Travels with S/Y Thetis

Thetis only

2007: Yerakas to Elafonisos and Tzia

This web page contains the logs of the second leg of a 48 day sailing trip with S/Y Thetis in the Greek Aegean. This leg was 12 days of singlehanded sailing from the small fjord of Yerakas in the south east Peloponnese to the island of Tzia (Kea) in the Cyclades via the Peloponnese ports of Monemvasia, Porto Heli, and Hermione and the islands of Elafonisos, Spetses, Dhokos, and Kythnos.

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.

Route to Yerakas
Route from Yerakas

Tuesday September 18, 2007 Day 14

After waking up and looking at the forecast, which was benign, I started preparing for departure. First I wrote several overdue e-mails hopping that they can be send as soon as we acquired a good GPRS signal since here in Yerakas we had no signal. Then I lifted the outboard and raised the anchor.

We departed at 0900. The plan was to briefly stop at Monemvasia, mail a letter, and buy fresh fruit and bread. Then continue S to Elafonisos. There was hardly any wind and we had to motor. As soon as we were outside the fjord we got a good signal and I was able to transmit the e-mails and receive the accumulated ones. There were several. Also I was able to look up in the internet the extended forecast. The weather should be mild until Friday.

After 9.5 M Thetis arrived in Monemvasia (Μονεμβασία) [36° 41.1' N 23° 02.4' E] at 1050. I anchored off in 4.5 m depth and then lowered the outboard. I went ashore and did all my errands. After returning to Thetis I jumped into the water to cool off and then, once again, raised the outboard.

Approaching Monemvasia

Approaching Monemvasia

Monemvasia, Lower Castle

Monemvasia, Lower Castle

At 1155 we departed. The sea was calm and there was no wind. Once again we motored. We rounded the infamous Cape Maleas, without any problems. Here, there was a mild SE breeze and I opened 40% of the headsail and motor-sailed. I also ran the water-maker.

We arrived in Lefki (Λεύκη), Elafonisos (Ελαφόνησος) [36° 28.6' N 22° 59.1'E] at 1630 after 27.6 M from Yerakas. I anchored in 7 m depth over sand. The British S/Y Amada with my recent friends was already here. I snorkeled and checked the anchor. It was nicely set.

Later the crew from S/Y Amada came to S/Y Thetis for the evening ouzo. The water here is lovely. Crystal clear.

For dinner I made an omelet with pine nuts. I was too lazy to prepare a more elaborate meal.

Satellite view of Elafonisos

Wednesday September 19, 2007, Day 15

Early, before the sun got very hot, I transferred 2 jerry cans of fuel to the main tank. Then, I put up the big tent and started engine maintenance. First, I changed the secondary fuel filter (Racor). The new priming pump made bleeding the fuel lines very easy and considerably less messy. Then, I changed the oil filter and the oil. This is always a very dirty job but this time it was made even more disagreeable by hundreds of flies that kept torturing me while my hands were oily and I could not do anything about them. After cleaning up, I even contemplated departing to avoid the flies but I was too tired, so I stayed flies and all.

It was a nice day, other than the flies, and I did a fair amount of swimming. But, the barometer kept falling. It was 1014 mB yesterday but today it was down to 1007. In addition, the forecasts called for very strong winds reaching gale force by tomorrow evening. I decided to depart early tomorrow morning and head N instead of continuing W as I was planning. I could possibly stop in Yerakas again or, if the going is not too hard, continue further N. At any rate, I wanted to be in Tzia (Kea) by next weekend to visit with my brother Byron.

I cooked some fresh tomatoes and made a sauce, successfully this time. For dinner I had fettuccine with the sauce and Parmezan cheese.

Thursday September 20, 2007, Day 16

The Lighthouse at Cape Maleas
The Lighthouse at Cape Maleas

I woke up at 4:30 and checked the weather forecasts. The weather seemed OK for today but by the evening things were to get dire everywhere in the Aegean, particularly here in the sea of Cythera. The only exception was the Hydra-Spetses region.

We departed at 0515. The wind was a light breeze from the W and we motored until Cape Maleas. We then got some 5-10 knot wind from the SE and later from the NE. We motor-sailed with the full headsail. At around 1130 I was able to raise the mainsail and continue motor-sailing but at a higher speed. Although the motor was on, it was a pleasant passage and the sea was calm. As we were approaching Spetses in the late afternoon threatening clouds covered the mountains of Peloponnesus and thunder could be heard. We reached Porto Heli [37° 19.4' N 23° 08.9] at 1725 after a total of 69.5 M. I dropped the anchor in 5 m depth and let out 40 m of chain.

