This web page contains the log of S/Y Thetis for the second leg of my solo trip from Samos back to Glyfada, a suburb of Athens, Greece, which is her home port. This leg originated in Rhinia. The places I stopped are: Finikas and Grammata in Syros, Koutalas in Serifos, Zoyieryia in Spetses, Porto Heli, Fikiada in Kithnos, and Koundouros in Kea. It is illustrated with maps and photographs, and also includes some historical and geographical descriptions of the places visited as well as several links to other related web sites.
Wednesday September 22, 1999, Day 11
While the overnight Navtex report did not indicate any change in conditions, the wind this morning was actually less than yesterday, blowing at 22 knots. I decided to leave Rhinia for Finikas, Syros. Before departing I prepared the mainsail so that when raised, it would be in its 1st reefing point.
By 0830 we were on our way. While in the cove I raised the main. Outside the cove the wind was from the NNE at 20-30 knots with strong gusts. I partly opened the genoa. Thetis responded very well and we sailed very fast. As we were approaching Syros the wind backed more to the N and the gusts were near 40 knots. The autopilot had a hard time keeping a steady course as Thetis was having a strong weather helm (heading into the wind) so I reduced the headsail some more and took the tiller by hand as I was expecting the gusts to become even more violent while rounding Cape Velastasi. I was completely wrong. As soon as we rounded the cape the wind disappeared and I had to turn on the motor.
We arrived in Finikas [37° 23.5' N 24° 52.5' E] at 1240, 22.5 M. I anchored at the N side of the bay in an area where many boats are permanently moored. I had some difficulty finding a spot at suitable depth that would allow us to have adequate scope and still be clear of the other boats which were all on rather short scopes. Eventually I anchored at about 13 m depth. I snorkeled and made sure that the anchor was well caught. The water within the bay was very calm.
Almost next to Thetis was the 30' yellow sailboat Kallipygos with which Giorgos Gritsis and Annemarie Biedermann circumnavigated from Kalamata and back via the Cape Horn from 1992 till 1997. Their wonderful trip is described in their book. I was told that Giorgos is working as skipper in a large yacht and comes to Finikas very frequently. Unfortunately he did not come while I was there and I did not get a chance to meet him.
The GSM signal here was strong and I received at least five e-mails from Alice. I called British Airways and got a reservation to Washington D.C. for October 6. I then tried to make a hotel reservation for my stay in Ft. Lauderdale. Bummer! All the US hotel chains have 800 toll free numbers. Well, the GSM phone cannot dial them. I wrote an e-mail to Alice to ask if she could call and make a reservation for me. Later, allowing for the time difference with California, I called Balmar and spoke with a technician. He confirmed my suspicions that the problem is caused by one or two burned Zener diodes. He suggested that I take the alternator to a shop and have them spin it at a high RPM and check its maximum output. If it is below the rated 80 A they should replace the diodes. This will have to wait for tomorrow. I also called my brother Nikos. He is in Porto Heli with the Faneromeni and his new dog Naxos. They are having a lot of rain.
In the evening I was invited to dinner by Sue and Yankos. They came to Finikas and picked me up with their car. Not only did they feed me at Piscopio but also let me use their washing machine. The wind on the E side of the island was fierce. By the time they drove me back it was past midnight.
Thursday September 23, 1999, Day 12
For the first time since leaving Samos I was disturbed by mosquitoes during the night. I had not missed them! I started the day by running the engine to replenish, even at a reduced rate, the power consumed overnight because the wind was down and the wind generator was ineffective.
I waited until 8:45 and then called Lefteris Boyatzoglu. Lefteris is married to the niece of George Orologas and has inherited his chandler store in Ermoupolis. I found his telephone number last night in the local telephone book. My idea was to ask Lefteris to recommend an electrician to me who has some experience in working with boats. Lefteris answered the call and yes, he not only remembered me but he had already seen Thetis last night while I was away. He recommended Antonis Dalmyras as a good marine electrician and gave me his cellular telephone number. I dialed the number and spoke to Antonis. He was in a ferryboat on the way to Syros from Athens, but he gave me the number of his partner Christos. He asked me to wait a few minutes before calling him because he wanted to speak to him first. After I called Christos we agreed for me to bring the alternator to the shop in Ermoupolis and meet him there at 11.
I then removed the alternator. Since I had already done so before, it now took me less than 30 minutes. I packed it together with the spare parts kit into my small knapsack and went ashore. I took the bus to Ermoupolis and following Christos’ instructions located the shop in the shipyard area. He was not there but after I called him (the GSM phone is very handy on such occasions), he said that he will be coming shortly. I waited in a nearby kafenio (café). When he came we went into the shop. It is very small and primitive. He rigged some cables from the alternator to an old battery via an ancient ammeter. He then secured the alternator to a vise and spun it with an electric drill! The meter showed that the alternator produced 1.5 A. He then declared that there was nothing wrong with the alternator. I insisted that the alternator was not producing its rated power. It should produce 80 amps at 2,000 RPM. He was not convinced, but, at any rate, there was no way that he could spin it with the drill at 2,000 RPM. I finally said that just to humor a slightly crazy old man, could he please replace the Zener diodes. He finally agreed and promised to bring back the alternator in Finikas some time between 2 and 3 PM. He then gave me a ride on his motor-bike to the center of Ermoupolis.
