This web page contains the logs of a 19 day sailing trip that I took with S/Y Thetis in the East Aegean of Greece and Turkey. I sailed solo from Partheni in Leros, where Thetis was launched, to Samos Marina via Blafouti in Leros, Papandria in Lipsi, and Marathi. From Samos I took 2 excursions to Megali Lakka and Mikri Lakka, both in Samos. I then sailed to Alaçati in Turkey stopping at Klima and Kerveli, both is Samos. Finally I took another 2 excursions both to Samiopoula; the first by myself and the second with my wife Alice and our friends Dimitris and Vanessa Vourliotis.
The logs include some historical and geographical descriptions of the places visited as well as several links to other related web sites.
Saturday April 21, 2012, Day 1
This is the day that Thetis will be launched this year, a day that I have been dreaming of all winter. She is the last boat scheduled for launch so I expect that this will happen in the early afternoon.
I drove to Kamara, the village closest to Partheni (Παρθένι), and filled 2 jerry cans with gasoline: one for the outboard and the other for the genset. While I was away, Panayiotis came with 2 assistants who hoisted him up the mast and he replaced the tri-color.
At the office I got the final bill, save for Panayiotis recent work. It was a shock! Back in February I had received, at my request, a preliminary bill and I was led to believe that most of the work I had requested was completed and included on that bill, which I had paid. But now…
Thetis was launched at 1415. Everything seemed OK. Manolis came and helped me, while Thetis was still in the “pool,” install the headsail, which requires two people: one feeding the sail to the extrusion and the other hoisting with the winch. After this we had a cup of coffee. He then helped with the lines and fended off the boat while I backed her out of the “pool.” The time was 1530. Now dear Thetis was a sea going vessel once again.
I motored slowly out of the cove and then calibrated the autopilot controller with its flux-gate compass by making three slow 360° turns. The magnetic deviation was a very acceptable 2°, the same as last year with the old controller. The autopilot seemed to behave well except for some overshoot. It will need some more adjustments. At 1625 we arrived in Blafouti [37° 11.8' N 26° 49.25' E] 1.3 M away, the site of my 2007 misadventure. The down button of the windlass control did not work and I also had some trouble with with a tangle in the anchor chain but the new Rocna anchor seemed to hold well.
Here in the cove was also a familiar S/Y and another British flagged sailboat. I tried to send an e-mail to Alice but the computer would not connect to the Internet. I gave up and I sent her the e-mail via the iPhone. I will have to look into this connection problem. I lowered the dinghy and its outboard. The outboard worked perfectly. I then did some pickup inside the cabin and washed the deck from the red soil that was brought aboard from various shoes.
After these tasks I went over to the familiar S/Y Amzer Zo. There, also visiting, were a Welsh couple from the other sailboat. Angela insisted on all of us having dinner aboard their boat. It was a very nice and convivial evening with lots of sailing stories. I was back on Thetis by 10:30 and went promptly to sleep.
Sunday April 22, 2012, Day 2
It was a cold night despite the blankets and all the layers of clothes that I was wearing. I woke up around 3:30. The night was dark. I saw nearby a dark mass and I thought that Thetis had drifted and that we were close to the reef. In fact, it was a false alarm and we had not drifted. But since I had such a bad adventure here I was somewhat paranoid. I went back to sleep.
In the morning I did some cleanup and re-organizing inside the cabin but when the sun was high enough and the morning became warmer I went outside and installed the mainsail with its battens and reefing lines. I had to look all over the left cabin, used as the storage room, to locate the sail cover which I then installed. I then rigged the spray hood and lashed down the port (left) fuel jerry can, I had already lashed the starboard can yesterday. I also ran the engine for about 20 minutes to warm some water after which I had a lovely hot shower. Now I felt clean again.
There was more fresh water in the bilges then I liked. I was not sure where it came from. I removed it, 2 buckets, and hoped that this was it. I will check it again after a few hours. I then called Cosmote, my cellular service provider concerning my abortive Internet connection. They will be calling back. I fixed the windlass controls; the trouble was caused by a loose connection. The large LED flash light did not work and I was unable to repair it. There were no other problems.
Later I had a drink in my friends’ S/Y. In the afternoon John, after I had asked him his expert opinion about the Rocna anchor, came with his “bathyscope” and looked at my anchor. He showed me that it was not well set and told me that I need to reverse much more vigorously. I started the engine and while he was looking at the anchor I reversed and revved up to its maximum RPM. This had the effect of completely dislodging the anchor and I had to re-anchor. Again I reversed and now the anchor was properly set, as verified by John with the “bathyscope”.
There was no further progress with the Internet problem. For dinner I made some rice and pan-cooked two pork patties that I had bought in the Spanos supermarket. They were very salty and rather greasy. Oh well! The dessert however was great. I had fresh strawberries sprinkled with Samos Moschato wine and sugar. They were delicious. The tri-color mast light was now working.