We were now secure. The sea was calm, and there was only a light wind. I had a restorative hot shower which was followed by an even more restorative glass of ouzo. After this, I went ashore looking for the recommended Αλάτι και Πιπέρι (Alati ke Piperi - Salt and Pepper) restaurant. It was not in the center but on the N side fairly far from the harbor. After I got some directions, I went looking for it with the dinghy. The food was indeed very tasty. By the time I returned onboard Thetis I was so tired that I fell asleep without even reading.

Friday September 21, 2007, Day 17

Satellite view of Spetses & Porto Heli

The dire forecasts continued. Gales everywhere but here. Here it was peaceful.

The day was devoted to boat related tasks. Since the new batteries came without caps with floats but with regular cups I had been worried that they may be running low on electrolyte fluid. So, today I opened the stern compartment, where they are housed, and inspected them. To do this I had to use a flashlight and a mirror. I topped them as best as I could and closed the compartment. This took about 1 hour. Then, I took the 2 empty jerry cans to the fuel station ashore and filled them with Diesel fuel. I also got more engine oil. Back on the boat, I topped the engine crankcase with oil and stowed the rest. Then, I siphoned fuel from the cans until the tank was full. Then back ashore to re-fill the cans. All together I bought 88 L of fuel. Then I gave my dirty clothes to a laundry to be washed, and bought some provisions. Back on Thetis I stowed the jerry cans and the provision and put up the big tent.

By then, it was time for lunch. After eating I was so tired that I fell asleep in the cockpit. I was roused by the ringing of the GSM telephone. It was my wife Alice calling from Washington, D.C. It was nice to hear her voice and to hear that all was well with her. I do miss her.

By evening time the wind was up and very heavy clouds kept rolling-in but there was no rain. I went ashore and got back my laundry. I left it in the dinghy and ate a tasty pizza at the Artisano restaurant. Back on the boat I listened to music and read. The barometer had been rising in the past 2 days. From the 1007 it had reached in Elafonisos it was now at 1017 mB! The forecasts called for gales of force 8 and in some places 9.

Saturday September 22, 2007, Day 18

I had trouble sleeping. I was tormented by a mosquito that had gotten into my cabin and kept biting me. Eventually I found it, smashed, it and finally I was able to go back to sleep. I slept late.

Even after I got up a certain lassitude had descended to the crew. I was not sure where all the morning went. I sent some e-mails, looked up the forecasts, and worked a little on my harbor notes. It was too cold under the tent but too hot without it.

The batteries needed to be charged and I ran the genset. More reading and more music.

In the evening I started cooking. I braised a pork roast with lemon and oil from Kalami and then I pre-boiled some potatoes also from Kalami. After I peeled them I baked them in the oven with garlic, oil, and oregano. The resulting meal was very tasty and it went down very well along a nice red Syrah wine from the Boutaris vineyard.

Sunday September 23, 2007, Day 19

The gale was still with us, it is supposed to be downgraded tomorrow to a just force 7 storm and then things will be back to normal by Tuesday or Wednesday.

I spent the morning quietly in the boat. In the afternoon I went for a ride with the dinghy around the bay looking for the ancient harbor in the N side of the bay. Just in case, if I found it, I took with me mask and flippers but I had no such luck. Porto Heli although an excellent and safe all weather harbor is somewhat strange. At least ½ of the stores are real estate agencies and ¼ them house either builders, architects, or civil engineers. Many of these store-fronts are very fancy. Despite all this, most building here are of the cement box style of architecture, even the ones that house architects, and together with several run-down high-rise hotels give the town a rather shabby look. An exception to this are a few very elaborate mansions around the bay. I guess the main industry here is selling their land and transforming it into a concrete sprawl without any thought of the bleak future. Among the stores I noticed a sign from a car rental agency:

“Hell Car”!

Is this an unfortunate pun for Porto Heli?

Back onboard I finished the book that I was reading Hypatia by Dimitris Varvarigos. It is a historical novel of a remarkable lady philosopher and mathematician who lived in Alexandria. In 415 AD she was brutally lynched by a mob of fanatical Christians who had previously burned down the Jewish district. It is a fascinating but also a very depressing story.

Later, after a shower, I went ashore and had another nice dinner at the Alati ke Piperi.

Monday September 24, 2007, Day 20

The forecasts still issued gale warnings but only for force 8 and not 9. Here the wind was appreciably down and the forecasts predicted improvement by tomorrow. I decided to leave. Before doing so, I went ashore and got some fresh bread.

