This web page contains the log of the sixth leg of a trip that I took with S/Y Thetis in the Aegean in Greece. The logs covers a period of 7 days of singlehanding from the island of Hydra off NE Peloponnesos to the islands of Syros, and Rhinia in the Cyclades, and then to the island of Fourni in the Eastern Aegean. The log 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 19, 2001, Day 29
I raised the anchor and left Hydra at 0215 heading for the island of Syros. There was hardly any wind. I motored negotiating, in the dark moonless night, the small islands surrounding Hydra and Dhokos. I continued motoring for a few hours after which a slight northerly breeze came. I raised the mainsail and motor-sailed at a better speed. It was a lovely night at sea.
The sunrise found us approaching Kithnos. It was a great sight with the island back-lighted by the rising sun. Later in the morning the wind veered to ESE but after we passed Kithnos it backed to ENE again, but still no stronger than 4-5 knots. While we were under way it was nice and cool and I could read under the shade of the sail. However, there was no possibility of turning off the engine.
We covered the distance of 72 nM and arrived in Finikas, Syros [37° 23.8' N 24° 52.8' E] at 1450. I anchored off without any trouble. There was no wind at all and it was very hot. I put up the tent. I called my friend Yankos Krinos, another fellow Athens College alumnus, and I spoke to his wife Sue. Yankos was not on the island, he was in Athens taking care of a sick elderly uncle. We made arrangements with Sue to meet in the evening for dinner.
It is so hot and humid here today that I am afraid that there may be a sudden change of the weather and we may have a strong blow. In the past few days I have been having two problems. One has to do with me. I have been experiencing a sharp pain at the very spot in the groin where I had an incision this spring for an angiogram. Is this pain related to that? I sent a message to Alice to ask the doctor. There is not much more that I can do with this problem. The second problem is with the engine starter. Many times when I press the start button nothing happens and I have to resort to shorting the starter solenoid. This I can deal with better than the first problem. I removed the push button, cleaned it and its contacts with contact cleaner spray, and measured its resistance. It is now about 5 Ω an improvement to the 15 before cleaning.
I started to clean the inside of the main cabin but my little 12 V DC vacuum cleaner broke down. I opened it but its plastic impeller was broken. This I could not fix. I am afraid that I need a new cleaner. It is a very handy item to have in the boat. Another serious problem with Thetis is now very clear and I cannot deny it any longer. Ever since departing Tunisia, I have been finding small insects in the morning. Yes, Thetis is infested by cockroaches.
In the evening, I launched the zodiac and went ashore where I met Sue Krinos who came over with a taxi. We had dinner together here in Finikas at the Dionysos restaurant. During dinner she brought me up to date with all the recent terrible events. This was the first detailed description I got of the terrorist attacks in New York, and the collapse of the World Trade Center towers, the passengers attacking the terrorists on the fourth plane, and the crash into the Pentagon.
Thursday September 20, 2001, Day 30
I slept like a log despite the few mosquitoes and the warmth of the night. The blow that I was expecting has not materialized. I am uncertain what to do. I do need water since my watermaker is not working. I could of course stay where I am, but if I do move the boat to the quay I can get the water and fuel without carrying jerry cans. I do need some provisions. Should I spent here another day or depart for Rhinia the island I want to visit next?
Undecided, I put up the tent and sat in the cockpit reading. I finished reading Patrick O’Brian’s Master and Commander and started a new book in Greek. It is Ο Θείος Πέτρος και η Εικασία του Γκόλντμπαχ - Uncle Petros and Goldbach’s Conjecture (in Greek) by Apostolos Doxiades. It is a fascinating mathematical mystery.
We received a new Navtex forecast: NW winds of force 5, locally 6, for the Cyclades and 4-5 for the Sea of Ikaria, same for tomorrow. Not bad! Finally, after watching several boats depart, I made up my mind to relocate Thetis to the now empty quay and re-supply her with fuel, water, and provisions. I moved her and moored without any difficulties save for the very uncomfortable heat. Right after docking I connected the AC electricity. This is quite a novelty here in Greece because only a few harbors provide AC outlets and the ones that do so have been wired only during the last two years.