Monday April 23, 2012, Day 3
In the morning I removed ½ a bucket of water from the bilges. It was definitely fresh. At 6:30 AM the temperature inside the cabin was just 14°C (57°F). After my coffee I went ashore and cut some fresh thyme for cooking. I talked with Mastro Michalis at Agmar Marine (now renamed Moor & Dock) and agreed that I will go on to Lipsi but if the bilge water persists I will return tomorrow to Agmar and have them attend to it.
I raised the dinghy. The new bracket locks and the larger stern wooden blocks worked perfectly, so did the new tie down straps. We departed Blafouti at 0930. The autopilot controller still indicated that it needs “sea trial calibration”. So, when we were a little further out from the shore I made 2 more 360° calibration turns until the system was satisfied and indicated only 2° deviation. I then let it read the heading from the GPS while moving at a speed over 3 knots in its Autolearn mode. The unit did seem happy and then I set a way point on the GPS for Katsadia, Lipsi and set the autopilot in the Auto Track mode. For a while it did alright but then it kept increasing the x-track error (XTE) until it sounded an alarm. This happened twice. I was not sure what was its problem because it did correctly receive the SOG, Bearing, and XTE from the GPS.
We arrived at Papandria (Παπανδριά), Lipsi (Λειψοί) [37° 16.8' N 26° 46.2' E] at 1105 after 6 M. I dropped the anchor at about 5 m depth. There was hardly any wind and I had to reverse gently while paying out 35 m of chain. The anchor appeared to be well set. There were no other boats here.
The wind was 4-6 knots mostly from the W. I put up the tent, a first for this year. There still was no Internet reception on the MacBook nor was any signal received by the Navtex. This has been the case for 2 days now. It felt a little chilly but it was very pleasant and calm.
Later in the afternoon the wind increased to 12 knots. I changed a few parameters on the autopilot and will see tomorrow if they make any difference. I also checked the connections between the Navtex display unit and its antenna. They all looked fine.
Today, maybe because I am completely alone here, I truly feel that I am cruising. The place is so lovely and tranquil—not the usual crowded anchorage. There are no sounds save an occasional goat bell from ashore. Somehow all is well; the boat is almost in order and ship-shape. I did a lot of reading. I was currently reading 3 books: Godforsaken Sea by Derek Lundy, an account of the 1996-97 Vandée Globe singlehanded round the world race, Days of Déjà vu by Jonathan Reid, a long circumnavigation by two twin brothers from South Africa, and finally Knocking on Heaven’s Door by Lisa Randall, an exposition of contemporary particle physics.
In the evening, when the sun was low on the horizon, I removed the tent and managed to have an ouzo in the cockpit, but when the sun did set I had to retreat inside the cabin because it was too cold. For dinner I made a ragù with chopped meat, onions, carrots, and parsley. I served it with linguine and followed it with tangerines. It was a lovely evening.
Tuesday April 24, 2012, Day 4
The night was very quiet and tranquil. In the morning I still found some water in the bilge and removed about ¼ of a bucket.
At 0950 I raised the anchor and headed for Marathi. I set the autopilot’s response to 4 and it seemed well behaved. The Navtex was still inoperable. We motored the 7.6 M and arrived in Marathi (Μαράθι) [37° 22' N 26° 43.6' E] at 1130 and caught one of Pandeli’s moorings. Thetis was the only boat here. It was very calm with a 3-6 knot SSW breeze.
I launched the dinghy without any difficulty and went ashore. Pandelis and Katina were very glad to see me. They were frantically preparing to open their restaurant and guest house. Pandelis proudly showed to me their latest improvements and additions. Another change was the almost completed two new houses: one for Toula, their daughter, and the other for Manolis, their son.
I spent the day aboard quietly reading. In the evening I went ashore and took a long walk around the island. After washing up I went to Pandelis for dinner. There was some terrific fried zucchini, a perfectly fried fish (skathari - σκαθάρι - black seabream - spondyliosoma cantharus), and a salad. Pandelis absolutely refused any payment. The restaurant had not opened yet and I am a family friend. We said goodbye because I planed to sail for Samos in the early morning.
The only problem in this idyllic island is that as of last year the power company has installed electric poles, each one with a street light, and brought electricity. Electricity is all very well, but street lights that stay on all night where there are no streets have spoiled with light pollution the atmosphere of this tiny island.
Wednesday April 25, 2012, Day 5
I cast off the mooring at 0820 and headed to the S side of Arki and then turned NE towards Samos on a heading of 023. After rounding Arki I raised the mainsail and motor-sailed, as the wind was light, at 4-8 knots from the SE. But, the autopilot controller kept making wide zig-zags that were rather hard on the sail. I thought that re-calibrating may help. I set it on its Auto Learn mode but after it completed its calibration it behaved even more erratically then before. After setting a waypoint on the GPS and setting the autopilot on its Track mode it kept turning the boat widely the E and then to the W. This behavior was very, very discouraging.
When we were about 10 M from Samos Marina I lowered the sail because by then the wind was only 3-4 knots and from the WSW. I tried once more re-calibrating the autopilot but there was no significant improvement.
