5 NW winds. We shall see. I set the alarm for 0300 because I wanted to do some night sailing.
Wednesday Aug 27, 2003 Day 9
I was woken up at 0300 by the alarm. It was a lovely night, calm, and full of stars. I had a cup of coffee and uncovered the sails (wishful thinking?), and pulled up the anchor. The wind was just a mild northerly breeze no more than 8 knots. No chance of sailing, just the drone of the engine. This was too bad but since I wanted to be in Samos by September 3 with a comfortable margin, and after considering the distance and the prevailing N winds, I felt that I had no choice but to motor. At any rate, this was preferable to a slow and wet beat. The sea was very calm. Since there was no moon, Mars illuminated the calm water with its peculiar orange light. I ran the water-maker.
It was an easy passage. The only noteworthy event was a close encounter with the ferryboat Rhodes N of Cape Krikelo. We were on a safe reciprocal course with an estimated closest approach of more than a mile. But when we were about 1½ away from each other they changed their course to port heading straight for Thetis. This is a clear violation of the rules of the road, which state that in a reciprocal course, if there is any doubt of safe separation, both vessels should turn to starboard. My guess is that their change of course was already programmed in their autopilot and that no one was watching. I had to take immediate evasive action. I made a sharp 90° turn to port and revved the engine just to avoid a collision. As it were we came less than ¼ of a mile from each other. There was no sign of anyone on her bridge.
Uncovering the sail was wishful thinking indeed. The wind went down to zero as the sun rose. I had to cover the sail and put up the tent because the sun was hot. We proceeded to Emborios [37° 02.7' N 26° 55.7' E] in Kalymnos where we arrived at 1010 after 39.9 M. I picked up a mooring belonging to the Captain Costas taverna, where we ate last year. When the boat stopped moving it got very hot. I had to jump several times into the water just to keep comfortable.
I went ashore and got a loaf of bread and some cheese. I also bought a new straw hat to replace the one that blew away. There were no fruits available. I was told that a truck comes by once a day. If you catch it…
While motoring I tried different towing arrangements for the dinghy. I finally settled for a make-shift V towing sling. The dinghy behaved much better and its side motion was minimized if it was held at Thetis’ centerline. Now, when the sun went down and it was cooler, I started making a permanent version of this arrangement. I cut the long towing painter line that I had made in the spring leaving about 2 m in front of the original dinghy sling. On the end of the painter I attached a pelican cleat with an “eye” slice. On the leftover line I also made a small freestanding “eye” splice so that it can be easily attached to the pelican cleat at the end of the painter. I also wanted to make a similar arrangement with a second line (the other side of the V) but this had to wait because it was getting rather late in the evening.
I took a shower and then I went ashore for a nice dinner of fish and a Kalymnian salad, a Greek salad over a hard roasted roll, at the Captain Costas taverna. All together it was a good meal and the accompanying bread was excellent. After I praised it they gave me some more to take with me for tomorrow. I could not but think how much better and more honest this meal was than the overpriced ones served in the tourist traps of Kos.
Back on Thetis I spent some time watching Mars which tonight had its closest approach to earth in recorded history. After that, I went to bed early because I was rather tired. It was long but satisfying day.
Thursday Aug 28, 2003 Day 10
It was dead calm during the night but very humid, 85% relative humidity, the highest I have recorded this season. Low clouds covered most of the island. Very dramatic!
I continued with the dinghy V sling. I made two “eye” splices on a second towing line, which I cut to the exact length of the one I made yesterday: one small for the pelican cleat and the other larger to fit Thetis’ stern cleats.
My plan for the day was to go back to Xerocambos in Leros and meet with Mike (S/Y Gordian Knot), then tomorrow to proceed to Partheni and have Mastro Michalis, once again, look at the outboard that now races and looses thrust when I open its throttle wide. I expect that this may be caused by a broken propeller retaining pin.
I departed Emborios at 0920. But before departing I put up the tent since the day promised to be hot and windless. On the way we experienced only 2-3 knots from variable directions. We motored for 6.3 M and arrived in Xerocambos [37° 06.5' N 26° 52.2' E] at 1030. Mike had already informed me via SMS that one of the Aloni moorings, right next to Gordian Knot, was free. I went directly to it.