I went ashore and walked to the marine store where I replaced the empty Camping Gaz canister with a filled one. Then I rented a motor scooter with which I drove to Ermoupolis because I wanted to buy several things, especially good coffee and capers. I also went to a butcher and bought some cutlets.
On my way back, I noticed a store which advertised Black & Decker. I stopped to see if they had a rechargable Duster-Buster (small vacuum cleaner) to replace my inoperable old one but the store was closed. While putting the motor-scooter down from its stand to ride it back to the harbor I managed, somehow, to crush one of my toes and lose its nail. There was a lot of blood and great pain but there was nothing I could do about it other than grit my teeth and ride back to Thetis where I could take care of the wound.
By the time I got back onboard Thetis my sandal was so soaked with blood that I was reluctant to step on the deck less I soil it. I removed my sandals and stepped in the cabin on one foot. After digging out the First Aid kit I tended the wound and dressed it. The pain was excruciating. I rested the rest of the afternoon reading.
In the late afternoon I rode the scooter to Episcopio and visited Sue Krinos. I used her telephone to connect my iBook computer and download the accumulated e-mail and to electronically pay several bills. I also looked at the Poseidon, Athens Observatory, and the Wetter web sites for an extended forecast. It looks good for tomorrow and even less wind is expected for Saturday. Accordingly my plan is to sail tomorrow to Rhinia and then leave from there early Saturday morning for Fourni. We will see.
I said good-bye to Sue, too bad that I could not see Yankos, and left. On the way back to Finikas I checked the Black & Decker store. It was open, so I purchased a new Duster-Buster. I also stopped at the gas station, just outside Finikas, and made arrangements for fuel delivery to Thetis early tomorrow morning.
While having an ouzo in the cockpit I was invited for a drink in the 44' charter sailboat which had moored next to Thetis while I was away. She was populated by 8 Polish men. They are high school buddies. Some of them live in Poland while others in the US. They are a most jolly crowd. They spent the evening aboard their boat drinking, playing the guitar, and singing American and Polish folk songs. It is a very strange thing to hear “Blowing in the Wind” sung in Polish.
After spending some time with them, I retired back to my boat where I made some rice which I ate together with leftover grilled meat from our last night’s meal which the kind lady from Dionysos had packed for us since we could not finish it. Today, other than losing my toe-nail, was not a bad day.
Friday September 21, 2001, Day 31
Because of the long party in my neighboring boat I got to sleep rather late, so I did not get up as early as I was planning. By the time I was sipping my morning coffee in the cockpit the fuel truck arrived. I filled the tank with 41 L of Diesel fuel. The electronic water meter indicator had been working fine since the re-wiring job but there is no improvement of the oven even after replacing the Camping Gaz regulator. The weather appears good. The Navtex forecast calls for force 5-6 NWwind. Before departing I bought some spring water, returned the motor-scooter, and settled the harbor dues. These were 3,500 GRD of which 2,500 was for the electricity. I told the attendant (there is one here) that I was very satisfied with the harbor but the Shower/WC are a disgrace. The toilets are dirty and have no seat. He agreed with me but the harbor is under the jurisdiction of the municipality and the Mayor does not even see the problem and refuses to spend the funds needed to keep the facilities clean and with toilet seats. Amazing, in this place and time.
Since the boats on both sides of Thetis had already departed, before our departure I removed the fenders, took in the passarella, and removed the tent. All of these activities took some time and it was 1115 when I raised the anchor and departed from Finikas. Outside the bay there was a good NE breeze of 10-15 knots. I raised the mainsail (no reefs) and opened the full headsail. We sailed very nicely for a while but the breeze soon stiffened to over 20 knots and Thetis developed a strong weather helm. I really should had reefed the mainsail but when we started the wind was mild and the distance was not too long, instead I reduced the headsail and continued sailing but the wind kept increasing to 20-30 knots and veering ENE and the headsail was not happy. I had to roll it in and sail slowly with the main doing no better than 4-5 knots. Then the wind veered further N and I opened the headsail again. This went on and off several times for the whole distance of 18.9 nM.