After arriving at Samos Marina [37° 41.45' N 26° 57.3' E] at 1430 and 25.5 M, I sent an e-mail message to Raymarine asking for their help with the autopilot problem. I still was unable to connect the MacBook with its USB dongle to Cosmote. I had many conversations with their support all to no avail.
I rented a car from Aramis and spent the night aboard.
Thursday April 26, 2012
I left the boat but on the way to Kalami I stopped in Vathi to consult with the Gemanos store, the Cosmote representative, about the cellular computer connection. It seems that either the network or the interaction between the USB dongle (στικάκι - stikaki) and the Lion 10.7.4 OS are having a problem and the connection can be completed only at 2G and not at 3G as it did last year.
Friday April 27, 2012
Raymarine has suggested some tests on the autopilot. I went to the marina and ran them. They all came up normal. I was in the boat with two fellow cruisers Williams and Fabiola Fanelli. I reset the autopilot controller and then went out with the boat and re-calibrated the autopilot’s fluxgate compass (3° deviation) and its heading. I did not perform the Autolearn calibration. The autopilot performed well. Dare I hope?
The Navtex still was not receiving any signals. I read carefully its manual and following its instructions disconnected its cable from its antenna and measured resistances between its 5 wires. All were within the stated normal range. All other tests indicate normal operation as well. Yet there was no signal. I did not know what was wrong with the unit.
Sunday April 29, 2012, Day 6
I decided to go on an excursion with Thetis. We left the marina at 1120 after topping the water tanks. There was hardly any wind, just a 5-12 ENE unreliable breeze. We motored for 9.2 M to Megali Lakka (Μεγάλη Λάκκα) [37° 45.1' N 27° 1.5' E] on the SE of Samos (Σάμος). When we arrived it was 1300. On the way the autopilot was well behaved. I anchored over sand in 3 m depth and let out 35 m of chain. Thetis settled in 10-12 m depth.
Later I lowered the dinghy and around 5 PM I went ashore and took an hour long hike. In the thick vegetation there were some rather large mushrooms. I climbed up the hill and walked towards Mikri Lakka but the bush was so dense that I could not proceed. The beach here is “developed” and in the summer has umbrellas and beach-chairs. But now it was deserted and the chairs and umbrellas were all pilled up in an ugly heap. There was a lot of flotsam and jetsam. All of the beach was dirty except for the newly painted little church. I collected some of the debris. Why could not the people who are exploiting this place do not and keep it clean? Because of the development I rarely anchor here and I anchor instead in Mikri Lakka, the next cove to the north.
Back on board I had a nice ouzo while watching the sun go under the hills. There are no sunsets here but there are lovely sunrises and even more important glorious moonrises. For dinner I made some rice and pan-grilled 2 meat patties that I had bought yesterday. They were delicious.
My plan was to return to Kalami tomorrow evening and join the Skoutas and some other folk on a Mayday for a mountain path cleaning expedition and a picnic.
The night was not too cold and the temperature went down to only 17° C (63°F). I finished reading on the Kindle the Days of Déjà vu and started Great Expectations. I slept rather well except for some anxiety of the boat drifting with a change of breeze direction to shallow water.
Monday April 30, 2012, Day 7
The Navtex did receive some garbled signal, but this was all it has received for the past two weeks. There was still some water in the bilge but much less. At the marina yesterday, before filling the water tanks, I had removed about ⅛ of a bucket. This morning I removed another ⅛. The mystery is where does it come from. It collects in the wrong place if it comes from a leaking water tank and it is not salty and too clean to come from the propeller axle.
I tried using the USB dongle. It did connect the MacBook to the Internet but the connection was agonizingly slow and miserable. A far cry from its performance on previous years.
I decided to move to Psili Ammos so that I would be closer to the marina where I was planing to return by this evening. To that effect I started raising the dinghy on the davits but something went wrong. When it was raised and lowered on the stand arms I stepped in to secure it with the straps. The dinghy tipped and I fell in the water. Worse, the new wooden block for the dinghy’s stern was ripped off the arm and so did one of the dinghy’s mats as well as the trash bag with the debris that I had collected from the beach. This was my first swim of this year! Amazingly the water was not too cold. I collected the errant pieces and managed to climb back on the dinghy. I then realized the problem. Unlike the bow block and the stern block’s predecessor this block was not secured on the arm with bolts and nuts but only with two short wood screws. The screws were ripped off, the block fell in the water, and the dinghy tipped… It took me sometime to reattach the block with the old screws, re-enforced with toothpicks, but I really must replace the wood screws with through bolts and safety nuts. Eventually the dinghy was raised and secured.
We departed Megali Lakka at 1140. There were only less than 5 knots of wind so we motored the 5.6 M to Psili Ammos (Ψιλή 'Αμμος) [37° 42.4' N 27° 01.2' E] where we arrived at 1245. I had lunch and rested. After I collected most of my things that were to go to Kalami we were ready to depart.
I raised the anchor at 1545. By the way, the new Rocna anchor seems to set and hold very well. By 1620 Thetis was moored in her berth at the marina. The total distance today was 8.7 M.