The minute that Thetis stopped moving the heat was apparent, the temperature inside the cabin went up to 38°C (100°F). I kept jumping in the water every 15 minutes just to stay reasonably comfortable. In between I read under the shade of the tent.
As I was finishing my lunch a group of at least 15 swimming children, boys and girls from 7 to 12 years old, surrounded Thetis and greeted me in English. A number of them held on to the dinghy. I spoke to them in Greek and asked them not to hold onto the dinghy but to hold on the ladder instead. After recovering from the shock that I was a Greek and not a foreigner, the boldest of them, a girl named Demetra, climbed up the ladder and politely asked if she can look around the boat. I invited her to step in. This emboldened the rest of the children and soon all 15 of them were sitting around the cockpit. They had never been inside a sailing yacht before and they were full questions: Are you really Greek? Are you really sailing all alone? Which islands have you visited? Have you been to Santorini? On, and on…
After they left I took a nap. Later Mike returned. Mike has recently purchased a used car in Leros. He had driven to Lakki to use the washing machines in the Agmar Marina for his laundry. We chatted over a cup of coffee. In the late afternoon Mike gave me a ride to Lakki where I shopped for provisions while he took a shower at the marina. After shopping I joined him and a few other yachtsmen, among them John Richmond (S/Y Riks) and another Mike with a large motor sailer (Tricia), for a beer.
We drove back to Xerocambos and we ended at the Aloni taverna where we shared between us a grilled karavida (large crayfish) and a plate of fisherman’s spaghetti. Both were very tasty and were washed down with several glasses of beer. After saying good-bye to Mike, Lefteris, Evelyn and their Aloni staff I went back to Thetis. It was almost midnight.
Friday Aug 29, 2003 Day 11
I got up and going fairly early because I wanted to stop in Partheni and have Mastro Michalis look at the outboard. I let go of the mooring at 0650. There was a light NW headwind of 4-8 knots and we motored. As we approached Partheni the wind increased to 12 knots and some chop developed but when we entered the bay it was calm. I tried to catch one of the two buoys but it was too hard to do all by myself because it was too low to hold and pass a line through its ring as Thetis was blown away by the wind. Instead I anchored [37° 11.3' N 26° 48' E]. The time was 0910 and we had come 13 M from Xerocambos.
As soon as the boat stopped it got hot, very hot. So, before going ashore I put up the tent. Then I called Mastro Michalis on the GSM phone, went ashore, and started walking towards the Agmar Shipyard (now Moor & Dock). I did not go very far. Panayiotis, the mechanic, met me on the way driving the yard’s van. We went back to the dinghy and I demonstrated to him the problem with the outboard. He took the engine in the van and we drove to the yard. While I was greeting Mastro Michalis and Angelos, the yard’s owner, Panayiotis had removed the propeller from the motor. The problem was immediately clear: the rubber slip-clutch was completely worn out. The cure was to replace the prop but the yard did not have a new one in stock. It had to be ordered from Athens and this would take a few days. While I made arrangements for the order and to have the prop forwarded to me in Samos, Mastro Michalis made a clever temporary fix to the old prop. He drilled a hole into which he inserted a small rod that would prevent slippage. This of course, disabled the safety of a clutch so if I were to hit a rock the prop or, even worse, the shaft may break. But now the motor was operational and it will be alright for the next few days on my way to Samos. Thanking everyone for the quick attention to my problem I went back to Thetis.
After lifting the outboard from the dinghy and securing it to its stand I raised the anchor. It was 1030. We motored 5.9 M north to my favorite anchorage on the S of Lipsi, Katsadia [37° 16.8' N 26° 46.2' E] arriving at 1135. The wind was a little more boisterous than earlier. In the cove there were several other sailboats plus a small motor cruiser with a US flag. My choice of places to drop the anchor was somewhat limited. I was not satisfied with my first anchoring attempt—too close to a Swiss boat. My second attempt seemed fine. I let out about 35 m of chain in 4 m depth. When I snorkeled to check the anchor however, I saw that while the anchor was well buried in the sand it was, ever so slowly, dragging. I let out 5 m of chain and waited for a couple of hours before snorkeling over it again. It had dragged for about 2 m. In the mean time the wind had increased to 20 knots with higher gusts. So much for the “force 4” forecast.