I walked around to kill time and bought a new jar of capers. Capers are a specialty of Syros. I also bought some fresh bread. I then boarded the bus for Finikas. As the wind was appreciably less than yesterday, just 5-12 knots, I put up the tent and swam. I then had a light lunch and fell asleep. There was no sign of the electrician. I busied myself with another vexing problem. For the past few weeks the radio/CD player had been acting up. This is a marine grade unit made by Jensen. Its face, which contains all the controls, is removable. The problem had been manifesting itself in the following way: sometimes the radio would not power, but if I removed and re-inserted its face it would work. As time progressed this became more and more frequent. Now I had to press the face and while pressure was applied it will work but as soon as the pressure was eased the radio stopped. I removed the face and cleaned the contacts but this has no effect. Now I rebuilt the contacts with extra solder but the condition persisted. I noticed that in addition to the 2 metal contacts there were 3 LED’s. Maybe these were modulated and the signals from the face to the main unit were transmitted via optical pulses. I cleaned the LED’s with alcohol on the face and the corresponding receptors in the main unit. Now the radio worked for a while but still the problem persisted. I applied pressure until it worked and then taped it with electrician’s tape so that the pressure would stay. Now at least it was working, but this was not a permanent solution.
Around 5:00 I called Christos. He sounded very contrite. He said that after opening the alternator he found 2 burned diodes and he has replaced them. He was on his way to Finikas with the alternator. Some time after 6:00 the phone rang. It was Antonis. Yes, he and Christos were on their way and would be at the quay in Finikas in 15 minutes. Could I meet them there? I took the zodiac to the quay and waited. It was almost 7:00 when they did show up but they did have the alternator. I took them to Thetis and they installed the alternator and put proper connectors at the end of its cables. I then started the motor. Bliss! The alternator was charging the battery at 50 A. Problem resolved! I also asked them to replace the make-shift arrangement I had with the wind generator cables which they did. But as there was no wind I had no means of testing these. Total bill 23,000 GRD. I was very pleased.
Yesterday, while entering the bay I had noticed a handsome sloop with an American flag. Early this morning I saw her leave and then a couple of hours later I saw her return back again. After dropping the electricians ashore, on my way back to Thetis I overcame my natural shyness and stopped by her. She is the Patient Lady from Crawfordville, Florida. Her crew was Bob and Jean Parker, the owners, and another couple, Bobbie and Don, also from Florida. Bob and Jean left their legal practice in FL three years ago and, realizing their dream, crossed the Atlantic. This was their first time in Greece. They invited me to come later on Patient Lady for a light supper. So, after taking a shower, I took some Samian ouzo and a wine from Limnos and joined them. Bobbie and Don were long-time friends of theirs and they have been sailing together in the Gulf of Mexico for years. Don was a retired US Navy officer. They were all very nice people. Thus the evening went by with pleasant company.
Friday September 24, 1999, Day 13
Sue and Yankos Krinos have been hinting for some time that they would like to go on a day excursion with Thetis, so we had arranged to wait until this morning, look at the sea conditions and the weather forecast, and then decide whether to do so and where. If the conditions were bad then we would do something else based on the shore. Conditions here and according to the Navtex reports were not too bad, so I called Yankos. We agreed to sail to the NW end of Syros to the Grammata cove where neither of us had been. Heikell describes Grammata as a “pleasant, isolated but gusty anchorage that affords some protection from the meltemi.” Also it seems there are inscriptions on the rocks written by stranded sailors who had taken refuge there while waiting for better weather. Some of these inscriptions are modern but there are also some Byzantine and even some from the antiquity.
I picked up Sue and Yankos at the quay and brought them to Thetis. Sue had brought a picnic basket and I had already bought, while waiting for them ashore, fresh bread and fruits. We left Finikas at 1130. Outside the bay we had a 16-20 knots N, a headwind. We motored all the way on choppy seas. After 8.6 M we arrived in Grammata [37° 29.8' N 24° 53.4' E] at 1320. We slowly moved around the cove and decided to anchor on what looked like the more sheltered E side. Despite Heikell’s warnings about bad holding, we anchored without any trouble at a depth of 4 m. We put up the tent and snorkeled ashore, after checking the anchor. There is no road leading to the cove and it is isolated save for two small nearby summer houses one of which is reputed to belong to an “American” who has planted a number of pine trees. The whole setting is very lovely. We were the only people there except for two ladies who were sunning themselves on the beach. As soon as we landed, one of the ladies exclaimed in Greek, “Is that you Yanko?” It turns out that they were friends. Her father was German while she was born in Yugoslavia and grew up in the US. Now she is married to a former diver in the Greek navy and they live in Syros. They operate a small hotel in Kimi. The other lady, an Australian, was a hotel guest. They had driven from Kimi, left their car, and walked for over an hour to reach this isolated beach. The world of Syros is very small!