Tuesday May 1 to Friday May 4, 2012
On Mayday I joined Stamatis & Eleni Skoutas as well as their friends Marilee and Lefteris to clean an old mountain path that connects Asprochori to the Kamara spring on the hill of Profitis Elias overlooking Kalami. The path then joins a dirt road that leads to the town of Vathi. It was used on the 19th century by fishermen and smugglers sailing from Nea Efesos, today Kusadasi, in Turkey. Cleaning the path was hard but gratifying work. They had chainsaws and cut several fallen tree trunks that were obstructing the path.
On Wednesday I bought some stainless steel bolts and safety nuts to repair the stern block on the dinghy support arm. On Thursday I took our housekeeper Despina to the marina and she thoroughly cleaned the inside of Thetis while I lowered the dinghy and attached the new bolts to the stern block. These should now hold it securely. I then washed, with a power hose, the deck and the cockpit. Surprisingly there was very little water accumulated in the bilge.
Saturday May 5, 2012, Day 8
This evening there is a full moon and according to the almanac the moon will be the largest of the year because of its closer proximity to earth. The plan for the evening was that the Skoutas couple and 2 of their guests will join me at the marina and then we will sail to Mikri Lakka that affords on of the best views in Samos of the rising moon from the Anatolia mountains. We were to watch the moonrise, have an ouzo to celebrate the occasion, and then return back to the marina as we all need to be in Vathi tomorrow so that we can vote on the national Greek elections.
In the morning while shopping in town I saw Stamatis and he told me that there will be no extra guests, just he and Eleni. They were planning to meet me at the marina before 6 PM. I wanted to be there ahead and prepare Thetis and get to Mikri Lakka at least one hour before the moonrise which was due at 19:54.
As I was getting ready to leave Kalami for the marina Stamatis called me. They will be unable to join me after all. I changed my plans. I will go by myself and instead of returning after the moonrise I will overnight in Mikri Lakka.
After getting the boat ready I cast off at 1740 and we were on our way. There was a light WSW 8-14 knot breeze and I opened about 20% of the headsail and motor-sailed. We arrived in Mikri Lakka [37° 45.459' N 27° 01.654' E] at 1920. I anchored in 10 m depth with 40 m of chain, allowing swinging room as the breeze now was down to 3-4 knots but from variable directions.
I prepared the ouzo. The moon did rise at the appointed 19:54 but it was not as dramatic because there was still daylight. However, later, after dark, it was indeed fantastic and it completely illuminated the the calm bay.
For dinner I made pasta and served it with a new preparation from Rio Mare: a mixture of tuna, capers, peppers, oregano, etc. This I served to myself with freshly grated Parmezan cheese. It was not bad. It was a lovely night afloat and not too cold. The temperature during the night went down only to 17°C (63°F) and I was rather comfortable.
Sunday May 6, 2012, Day 9
The sea was very calm and I slept beautifully. After the sun rose it quickly dried the heavy due that had precipitated on the deck. I checked once again the bilge there was very little water. I am beginning to think that its water accumulation was not caused by any leakage but from vapor condensation. I took my time preparing for departure. I finished reading Days of Déjà vu and continued with Great Expectations.
Finally I raised the anchor and departed at 0914. The wind was just 2 knots from the SSE. I made another attempt to run the AutoLearn calibration on the autopilot. After that, it behaved beautifully for a while but after I punched +30° while in Auto it went wild again. After that, I took manual control to avoid hitting the rocks. I then found that its tiller actuator had stopped responding to the controller’s commands. I wiggled the actuator cable near its plug and the autopilot begun to operate again. It now it looked that there was a bad contact either in the plug on in the cable itself. We shall see.
We arrived in the marina at 1105. I moored without any problem thanks to Michalis, the attendant.
Sunday May 6 to Wednesday May 9, 2012
I voted on the national elections but unfortunately these elections gave 16% to an extreme left wind party making it the second largest in the parliament and also gave some 22 parliament seats to the skinhead neo-nazi party. These resulted in chaos and there will be another election next month.
I had long chat with Mr. Spyros Moustakas the Samos Marina manager. He did give me, as an old customer, a good discount and I advanced €500 towards my account. I also explored with him some proposals from Agmar Marine’s new partner my friend Anastasis Raftopoulos.
Thursday May 10, 2012, Day 10
In the afternoon I arrived in the marina with clean clothes, provisions, etc. The marina’s fuel station does not seem to operate this year but after a previous phone call to the marina office they had arranged for a fuel delivery.
I left Thetis’ berth at 1700 and moved her to the fuel dock where the delivery truck was waiting for me. I got 37 L of Diesel fuel for €58 topping the tank. I had already made arrangements with Aramis to pick up the rented car which I had left at the marina and for them to deliver for me another car on my return. The plan was to anchor tonight in near-by Klima, spend the night and early morning there, and then depart in mid-morning for Alaçati where I will meet Turgut at about 5 PM.
