This web page contains the logs of a 20 day singlehanded sailing trip that I took with S/Y Thetis in the Aegean in Greece. They cover the first leg of the trip, a period of 11 days of sailing, from the island of Samos, where she had been based since the spring, to Lipsi via Agathonisi, Arki, Marathi, and Patmos.
The logs are illustrated with photographs and maps they also include some historical and geographical descriptions of the places visited as well as several links to other related web sites.
August 31 to September 29, 2006
On September 8 Alice, our daughter Corinna, and I went with Thetis on a picnic to the lovely cove under the Zoodochos Pigi monastery [37° 46.3' N 27° 03.3' E] about 9 M E of the marina. Before leaving we refueled taking 67 liters of Diesel fuel.
On September 11, I changed the fuel filters. Bleeding the fuel lines with the new priming pump is now extremely easy. This was a good improvement making a rather odious task much less disagreeable and faster.
On Sunday, September 18 Alice and I took our visiting friends Frosso and Elias Vasiliades on an overnight trip to Marathi. We departed from the marina at 1030. We had a nice sail but as the N wind increased we had to take a reef. At 1400 and after 22.7 M we stopped for swimming at a cove in the Tiganakia area S of Arki [37° 22' N 26° 45' E]. We left the cove at 1745 and motored 3 M to nearby Marathi [37° 22' N 26° 43.6' E] where we arrived at 1815. In the evening after eating an excellent fish at Pandelis’ we tried something totally new; we left Frosso and Elias to sleep on Thetis while Alice and I rented a room from Pandelis. The room was small but very clean and attractive. There was plenty of hot water. Next day we departed again at 1030. There was hardly any wind and we had to motor. We anchored at a cove [37° 41.7' N 26° 58' E] E of the marina for swimming. Elias went spear-fishing and caught a nice octopus. Then at 1700 back to the marina (25.3 M).
During the last week of September we had in Samos strong S winds and light rain. But, one night we also had a spectacular electrical storm.
Saturday September 30, 2006 Day 1
Alice left this morning for Washington D.C. while I got ready to leave with Thetis for the final cruise of the year. I will be leaving her by the end of the month in her usual wintering place the Agmar Marine shipyard in Partheni, Leros. I left Samos at 1130 heading for Agathonisi. The wind had changed overnight from S to N. Now it was 15-22 knots N. I raised the mainsail and took a reef. It was a nice sail and I was glad to be back in the boat. We arrived at the Gaidouravlako cove [37° 27.2' N 26° 57.7' E] in Agathonisi at 1530 after 16.8 M. I anchored in 4.5 m depth over a patch of sand.
In Samos I had purchased a new JVC KD-G521 car radio to replace the old one in the boat which for some time now has been refusing to play any CDs. The new radio can also play CDs with MP3 files and, most important, has an input to which I can plug my iPod that has my whole music collection. During the passage from Samos I installed the the new radio and tested it. It worked very well.
Few minutes before Thetis’ departure from the Pythagorio Marina the Belgian S/Y Yves also left. We overtook her on the way to Agathonisi, and now she entered the cove and anchored not very far from Thetis.
The dinghy was lashed on deck and now I had to spend some time launching her. After I got the dinghy in the water, I took a long line from the bow and tied it to a rock on the NW. This kept Thetis from drifting too close to Yves and to the rocks.
Later in the evening I gave a dinghy ride to the crew of Yves, Patrick and his German friend Nita. We went to the harbor, San Giorgio, where we had dinner at the friendly Glaros (which now sports an english sign: Seagull) restaurant. Patrick lives the year round in Samos and works there.
Sunday October 1, 2006 Day 2
The morning was rather windy and I made my mind to stay here for another day. I spent most of the morning tidying up and making minor repairs such as fixing a loose connection to the head pump, shortening the dinghy sling, etc. There was a small amount of liquid under the engine. After checking it, it turned out that it was not water but Diesel fuel. It seemed that after bleeding the engine I did not tighten enough the bleeding cap on the primary filter. After fixing this, I removed the fuel.
In the afternoon the wind was 24-28 knots from the N. I had an ouzo aboard Yves.
It was a quiet but windy evening. I cooked three turkey cutlets that I had brought from Samos. I put in the refrigerator two of them and served the third with rice and red Limnia wine.
Monday October 2, 2006 Day 3
It was still very windy; the forecast called for force 6 NNW. I decided to stay here another day. While it was still cool in the morning I went ashore and took a 2 hr walk from the cove to Mikro Chorio. Near the village I saw two men carting a large burlap bag from a truck to a small shack. There was something strange about this bag, it was wiggling in a peculiar way. It turned out that it was full of turkeys which the men released inside the shack.