After our pleasant swim we all got back on Thetis where we had a nice lunch from Sue’s basket together with some Efes beers that I had brought from Turkey. Then it was time for exploration. We launched the zodiac and rode to the W promontory to search for the inscriptions. There is a new large sign on the rocks informing visitors that this is an archaeological site. The inscriptions were next to impossible to see from the sea, even at close range. We landed on the craggy rocks and climbed. We found the inscriptions. Most were recent ones but a number of them were from the last century. The older ones were very hard to read since the soft rocks that made carving possible are easily worn out over time by the wind and the waves. After Sue took a few pictures, since I did not have a camera anymore, we went back to Thetis.
We raised the zodiac, had a cup of coffee, and at 1750 left for Finikas. The wind was down to 10-14 knots from the N. We opened the genoa and motor-sailed for a while, then we were able to turn off the motor and sail downwind. On the way, I told Yankos and Sue, who is from Florida herself, about my new friends from the S/Y Patient Lady. We arrived at Finikas at 1925. It was already dusk. Before anchoring we passed near Patient Lady and I introduced everyone. Amazingly enough it turned out that Sue’s best friend is also Jean Parker’s dear friend. It is not just the world of Syros that is small, the whole world is small, even if you travel with an 8 mile/hr sailboat.
We anchored on the E side of the bay in 5 m. Very good holding here but more open to the S. Everyone was tired so we scrapped the plans for a night out. Instead we will go tomorrow to a restaurant in Ano Syros which will have a good view of the full moon. Yankos also invited the crew from the Patient Lady.
After I took the Krinos ashore I spent the rest of the evening relaxing aboard, enjoying the gorgeous moon. It was rather gusty but calm.
Saturday September 25, 1999, Day 14
Today’s morning was a slow one. I spent it mostly reading under the tent. The wind was stronger than yesterday and from what it was predicted. I measured it as 18-22 knots. I made a potato salad for lunch and while it was cooling I went snorkeling. I saw, near the anchor, a small sea turtle. It was no larger than 30 cm and it was walking on the sand bottom. I dove down the 4-5 m depth and scrutinized it. One of its flippers was missing. I hope it will be OK.
I transferred 2 of the 20 L cans into the fuel tank. I then went ashore and re-filled one of them as well as the small can of gasoline for the outboard. I also did some shopping, including getting a new camping gaz canister. On my way back, I met Bob and Jean getting off the bus from Ermoupolis. Their outboard is out of service so I gave them a ride on the zodiac back to Patient Lady.
In the afternoon, I swam and read some more. The arrangement with Yankos for the evening was for him to come and pick us up. He called to say that he would be here at about 6:15. Since we could not all fit into his car, he would also call a taxi for the same time. Now that the arrangements were finalized, as we had agreed I hailed Patient Lady on the VHF and informed them of the plans. Since their outboard was still out of commission I would be ferrying them all ashore. After a hot shower and a shave, I went with the zodiac and picked up two of the Patient Lady’s crew, took them ashore and then went back for the other two. In the mean time, both Yankos and the taxi had arrived and we all drove for drinks to Piscopio.
The wind had subsided and it was a very pleasant evening with a clear atmosphere which gave as great views of the island of Mykonos to the NE. The crew of the Patient Lady were given the “guided tour” while there was some daylight. We then all had a pleasant drink together with maintanosalata (parley spread), a specialty of Syros. Then, as we had pre-arranged, the taxi came and we all went to Ano Syros. Ano Syros is the old medieval Catholic district perched on a hill overlooking the newer Ermoupolis at the waterfront. We had reservations at the Lilis restaurant. This is the very place that the renowned Rembetika composer/bouzouki player Markos Vamvakaris started his long career. We sat on its balcony overlooking all of Ermoupolis, and Tinos, Mykonos, and Rhinia to the distant E, the view was fantastic. While eating we saw the full moon rise, a large red orb. We also saw a number of fully lit ferryboats enter and exit the busy harbor. We did not order any main dishes, instead we had lots, and lots, of wonderful mezedakia (little appetizers): more maintanosalata, fava salad, fried keftedes (meatballs), patatokeftedes (potato patties), tyropitakia (small fillo triangles stuffed with cheese), peppers stuffed with feta cheese, etc. All washed down with plenty of local wine. It was great!
After the meal we all walked in the narrow streets, up and down stairs and alleys of the picturesque town. We reached a small square with the bust of Markos Vamvakaris, after whom the square is named. One of the most famous Vambakaris songs is Frangosyriani, dedicated to a girl from Ano Syros. All together it was terrific evening with very convivial company. The time to say good-bye had come. Back into the taxi for Finikas. I will be leaving in the morning.
Sunday September 26, 1999, Day 15
There was absolutely no wind. I took advantage of this to unroll the genoa and apply a patch to a small rip that had developed while we were sailing downwind from Grammata. I also fixed the bathroom door that has been getting off its tracks recently. I then went ashore and bought some fresh bread. On the way back, with the zodiac, I stopped by Patient Lady to say my good-bye to these nice people and wish them good sailing. I also gave them the name and telephone number of Lefteris Boyatzoglu as somebody that could help them find an outboard mechanic so that they can get their motor repaired.
Back on Thetis I called Nikos with the GSM. He is still at Porto Heli and will have to stay there for several more days because Rozina, his girlfriend, is in the process of buying a plot of land and they have to wait for the paperwork. I decided to slowly go and join them there. But for today I will just go as far as Serifos.