While all the boats in the anchorage were swinging I noticed the name on the stern of the US cruiser: Gogos. Now his was very puzzling. While it is an unusual name it is the last name of a fellow Athens College alumnus whom I had later met as a professor of mechanical engineering in the Stevens Institute of Technology, my alma matter. Now I had not seen Costas since I got my PhD in 1973. Could it be? Curiosity got the best of me. I went over with the dinghy to the cruiser and asked. No it was not my friend. The cruiser belongs to a nice middle-aged Turkish couple from Bodrum. Gogos is the name of his nanny who not only raised him but also raised their children.
Later the wind increased even more and I was uneasy with the anchor. In order to have peace of mind during the night I deployed the second anchor as well. There was not much activity after that, just reading and relaxing.
For dinner I made some brown rice with leftover tomato sauce. This I served with the last of the turkey cutlets. I also opened a bottle of Tsantali Moschomavro red wine. I had found this very good wine in the Spanos supermarket in Lakki and it only costs 5 €. I find it superior to many much costlier wines.
There was very strong wind during the night and I was very glad of the second anchor.
Saturday Aug 30, 2003 Day 12
I walked to the town fairly early in the morning and got some fresh bread. I then looked around the new quay. There has been no further progress in supplying electricity and water to the already installed outlets. On the old floating dock not only has there been no progress but the outlets that were installed years ago have now been ripped off. Obviously yacht tourism is a low priority here. The only new addition is a new sign by the quay stating: “No Nudism allowed on the island.”
When I returned back to Thetis I washed the deck and cockpit, which were getting very dusty. The Navtex forecast called for NW winds of force 4, locally 5, diminishing by tomorrow. Indeed as the day progressed it got hot, 32°C (90°F) in the shade and it felt even worse. I kept swimming, drying, and swimming again.
In the late afternoon I washed the dinghy and then transferred 2 jerry cans of Diesel fuel into the main tank that was reaching ¼ of its capacity.
For dinner I went ashore to the local taverna here in Katsadia. Now this taverna used to be run by a nice elderly couple who served decent food. But in the last few years every time I looked it was closed. Tonight it was open and I was told that the couple’s two daughters and their young husbands now operate it during the summer months. The food was just tolerable but the loud music was not. Too bad!
A lovely 20 m trechantiri (a traditional Greek fishing boat) schooner, the Pytheas of Naoussa, and with a British flag came and anchored in the cove. She has wooden masts with the traditional gaff rigging and two jibs, but the first is a non-traditional roller, a concession to modern convenience.
Sunday Aug 31, 2003 Day 13
The night was quiet and full of stars. I have been having trouble receiving the Navtex forecast transmissions from the Heraklio station, which covers the S Aegean, although I do get the notices to mariners from the same station, and all transmissions from the Limnos station. I cannot figure out the cause of this. The 729 kHz AM radio broadcast have also been rather capricious. All summer they were broadcasted at 0630 for weekdays and 0700 for weekends, although some days they were skipped. In the past few weeks though they, without any announcement were all broadcasted at 0700. Now they reverted, again without any notice, back to the 0630/0700 schedule. All of this is rather maddening. At any rate, today’s forecast called for N winds of force 4-5. But in Katsadia there was no wind at all.
Before departing I wanted to photograph Pytheas of Naoussa the lovely trechantiri that arrived last evening. I took the dinghy and went over and took several pictures. I also spoke with a gentleman who was swimming near her. He told me that he was not the owner but a guest. The boat was built in Piraeus in 1967 and her owner, an Italian, acquired her 3 years ago. As had my brother Nikos, with his Faneromeni, he went through the long and expensive process of renovation: installing the wooden masts, removing the old superstructures, rigging etc. And, yes, they not only know Nikos but also have consulted with him during this process.
