Travels with S/Y Thetis

Thetis only

2004: Leros to Samos & Back

This web page contains the logs of a 12-day single-handed sailing trip with S/Y Thetis in the Greek Aegean from Partheni and Archangelos in Leros to Samos via Lipsi. Then back to Partheni via Agathonisi, Arki (Glipapas), Marathi, Lipsi (north of the harbor and Katsadia), and Archangelos.

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.

Route near Samos
Leros- Samos-Leros

Saturday April 24, 2004 Day 1

I slept late here in Archangelos [37° 11.9' N 26° 46.3' E]. It was very calm and there had been hardly any wind despite the forecasts. The new Navtex is fantastic. It has received reports all the way from Spain and Bulgaria but its filter can screen them and lets you see only the ones that you are interested in.

The Anchorage in Archangelos
The Anchorage in Archangelos

I spent a couple of hours installing the main sail. I started the motor and ran the water-maker. It worked very well. I then lowered the outboard to the dinghy and tested it. It also worked well. I had to try it before sailing away from the Agmar region. Everything was fine, the day was pleasant but the water was too cold (17°C or 63°F) for comfortable swimming.

My agreement with Agmar Marine (renamed Moor & Dock) was to call me the minute the tachometer and its sensor arrived and give me an estimate of when the technician would be available to install them. Since they did not call by the late afternoon I called Angelos, the yard manager, to see if they had arrived. No they had not, maybe tomorrow… I did not want to waste more days waiting because I had to go to Samos, check our house there, and return back to Leros by May 5 since on the 6th I am flying to Athens and on the 7th back to Washington. I decided to do without the tachometer.

I prepared for departure and at 1610 I raised the anchor. The chain was covered with weed and I had to remove it, meter by meter. Must be the early spring season since I never had this problem here before. At last we were under way. The wind was a mild 8-10 knot WNW breeze and I opened the genoa and turned off the engine. Finally under sail! Bliss! It was a very gentle slow sail but who cares? We were sailing and I could not have been any happier.

We headed for Katsadia [37° 16.9' N 26° 46.2' E], the southernmost anchorage of the island of Lipsi. We arrived after 5.3 wonderful miles at 1755. I had no trouble anchoring in 5 m depth. I had to choose the anchor location carefully to allow swinging room for a change in wind since the forecast called for SE winds. But since Thetis was the only boat here that was no problem.

After a hot shower I started cooking a pork roast that I had bought in Lakki. I prepared it with garlic and a combination of tomato pulp and fresh peeled tomatoes and wine. I also made some spaghetti to go along with it. This I boiled with my usual combination of 1 part sea-water to 2 parts fresh water from the water-maker. The new galley stove worked very well. I ate these with gusto while finishing the red wine bottle that I had opened yesterday.

The night was very quiet with almost no wind. Alas, it was overcast and I could not see the stars save Venus, low on the western horizon.

Sunday April 25, 2004 Day 2

I had a good night’s sleep. There is no sleep, at least for me, more soothing than the one on the boat with her gentle rocking and the sound of water rushing slowly by. The wind had shifted overnight to SE, as predicted by the Navtex, but it was only 5-6 knots. The new Navtex had received lots of weather messages. It seems that there is a front moving E and now it has reached the Ionian sea for which a gale warning was issued affecting, in addition to the S Ionian, the W Cretan sea as well. Here in the Samos Sea the forecast called for 4-5 SE winds, but the front is moving towards our direction. I connected the iBook computer via the GPRS on my mobile telephone to the Internet and downloaded the weather picture from the Meteo site. Yes, the wind will be increasing by tomorrow. I decided to sail directly to Samos, do my work there, and if I have to wait out the weather system do so in the security of the Pythagorio “marina”. Then, I can return to Leros in a leisurely pace and with a wide safety margin.