I raised the zodiac and then raised the anchor at 1050. The wind was a meager 7-10 knots NW. As I could not do any serious sailing with this, I left the tent, opened the headsail, and motor-sailed. The waves were kind of large and Thetis was rolling which kept upsetting the trim of the headsail. The alternator has been working flawlessly, 50 A for the first half hour. I am still not sure though about the wind generator.
We reached Koutalas (Κουταλάς) [37° 07.9' N 24° 27.4 E] bay on the S side of Serifos at 1525. The distance from Finikas was 28.4 M. Most of the bay was fairly calm but there were some very strong katabatic gusts, over 25 knots, from ashore. We anchored at the east cove, which seemed to afford today the best protection, in 5 m. While there was no problem with the anchoring, the gusts came from several directions, and I was afraid to let as much chain as I would have liked, because Thetis could be blown towards the shallows. I put on the snorkel and checked the anchor. The water was lovely. After swimming, I washed the zodiac with detergent because it was dirty.
By sunset, the gusts, instead of subsiding, became even fiercer, now coming predominately from the west. In order to keep my peace of mind, I set the second anchor from the stern, thus stabilizing the wild swings. My plan for tomorrow was to leave very early in the morning so that we can arrive at Porto Heli with a good margin of daylight. In preparation I raised and lashed down the zodiac. Everything was ready for the early departure.
I had the remaining of the potato salad that I had made yesterday and fresh bread. The night turned out to be calm with the moon illuminating the whole bay. I retired early.
Monday September 27, 1999, Day 16
The alarm woke me up at 0145. I made a double cup of Greek (or Turkish coffee depending on your chauvinistic orientation, the coffee tastes the same) and raised the second anchor. Then I removed the anchoring light and raised the main anchor. We left Koutalas at 0250. The wind was a light breeze of 8-12 knots from the N. I raised the main and opened all of the genoa and had a gentle reach, gliding quietly at about 4 knots. It was a beautiful moonlit calm night. Thus we blissfully sailed for about 15 M and then the land breeze died and we motor-sailed for another 10 M. Then we got a little stronger breeze and sailed for 10 more miles when the breeze dropped to under 5 knots. This is the way the night went. Sail some, motor-sail some, sail some again etc.
When we reached the Spetses Channel there was, as usual, a light easterly breeze and we were able to sail downwind, very gently. When we were just about 2 M from Porto Heli, our destination, I received a hail on the VHF from the Faneromeni. It was Nikos telling me that they were about to leave Porto Heli and go across to Zoyieryia (Ζογεργιά) cove in the island of Spetses which is just across from Porto Heli. They were planing to go there to swim and spend the afternoon. So, I too changed course and continued to sail towards Zoyieryia [37° 16.7' N 23° 06.1' E], where we arrived 1515. We had traveled 66.2 M.
The island of Spetses (Σπέτσες) is small but very beautiful. Its ancient name was Pityousa (Πιτυούσα) or Pityonesos from πitys (πίτυς - pine tree). This name is very apt for this pine-tree covered island. At Ayia Marina, not too far from the town on the SE side of the island, artifacts have been found dated from 2500 BC. In 1220 AD the island was conquered by the Venetians who are reputed to have named it Spezie - Spice. Its present name is a corrupted version of this Venetian name. The Venetians were replaced by the Ottomans in 1460. In the early 18th century many Albanian Christians moved into the island. By this time the island had developed as a major ship-building center and the owner of a sizable shipping fleet. When the Greek War of Independence from the Ottomans broke out in 1821, Spetses was the first island to declare for the revolution. It played, a major role in this war with many distinguished captain/ship-owners. One of the most famous of these is Laskarina Bouboulina who commanded her own ship the Agamemnon and later became an admiral and was responsible for several Greek naval victories. She was also the mother of six children.
Today Spetses is a very popular island with the well-to-do from Athens. During the weekends the Old Harbor is completely crowded with large motor cruisers. Many of the old ship-owners’ mansions have been renovated by their Athenian owners. The mansion of Hadziyiannis Mexis has been converted to a museum it houses among other exhibits Bouboulina’s guns and her “Freedom or Death” flag.
The cove of Zoyieryia has a very good sandy bottom, if you avoid the patches of weed. I anchored near the Faneromeni at 4.5 m on the E side. As soon as the anchor was down, Nikos came with his inflatable and brought his dog Naxos. After covering the sails and tidying up Thetis I joined them. We picked up Rozina from the Faneromeni and we all went ashore for a swim. It is a lovely large cove with crystal clear waters surrounded by pine trees. The only flaw was that this is the hunting season and every so often we were startled by a gun shot from ashore. After the swim we went exploring the cove with the Faneromeni’s fast inflatable. Nikos pointed out to me a very good restaurant. On our way back to our boats we watched a Jeanneau Sunshine, same model as the Thetis, entering the cove. She looked very familiar. Indeed she was the Australian flagged Zephyros belonging to Jono and Sue Farmer whom we had met 2 years ago in Kastellorizo. We went over and welcomed them to Spetses.