Later I had a restorative ouzo since I had a backache, most likely caused my moving furniture in Kalami this morning. Yesterday I finished reading, on the Kindle, The Daughters of Cain, a Morse mystery and started Cochrane: The Real Master and Commander, the biography of Cohrane who is the prototype Napoleonic era frigate captain that has inspired many nautical semi-historic novels like the Aubrey-Maturin, Hornblower, Ramage, and Bolitho series. By the way, the first ship that he served on, commanded by his uncle, was named Thetis!
For dinner I had two slices from a pot-roast that I had already cooked with a lemon sauce in Kalami, this I served with some rice. For desert I had a bowl of fresh strawberries sprinkled with Samos Moschato Nectar wine and sugar. I then did some back exercises which relieved somewhat the back-ache. The wind by then had died and it was very calm.
Friday May 11, 2012, Day 11
I woke up around 6 AM. Fortunately my back felt much better. As I was supposed to meet Turgut at 5 PM or later I was not in any great hurry to depart. After my morning coffee and some reading I tided up the cabins. The day was cloudy and there was some drizzle.
I then focused my attention to the autopilot. I disassembled both its actuator plug receptacle (female) and its male plug. Amazingly both had a loose but not disconnected contact. After I fixed these contacts and reassembled the plugs the autopilot appeared to work properly. Time will tell. I then opened the floor boards and checked the bilge for water. There was only a very small amount of fresh water and I sponged it off. Before our departure I prepared the water-maker. This will be the first time that it will operate this year and I was very anxious to verify that it works.
I raised the Rocna anchor which was very well embedded. Finally we departed at 0910. The autopilot behaved very well. I then started the water-maker and it too worked properly. Now the only equipment that did not work was the Navtex. The wind was less then 5 knots from the NNE. There was no chance of sailing. Maybe after we round Cape Praso… Not, so. After we rounded the cape the wind went down to 3 knots. It looked that we will be motoring all the way.
Soon the water-maker had filled the water tanks and I also filled two empty 1.5 L bottles. These I will be using for cooking. I still prefer to drink the more flavorful mineral water. After a while the drizzle stopped and there was sunshine and later it got so hot that that I put up the tent.
After 12:00 however the sky became overcast again and the wind increased to 8-15 knots N, a head wind. In addition a rather uncomfortable chop developed and there was some spray and and some banging. I had to tighten several times the dinghy tie-down straps. I removed the tent that was by then only slowing down the boat.
When we were near Teke Burun the waves calmed down and the wind lessened to 5-10 knots, still from the N. The autopilot worked flawlessly despite the chop. We made good progress.
At 1645 we were just 2 M from the entrance of Alaçati Bay. Alaçati, the Greek Alatsata - Αλάτσατα was a prosperous inland Greek town and its bay was called Agrilia - Αγριελιά - Wild Olive tree. It is marked in many older charts as Agriler but now it is called Alaçati Körfezi. I called Turgut and we agreed that he will meet us with his dinghy at the head of the bay and guide us to his private pier.
We entered the bay and headed for the marker buoys. Turgut called and asked me to turn on the VHF in channel 69. Soon we were conversing. Despite the drizzle and the grayness I could see him. I stopped Thetis and after tying his dinghy he came aboard. It was good to see my friend again after almost 2 years. The last time we had met was here in Alaçati in 2010. Last year, for the first time in many years we had not cruised together. Slowly he guided Thetis towards the river and the small canal. Arzu was waiting for us at their pier ready to assist with the mooring. With such help Thetis was secured in no time. Next to her was their new boat New Life III an impessive Beneteau Oceanis 50. The time was 1845.
After an tour of their the new boat we three sat in their porch and had a bottle of 2010 Kalami wine. Later, after I took a nice shower in their guest bathroom, we drove to Çesme where we had a wonderful meal of red mullets (Greek μπαρμπούνια, Turkish barbun- Mullus surmuletus) and a sea bass (Greek: λαβράκι - lavraki, Turkish: lavrek - Dicentrarchus labrax), but the evening was cold and rather bleak.
When we returned to their house, past midnight, Arzu wanted me to sleep in their guest room but I chose to sleep in dear Thetis.
Saturday May 12, 2012, Day 12
In the morning Turgut came aboard and he had a cup of coffee with me. Later Arzu served her usual lavish Turkish breakfast. After breakfast, Turgut and I went to Alaçati because today was market day. The market occupied several street blocks and it was shaded by white tents. It was amazing in its variety: from tools to sunglasses, to clothes, shoes, fruits, sweets, you name it. The rest of the town appeared deserted.
After spending some time wandering in the market, Turgut drove me to the Alaçati Marina. There we met Taner the owner of the Bavaria Yachts dealership in Turkey. Taner showed us the latest Vision 46 model. She has a very large cabin with wide futuristic windows. She does look very comfortable but she is not, in my opinion, a beautiful boat.
When we returned to the housing complex I met the owner of an old trechadiri (a traditional wooden boat, wide and pointed in both ends, she was very popular with fishermen), Luna 12. He, to my amazement, spoke fluent Greek. Back in the house we had a light lunch after which Turgut and I boarded New Life III and headed out for a sail.