Back to my boat, I got ready for departure. I raised the second anchor and before stowing it and the lines I had to wash them because they were full of sand. And so was the dinghy. Then, since the prospect of sailing was rather bleak and the day promised to be very hot again, I put up the tent. When I started raising the primary anchor there was another delay. A large piece of netting had been fouled on its chain. I had a hard time cutting it off.
Finally, at 0930 we got going. The wind was less than 4 knots coming from the N. We motored for 6.2 M on the E side of Lipsi reaching Platys Yialos [37° 18.8' N 26° 44.4' E] at 1045 on the NE side of the island. I anchored over sand in 5.7 m depth.
It was very calm and hot. There were many Sunday bathers. I did not plan to stay here for long, just to swim and have lunch. The cove was very pleasant until it became rather crowded. Being a calm Sunday everyone with a boat was out. At one time there were 4 large inflatables, 5 small motor cruisers, and a sailboat, Thetis, crowded into the little cove.
At 1330 I raised the anchor and left heading for Marathi, 3.7 M away. Now there was a westerly breeze of 8-10 knots and I opened the jib while keeping the tent. It was just too hot and too short a distance to take the tent down and raise the main. We arrived in Marathi [37° 22' N 26° 43.6' E] at 1420. Both Pandelis and Marathi taverna’s docks were crowded with day-trippers, motor cruisers, and inflatables while, and surprisingly, most of the moorings were free. There just was one more sailboat. I easily caught one of Pandelis’ moorings.
Immediately after securing the boat I had to jump into the water to cool off. This had to be repeated many times throughout the afternoon and early evening. I thought that Platys Yialos was crowded. Well Marathi this afternoon was even worse, much worse. All afternoon various speedboats kept coming and going. All, without exception, did so at great speed, all the way to the docks. On the docks boats were tied into tiers 5-6 boat deep. It was pandemonium! These people with the speedboats, most of them, I am afraid, Greek, drove them as if possessed. Now I do know that in Greece in order to operate a speedboat you need a license for which you have to pass both a written and a hands-on test. I also know that the law is unequivocal: “no one should operate a vessel at a speed exceeding 3 knots at a distance less than 150 m from bathers and moored vessels.” Well? There is a terrible accident waiting to happen here. There already have been 3 bad accidents, 2 fatal, this summer in Greece with speedboats running down swimmers.
I wanted to go for a hike but it was too hot and unpleasant, I could not do it. A largish ketch flying the German flag approached the cove via the dangerous SW channel. They run aground. After extricating themselves they went over to Arki but an hour later they were back in Marathi. They made several unsuccessful attempts at anchoring while there were plenty of available moorings. I felt sorry for them and went over with the dinghy to tell them about the moorings and the almost impossible bottom here for anchoring. To my surprise they were not German but Greek and not particularly friendly. But they seemed to heed my suggestion. First they had difficulties in starting their outboard but eventually they caught a mooring. Then they tangled their lines. It took them hours.
In the mean time, another sailboat came in, the S/Y Desire, this one flew a South African flag. I later met her crew, a family group from Johannesburg. They have been keeping their boat at Olympic Marine in Lavrio but, not to my surprise, were not happy with the Olympic’s services and prices. They asked me about Kos Marina and Agmar in Leros. I told them what I knew.
For supper I went, of course, to Pandelis where I had a very nice and quiet meal consisting of their excellent salad (tomatoes, cucumber, onions, peppers, a local weed, olives, everything over hard toasted bread, and topped with soft fresh goat cheese), tiny fresh fish— γόπες, along with their home baked bread. When I was leaving Kyria Katina gave a loaf of her bread “for tomorrow.” During the meal Pandelis’ son Manolis told me that most of the speedboaters came from Samos and Leros. This was their first calm Sunday for many weeks allowing them to use their boats.
Monday Sept 1, 2003 Day 14
The first thing I did this morning was to go ashore for a walk taking advantage of the cooler early morning as I was afraid that the day would be hot again. After I returned to the boat I swam and then prepared for departure. We left at 0845 heading for Agathonisi. The wind was almost imperceptible at 3-6 knots from the NNW. No chance of real sailing. I put up the tent instead and opened the headsail while motor-sailing. After a while even this lightest of breezes died out and I rolled-in the headsail and continued motoring until the wind came back and I let it out again. When we were about 2 M from Agathonisi the wind frustratingly increased to 10-14 knots NW.