Later the crews of all three boats got together aboard the Faneromeni and over an ouzo exchanged our news. Jono and Sue are on their way to Kalamata where they plan to winter Zephyros after another summer of cruising in the Aegean. Rozina is buying a plot of land (οικόπεδο) in Porto Heli and she expects to close the sale on Sunday. So the Faneromeni will have to hang around this area till then. Now they had to go back to Porto Heli because they were expecting an overnight guest. I was a little tired, and besides this was such an attractive place with an excellent restaurant. So I decided to spend the night here and join them in Porto Heli tomorrow morning. Jonas and Sue were also tired and were planing to go to bed early. We arranged to get together again in the morning before I sailed. So we all went back to our boats and Faneromeni left.
I rigged the anchoring light, launched the zodiac, and went, in the dark, to the “excellent” restaurant which is at the Wside of the cove. Alas, although the lights were on it was closed for the season. The owners were there but they were just packing for the winter. Back on Thetis I made some spaghetti with a tuna fish sauce. It was another beautiful night, but very humid, with the moon reflected in the very calm waters of the channel. I was very tired and went to bed early.
Tuesday September 28, 1999, Day 17
I slept late. After coffee, I took out the computer and started updating the boat’s inventory. I had not made much progress along this rather boring task when Jono from Zephyros came to inspect Thetis. After that we both moved to Zephyros for my inspection and some more coffee. It is strange to look at another boat which is laid out exactly like yours and looks so familiar yet is very different in many little details. I was suitably impressed by the clever way they have installed a heat exchanger for cooling the engine and hot water generation over the engine so that it does not consume too much valuable space. Before long the whole morning had gone by. In the mean time, Nikos had contacted me via the VHF and told me that they will be coming here to Zoyieryia for swimming so I was not in any hurry to depart. I had a nice salad lunch with the Farmers aboard Zephyros.
Nikos, Rozina, and Naxos came with the Faneromeni’s inflatable and we all went swimming. After swimming we all went back to Zephyros for more “boat talk.” Then Nikos and Rozina left because they had another meeting with the real estate agent in connection with the property purchase. I went back on Thetis and tried to connect to the Internet to check for e-mail but was not successful. After taking another swim, I said good-bye to the Farmers, and I raised the anchor.
We left Zoyieryia at 1815 and had a fairly nice motor-sail with just the headsail for the 3.6 M to Porto Heli [37° 19.4' N 23° 08.9' E]. We arrived there at 1845 and anchored off-shore along with many boats permanently moored.
Later I went ashore and joined Nikos and Rozina aboard the Faneromeni that was docked stern-to the quay. After some time the real estate agent, Mr. Antonis, came with his wife. He took us with his car and drove us for some distance past Ermioni, inland to a very plain restaurant. There we were joined by another local couple, a cardiologist and his wife a civil engineer. This unassuming restaurant is very well known among the locals for its fantastic food. Indeed the food was delicious: many mezedes such as home made goat cheese, olives, chorta (χόρτα - wild dandelions), kolokythokeftedes (κολοκυθοκεφτέδες - fried zucchini balls), then home made chylopites (χυλοπίτες - pasta, like tagliatelle), and the house specialty: grilled free-ranging kokoraki (κοκοράκι - young rooster), to be followed with diples (δίπλες - fritters) dipped in honey. All of these were, of course, accompanied by a very drinkable local wine.
By the time we returned back to our boats it was almost midnight. I still could not get a connection for e-mail although the telephone GSM signal was very strong. It was rather humid but very calm. The barometer had fallen to 1008 from yesterday’s 1012 mB. Mosquitoes.
Wednesday September 29, 1999, Day 18
It was an extremely humid night. In the morning everything on deck was soaking wet. The barometer fell even further to 1006 mB. The Navtex forecast was predicting force 4 SW later turning NW. Here the sea was very calm. I spent the early morning working on the computer inventory. Later I went ashore and bought some supplies and fresh bread. Nikos explained to me the problem with e-mail. It seems that Panafon, my GSM provider, is having problems interfacing their data circuits to OTE, the Greek telephone company in the Patras exchange. Data routed from cell receivers located in the Aegean do not go through the Patras interface and behave correctly. He gave me his GSM card which is coded to another provider and with it I was able to send and receive e-mail correctly.
Rozina was planning to take the afternoon hydrofoil back to Athens. In the mean time, we all went to Thetis and took her out to the small cove of Chinitsa (Χηνίτσα - small goose) [37° 18.3' N 23° 08.5' E] just 2 M east of Porto Heli where we anchored for a swim and lunch. We spent a very pleasant afternoon. We returned to Porto Heli by 1715, just in time for Rozina to catch the hydrofoil. The barometer had fallen further to 1003 mB while the temperature was a comfortable 28° C (82° F) and the relative humidity 66%.