After some preparations we departed at 0845. The wind was just 6-10 knots SSE. I raised the main and after a while I opened the headsail. It was a slow sail, making about 3.5 knots but it was quiet and I was not in any great hurry. After almost 12 M however, the wind decreased to 2-5 knots SSE and I had to start the motor since we were making less than 1.5 knots. We motor-sailed the rest of the way to the Pythagorio “marina” [37° 41.5' N 26° 57.3' E] where we arrived at 1550 having covered 27.3 M.

The “marina” is still a long way from being completed. I docked side-to on one of the floating piers without any trouble. I put bow, stern, and 2 spring lines anticipating the predicted strong SE winds. They did not materialize.

After a couple of hours I walked to Pythagorio and took a taxi to the house of George Hadjipanayiotis. George takes care of our property here in Kalami. His wife Kiki had put out a wonderful spread of local specialties for dinner. In addition to the good food I had to sample wines from our barrels, George’s barrels, as well as souma, a fiery distillate from the pressed grapes, these included samples made from our grapes and from Kiki’s parents grapes from the mountain village of Vourliotes. It was very good that Tasos, the particular friend of Hara, George’s and Kiki’s eldest daughter, gave me a ride back to the boat because I was not sure I could have managed it all by myself.

Monday April 26, 2004 Day 3

The day started with rain but the wind was still light. I spoke to Aspa, the young lady at the temporary marina office who is there in her trailer office every week day. According to her and the contractor, they are hoping to start operating the marina by the middle of the summer. I think that this is too optimistic. There is still a lot of work to be done, the least of which is the access road.

I walked to the town, 20 minutes away from the “marina”, carrying an empty camping gaz canister which I exchanged with a full one at the chandlery store. I also found and bought 3 parachute flares to replace the old ones that had expired and which were not available in Leros. I then decided that it may be less expensive to rent a car for the day than move back and forth from Pythagorio to Kalami with taxis. It was good that I did so because the new camping gaz canister was leaking and I had to go back to the store and replace it.

I spent the rest of the day inspecting Kalami, doing laundry, shopping, banking, paying bills, etc. In the evening I visited Telemachos, our retired caretaker, and his wife Maritsa. By the time I returned to the boat it was past 8:30 PM. I was well fed but tired. Still no wind. The forecast now for the next two days looked benign although the barometer had dropped.

Yesterday the fresh water pressure pump started acting up. It would not shut off, as it was supposed to, when all the faucets are shut. I now looked into it. The problem was caused by a clogged intake filter. After I cleaned the filter the pump behaved well.

Tuesday April 27, 2004 Day 4

The barometer continued to drop overnight and in the morning it was down to 1002 mB from the 1007 of yesterday morning, while the wind was up to 15-25 knots ENE. The forecast was still benign but a new low front was developing W of Crete.

I drove the rented car to Pythagorio, returned it, got some fresh bread and walked back to the marina. I then prepared for departure by removing the spring lines and rearranging the bow and stern lines.

I cast off at 1000 without any problems. Outside the marina the wind was around 20 knots from the ENE. After stowing the lines and fenders I opened about 60% of the headsail and headed S to Agathonisi making 5.5-6 knots of speed. It was a very pleasant and smooth sail, but after we reached Agathonisi and turned W towards the St. Georgio inlet I had to re-start the motor and roll in the sail. We reached the W cove (later I learned that it is called Gaidouravlaka - Γαïδουραύλακα) [37° 27.2' N 26° 57.6' E] at 1328 after 17.05 M.

Thetis in Gaidouravlako
Thetis in Gaidouravlako

I anchored over sand in 4.5 m depth. The wind here was from the NNW. I took a long shore line from the bow to the S side of the cove to ease the load on the anchor and to prevent Thetis from drifting to the rocks of the N side. No sooner had I done so and the wind changed direction again, now coming from the S. The anchor held and we stabilized over 3.4 m depth. Nevertheless, I changed the rock to which the shore line was tied, moving it to another rock further E. Shortly after that the wind died down. Later it came up from the NW with gusts up to 25 knots. Once the sun came out from the clouds it was fairly warm but the water temperature was still 17°C (63°F), too cold for comfortable swimming.