While disembarking from the dinghy the plastic bag that I had my walking shoes in blew away from my hands into the sea and I could not retrieve it. Now as a compensation for my polluting sin I went back to Thetis, got a large garbage bag and filled it with all the plastic jetsam that had been washed on the little beach. This, by the way, I do fairly frequently and I wish that all yachtsmen do so also. If we all collected a little of the jetsam and flotsam from the coves and beaches that so enhance our lives they will be even better.
In the afternoon Yves left. I snorkeled to check the anchor. The water was a cool 21°C (71°F). The anchor had dragged, so I re-anchored by paying out the shore line and motoring. After the anchor was set I took back the now slack shore line. Now we were secure and not so close to the left shore as before.
I enjoyed listening to music from the iPod via the new ship’s radio and speakers. The sound from these speakers was much better than the sound from the small battery powered speakers that I used before with the iPod.
Later I had a hot shower, an ouzo, and then I went ashore to the harbor. I ate at the Glaros. Once again, fresh calamari (squid) and then a fish (τσιπούρα) which Yiannis, the proprietor, assured me that he had caught himself in the morning. Indeed it was excellent. Here in Agathonisi they fish the calamari with lines from the shore. Some years there are a lot, other years there are none. The calamari they catch are largish, 15-30 cm long, and they are delicious.
Tuesday October 3, 2006 Day 4
When I woke up it was cold, so I waited until the sun warmed up the boat a bit before getting ready for departure. First, I uncovered the sails, second, I let out a length of the shore line so that the boat was held by the anchor while the shore line was loose. I then went to the rock with the dinghy and recovered the line and the chain loop that was wrapped around the rock. I use this loop to prevent the line being abraded by the hard surface of the rocks. After I got the line and chain aboard Thetis I lifted the outboard and arranged the dinghy tow-line. Finally I raised the anchor and departed at 0930.
The wind was 15-20 knots NNW. I raised the mainsail but left it on its first reef, I then opened about 60% of the headsail. We had a good 13.8 M sail to our destination Glipapas, Arki [37° 22.4' N 26° 44.5' E] where we arrived at 1210. On the way I ran the water-maker and topped the tanks. I also checked the engine. No more problems with leaking fuel.
My first attempt to anchor was not successful but the second was and the anchor held despite the 20 knot gusts. After anchoring I snorkeled to check the anchor. Alas, it was over weed at 3.5 m depth. I dove and moved it to a patch of sand that was less than a meter away. Back onboard, I covered the sails and put up the tent.
In the afternoon I finished reading John D. Tumpane’s Scotch and Holy Water, a hilarious account of an American working in Turkey in the 60s. I am very fond and nostalgic of that lovely, spontaneous, and crazy country that now has almost disappeared in its modernity. It has always reminded me of the Greece of my childhood now also long gone. Greeks and Turks despite their traditional enmity and religious differences are culturally and temperamentally very, very similar. They do, after all, share a common 500 year history.
It is quiet here, the only sound being the bells of the goats and sheep going at dusk to their drinking spot and then back up the slope to sleep to whenever they came from. I had an ouzo while the sun was setting watching the animals and listening to their bells. The sunset had spectacular colors. After dusk I cooked the second turkey cutlet (one more left). I breaded it and cooked it like a schnitzel and served it with linguini, garlic, and Parmezan cheese. It was very tasty! After dinner I enjoyed the moon, now 4 days before being full. It illuminated the cove with its silver light.
Wednesday October 4, 2006 Day 5
As soon as it was warm enough to wear a bathing suit I washed down the deck and the cockpit. They had accumulated several days worth of dust and crumbs. I then cleaned the dinghy.
Later in the morning I went ashore and walked to the mini-market in the hamlet where I bought some cheese. On my way back I heard someone calling: “Vasili, Vasili.” It was Pandelis from Marathi. He was working in his large Arki house. I promised to see him in the evening.
When I got back on the boat it was fairly hot. I swam and then I put up the tent.
In the afternoon a large gray bird with a long neck and beak flew and sat on the rocks less then 30 m from Thetis and stared at me. I stared back with the binoculars. It looked like a heron but I was not sure if it was a heron. It was gray and white with a blue stripe on its neck and head which had a crest. Its beak was dark. It was about 60 cm (24") tall and had long black legs. It could be a Grey Heron.
At about 1605, after a cup of coffee, I raised the anchor and motored the 0.9 M to Marathi. After catching one of the moorings I took a nice and leisurely swim as the day by now was fairly hot.