Later I took the zodiac to the Faneromeni. There was no one onboard save for Naxos who was very glad to see me. I found his leash and took him for a long walk. When we returned from our walk, I found Nikos, with another man, inside a large inflatable tied along side the Faneromeni. It belonged to his guest Stelios Harakoglu. Stelios is building a house near Porto Heli and had been sleeping in the Faneromeni while supervising the construction. He was also building a small jetty in front of his house so that he could dock his 30 m sailing yacht. To this end he had made arrangements for a floating crane to be towed so that it could move a number of large boulders to serve as the foundation for the jetty. Unfortunately the crane that he had contracted with broke down before arriving. After many frantic phone calls Stelios yesterday located another crane in Nafplio and made new arrangements for a tug-boat to sail from Piraeus to Nafplio and tow the crane, at 3 knots, to here. Now the crane was due to arrive soon. Nikos, and Stelios’ friend, Victor, were getting ready to go with the large inflatable to Stelios’ house, pick him up, and then go to meet the tug-boat and crane before their arrival and show them where to anchor as it was already dark and neither the crane nor the tug-boat’s crew were familiar with this region which has many dangerous reefs. I went along with them. First we picked up Stelios and then met the crane and tug in the open water. They looked like a floating city. Stelios was in communication with the tug’s skipper via a GSM phone. It took a good amount of time for the ponderous tug to tow the enormous crane, on top of a square barge about the size of a football field, to a nearby but safe spot. After the crane anchored, with several anchors, the tug tied alongside the crane. With the inflatable we then approached the rocks in front of the construction site and picked up a member of the crane’s crew who had arrived by car earlier to inspect the site. We made a dramatic boarding as the inflatable approached the rocks in total darkness for the moon had not risen yet. We now ferried them back to the crane. After that, we engaged in a strange operation which I could not understand why it was not done earlier with daylight. The idea was to mark with buoys where the crane was to place the boulders. We landed Victor on the rocks and while he held the end of a 20 m line I, in the inflatable, held the other end. Stelios maneuvered in reverse the inflatable to the correct spot, and Nikos dropped overboard a line with a section of chain, as an anchor, and attached a fender to the end of the line. What an operation? It can happen only in Greece!
Back in Porto Heli, we were joined by an uncle of Stelios and a friend of his from New York. We all went for a pizza. By the time we finished eating this late supper it was past midnight.
Thursday September 30, 1999, Day 19
First thing in the morning I transferred fuel from a 20 L jerry can into the tank. I then took both of the empty 20 L cans ashore and refilled them. Back on board I transferred them both into the main tank. Now Thetis was full of fuel. As I was in the middle of this operation Nikos and Stelios came by with the large inflatable. They were going to the crane. I was sorry I could not go with them and see the crane anchoring in position for the jetty building operation, it must have been something.
Later after they returned, Nikos offered to take me there with the Faneromeni’s inflatable. As we were getting ready to leave, a large Austrian flagged catamaran came into the harbor, anchored, and started backing to the quay, almost crushing Stelios’ inflatable that was along side the Faneromeni. Not only were these people totally inconsiderate but were very rude. Nikos almost came to blows with them before they would back off so that he could extricate the inflatable. Had we not been there it would had been severely damaged. By this time, both Stelios and Victor had returned with a load of groceries for the tug and crane crews. Stelios left for the construction site by car, while Nikos, Victor, Naxos, and I took the groceries with the large inflatable to the barge. It was considerably choppy along the way. The barge, seen in the daylight, looked even larger then seen at night. It was secured with four anchors and numerous shore lines very close to the shore. On it was a large Caterpillar crane, now assembled and operating. It lifted the boulders which had been brought near the shore-line by trucks, and swung them over the imaginary jetty, marked by last night’s buoys, and dumped them into the water with a tremendous splash. The cost of this operation must be astronomical. We gave to the crew the groceries and, after dropping off Victor, we stopped on the way back at the Chinitsa cove for a swim. Naxos is an incredible swimmer. He jumps on his own from the boat and swims over a great distance ashore where he tries to catch fish on the shallows. After he gets tired of “fishing” he swims back to the boat.
When we got back to Porto Heli, to my delight I saw anchored off-shore the unmistakable little sailboat Theo’s Place II. Alice and I had met her owner Stavros Theoharides first in Mitilini in 1993 and then in Finikas in 1996. He was then all by himself and needed some help launching his hard dinghy. Stavros has lived most of his life in the US where he operated a diner: Theo’s Place. Late in life, after he retired, realizing his life-long love for the sea he acquired his 33' boat and singlehandled her from the US to Greece where he has been sailing for many years. In the evening of our encounter in Finikas, I introduced him to the unforgettable George Orologas and we had a most wonderful evening filled with sea stories, food, wine, and music—Stavros plays the accordion. Nikos had also met him, in Gerakas I believe. Since then George passed away, and I had not seen Stavros and neither had Nikos. So I was very glad to see him again here in Porto Heli. He immediately recognized me and asked me about Alice. He is cruising together with some friends. We agreed to try and get together for dinner.
I also met, while taking Naxos for a walk, an interesting sailboat flying the British flag. She is all red and decorated with the cartoon figure of the poplar French character Asterix. Of course she is named Asterix. They had just arrived in Greece from the Balearics.
In the evening, Victor came with Stelios’ car and drove Nikos and me to the construction site. Stelios proudly showed us around. It is a very large villa that he is building with an adjacent guest house and staff quarters. The masonry work is absolutely exquisite and so is the extensive landscaping. In the meantime, the crane barge, seen from above, looks even bigger. It kept on working and Stelios hopes that it will continue to do so late into the night. We then all drove back to Porto Heli.
