Travels with S/Y Thetis

Thetis only

1997: Crete to Milos

This web page describes the eighth leg of the third 1997 sailing trip with S/Y Thetis in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean. It covers the solo sail from Souda, Crete to the island Milos in the Cyclades where several places (Adamas, Plaka, Philakopi, Sarakiniko, Gerontas) were visited. The web page is illustrated with photographs, also included are historical and geographical descriptions of the places visited as well as several links to other related web sites.

Route from Crete
Route from Crete

Thursday October 2, 1997 Day 56

As soon as I got up I was confronted with the wheat germ mess. Not only was there the thick layer on deck and in the cockpit but it had penetrated almost all interior surfaces. I cleaned all of the outside with numerous buckets of water. It was bad but at least it was easier to clean then cement. I then vacuumed everywhere inside but the left cabin, which was a real mess as its port window had been left open. I then concentrated on the diesel fuel. I transferred both jerry cans and used the scooter to transport them, one can at a time, to a nearby gas station to refill them. The scooter was very handy for this; without it it would have been a very long trek carting the cans.

The weather report predicted good weather until tomorrow when the winds will increase. Based on this report, I decided to leave for Milos this evening, sail all night and arrive in the morning, thus avoid the night arrival that would have been inevitable if I were to leave in the morning.

While I still had the motor scooter, I took my dirty clothes to a laundry in the town of Souda and they promised to have them washed and dried by 1:00 PM. I then called the courier. They did have the package and they gave me their address and directions on how to get there. I went to the Limenarchio to get the clearance for departure (απόπλους). Again they were so sociable that it took over an hour. Even so, they still charged me docking fees. By the time I got back on-board a new layer of wheat germ had been deposited on deck. It was hopeless!

As there was still plenty of time before the laundry would be ready, I rode the motor scooter to a beach west of Hania and had a swim. On the way back, I picked up the laundry and went shopping in the Marinopoulos supermarket right next to the laundry. I just dropped the clothes and the provisions in the boat and left as it is most unpleasant to stay onboard. One can either stay in the cockpit with the wheat germ blowing in his eyes or stay in the hot cabin with hatches and ports hermetically sealed.

I rode back to Hania, retrieved the package, and returned the scooter. I then walked in the old city and the waterfront. I had a souvlaki and an espresso coffee while reading my book and watching all the tourists strolling by.

I went to the Nautical Museum, which is housed within the Venetian castle. It was nice, in a homely kind of way, and quite interesting, especially the section that dealt with the history of Crete. Unfortunately they close at 5:00 and I had to leave before seeing all the exhibits. I walked to the bus stop and took the bus back to Souda.

The mess at the boat was beyond description but there was very little that could be done as the wheat germ was continuously being blown in. I hailed the Limenarchio on the VHF and informed them that I was leaving. I then hailed the navy at Souda Control and asked for clearance which was given immediately. I untied my lines and motored just outside of the harbor and let the boat drift while I spent over one hour cleaning with what seemed an infinite number of buckets of water. I had to do that even before stowing the lines and the fenders in the sail lockers because by opening the lockers all the wheat germ would get in them. At last the boat was reasonably clean, not perfect, and we could be on our way.

I started motoring out of Souda bay at 19:00. It was already getting dark since the days by now were much shorter. The bay was very calm and most of the other traffic were fishing boats clearly visible on the Radar. After clearing the bay, I turned North and raised the main, tying one reef just to be conservative, and I unrolled the genoa. Soon the wind increased to 15-20 knots from the SW and the boat had too much weather helm and heel. I rolled in ¾ of the genoa and Thetis responded instantly by making better than 6.5 knots. This idyllic state of affairs of moving fast with a reasonable wind and not being over canvassed continued until almost midnight.

I was too tired to cook but I had a snack and enjoyed the nice sail while the lights from Crete receded on our stern.