We arrived in Rhinia [37° 23' N 25° 14.3' E] at 1615. Inside the cove it was, as usual, very calm. I anchored without any difficulty in 3.5 m depth over the clear sand. It was not too hot so I did not bother to lower the dinghy from the top of the cabin where it blocks the hatch. Neither did I put up the tent.
I spent the rest of the afternoon reading. I finished the Doxiades book on Goldbach’s Conjecture. It was so absorbing that I finished it too quickly. I now started reading Dark Lady by R. N. Patterson, a mystery that Dimitris Gekas left behind. It is not that great.
The evening was nice but too cold to eat outside. I cooked the cutlets I had bought in Ermoupolis and ate them along with spaghetti and a fresh tomato sauce followed by a fruit salad. The only problem was that the anchoring light stopped working and I had to use the mast light that uses much more power. It must be bad contacts. I will look into it in the morning. I have decided not to depart, as I was planning, early in the morning but to spend the day here. If the strong wind, which was not forecasted, dies down I could then leave in the evening.
Saturday September 22, 2001, Day 32
I replaced the plug of the anchoring light and now it works again. The new Duster-Buster is also very successful, it is more powerful than its predecessor. This cove is very pleasant and peaceful except that in the very early morning several boats arrived. They were full of camouflaged-dressed men with guns and dogs. They all landed and proceeded to blast away, left and right, at the migratory birds. Most of the birds flew away but I was kind of scared of being accidentally shot.
Yesterday, right after leaving Finikas, I had some problem with the GPS. It lost its satellite signal but after I cycled its power it recovered it. I have had this problem before and it was caused by dirty contacts of the antenna plugs. Now, I cleaned these plugs with contact spray. The GPS worked fine for a while and then it lost the signal again. I left it on and after an hour or so it regained the signal. Could it be a problem with the satellite constellation?
During the earlier part of the morning the sea was very calm and there was hardly any wind. I even contemplated changing my plans and departing for Fourni but the prospect of a night arrival dissuaded me. It was good that I did not leave because around 1100 the wind picked up and stayed on for the rest of the day never under 18 knots from the N.
In the past few days, ever since leaving Skopelos, I have been having trouble with the cooling water intake. Every time I sail on a starboard tack the water pump loses its prime and has trouble drawing water. The only way to get it back working is to disconnect its output hose and run the engine for a few seconds, then re-connect it. The whole procedure takes less than five minutes but it floods the engine compartment and leaves me uneasy. What if I need to turn the engine on in an emergency? Now on the theory that the water intake could be blocked, I dove with the mask and snorkel and cleaned it thoroughly. I will be watching this as well as the temperature of the water trap.
The rest of the day was very quiet. I had a nice swim and read a lot. I still plan to depart for Fourni around 7 PM. If the sea is too rough I can stop at Ornos in the south of Mykonos. The GPS now appears to operate normally and since cleaning the starter button I have had no further problems there.
In the evening, the wind quieted down and since I kept getting forecasts from the N I started getting ready to leave this pleasant anchorage. I raised the anchor at 1900. Had I left earlier, I risked arrival in Fourni in the dark. With this later departure I estimate arrival after the sunrise, if we do not sail very fast. The wind, once we cleared Rhinia, was 15-25 knots NNW. I raised the mainsail and reefed it to avoid being overcanvased during the night. I also opened 20% of the headsail. This allowed Thetis to sail smoothly at a speed of 4.5 to 5 knots. The waves were large but smooth.
When we reached the lee of Mykonos, the waves became much smaller and I made myself an omelet with the leftover spaghetti from last night. At around 2200 the wind diminished to 15-20 knots NW and I opened some more of the headsail. Later the wind increased and I reduced it. I kept adjusting the headsail and trimming the mainsail to accommodate this variable wind.