Later after the sun went behind the island the temperature dropped very quickly. It was not only uncomfortable to sit in the cockpit but even inside the cabin which was at 19°C (66.2°F), I had to be well dressed. I read. I have been reading the fifth Harry Potter book The Order of the Phoenix which I am enjoying a lot.

In the evening, the wind calmed down and almost at the same time the Navtex started issuing a gale warning for the Sea of Ikaria. I made supper cooking the last of the chicken cutlets in a lemon sauce and eating it with spaghetti. While I was anxious about the gale, here it was quiet with only a very gentle breeze and the barometer had risen back to 1008 mB.

Wednesday April 28, 2004 Day 5

The night was quiet. At 0700 the barometer was up to 1012 mB and the Navtex had no gale warnings. The gale must have been related to the low front that I had observed yesterday, which had moved E.

Hike in Agathonisi
Hike in Agathonisi

I went ashore for a 2 hr hike. It was lovely with all the spring flowers. I walked to the N side of the island and took some pictures.

When I returned to Thetis the barometer was still rising, having reached 1014 mB. The ambient temperature was pleasant and I spent the afternoon sitting in the cockpit and reading.

In the evening I went with the dinghy to St. Georgio. I met right away Mr. Yiannis the proprietor of the ex Glaros (seagull in Greek) restaurant, now renamed The Seagull where we had eaten many times in the past. I walked up the hill to the Mikro Chorio (small village) where I saw a truck with the following sign:

μέ τό
N. Kalymnos

I also met a man who was cleaning a goat skin. He explained to me that it will be used to store cheese. The process is as follows:

  1. clean the skin off all meat with a knife
  2. cover it with coarse salt and leave it for 2 months
  3. take it to the sea and wash it thoroughly
  4. hang it on a tree and dry it for a few days
  5. cutoff, with scissors, most of the hair
  6. turn it inside out
  7. tie the legs and inflate it from the neck and then tie the neck
  8. leave it inflated to dry for several days
  9. in the meantime, prepare and keep the fresh goat cheese in brine
  10. add the cheese and brine to the skin
  11. after a few days boil some goat milk in the morning and let it cool until the evening
  12. empty the brine from the skin and replace it with the milk
  13. repeat this for several weeks.


I walked down the hill and had dinner at the Seagull: kalamarakia (small squid), a salad, and a grilled goat chop. After returning to Thetis I finished the Harry Potter book. A very pleasant day!

Thursday April 29, 2004 Day 6

It was a fairly quiet night but rather windy despite several forecasts to the contrary. The morning was cold, 15°C (59°F), inside the cabin. I did not feel like going outdoors until it got warmer. I started reading a new book The Rape of Nanking by Iris Chang. It is an account of the massacre and atrocities committed by the Japanese after invading Nanking, the then Chinese capital, in 1937. It is chilling!

After the temperature rose by 3°C (5.4°F) I started getting ready for departure. I took in the shore line, uncovered the main-sail, etc. By 1015 the anchor was up and we were motoring out of the cove. The wind was 15-21 knots NW, a side wind. As soon as we were out of the cove I raised the main and let out about 75% of the genoa. It was a nice fast broad reach, at times making better than 7.8 knots. After 14.7 exhilarating miles we arrived at our destination, the Glipapas cove in the island of Arki [37° 22.4' N 26° 44.5' E] at 1250. The only problem during the passage was that the fuel jerry cans that were lashed on the railings came loose. I tightened the securing straps and re-secured them without any further problems.

I anchored without any trouble, placing the anchor on the usual patch of sand near the N side in 4 m depth, and I let out about 50 m of chain. I spent the rest of the day reading, alternating the warmth of the sun in the cockpit with the shade of the cabin.