Turgut proudly demonstrated her fine sailing qualities and her speed. Although the wind was no more then 15 knots we often sailed faster then 9 knots! She does respond very nimbly to the wheel. After a while we anchored in a sandy cove and swam. The water was not very warm but it was bearable. By the time we returned to the house it was past 6 PM.
We had to hurry because we had a dinner reservation in the seafood restaurant at the marina for 7. Tonight there were two very popular matches: a football (soccer) between the two major Istanbul teams, one of which was Fenerbahçe which has their stadium near the Kalamis Marina, and the other was the final European cup basketball match between the Greek team Olympiacos and a team from Barcelona. All the tables at the restaurant were at a premium and there were TV monitors everywhere. The enthusiastic clientele were either cheering or moaning depending on how their favotite team did at the time. We were served an extensive selection of mezedes (tasty appetizers) and a salad. The main dish was very fresh and tasty barbounia (red mullets - Mullus surmuletus). Despite the match the service was impeccable with frequent changes of plates and cutlery.
After dinner we drove to Alaçati town. It was full of people and enthusiastic groups celebrating their team’s victory. We had a tea (tsai) served in the traditional glasses. Turgut was continuously greeted by his many acquaintances. He is very popular here which is no surprise to me given his outgoing and pleasant personality. He could easily run for a mayor. Arzu in the mean time was getting worried that the “children” Orhan and Dilek might had gone out among the victorious and unruly crown in Istanbul. Several telephone calls were exchanged. For me this was a nice opportunity to speak with Dilek.
It was past 11:30 when we returned to the house. In the mean-time it had rained and all the porch cushions as well as the ones I had left in Thetis’ cockpit were thoroughly wet.
Sunday May 13, 2012, Day 13
Today is Mother’s Day, an American commercial holiday that has been adopted with a vengeance here in Turkey. So, a party was planned: both Arzu’s and Turgut’s parents and siblings were expected around noon when we were all to board New Life III and have a picnic lunch.
In the morning I did various housekeeping and minor maintenance tasks on Thetis after which I took a short walk within the compound. Despite the scheduled elaborate picnic by the time I returned from my walk Arzu had set another traditional Turkish breakfast.
The guests arrived shortly after noon. Arzu’s brother did not come but her parents did. The father, Cemal, is in his mid 80s but his eyes are sparkling. He speaks good english and he is full of humor. You can see that he was a handsome playboy. The mother, Nurten, a retired medical doctor, is a very beautiful woman despite her age and wrinkles. She must had been a great beauty in her youth. She has a gravely voice and is very vivacious. They have been married for 55 years. Few minutes later Turgut’s mother and younger brother arrived both of whom I had met before. The brother, Fatih, is a very handsome man but somewhat shy while the mother, Ozcan, who is just a few years older than me, more then makes up for her son’s shyness. She is like Turgut very outgoing and also speaks very good english. It was clear all seniors are very fond of each other and that they adore their children. They all brought gifts for Arzu as well as large platters of food. Arzu gave her gifts to the mothers and then she produced more platters of food, cheeses, fruits, and salads that she had most likely brought from Izmir. There was enough food to feed at least three times as many people as in the present company.
All the supplies were loaded into New Life III and everyone boarded. We cast off without any trouble and after a re-fueling stop in the nearby Alaçati Marina we motored out of the channel. The sails were then opened and we had a lovely sail in the calm sea. The sun was shining and there was not even a speck of a cloud. It was a perfect spring day. After lowering the sails we anchored at exactly the spot we did yesterday. Some people swam and then the feast begun. Everyone had a great time. It was a pleasure to see such a close-knit and loving family. Right on cue the grandchildren, Orhan and Dilek, called their grandparents and then spoke to their mother.
Turgut and I had a nice long swim. Then Arzu as if all this food was not enough served turkish coffee and a cake. By the time we returned to the house it was well past 7. Then Arzu served everyone cheese and crackers. Soon the well-fed guests departed and the remaining people took showers.
Later in the evening Turgut drove us to Alaçati where we sat at a simple restaurant. I do not think that either of us was hungry since we had been eating all day long but nevertheless we each had a small portion of grilled meat and a salad. By 11 PM I was in my cabin completely surrendered to the arms of Morpheus (the Greek god of dreams).
Monday May 14, 2012, Day 14
After the morning coffee I prepared for departure. My plan was to sail either to the W side of Samos and then to Samioploula for the night or to retrace the same route to the E of Samos, round Cape Praso, and stop someplace along the way, and return to the marina by tomorrow morning. I checked the weather forecasts. They all, more or less, agreed on light northerly winds for today but the winds increasing in strength and turning into southerlies by this evening or by early tomorrow morning.
Arzu and Turgut also got up early because they will be driving back to Izmir separately: he directly to his office, and she to their house. During breakfast we talked how to untie Thetis, move her in the canal, and warp New Life III next to the pier.