Sunday September 23, 2001, Day 33
Around 0100 while approaching the island of Ikaria we had a close encounter with a cargo ship. According to the radar, had that ship maintained her course she would have overtaken Thetis with the closest approach greater than 2 miles. However, she changed her course when she was about 3 nM away. Her new course was a collision course with Thetis, then under sail. I shone the floodlight on Thetis’ sails and hailed them on channel 16 on the VHF all to no avail. I changed our course by more than 40° but she kept on coming. We could not move out of her way fast enough, she was going to hit us! Frantically I hit the started button and revved the engine forward. No water out of the exhaust. Never mind, I kept the motor running until the large ominous shadow glided away, oblivious to out existence. It all lasted less than 3 very tense minutes.
We continued sailing until 0320. At that time we were abreast of Karkinagri, a small fishing harbor in West Ikaria. The wind, blanketed by the tall mountains died out completely. Before starting the engine, I had to disconnect the outlet hose from the pump. After a few seconds of running the engine, water started flowing. I turned the engine off, reconnected the hose, and restarted the engine. This time normal cooling water came out of the exhaust. I also checked the water trap. It was not too hot. This is it! First opportunity I will replace the water pump with the new one. I hope that the problem will go away, otherwise there must be a blockage within the engine, that would be very bad indeed.
During the next 14 nM from Karkinagri, the wind was very light and motor-sailing was the only option. We reached Fourni as the new day was breaking. After entering the channel between Fimaina and Fourni islands I slowed down, headed into the wind, and started lowering the mainsail. As I was doing so, a fast Greek Coast Guard inflatable quickly came alongside Thetis and started asking questions. I politely told them that I was a singlehander and if they will just wait for me to finish lowering the sail I will be glad to answer all their questions. They hovered around and when I finished they asked me where I was coming from, where I was going, if this is my boat, where is she registered, where is my home, etc. They took notes of my answers. They were very polite and seemed genuinely impressed that I was sailing all alone. Finally just before leaving they confessed that what prompted them to stop and question me was the strange ensign that I was flying. They had never seen it before and had thought that the boat had passengers of some strange nationality. I explained that it was the Samos revolutionary flag. They were now doubly impressed. They wished me a good day and sped away for the harbor of Fourni.
I headed for my favorite anchorage at Kampi [37° 34.2' N 26° 28.6' E] where we arrived at 0710 after 62 nM according to the GPS but only 56.6 nM on the log (the difference is caused by favorable currents). Here in Kampi the local restaurant owner some years ago installed tie-down rings on the rocks to facilitate visiting boats. Now things have been upgraded. The rings are replaced by concrete columns and there are three permanent moorings. The last are of great help because the waters here are deep. I caught one of the moorings and, after launching the zodiac, I took 2 long stern lines ashore to the columns. This took some time.
I was tired and my toe still hurt but at the same time pleased with my self after another successful passage. I covered the sails, put up the tent, and then fell asleep for a couple of hours. I was woken up by feeling cold. It was not warm in the shade under the tent.
I went ashore and sat at the little restaurant (I felt an obligation because of the moorings) and had a light lunch—mostly fava bean soup and a beer. I then went back onboard and slept some more after which I had a very nice swim in the clear waters of this lovely cove.
Another sailboat, the S/Y Water Music from Freemantle, Australia came into the cove. I recognized her because she was anchored next to Thetis in Panormos. They too, caught one of the moorings and took a line ashore to a column. I told them that the moorings belong to the restaurant and they may have to eat a meal there but they did not seem to mind.
In the evening, after a hot shower and a drink, I went ashore again. My intention was to walk to the town and eat a lobster which is a specialty of the island. I was, however, intercepted by the couple from Water Music who had also come ashore at the same time. We sat at the little restaurant for a get-acquainted drink. They are Peter and Deborah and are very vivacious. The drink was followed by another and we ended having dinner: a pasta with octopus and a very fresh grilled fish. Deborah is originally from England but has been living in Australia for several years. They have owned Water Music, a Contest 46' for the past 4 years. They have sailed all over the Mediterranean. We exchanged many stories about all these places.