Friday October 3, 1997 Day 57

Satellite View of Milos
Satellite View of Milos

Just about midnight the wind increased to 25-30 knots, blissfully from our quarter, so I just decreased the jib even further to avoid overloading the autopilot. I slept on and off at 20 minute intervals. By 03:00 the wind was at gale force of 35-40 knots. This is force 8 and not the 5-6 forecasted in last evening’s Navtex report. I reduced the main to the second reef and rolled in the jib to the smallest usable size. Thetis was running at better than 7 knots.

Over the night I had to change course 3 times to avoid large ships which, oblivious of our presence, continued on their collision courses.

Photograph of the Caldera in Milos
The Caldera in Milos

As we approached the harbor of Milos we had to change course against the wind. I rolled in all of the jib and motor-sailed to Adamas [36° 43.5' N 24° 27' E]. The wind, being from the SW, was raising waves across the large bay, and Adamas was untenable. So I motored to the SW side of the bay and anchored in a lovely deserted cove. The time was 10:30 and we had traveled 89.4 M.

The cove, Patrikia [36° 41.5' N 24° 26' E], was in splendid isolation with a magnificent view of Milos bay. The bay is formed by the crater of an extinct volcano. I cleaned the deck and cockpit again with many more buckets of water. The damn wheat germ was everywhere! The wind was gusting from 0 to 20 knots but the sea in the cove was very calm. Since the Autolink had a signal, I tried to call my mother, Pitsa, to let her know that I had arrived in Milos, but she was out. I tried my brother Nikos in Voula. He was back but plans to sail again next week to the Hydra - Spetses region and maybe we could meet. I made myself an omelet and fell asleep. The wind generator stopped charging the battery, just making noise, like it did before repairing the contacts.

While I was asleep the wind changed direction to WNW, the anchor dragged, and Thetis drifted off-shore. I woke up, started the motor and re-anchored. I called Alice with the Autolink. It was a lousy connection but still it was nice to hear her voice. I then went into a frenzy of boat cleaning. I took all the cushions from each cabin and beat them to get rid of the wheat germ that was all-pervasive. I vacuumed each cabin before restoring its cushions. I then washed the deck for the third time since leaving Souda.

Later I snorkeled and checked the anchor. It was buried deep into the sand and clear of the weeds, so no problem this time. I was still stiff from the hike in Samaria. I took a nice shower as the water was very hot and had an ouzo while the sun was setting. In Souda I had bought meat for a pot roast and I started cooking it with tomato sauce. It took over two hours to cook and I was getting more and more sleepy, so much so that I almost did not feel like eating. Anyway, I boiled some Cretan noodles (χιλοπίτες) and ate them with some of the roast. It was very good! I then went to bed around 9:30 PM.

Saturday October 4, 1997 Day 58

In the middle of the night something was not right… The wind had changed direction completely from the SW to the NW, and there were increased waves from across the bay which had pushed Thetis uncomfortably close to the rocks near the shore. This was at 5:00 AM and still very dark. I started the motor, raised the anchor, and motored to the other side of the bay to Adamas [36° 43.5' N 24° 27' E], the main port of Milos. Adamas, unlike yesterday, was very well protected from the NW to the NE winds. However, I had some trouble anchoring on the very sheltered north side because of the great depths and the large number of boats which prevented me from leaving adequate scope. The anchor did not catch. After 3 attempts I moved to the west side of the harbor and finally anchored in 7 m. After waiting for ½ hour to make sure that the anchor was well caught, I tested it by reversing, and since all was well I went back to sleep.

When I woke up it was well past 8:30. It was windy, now from the NE, and cloudy. The Navtex report predicted possible rains and more wind. I just puttered around the boat. I looked at the wind generator problem. This time it was the switch which had broken. I tied down the generator’s blades to at least avoid the noise.

Later in the afternoon I launched the zodiac, which had not been used since Spinalonga, and went ashore. It was very cloudy, cold, and all together not very pleasant. I took a walk and then went back onboard and read.

At night I went out to a restaurant. The food was good but it was cold eating outdoors–inside the place was full of smoke.