In the late afternoon I decided to relocate the jerry cans and secure them better. While doing so, I stupidly let one of the straps, with its expensive stainless steel hook, slip through my hands into the deep. We were swinging at 15 m depth and the water temperature was 17°C (63°F). By the time I put on the wet suit, weight belt, etc. and dove for the strap I could not locate it because the water was a little murky. Too bad, but nevertheless I enjoyed this unscheduled swim and I did check the anchor.

The Navtex issued a new gale warning, the 3rd this week. It affects the W Cretan and S Ionian seas. Here the wind was gusting around 10-15 knots NW. For dinner I boiled some pasta and served it with leftover pork roast. These I washed down with wine from Kalami. This year’s vintage is slightly more drinkable than last’s.

Friday April 30, 2004 Day 7

The morning went by very peacefully, mostly reading and listening to music. More SE gale warnings kept coming over the Navtex but here the wind was very slight and it was coming from the NW.

At 1425 I raised the anchor and slowly motored outside the bay where, taking advantage of visual contact with the GSM antennae in Lipsi, I connected the computer and downloaded my email and the weather forecasts. It looks like we may have some SE winds tomorrow.

We slowly approached Marathi [37° 22.1' N 26° 43.6' E], 1.1 M away, and I caught one of Pandeli’s moorings at 1435.

Pandelis himself was plastering the new chapel to Ayios Panteleimon that he was building last fall but when he saw Thetis he waved welcome. Today was the warmest day yet, cabin temperature reached 26° C (79°F), 42% relative humidity, but the barometer was down to 1009 mB.

Ayios Panteleimon in Marathi
The new chapel

In the evening I went ashore. First I had to inspect the little chapel. It was almost completed now and the earth around it was even landscaped. Pandelis hopes to have it inaugurated (consecrated?) before the end of May. Then in June a yachting couple are coming here to get married. The restaurant did not appear to be open but he said that if I wanted to eat they would accommodate me as I was their first customer of the year. I asked what they could make. He picked up the phone and had a long discussion with kyria Katina, his wife, back in Arki. She reported that they had two very fresh sargoi (fish), bean soup, and a salad. I agreed that it all sounded very appetizing. We walked together and Pandelis proudly showed me all the newer improvements. This man, who is my age, never stops. Finally he said that he will have to go to Arki and bring kyria Katina and the food, but he will be back shortly. Off he went with his speedboat while I walked around the island. The wild spring flowers were in bloom with their colors and fragrances. The sea was calm.

By the time I returned from my walk, Pandelis, Katina, and a Bulgarian lady assistant were back preparing my supper. It was delicious as usual. The fish was exquisite and so was the freshly baked bread. Pandelis and the ladies ate as well. When we all finished Katina asked Pandelis to take her back to Arki because their daughter would be arriving from Athens early tomorrow morning and because her dough has by now risen and is ready to bake. So, they went away in the speed boat while I returned to Thetis. Despite the dire forecasts the night was calm and quiet.

The Cove of Marathi
The Cove of Marathi

Saturday May 1, 2004 Day 8

I woke up to the sound of rain. It kept on raining all day, but it was a light rain. The Navtex had canceled the gale warning and now, instead of the strong SE winds, was calling for ENE winds of force 4-5, plus rain. Indeed the wind here has been about 15-20 knots from the ENE.

I spent the morning transcribing classical CDs into the computer and encoding them in MP3 format. I finished the upsetting Rape of Nanking and started Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller, a delightful account of a girl growing up in the troubled 70’s in Rhodesia, now Zimbaboue, Malawi, and Zambia.

In the late afternoon I went ashore for a hike around the island. By that time the clouds were gone and it was nice, neither hot nor cold but just right.