I checked my e-mail because I had not received any signal while in Arki. Here I get a good GPRS signal but a rather weak voice GSM signal. I did not, as I was hoping, have a message from Aliki.
I had an ouzo while watching the sun go down. The light lingered painting the sky with all the colors: red, orange, green on the E, then yellow on the W outlining the dark silhouette of the island. When there were no more colors to admire, I got into the dinghy and went ashore. Katina, Pandeli’s wife, proudly paraded, baby Pandelis, the latest addition to their family, while the happy grandfather looked on. The scion’s mother, Toola, was not there. She had gone for a few day excursion to Turkey. I was the third crew to go to their restaurant tonight. Already there were three from the Swiss Super Maramus S/Y Roylus and a couple from the Dutch Contessa S/Y Hannah. I had a salad with fresh goat cheese and caper leaves followed by the freshest and most delicious grilled fangropoulo (a red snapper-like fish). Mr. Pandelis was more talkative than usual. He was very glad that the work now was slacking off and their evenings were relatively quiet. Katina promised to bake fresh bread for me tomorrow. Obviously then I could not leave until the day after.
There was no wind, zero. The sea was like a silver mirror reflecting the moon. I sat on the cockpit for some time admiring this before going to bed.
Thursday October 5, 2006 Day 6
In the morning I went ashore for 1½ walk around the N side of the island. When I got back to Thetis I put up the tent and ran the genset for 1 hr to recharge the batteries that were getting low.
By the late morning all the other yachts had left but by 2 PM they were replaced by four day-trippers and a charter sailboat. The trippers left around 5 PM and only Thetis and the charter boat remained. I finished reading W. D. Wetherell’s A Century of November. A very poetic and poignant anti-war novel describing the quest of a Canadian judge who at the end of WW I went to Flanders in search of of his son’s grave. Rather disturbing.
At night I went again to Pandeli’s where I had a nice meal of fried zucchini balls (kolokythokeftedes) and katsikaki kokkinisto (young goat in a red sauce). At the end of the meal Katina gave me the promised loaf of fresh bread. Since I was not sure if I would manage to return here again this year I said good-buy to my friends. We both wished each other a healthy winter.
Friday October 6, 2006 Day 7
I prepared to leave Marathi for Patmos. There was absolutely no wind and the forecasts predicted calms for at least one more day, if not for more. I cast off at 0940. As there was no wind there was no chance for any sailing, I did not even uncover the sails. We had to motor. At least I re-charged the batteries and made some water with the water-maker. We arrived in Agriolivadho, Patmos [37° 20.5' N 26° 33.5' E] at 1130 after 9.7 M. I anchored over a patch of sand in 4 m depth. The sea was very, very calm. Glassy in fact.
In the late afternoon I went ashore and walked, for about 40 minutes, up and down the steep hill to the harbor, Scala. There, I rented a motor-scooter. I looked for the Indonesian restaurant that I had read about but it had closed. Not just for the season but for good. The proprietress just retired. Too bad! I walked around the town for a while then I rode the scooter back to Thetis just in time for my evening ouzo.
I was planing to cook but as I was about to start doing so I noticed across the cove the Glaros restaurant lighting up and dominating the the cove. On an impulse I got into the dinghy and went there. I had a fairly decent meal: squid and barbounia (red mullets). From my table I could see the moon, one day shy of being full, rise and paint the cove and the little island of Ayia Thekla, just across, in silver. The only spoiler to this were the street lights lining the deserted beech. These are becoming an ugly feature on more coves. Why in the world do they waste electrical energy to illuminate deserted coves creating both air and light pollution? Why do people seem to abhor the natural settings of our marvelous planet?
Saturday October 7, 2006 Day 8
This was a day of land explorations. While I have been in Patmos many times, I have never been further in the island than a walking distance from Scala. That is I have only been to the Monastery and the surrounding Chora and just a little beyond. Several times in the past I have tried to rent a scooter but there were all gone. So, now I was determined to make the most of it. In the morning I rode N. First to Lefkes Bay, then to Livadhi Kaloyiron, to Kambos Bay, to Livadhi Geranou, and I ended in Patelia Bay, the easternmost tip of the island, where there is a new shipyard being built. It is far from being operational. On the way back, I drove by Lampi Bay to the N and then I returned back to Agriolivadho and Thetis.
I had lunch, swam, and rested for a while. Then, in the afternoon, I drove S along the E coast. At Sapsila I noticed that the famous Benetos restaurant appeared to be still open. I then rode to Grikos and Petras Bay ending finally at Diakofti and Psili Ammos. The shipyard in Diakofti is working but I was not very impressed by its facilities, they do not compare with Agmar Marine in Partheni, Leros. I drove back via Chora.