As soon as we boarded the Faneromeni, Stavros came over and invited both Nikos and me for dinner at the Costis restaurant. It was a jolly crowd. Stavros’ friends are all from Tolo which is also his place of birth. One of the friends lives in New York City, the other in Silver Spring near Washington D.C., and the third in Tolo. The dinner was very good and was punctuated with many sea stories. Stavros was very pleased to show to his friends how well known he is among the Greek yachting crowd, i.e. Nikos and me! After dinner, Nikos invited everyone for a drink aboard the Faneromeni and gave Stavros’ friends the obligatory guided tour. We parted with Stavros hoping to meet again. It was an enjoyable evening. After they all left, Nikos and I said good-bye to each other since I will be sailing away early in the morning. He will have to stay here past Sunday for the settlement. As I have to be in Athens early this coming week for my flight to Washington, we may not see each other again this year.
Friday October 1, 1999, Day 20
I got up very early and removed the tent which I had left up as protection for the heavy humidity. I then raised the zodiac and prepared. By 0510 we were on our way. There was absolutely no wind and it was very calm. I used the radar to help avoiding the various dangerous reefs and little islands while exiting Porto Heli and the Spetses Channel. We were treated to a gorgeous sunrise over the island Hydra as we were motoring by the small island of Dhokos. There was not even a prayer of change to sail, the wind was zero! While the barometer was up from yesterday to 1009 mB, the relative humidity was 80% and as the sun rose the visibility deteriorated. While I could see ships on the radar, visually they had to be about 1 M before I could actually see them. It was a long and uneventful passage. During the passage I ran the watermaker for 2 hours which filled the tanks.
As we were approaching the island of Kithnos I was trying to decide which one of my two favorite coves to go to: Kolona with the hot spring, or Fikiada, on the other side of the sandbar. A large motor sailer, a schooner without sails, ugly and loaded with jet-skis was entering Kolona this made up my mind for me. We arrived in the Fikiada cove [37° 24.8' N 24° 22.9' E] in at 1600 having motored the entire 63.4 M. Fikiada is one of my very favorite anchorages. I dropped the anchor at 4.5 m over a sandy clearing of the weed. I had to use the engine in reverse to set the anchor because there was no wind. I swam and checked the setting with the snorkel.
While swimming, a small sailboat, Indian Yangee, with an Italian flag entered the cove under sail, despite the almost non existent wind. A few hours ago along the way Thetis had overtaken her. She glided quietly into the bay and slowly turned upwind. There was just a couple on her. He at the tiller, she at the bow. As soon as they turned she doused the headsail and let go of the anchor. He pushed the boom and backed the main as she paid out the chain. All was executed as a well orchestrated, silent, and graceful dance.
I was fortunate, while sipping a glass of ouzo, to be treated to a most gorgeous sunset, a myriad of red and gold colors being reflected on the mirror-like water across the sandbar accompanied by the sound of the goat bells. As the light was fading, two donkeys were silhouetted on the sandbar. Tranquillity!
The spell was broken by a large motor cruiser entering Kolona. Lots of commotion, crew shouting at each other, engines revved… What a contrast to the peaceful and elegant arrival of the little Indian Yangee.
Later, after dinner, and before the rise of the moon, I am sitting at the cockpit, in total darkness looking at the multitude of stars above. Across the sandbar in Kolona, the motor-sailer “schooner,” and two large motor cruisers are flooded with lights. I cannot help but speculate: Do these people ever see the stars? Why do they go to the trouble and expense of moving their floating palaces to such a lovely anchorage, away from the light pollution of the city, to just bring the city with them. I am sure that in addition to the lights masking their view of the stars, they are also treated to the sound of their generators and the fragrance of their exhaust fumes. For me the darkness and the stars, the gentle flow of the water caressing Thetis, the light breeze, and the sound of the goat bells are wealth beyond measure.
Saturday October 2, 1999, Day 21
It was a very quiet and calm night. The barometer has risen to 1012 mB but the humidity this morning was a very high 90% at 23° C (73° F).
We departed from Fikiada, Kithnos at 0820 heading for the bay of Koundouros in the nearby island of Kea because I wanted to visit my younger brother Byron before heading for Glyfada and then Washington, D.C. The end of this year’s travels was almost upon me. I really would have liked to continue but I was missing my wife Alice. The sea was calm with a very light SE breeze of 3 knots which as we approached Kea increased to 5 knots W. This wind could not even support Thetis’ heavy sails, so we slowly motored at 6 knots. The visibility was not good, less than 2 M.
I was constantly reminded that we were close to Athens and “civilization” by the many, some very large, motor-cruisers dashing here and there. These are owned by wealthy Athenians who are out for the weekend with their expensive toys. I felt sorry for them, seeing how even on their leisure time they are always running either to get quickly to where they are going or to get back so that they can rush to accumulate more wealth, to buy faster boats, to get there and back even more quickly, while their life slips away from them. They may be wealthy, but at these speeds they see very little, while I, at my leisurely slow pace, taking months to cover small distances, accumulate infinitely more wealth by the images and experiences, and the people along the way. And now I was at the end of my trip, it was not because I have ran out of time but because I did not want to leave Alice alone. Otherwise, I might have anchored at a nice secure place like Porto Heli and spent the winter there taking short excursions to nearby anchorages on good days, while on others reading, writing, maintaining the boat, or working on the computer, but never, never rushing or getting bored.