Later a large inflatable came into the bay and headed straight for Thetis. Inside was a family. They came along side and greeted me in a very familiar way. It took me some time to realize that he was Mr. Yiorgos the owner of the Yiokarinis distillery in Samos, makers of fine ouzo, with whom I have had many friendly chats for several years. He is very interested in the sea and sailing but I have never met him outside his store before and certainly not in Marathi. Soon his boat was joined by another speedboat from Samos with the family of Mr. Vasilis, the owner of the Samos hotel. They all rented rooms from Pandelis and stayed for the night. Later when I went ashore I was greeted by Toula, Pandelis’ daughter, a biologist, who had arrived this morning form Athens to help her parents open their establishment for the season. Soon, all the Samians joined us and we had a great time, drinking souma (the strong Samian distillate) and wine and eating kyria Katina’s marvelous food.

Sunday May 2, 2004 Day 9

Moschato, Lipsi
Moschato, Lipsi

It was a slow morning. I went ashore and said goodbye to the the Pandelis’ family. They now have e-mail:, their phone is +30 22470 32 609, and their mail address is Pandelis Emilianos, Marathi, Patmos, 85 500. Before departing I took young Artémis, the teenage son of Mr. Yiorgos, to see Thetis as I had promised him last night. He was very interested in the electronics.

Thetis left Marathi at 1045 and slowly motored, as there was no wind, to the N side of Lipsi. We entered the Moschatou bay but did not stay, I just took some photographs. Then, I set course for Katsadia along the W side of the island. But as we were passing the main harbor I decided to try an attractive looking beach [37° 17.8' N 26° 45.3' E] just N of the harbor with a church. Indeed it looked suitable and I anchored in 5.5 m depth at 1230 after 8.4 M. This seems like a nice anchorage, well protected from the northerlies with a good sandy bottom and just a mile or so away by dinghy from the town.

Later Alice called me. It was nice to hear her voice. The day was pleasant and the sea was very calm with only occasional brief periods of wind, never exceeding 12 knots but from various directions. The anchor held well.

There was a nice sunset, and the moon was almost full. The day was the warmest yet. Even in the late night the temperature never went below 17°C (63°F), and the barometer rose to 1010 mB. I even enjoyed an ouzo in the cockpit, another first of his year.

I cooked some rice and ate it with the last of the pork roast.

N of Lipsi Harbor
The Anchorage North of Lipsi Harbor

Monday May 3, 2004 Day 10

Lipsi Harbor
Lipsi Harbor

The night was quiet, not too cold. The Navtex forecast called for no wind today and for similar conditions tomorrow. The Wetter site concured.

Nudism is Banned in Lipsi
Nudism is Banned in Lipsi

I lowered the outboard to the dinghy and went to the harbor. I bought some fruits and fresh bread. My favorite ouzo place on the waterfront looks like it is open in the evenings. Also the little grill in the plateia (square) run by a sympathetic greco-italian couple looks that it is back in operations, I guessed when I saw it closed last October it had closed for the winter and not permanently. Maybe I will come back in the evening for ouzo, octopus, and grilled chicken. On the quays there is still no water nor electricity. Nothing has changed from last year save for new signs stating: “Nudism is not allowed anywhere on the island”. I am glad the local authorities have their priorities straight.

After I returned to Thetis, I pulled up the anchor and motored 2.3 M to Katsadia [37° 16.8' N 26° 46.2' E], which, I later learned, the locals call Papandriá, where we arrived at 1050. No wind. Anchored in 5.5 m.

I spent the rest of the day reading and listening to music. It got a little warm and I even put up the tent, a first for the year, but after 2 hours in the shade I got too cold and I removed the tent.

In the evening I contemplated walking back to town but it was so pretty here that I decided to stay, have an ouzo in the cockpit and enjoy another precious evening afloat. There was no wind and the evening was mild. The almost full moon rose ahead of the sunset. After dark, the moon was spectacular as it was reflected in the glassy waters, while low over the western horizon a large Venus shone bright. There was too much light for stargazing. For dinner I had to improvise. I was planning to make pasta with tuna, capers, and olives but neither the olives not the capers looked too good and I did not want to open a new jar of capers. So, I lightly browned some onions, braised the tuna, added some soy sauce and some leftover tomato pulp. It was rather tasty.