After I got back onboard on another impulse I called Benetos, and after verifying that they were still open, I made a dinner reservation. So, later in the evening I drove there and had a great meal: zucchini flowers stuffed with mushrooms, a delicious shrimp risotto flavored with saffron, and finally I succumbed to temptation and had a crème brûlée. The meal was accompanied by a chilled bottle of Strofiliá white wine. While I was about finished, few hour later, the full moon peaked from the low clouds. It was huge and blood red. It kept playing hide and seek with the clouds. A wonderful meal with a wonderful setting. On my way back, while going down the hill to my cove two wild hares were blinded by the scooter’s beam. I stopped and stared at them for a while. I then switched off the headlight and they ran away.
Sunday October 8, 2006 Day 9
Today was overcast but still exceptionally calm. The Greek weather (Navtex) service called for force 4-5 winds from the S but in the morning there was no wind at all. I drove the scooter back to Scala and returned it. I then walked back to Agriolivadho. When I got back to Thetis I prepared for departure.
By 1020 the anchor was up and we were motoring towards Lipsi. The wind was less than 5 knots S. While traveling, I thought that if the predicted stronger S winds were to materialize the boat would be safer in the cove just S of the harbor than in my favorite Katsadiá/Papandriá. So, I headed for the harbor. I went as far as entering the harbor area but everything was so calm that I decided to head for my favorite cove anyways.
We arrived at 1250 after 12 M. I anchored in 7 m depth over sand in Katsadiá [37° 16.8' N 26° 46.3' E]. There were no boats but in nearby Papandriá there were 3 sailboat. I felt that Katsadiá, with deeper water all around, was safer because it allows the boat plenty of swinging room in the case of the wind strengthening or changing direction. I snorkeled and checked the anchor. It was nicely embedded in the sand.
The rest of the day was quiet. I spent it reading and listening to music. There was no wind. For dinner I had a very light meal of cold cuts and cheese. Later in the evening it started to drizzle. There was an alarming fire over the hill but it seems that within an hour it was under control.
Monday October 9, 2006 Day 10
It was overcast in the morning but the clouds cleared by noon. No wind at all and the sea was very, very calm. I listened to the radio. It seems that yesterday there were horrific thunderstorms in N Greece especially in the Thessaloniki area where a bridge collapsed and there were other heavy damages from flooding. The Navtex issued a gale warning for the N Aegean but all the forecasts predicted very light winds for our region, the Sea of Samos.
I walked, about 20 min, to town where I got a loaf of fresh bread. I sat for a while in a café and had a fresh orange juice. There I met the crew of a charter sailboat out of Kos. They were complaining about the lack of wind. I think that they will get their fill in the next few days.
After I returned aboard Thetis, I swam and then ran the genset. During the past few days, with hardly any wind, the wind-generator had been idle and the batteries had been discharging faster than usual.
Looking around I could see houses being built all over. I saw this also in Arki, and in Patmos. There were “Land for Sale” signs everywhere. Are these people mad? Has free enterprise and private greed ran amok and are they all hell bend to destroy these earthy paradises?
For dinner I made a fresh tomato sauce and pasta.
Tuesday October 10, 2006 Day 11
In the morning, when I woke up, there were heavy clouds. The Navtex forecast for the area called for thunderstorms. On the other hand, the rest of the forecasts predicted either no winds or light ones. Later in the morning there was strong sunshine. I was of a split mind: stay put, or go on S to Leros. Here, I knew that the anchor is well dug-in but we were exposed to the S.
Around noon very heavy clouds appeared over Leros and I saw two waterspouts along with a lot of lightning strikes. But, here there was still no wind. Very strange! Then it started to rain. It rained, rather strongly, for about one hour then it cleared again and there was a rainbow followed by glorious sunshine.
Ever since I came here, 2 days ago, there has been nearby a Jeanneau Trinidad sailboat with an Austrian flag. The only crew appears to be an elderly, stark naked gentleman. The boat’s name was obscured by fenders but I am sure that the very same boat and gentleman were here in August and also 3 years ago. I suppose he really likes this place as much as I do.
It rained again in the afternoon but once again it cleared. In the evening I went ashore, taking alone just in case, a foul weather jacket. I walked to the town and sat at the small café with the blue chairs and tents just to the right of the yacht quay. The café has no name but it is very popular with the locals who call it Nikos’. It serves, in my opinion, the best grilled octopus this side of the Aegean. I had some ouzo and plenty of octopus. Then I walked back to Katsadiá. It did not rain. The moon, red, was peaking from the clouds.