We arrived in Koundouros [37° 34.7' N 24° 16.6' E], Kea at 1040, 12.9 M. I did not anchor, but caught the permanent mooring belonging to a friend of Byron, he had already told me on the GSM phone that it was free. With this gentle breeze, the maneuver, even for a singlehandler, was easy. I aimed the boat for the buoy, put her in neutral, secured the tiller with the autopilot, and went to the bow with the hook and caught the mooring. I launched the zodiac, put up the tent and did some housekeeping while waiting for Byron to come.
Byron came shortly with his motor-scooter and we both went up the hill to his house where Ivi, his wife, had coffee waiting for us. We were soon joined by their neighbor Pascal. The coffee was followed by an ouzo, and the ouzo by a snack, and time went by. After that I took Byron’s scooter and went back to Thetis for a swim while they had their afternoon siesta.
Later in the afternoon they all came with Byron’s truck and after joining them we drove to Korrisia where Ivi and Pascal boarded the 6:30 ferry for Lavrio. Byron and I then drove to nearby Vourkari where we went for a walk. While walking, we were called from a house by Byron’s friend Manolis, who was Nikos’ schoolmate. There was no way out we had to join Manolis for a drink. He had a surprise for us. His house guests were our cousin Kiki and her husband Alekos. Kiki has recently given up her dentistry practice to do public health work for the Ministry of Health. She is very active on the relief efforts for the victims of the recent earthquake. One thing led to another, and after a few more drinks we ended up at the Aristos restaurant with 9 other people eating a very large grilled fish.
By the time we returned to Koundouros it was past 11:00 PM. Instead of going aboard I followed Byron with the scooter to his house where we played with the telescope that I had brought him in the early summer from the US. We actually managed to look at the rings and the moons of Saturn. When I got back to Thetis it was almost 2:00 AM. While there was still no wind, there was a considerable amount of swell.
Sunday October 3, 1999, Day 22
This was not a very eventful day. In the morning I started collecting things in the boat and preparing her for the end of the season. I washed with fresh water all of the storm-gear as well as the masks, fins, and snorkels and spread them on deck to dry. I cleaned all electrical contacts and sockets and covered them with Vaseline. I serviced the watermaker and filled it with the biocide solution, etc.
In the late morning Byron came and we swam off Thetis. I then made a potato salad with the last potatoes from Kalami and we ate them consuming the last of the beers from Turkey. In a way it is all very sad, that the day of Thetis return is so close, tomorrow I will be taking her to her permanent berth in Glyfada, so today is the last full day I have with her. After lunch Byron left and I continued with my winterizing tasks.
In the late afternoon I drove the scooter to Byron’s house at Katevati where we both had some coffee and he packed his bags to go back to Athens. On the way, to the ferryboat he drooped me off and I returned to Thetis.
In the evening the small Italian sailboat Indian Yangee whose anchoring under sail I had admired two evenings ago in Fikiada, now entered Koundouros. By this time the swell was appreciable. I directed them to use Byron’s mooring which was at shallower but more protected waters. It was a repeat performance, catching the mooring under sail. I invited the couple to Thetis for an ouzo. They came, bringing as house gift a fresh fish that they had caught trolling a line while sailing from Kithnos. They are Gilberto and Magda Rossi. He is a professional musician and they live between music engagements, in France and the Far East, onboard Indian Yangee. They have been sailing in Greece for many years and they have been almost everywhere. Nice people!
Monday October 4, 1999, Day 23
This is the last day! I woke up at 6:00, raised the zodiac, and prepared to leave. At 0655 I cast off the mooring and we were on our way. The wind was a light 5-6 knots breeze from the NW. I motor-sailed with both sails. The visibility was terrible. I used the GSM to call Florin, who takes care of the boat, and asked him to meet me this afternoon in the “marina” in Glyfada. Despite the low wind we were making much better time than what I had estimated. So at 1220 I made a brief swimming stop at the small island of Fleves [37° 46.2' N 23° 45.5 'E].
We left Fleves at 1245 and motor-sailed to Glyfada. Arrived in Marina 4 [37° 52.3' N 23° 43.9' E], at 1350 having covered 36.9 M from Kea. Now, I have never arrived at the “marina” at the end of the summer and found Thetis’ berth free despite the high fees I pay for a year round berth. This time was not an exception, although I had called them several days ago from Porto Heli advising them of Thetis’ arrival. After securing her, with Florin’s help, in a make-shift spot an attendant did arrive with the admonition: “Why did you not let us know that you would be coming?”
I spent the rest of the afternoon and the better part of the next day removing personal items, the instruments, sheets, blankets, pillows, rugs, cushions, covers, sails, etc. to the storage room I have in Voula. Florin started washing everything. This is the end of a wonderful summer. It was very sad to say good-bye to dear Thetis. I hope she fares well the many winter months ahead and that we both meet again next year for another adventure. So far I do not have any specific plans.
The total distance we traveled from Rhinia to Glyfada was 254 M and 46 travel hours.
This year’s totals are:
|Time at Sea||81||days|