I unhooked the electricity and untied the spring lines. I then turned the engine key but nothing happened. The starter would not turn. This had actually happened once before on Thursday morning when I was about to leave Samos Marina. At that time I switched the service battery to the starter and started the engine. Now however this trick did not work. Also it was impossible that the starting battery to be discharged since it, as well as the service battery bank, were connected to the AC battery charger for several days now. So, now I asked Turgut to please reconnect the AC and waited a few minutes before turning the key. This time success. The engine purred into life, a lovely sound in my ears. After hugging my dear friends Arzu and Turgut, I cast off the remaining dock lines and slowly motored out of the canal. The time was 0920.
After we motored out of the Alaçati bay I decided to take the shorter eastern route and end for tonight at a place close to the marina and not to risk the longer and more exposed western route. This way, in the worse case scenario, if the engine does not start tomorrow I could launch the dinghy and tow Thetis to the marina with the outboard albeit very slowly. The wind outside the bay was a lovely 5-12 knot NNW. I opened the full genoa and motor-sailed because I was afraid that if I was to turn off the motor it may not start again when needed. I lowered the RPM and we were making better than 6 knots.
The next 10 M to Teke Burun were delightful except for the engine noise. But when we were near to Take Burun, around 1130, the wind backed now coming from the WSW and lessened to just 2-5 knots. Nevertheless we continued motor-sailing at somewhat higher RPM. Around 1500 the wind veered to the W and increased to 8-12 knots. At that time we were doing, according to the GPS, over 7 knots over ground. At 1640 we rounded Cape Praso. By that time I had received, on the iPhone, updated forecasts; they called for tonight for light westerly winds shifting to SE by the morning and reaching 16-20 knots by midday. I decided to stop for the night in Kerveli because it is well protected from either the N, the W, and the S.
We arrived in Kerveli [37° 43.8' N 27° 02.2' E] at 1700 after 45.9 M. There was only one other sailboat here with a German flag. I anchored in 7 m depth and let out 40 m of chain. After turning the motor off I tried re-starting it. It was a no go. I was hot and sweaty so I decided to swim.
I raised the dinghy to the top of the davits so that I could lower the swimming ladder and then I snorkeled to the anchor. It was beautifully embedded. After I dried and the engine had cooled down I consulted the engine’s wiring diagram in its service manual. I examined the wires from the starter switch to the starter solenoid. I shook the wire harness and two fuse boxes and retried the starter. This time the engine turned. Success! After that and since the dinghy was already raised on the davit arms I inspected the wooden block whose screws I had replaced with bolts. One of the bolts was loose and I tightened it. I also called Aramis the car rental company and made arrangements for a car to be delivered tomorrow morning at 9:30 to the marina.
By the time I sat down for an ouzo three other sailboats had arrived: a French and a German sloop, and a German catamaran. I was very tired and did not feel hungry at all, so I ate some fruits and kept on reading Cochrane: The Real Master and Commander. I went to bed early. It was very calm but the wind was fairly strong and came from all directions.
Tuesday May 15, 2012, Day 15
Because I had gone to bed early last night I woke up at 5:30 this morning. The wind did not come from the SW as forecasted but it came from variable directions and it was gusty. After my coffee I started packing to delay the departure time since the marina attendants are seldom there before 9 AM and I did need a hand to help me moor. I set the fenders etc.
Around 8:30 I was ready and I turned on the starter key. The starter turned and the engine came into life. By that time the gusts were reaching 22-28 knots. I raised the anchor and departed at 0840. The sky had some nasty looking clouds and the wind was 15-22 knots predominantly now from the SE. By 1010 Thetis was safely moored in the marina.
Tuesday May 15 to Monday June 4, 2012
During this time Thetis stayed in the marina. Her master occupied himself with the completion of house repairs in Kalami. He also made a brief visit to the US to attend a family wedding in Chicago. On his return he brought a new ship clock to replace the old one that had given up its spirit. I also canceled my Cosmote contract for the USB dongle since despite numerous efforts on my end and calls to their support staff it never worked satisfactory like it did last year.
During the weekend I bottled last year’s wine.
Tuesday June 5, 2012, Day 16
Most of the work in Kalami has been completed and both the old house and the guesthouse have been cleaned. I had already moved from the guesthouse to the old house. So now I decided to take a brake from the land and spend two days on my beloved Thetis.
We departed from the marina at 1015 and headed west to the islet of Samioploula. The sea was very calm and the wind 4-7 knots from the SSW. I raised the mainsail and, once again, motor-sailed. After 8.1 sea miles being helped by the current we arrived at the NW cove of Samiopoula (Σαμιοπούλα) [37° 38' N 26° 47.35' E]. I anchored in 10 m depth and let out 45 m of chain.
It was hot. I lowered the dinghy and jumped into the water. I snorkeled to check the anchor. The water was not very clear but I did find the anchor and after diving I verified that it was well dug in the sand and light weed. Back on board I put up the tent and relaxed.