Sunday October 5, 1997 Day 59

I woke up very early without any apparent reason. I must had slept too long yesterday. Today was a much nicer day. There was sunshine and no clouds. The forecast received on the Navtex predicted NW winds of 5-6 Bft.

Photograph of Plaka
View from Plaka

I went ashore and rented a motor scooter for the day. I drove uphill to Milos’ main town Plaka, where I walked for a while. Plaka is a typical Cycladic town with small whitewashed houses and narrow winding streets with many stairs. I found the archaeological museum. It has a small but interesting exhibit of Cycladic objects found in the Philakopi excavation, but alas the best objects from the excavations are now in the National Museum in Athens. It also has a replica of Venus de Milo, which is at the Louvre.

Photograph of Plaka
A street in Plaka

I then went to the Laographic (ethnographic) museum, which I liked a lot. It is in an old house and each room is furnished with typical and original furniture of the last century. There are many old photographs, utensils, costumes, embroideries etc. It reminded me a lot of my Grandmother’s house in Samos.

Photograph of Philakopi

After Plaka, I rode to the island’s North shore and stopped at the Philakopi excavation site. I walked around for a while and then went to the nearby Papafrangos cave. I did not climb down the cliff. The day had turned out to be a lovely one, but chilly. A lot of sunshine and the visibility was excellent, without a trace of haze.

Photograph of Papafrangos
Photograph of Polonia

I then drove to Polonia (Πολλώνια), which is right across from the island of Kimolos. It is a pleasant enough little town by the sea, but the architecture is of the concrete box style, fortunately without the ugly re-enforcing bars sticking up from the roof. There are way too many pensions (rooming houses). The sea was very rough and, although very beautiful, was definitely not inviting for swimming.

Photograph of Sarakino

I rode back toward Adamas, stopping on the way at Sarakiniko, where we had been back in 1986, which was the last time we had visited Milos. Sarakiniko is a place with the most fantastic volcanic rock formations jutting into the sea. The rock color is many shades of tan and white and they are very beautiful in their way, but today with the cold and the large waves they looked also very forbidding. I walked around the rocks for a while but I was cold, hungry and anxious about Thetis. So I drove back to Adamas.

Photograph of Sarakino
Another view of Sarakino

After getting aboard I checked the anchor and was satisfied that all was well with Thetis. I had a quick snack, put on warmer clothes, and drove off with the scooter again toward the South coast.

Photograph of Gerontas

I left the paved road and continued west along the coast toward a cove called Gerontas (Old Man). It is a jewel of a tiny cove, with dark sand. I had to leave the scooter up on the dirt road and climb down a very rough path to reach the beach. On the way down I met an elderly German lady climbing up. She spoke excellent Greek and said that she comes to Milos every year in the fall. She told me that, had I come to Gerontas on a week day instead of a Sunday, the dust and noise from the nearby open mine would have spoiled the whole ambiance. Being Sunday, I had a most pleasurable swim in the sheltered little cove.

Photograph of Gerontas Photograph of Geronta

I drove back to Adamas, following dirt roads first due west and then north over the mountains. The island is lovely and unlike any other Greek island. Its terrain has infinite color variations and is very beautiful, despite having been raped by all the open pit mines scarring it in many places.

Photograph of Mine
An open pit mine

Back onboard, I decided to take advantage of the scooter before returning it. So I emptied one jerry can of diesel fuel into the tank and refilled the can at the station outside the town. By the time I returned the scooter and got back onboard, the sun-shower had cooled down, and I could only have a shower with very tepid water. I then warmed the pot roast with its tomato sauce and ate it with the last of the Turkish spaghetti. This innovation of cooking meat on Thetis was an inspiration. I suppose I had been so much influenced by my vegetarian daughters that all this time sailing alone I had not even considered the possibility of cooking meat dishes.

After dinner I went ashore and called my brother Nikos. He will be sailing from Glyfada on Tuesday and not on Monday. We arranged to speak on Wednesday, after he would have left, to make final arrangements.