When I got back onboard, I fell into a very deep sleep.
Monday September 24, 2001, Day 34
After a slow start I replaced the old water pump with the new one and tested the engine. Water does come out of the exhaust and it seems to me in greater volume that before. Now I will have to wait until Thetis sails on the starboard tack before I can be sure that the priming problem is resolved.
I went ashore and walked the 25 minutes over the hill to the town where I had a juice and did some shopping. I am glad that I checked with one of the restaurants. They do not serve lobsters during September. It is their reproductive season and fishing for lobsters is illegal. To eat lobsters one has to come to Fourni earlier in the season.
In the afternoon Peter rowed over to Thetis and we had coffee together. He came to invite me for this evening on Water Music for a drink. Peter comes from a musical family and he himself plays several instruments. It so happened that when he came over I was playing an Andrés Segovia CD. He was very pleased to hear it because he too loves the classical guitar.
Later, when I went to their boat, we had a good time. Deborah had made homous and several other mezedes. They are a very pleasant couple. Our nice evening was abruptly interrupted by the arrival of the Austrian flagged sailboat Festina Lente, full of men. They made several unsuccessful attempts at anchoring. Peter informed them that there is a third mooring available to which they replied “thank you” and totally ignored his suggestion. These two words were the only words they addressed to us. Finally their anchor appeared to hold and they took a shore line to a rock. They had placed their boat between Thetis and Water Music. Both Peter and I felt that we would be in danger of a collision during the night if the wind were to increase which could very well cause Festina Lente’s anchor to drag. Just in case I went back to Thetis in a hurry. It was an uneasy night.
Tuesday September 25, 2001, Day 35
The wind fortunately did not increase during the night and the Austrian boat Festina Lente left early in the morning without any mishap. However, the latest Navtex forecast called for NW winds of force 4-5 for today but increasing significantly from tomorrow noon. Accordingly my plan was to take it easy today and go slowly east exploring several coves in Fourni and choosing one for the night. Then to leave early tomorrow morning for Pythagorio, Samos. I wanted to stay in Samos for a few days in order to check on our property and to do some banking.
Preparing for departure was time consuming. I had to untie and stow both of the long shore lines, raise the zodiac, etc. In the mean time, Water Music left waving good-bye. I hope that we can re-connect via e-mail. Finally everything was ready.
I cast off the mooring at 0950 and departed from Kambi. I motored slowly to the next cove south, Kladharidi. It looked inviting. We had actually anchored here many years ago. I did not stop but continued. I wanted to get to Petrokopio, a cove that I had never visited, which is also the site of an ancient quarry.
We anchored in Petrokopio [37° 33.6' N 26° 29.2' E] at 1035. It is only 2.1 nM from Kambi. Petrokopio is a very pleasant cove and should provide reasonable protection from the meltemi. I went ashore with the dinghy and walked to the ancient quarry. It is rather interesting. I must come back here with Alice and maybe spend a day.
We departed Petrokopio at 1120 and continued our slow exploration. We went as far as Agridi, the southernmost cove of Fourni island. The wind was a S breeze and there was some swell in this cove so I did not stay. Instead I headed back and entered the cove [37° 32.1' N 26° 30.1' E] just NW of Agridi. It is a lovely place with clear emerald-colored waters. I dropped the anchor at 1235. The distance from we had come Kambi was an amazing 6.4 nM.
After a swim I put up the tent and had lunch, then another long swim. There is not a soul in sight. It is absolutely wonderful. No wind, glassy clear water. One can spent hours just watching this peaceful scenery. The only problem is the heat and some humidity. The barometer has come down to 1007 from yesterday’s 1011 mB.
I took it easy, reading under the tent with frequent jumps into the water to cool off. When the sun went low in the horizon, I removed the tent and after a shower enjoyed drinking an ouzo in the cockpit. By that time the temperature was very pleasant. So watching the sun set and then the advancing dusk with all its color variations was a real pleasure.
For supper, I made a pasta alla puttanesca. I went to bed fairly early.