Later I installed the new ship clock. It was a quiet afternoon and after the 2 day-trip boats had left I had the island all to my self save for a small British sailboat that had anchored for a couple of hours. Around 6 I went ashore and tried to walk up to the little taverna and church but the gate was shut and padlocked. Instead I picked up some trash from the lovely little SW beach.
Back on board I swam because I was fairly hot. The water temperature was 28°C (82°F) two degrees hotter then the ambient.
In the evening, after lowering the tent I had an ouzo. After the sun went down the temperature dropped and it was a little cold in the cockpit but after I changed to warmer clothes it was fine. I prepared my dinner of linguine with a tuna and hot pepper sauce. This was accompanied by a bottle of the new (2011 vintage) Kalami wine that I had bottled few days ago. While sipping this wine I was thinking of Angela and her friend who had helped last year to harvest the grapes. It is an amazing journey of the leafless vines sprouting leaves in the spring and baby grapes to their maturing to lovely black grapes in the summer, their harvest and crashing, pressing, then fermenting in the barrel, then bottling, corking, and labeling the wine so that one can slowly sip it in this lovely anchorage. While thinking about this miracle, the moon, one day past full, rose over the sea. A huge red disc just glancing the SSE corner of Samiopoula. Another miracle. If only we humans could dwell on the wonderful gifts of nature instead of on all the manmade messes.
Wednesday June 6, 2012, Day 17
Today is my little brother Byron’s 62nd birthday. How did he grow up so quickly?
I spent the day quietly at anchor doing lots of reading. I am now reading Trolope’s The Way we Live Now. It is a long elaborate, with many characters, exposé of Victorian England.
The wind during the morning was a brisk 10-14 knot; earlier from the S and later from the W. It is forecasted that it will become a northerly by tomorrow morning. The temperature was lower then yesterday’s and the sky was cloudy. I swam a little and I also took a walk. There was not a lot of action.
I tried to “tether” the MacBook to the iPhone. Tethering is a means to provide Internet access to a computer via a GSM telephone that has such an access. Everything seemed to proceed as described in the iPhone manual and various articles but still there was no Internet connection on the MacBook. I called Cosmote customer support and spoke extensively to a very polite lady who confirmed that what I had done was correct and that the tethering should work. Eventually, by pure serendipity, I got it to work. The iPhone creates a “hot spot” to which the computer can connect by one of three different ways: via a USB cable, via Wi-Fi, or via Bluetooth. I had tried all three of them to no effect but when I connected via Wi-Fi while forgetting to disconnect the USB cable the blasted thing worked albeit at rather slow speed. I even managed to get e-mail on the MacBook and look at a forecast page with its Safari browser program.
In the evening I had the inevitable ouzo but I was not very hungry so for dinner I just boiled a small amount of pasta and made for it an olive oil with garlic sauce. The wind was variable but light.
After dinner I listened to Theodorakis music. Just before going to bed the moon rose. By that time the sky had completely cleared of the clouds and the stars were brilliant.
Thursday June 7, 2012, Day 18
I was a little uneasy during the night lest the shifting direction wind blew the boat to shallow water and too close to the rocks. As a result I was up just before 6 AM.
I prepared to depart and return to the marina. I needed to be back because my wife Alice will be arriving tomorrow from Washington, DC. I covered the dinghy and raised it on the davit stands without any difficulties. By that time the wind was about 7 knots from the NW. I raised the anchor and departed from Samiopoula at 0830.
As soon as we were cleared from the island, the wind came from the N at 7-13 knots. I raised the mainsail and motor-sailed since the wind was too light for Thetis’ heavy cruising sail and it was too close to our heading of 050. After reaching Cape Aspros Cavos the wind came from the N and increased somewhat.
We arrived at the marina at 1030 after 9.2 M. I had already called the marina ahead and had arranged for a fuel delivery because their fuel station this year was not operating. With Mr. Yiannis’, one of the attendants, help Thetis was tied to the fuel dock and her tank was topped with 62 L of Diesel fuel (€94.25). I then motored to her berth.
Wednesday June 13, 2012, Day 19
Today we took a day excursion. Along with Alice and myself were our friends and Kalami neighbors Dimitris and Vanessa Vourliotis. We departed from the marina at 0940 and headed for the NW cove of Samiopoula. The wind was 5-10 knots NE, and we motor-sailed using the headsail as we had already put up the tent. We arrived there at 1120 after 8 M. We anchored in 8 m depth.
We had a very nice day swimming and had a picnic lunch. We departed at 1730. The wind was now 5-10 knots from the SW and we motored the 9 M to back to the marina. During our passage the autopilot failed and I replaced its actuator with the spare. When hailing the marina on VHF channel 9 they did not respond. After our arrival at 2000 the attendant Michalis told me that he could received our hail but obviously we did not receive his response.
June 14 to June 18, 2012
I repaired the autopilot actuator. One wire connected to its motor had detached itself. I re-soldered it and then verified the autopilot proper operation. I also ran some tests with the VHF. I could receive the marina at channel 9 with the old spare Pilot VHF but not with the new Simrad. Since the new one was installed by Agmar Marine and we were planning to go there for other issues I deferred doing anything further.