We arrived in Agathonisi at 1140. Tsangaris cove on the SE looked attractive while another sailboat was already in the SW cove. I headed for Tsangaris [37° 27.1' N 26° 58.3' E] and anchored in 9 m depth. We had come 13.7 M from Marathi.
I was not pleased with my anchoring because there was not enough scope. Had I let out an appropriate length of chain, Thetis would had been blown too close to the rocks. To compensate for this I decided to take a long shore line and attach it to an upwind rock. I prepared two long lines: a 60 m and a 20 m. I figured that those would be sufficient. Fortunately, just in case, I took a fender with me on the dinghy. After I secured the long line I drove back to Thetis, which had already drifted further away too far downwind to be reached. I tied the fender at the end of the lines and let it go in the water while I went back to the boat for more lines. Finally, I secured the end of the line and winched the stern of Thetis toward the wind. This all looked good until I snorkeled to check the anchor, which I should had done before setting the line. I did not like the looks of the anchor. It was embedded into weed. Nevertheless, since the anchor was down wind I hoped that it would hold. It did for the next couple of hours long enough for lunch and a nap. But, around 1500 the breeze changed to a wind and started gusting, in several directions, up to 23 knots. Thetis once again drifted towards the rocks as the anchor dragged.
I decided then not to stay in Tsangaris after all but to go across to the now vacated SW cove. I tied a fender to the shore line and cast it off. I then raised the anchor and re-anchored further away, after which I went with the dinghy and retrieved the fender and the line. Then I once again raised the anchor and motored to the SW cove [37° 27.2' N 26° 57.7' E]. There were two guys swimming in the cove. They always seemed to be at the spot that I planned to drop the anchor. They completely unnerved me and I made mistakes. It took me three anchoring attempts before the anchor held. That time I had dropped it in 5 m depth on a patch of sand in the middle of the narrow cove. I snorkeled over and it did look that the anchor was nicely buried in the sand. But again the amount of chain was by necessity too short. I felt uncomfortable with it as the wind was gusting to 25 knots and Thetis was blown in several directions. Since I already had the shore line in the dinghy I drove it to a downwind rock and attached it. Then back to the boat I attached the other end to bow cleat. This, in effect, was like having two anchors: the CQR to the right and the shore line to the left. Just to avoid a possible problem with another boat running afoul with the long line, I attached a fender, as a marker, midway to the rocks. Now Thetis settled comfortably in the middle of the cove in 7 m depth.
I spent the rest of the afternoon reading with frequent jumps into the sea because it was hot despite the wind. For dinner I made spaghetti with tuna, olives, and capers. After the moon set, now in its first quarter, I looked at the stars trying to identify various constellations with the help of Rey’s book. It was not as easy as he makes you believe. I think that the nights here, away from artificial light sources, are much darker and far more stars are visible than he shows in his charts. But I did make some progress.
The night was very windy and I kept getting up to check the boat. It is amazing how close the rocks look in the dark.
Tuesday Sept 2, 2003 Day 15
It was windy. The Navtex and the AM radio forecasts called for force 4 NW winds but the wind here in Agathonisi was already 20 knots form the NE. Perhaps, I thought, that was local. I prepared to depart for Samos where I will be staying for a few weeks in our house in Kalami while my daughter Cynthia and new grandson Alexander, aged 4 months, will be visiting. I wanted to have finished with the boat by tomorrow and to have her securely moored. Anticipating sailing to Samos, I uncovered the mainsail. Then I went with the dinghy and untied the shore line from its rock while Thetis drifted closer to the rocks on the other side of the narrow cove. There was still plenty of room and I took my time raising and covering the outboard.
It was not until 0840 when I lifted the anchor. As soon as we were clear of the land, I headed to the wind, raised the mainsail, and took in a reef. We sailed around the W side of the island expecting the forecasted NW wind that would give us a nice close beat to Pythagorio. But forecasts are one thing and reality is another. The wind, even after we cleared Agathonisi, stayed an uncomfortable 16-24 knots NE along with a nasty chop. I opened about 50% of the headsail and kept on tack after tack just to keep the sails full and to avoid the worst of pounding and spray. It was almost fun this last sail for at least a few weeks.