At 1025 I raised the anchor and motored slowly, charging the batteries and running the water-maker, the 3.6 M across to Zoyeryia (Ζογεργιά) [37° 16.7'N 23° 06.1'E], Spetses (Σπέτσες). The wind was 14-17 knots ENE and the sea was choppy. I was wondering if the cove would be comfortable but since the distance was so short, I kept going. We arrived at 1115.

It was calm and pleasant here, so I anchored in 5 m depth and let out 35 m of chain. I chose the anchoring spot so that if the wind were to change direction there would be plenty of room for Thetis to swing. I snorkeled and checked the anchor. No problem.

In the evening I made an omelet with the leftover potatoes from 2 days ago. It was very tasty.

Zoyeryia, Spetses
Zoyeryia, Spetses

Tuesday September 25, 2007, Day 21

Satellite view of Dhokos and Hermione

It was a fairly quiet and pleasant night. The forecasts did not call for a gale, just strong NE winds in the Kafireas area of force 6-7. We departed Spetses at 0740. The wind was 5-10 knots NW. I opened the headsail and motor-sailed to Hermione (Ερμιόνη) [37° 23.3'N 23° 15.1'E] where we arrived, after 13.05 M, at 1010.

I have very fond feelings for Hermione. When I was kid growing up in Voula, a suburb of Athens, there was a fishing boat, sails and oars no engine, with two brothers from Hermione. It was named Hermione. They came every summer because of better prices for their fish, I suppose. I used to help them untangle their lines and they, once in a while, took me in their nightly fishing expeditions. The sails, the fish, their nautical terms, all these were magic to me.

I anchored in 6 m depth and then went with the dinghy to the harbor to get fresh bread and few bottles of wine. My plan was to spend the night in the nearby island of Dhokos and then leave very early tomorrow morning for Kythnos.

We left Hermione at 1115 and motored for 5 M to Dhokos (Δοκός) [37° 20.6'N 23° 20.7'E] where we arrived at 1220. I anchored in 6 m depth and let out 45 m of chain, and Thetis settled in 13 m depth.

There were several charter S/Ys already anchored there. More came. They all had a very difficult time anchoring. This is a deep cove with a steep bottom. They all dropped their anchor in depths over 10 m and did not leave adequate scope. At least two of these boats dragged and drifted closer to 5 m from Thetis. Fortunately they picked up and left. A great contrast to all this was a small British S/Y with an elderly couple. They came slowly without any fuss and anchored close to the shore in perfect coordination with the man at the anchor and the lady at the wheel. They did not even have a windlass.

Later my friend Manos Castrinakis called. They will meet Thetis on Sunday in Kea.

After watching the sun go down and making the proper libation to Poseidon, I cooked some rice and ate it with 2 slices of the previously cooked roast. Also I had a few glasses of a very nice wine of the Kyr Yiannis label. I went to bed early.





Wednesday September 26, 2007, Day 22

Satellite View of Kythnos

I woke up around 12:30 to go to the bathroom. The almost full moon was so beautiful that I decided instead of going back to sleep to depart and sail. I raised the anchor at 0050. The wind was a slight breeze 3-8 knots first from the N then from the S, and then from the E. I wisely did not raise the mainsail as I was tempted but kept opening and closing the headsail, to help along the motor. There was an appreciable swell. We crossed paths with many ships, over 12 of them, but none came closer then 1 M and I did not have to change course to avoid them. It was a magic night and I listened to classical guitar on the Bose earphones which eliminated the drone of the engine. The music added to the enchantment. It was by enlarge an easy passage. The morning was spectacular. First, the moon, a large orange ball shadowed by the clouds, set over Peloponnesus. It was too bad that that there was not enough light to photograph it. Then, shortly after the moon set, there was a lovely sunrise over Kythnos. The sunrise was followed by the antics of 5 dolphins that put up a wonderful show. Again, there was too much motion and too little light to photograph. What a way to start a new day!

Fikiada, Kythnos
Fikiada, Kythnos

After 50.2 easy miles we arrived in Fikiada (Φυκιάδα), Kythnos (Κύθνος) [37° 24.9'N 24° 22.8'E] at 1000. There were several boats there. I anchored in 3.5 m depth over a sand patch and, slowly, let out about only 20 m of chain because I did not want to get too close to another charter boat. I tested the holding by reversing and slowly increasing the RPM. Later I also checked the anchor by snorkeling.

It turned out that my neighboring yacht was full, I counted at least 10, of middle aged German men, all with shaven heads and stark naked. Some of them were sporting tattooed swastikas. Not only they were unattractive but they were also very loud. I was tired and decided to take a nap before relocating. Fortunately by the time I woke up they were leaving.