Papandria Cove in Lipsi
Papandriá Cove in Lipsi

Tuesday May 4, 2004 Day 11

It was another very quiet, windless night. The Navtex however issued a warning of gale force SE winds for the Cretan and South Ionian seas, the front moving east. In the morning after connecting to the GPRS and downloading my e-mail, I looked at the problem of the Cannon 85 printer. When I tried to use it, 2 weeks ago, it made all the right motions and sounds but the paper came out blank. Before giving up I replaced its ink cartridge with a new one but it did not make any difference. Now I removed the cartridge, cleaned it and its holder, and re-seated it. It worked. It was very gratifying.

At 0950 I raised the anchor and motored slowly, since there was no wind, to Archangelos [37° 11.9' N 26° 46.4' E] 5.7 M south. We arrived at 1055 and anchored in 6.5 m depth, allowing plenty of room for swinging should the predicted SE winds materialize.

While anchoring, I had a problem with the windlass control and I replaced it with its spare. Later I looked into the problem. It was caused by a loose contact in the control plug and I fixed it. Then I began preparing for tomorrow’s scheduled haul-out and storage of Thetis for an undetermined period of time which could be anywhere from a few weeks to several months.

Very loud explosions could be heard in the distance whose origin I could not determine. Later I asked a passing fisherman and he told me that the army in Leros was performing an exercise. The barometer had fallen to 1012 mB from yesterday’s 1014 but the day was warmer and the water temperature had risen to 18°C (64°F) from the 17°C (63°F) which had been steady since Thetis was launched.

I went ashore in the afternoon for a long walk. In the bay, in addition to Thetis, there were anchored two other sailboats. One was a chartered boat with a Scottish couple and the other was one of Diana’s boats with her skipper and his girlfriend on a short vacation between charters. On my way back to Thetis I stopped and told them of my more recent Navtex report predicting force 7 SE winds for this area. None of them were aware of this development. The Scottish couple was planning to go on to Skala in Patmos but now they left for the more secure harbor to the SE of Lipsi. Diana’s boat decided to spend the night here like Thetis but were glad for the warning.

In the evening the wind indeed changed direction, now coming from the ESE and increased to about 20 knots but Thetis’ anchor was holding well. I finished reading the Don’t Let’s Go … Its end was kind of sad but it is a good book.

Tuesday May 5, 2004 Day 12

I was woken up at 0430 by the howling wind that was blowing from the ESE at 25-30 knots. While the anchor was holding the swell building from Leros was uncomfortable. After my coffee I started raising the anchor. This was somewhat difficult because of the wind; I had to run from bow to stern, engage the motor forward to release the tension on the chain, then to the bow, raise a few meters of chain, and repeat. We departed at 0655 and motored the 2.3 M to Partheni, Leros [37° 11.6' N 26° 48.4' E], a very secure anchorage less than half a mile to the yard, where I anchored in 6 m depth.

I started reading a new book, Tracks of the Sea by Chester G. Helms. It is a biography of Matthew Fontain Maury, a US navy lieutenant, who in the mid 1800s introduced statistical science into the study of prevailing winds and currents. With these he discovered patterns and plotted the optimum sailing routes for all the oceans. We are still using these routes today. This is book that every sailor or one interested in weather and navigation should read.

Around 9:30 I was called, on the GSM phone, from Agmar: “The travelift is now available for your haul-out, how soon can you be at the “pool” or do you want to wait for the afternoon?” With this wind, which was by then reaching the lower 40’s the choice was simple; “I will be there within 15 minutes.” I prepared two bow lines, two stern lines, and fenders, raised the anchor, and steamed to the “pool.” The reliable Pandelis was there with the travelift in place waiting. He and his assistant handled the lines and by 1000 Thetis was on her way to the parcel of dry land allotted to her.

The new dinghy cover was ready and waiting. After washing the dinghy, I turned it upside down and covered it. I removed all deck items, washed down the deck, and that was it. The end of this short cruise. I hope to be back sooner rather than later, but who knows?