We arrived in Pythagorio, Samos at 1325 after having gone 25.8 sea miles instead of the real 16.5 ground miles. My intention was to moor Thetis in the unfinished “marina” but it was too windy and hot to manage that single-handed at this time of the day. Instead I anchored off in front of the Pythagorio harbor in 6 m depth. Now with Thetis secured for the time being I jumped into the water to cool off before putting up the tent. The temperature inside the cabin had reached 35°C (95°F) and I had to swim at least once every half an hour just to stay reasonably comfortable. I finished reading Guns, Germs, and Steel, a long and dry but very interesting and thought provoking book. A started a new one: the novel Last of the Amazons by Steven Presfield. It is set in Athens during the time of its mythological king Theseus.
When the sun was sufficiently low on the horizon I removed the tent and at 1825 motored the 0.95 M to the “marina” [37° 41.5' N 26° 57.3' E]. The wind was still gusting from 4 to 24 knots but I had already prepared fenders and lines for almost all eventualities: going side-to, or catching a mooring and going either stern-to or bow-to. As I entered the marina I noticed two sailboats: a small trimaran, and a 39 footer along side one of the two floating docks. There were people in those boats and they could help me with the lines so without a second thought I approached that dock. There was plenty of room in front of the larger one. Indeed people came right away to help. In no time and without any fuss Thetis was safely moored side-to. Now all I had to do was make the arrangement more permanent: bow and stern lines with shock absorbers and to tie two spring lines. The time was 1840. Both boats were German and their helpful and friendly crews spoke very little English. The trimaran S/Y Isis is home built while the larger S/Y Cebu has come all the way from Venice, Italy, and they are on their way to Crete and from there back to Venice.
After I finished with the mooring I took a hot shower, changed clothes, and enjoyed a glass of ouzo while contemplating what to do next. By that time the sun had set and a cool breeze had made the evening most enjoyable. I packed some clothes and lots of laundry in a duffle bag and walked along the dirt road to the town of Pythagorio. Access to the “marina” this year is from a steep and rough dirt road on which all the taxis refuse to drive on. Even my friend Dimitris, who got a new car this year, begs to be excused. So I had to go to Pythagorio before getting into a taxi. There I took a taxi to Kalami and after leaving the duffle bag, I took my motor scooter’s keys. After some coaxing it started but I realized its tank was almost empty and my crass helmet was missing. I drove it, with some trepidation to Vathi. There I bought two chicken gyros and filled the tank. Then I slowly drove back to the “marina.” I ate the gyros along with a can of beer in the cockpit. After doing that I went to bed. It was long day.
Wednesday Sept 3, 2003
First thing in the morning I raised the dinghy on the deck. After much thought, and several conversations with my brother Nikos, I tried a new tactic. I used two halyards: one tied to the middle of one pontoon and the other on the same place on the opposite pontoon but led underwater around the dinghy to coming at the same place as the first. After bringing the dinghy alongside Thetis, I first winched halyard #1 (half lifting the dinghy) then winched #2 (flipping the dinghy upside down). After that, I led it to the stern and, climbing over its keel, I attached the lifting sling to its pontoons and bow. To the sling I attached the block and tackle and to it the main halyard. I then brought the upside down dinghy alongside Thetis again and lifted it out of the water, mostly using the block and tackle. I then lowered it, as I did last time I raised it, between the mast and the spray hood but this time the dinghy was upside down and resting on its pontoons. After that, I covered it with an old sheet and lashed it on the deck. I must get a better cover.
That time consuming task over, I attended to other small tasks like filling the water-maker with biocide solution, covering all the winches, turning off the camping gaz, etc. While I was working inside the cabin, the Belgian M/Y Citius came side-to just behind Thetis. I had met the Belgian couple last year in Mithymna and then in Aspronisi. We all were glad to meet again.
When I finished all the boat tasks, I packed some more of my clothes and rode the scooter to Kalami. The boat trip, for the time being, was over.