I let out some more chain and felt much better. Thetis was swinging in around 3 m depth. I also received an e-mail that made me very happy. My oldest daughter Cynthia, who is a professor of evolutionary genetics and specializes in marine organisms in the University of Queensland in Australia, was awarded a substantial research grand that will support her laboratory for the next 4 years.

For dinner I had fettuccine with fresh tomato sauce. I also finished reading Taxidia by Fotis Kontoglou a lovely description of the castles in Peloponnesus and the islands Milos, Kimolos, Serifos, and Sifnos.

Sunrise over Kythnos

Sunrise over Kythnos

Sunset from Kythnos

Sunset from Kythnos

Thursday September 27, 2007, Day 23

Moonrise over Kythnos
Moonrise over Kythnos

It was a lovely night with the full moon. In the morning I went for a long, 2 hour, hike. On my return, I noticed a lot of activity in the sandbar. There were several men setting up tables, barrels, tents, volleyball nets, benches, a buffet, etc. I swam to the beech and asked them what was going on. A Swedish company was having an office party, the employees having been flown to Greece for the occasion. After a while, a group of musicians arrived. Then, in the early afternoon, an armada of at least 15 S/Ys and several motor cruisers arrived with the guests. It was quite a party. More than 100 people, music, animation... By 5:30 all were gone. All except the trash.

For dinner I baked some potatoes and ate them with the remainder of the roast.

Friday September 28, 2007, Day 24

Satellite View of Tzia
Satellite View of Tzia

It was very calm. The forecasts called for no wind for today and tomorrow. I had a long swim and then slowly prepared for departure to Kea.

Left Kythnos at 0940. The wind, as predicted, was 0-5 knots SW and then N. There was no other option but motoring. We arrived in Koundouros (Κούνδουρος) [37° 34.7'N 24° 16.6'E], Kea (Κέα) or Tzia (Τζιά) as the locals call it at 1220 after 13.2 M. I did not anchor as usual but tied to a mooring belonging to a childhood friend of my brother Byron.

The rest of the day was quiet: swimming, reading under the tent, listening to music. I also cleaned the deck and vacuumed the cabins.

The denizens of Kea West, as they now call the area started arriving. First came, with their small cruiser Aliki, Thanasis and Pascal Yanoukos who own an antique store in Athens. Together with them was Spelios and Haroula Philipou. Later I heard honking from the road. There were my sisters-in-law Ivi and Mirka with Ivi’s new sports car. Last, it was almost dark, my brother Byron came with his inflatable Ivi II.

Later we all drove to the St. George restaurant for dinner. By Katevati’s (the name of the hill where Byron and his cronies have their houses) standards it was a very early evening. I was back on Thetis by 11 PM.

Saturday September 29, 2007, Day 25

I woke up early. The day started with many errands. First, I installed on the service batteries the new caps, with floats, that Byron had brought. The service batteries are located at a compartment in the stern. To gain access to them you have to open both sail lockers, remove the cover of the life raft, remove the life raft, and then unscrew (10 screws) the compartment cover. Then the batteries are tall and you can see their caps with great difficulty. The new caps have floats and are interconnected with plastic tubes. By attaching a small tank to the last of these tubes, located in the sail locker, you can top the electrolyte level without opening the compartment. After this installation, I put up the big tent and ran the genset since I had just added more fluid to the service batteries. Then, I cleaned the bathroom in anticipation of the guests arriving tomorrow.

Abandoned Fish-farm in Tzia
Abandoned Fish-farm in Tzia

Later Byron called and then came, picked me up, and drove me to his house up the hill. Ivi was not feeling well. She had all the symptoms of a cold and she did not wish to go swimming. The rest of us, that is Byron, Mirka, and I, went with Byron’s inflatable to beech on the SE side of the island. On the way we passed an abandoned, now for over 3 years, fish farm that is ruining another lovely beech. I took pictures that Byron wants to post in the Kea West site where he is protesting about this eyesore. We were soon joined by Pascal, Thanasis, Haroula, and Spelios who came with the Aliki. We swam and then had a late lunch/picnic. It was almost 4 PM.

Back in Koundouros and Katevati I showed them pictures of our last spring trip to India, Australia, and New Zeeland. They were very keen, especially on the Indian pictures, where many of them will be joining us in January for the wedding of my youngest daughter Corinna. After the show we all went to the St. George for dinner. It was almost midnight when I returned to Thetis.

Picnic in SE Tzia
Picnic in SE Tzia