Travels with S/Y Thetis

Thetis only

1997: Glyfada to Samos

This web page describes the first 1997 sailing trip with S/Y Thetis in in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean. The trip was from Glyfada, a suburb of Athens, Greece to the island of Samos via the Aegean islands of Kea, Andros, Psara, Chios, and Oinouses. It 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 to Samos
Route to Samos

Friday June 20, 1997 Day 1

We were in the boat by 9:00 and met the electrician who fixed all known electrical problems. We drove to Voula and brought the sails and the other items from the storage room. Chris and Nicky, who will sail with us to Kea, helped install the main sail and the Genoa. The man from OTE (Greek telephone company) came and showed me how to use the Autolink and revealed the channels and the Id code. He tested both placing a call and getting paged. After several trips to Voula bringing things from the storage rooms we were ready to leave the harbor.

We —Corinna, Chris, Nicky, and I— left Glyfada at 2:00 PM for Kea. It was a very hot day, the sea was calm, and we could only motor all the way to Sounio under the tent. On the way I called Nikos with the Autolink and, as a test, he placed a page which I received. After Sounio there was some breeze and we were able to sail with the jib and tent. During this time I discovered that although the wind generator turned, it neither generated current nor could it be stopped via the electric switch.

We arrived in Koundouros [37° 34.7' N 24° 16.6' E], on the island of Kea at 7:20 PM after 34.5 M. Koundouros is the cove nearest to Byron’s house where Chris and Nicky were to spend the night. By this time the wind had freshened considerably coming from the South making the cove not suitable for anchoring. We motored North to the Pises cove [37° 36' N 24° 16.4' E], the ancient Poiessa, which was protected from the (unusual for June) South wind. After anchoring we assembled the zodiac. The electric air pump had been repaired and was working well. The same could not be said for the outboard. Nicky and I rowed ashore and found a phone to call Byron since the VHF was not receiving inside the cove. They were worried. They had already arrived in Kea and had just glimpsed a boat which could had been Thetis leaving Koundouros.

[Map of Kea]

Kea (Κέα) or Tzia (Τζιά) belongs to the Cyclades and it is the nearest to Athens from that group of islands. It is a mostly barren island with about 2,000 inhabitants who raise mostly livestock. Its tallest peak is Mt. Ayios Ilias 561 m (1840 ft). The steep sides of the island are characterized by large stone fences to keep the animals within individual boundaries. In the last few years there have been a sizable number of Athenians who have bought properties and built fancy villas in the area of Koundouros. Most of these villas are attractive. During weekends there are a large number of motor cruisers in the Koundouros cove.

Byron came with his truck and drove us all, plus Chris’ and Nicky’s bags to his house. Nikos and Rozina were there but not Ivi who had to stay in Athens because of her sick father. Rozina prepared a delicious spaghetti dinner.

After dinner Byron drove Corinna and me to Pises where we spent an uncomfortable night aboard as the wind had shifted to the West and considerable surf was coming into the cove.

Near Koundoros
Thetis under sail near Koundoros
Courtessy Byron Riginos

Saturday June 21, 1997 Day 2

First thing after daybreak we raised the anchor and motored back to Koundouros [37° 34.7' N 24° 16.6' E]. After anchoring we busied ourselves with cleaning the bins and the lockers and putting the boat in order and properly stowing our clothes and all the supplies. We did not hear from Byron until late in the morning when he called us on the VHF. In the mean time, I repaired the outboard. The problem was that the lever which engages the propeller did not operate due to corrosion. After cleaning and lubricating it, the outboard worked fine.

Byron and the rest came by 2:00 PM with an ice box full of supplies to go swimming and picnicking but we did not start for some time because first he had to dive and fix his moorings. Finally we all went into Byron’s inflatable and speeded to Poles, the ancient Karthea, a lovely beach on the SE side of the island where we had a very late lunch and a nice swim.

In the evening Corinna and I got further settled for our life afloat, and after hot showers and changing clothes we were picked up by Byron. We all went to a nearby restaurant for supper. The food was mediocre. After that we drove some distance to a Bouzouki place. It was very enjoyable and great fun as all 3 Riginos brothers were singing along old-time rembetika songs. We did not get back to Koundouros until 3:00 AM. We said our farewells to everyone as we were planing to leave early.

Sunday June 22, 1997 Day 3

Despite last night’s excesses we left for Andros at 8:00 AM. The sea was very calm, just as predicted by the Navtex. We motored North along the West coast of Kea to Spathi [37° 39.7' N 24° 24.1' E] (still in Kea) where we stopped for lunch and a swim. We got there by 10:30 after 12 M.

We stayed in Spathi until 2:00 PM when we raised our anchor and headed towards Batsi, Andros. We managed to motor-sail with the tent as there was hardly any wind. During the passage I activated the water-maker which appeared to work fine. We arrived in Batsi [37° 51.5' N 24° 47' E] at 6:40 PM after 26.8 M. We anchored offshore without any problems.

[ Map of Andros]

As we were both tired, not having slept very much or well in the past nights, we did not feel like going ashore. We cooked some pasta with tomato sauce and went to sleep early.

Andros, a member of the Cyclades, is not a very touristic island but it is the home of several very rich shipowner families like the fabulously wealthy Goulardris; as a result it is very well kept without the usual tourist related hassles. It is named after the Cretan general Andros, the grandson of Apollo. It has been inhabited since pre-historic times by Karians, Phoenicians, Egyptians, Cretans, Pelasgians, and Ionians Greeks. During the 7th century BC Andros was very prosperous. During the 13th century AD it was taken from the Byzantines by the Frankish crusaders and then by the Ottomans in 1556 to be followed by the Russians in 1774. The highest peak of Andros is 944 m (3097 ft).

Photograph of Gavrio & Batsi
Gavrio & Batsi

Monday June 23, 1997 Day 4

[Near Batsi]
Near Batsi

We slept well and late. After getting up we went ashore and rented a motor scooter and rode 40 km to the main town, Hora which is on the Eastern side of the island while Batsi is on the Western. It was a very hot day. We walked a little bit in the town–which would had been very pleasant but for the heat. Corinna bought some stamps in the post office and we found the Museum of Modern Art. It is housed in a very pleasant building which harmonizes with the Cycladic architecture. The collection is not very large and consists mainly of artists from Andros (primarily one, Michael Tombros) but it is very good, especially some of the surrealist pictures and sculptures.

[Steet of Museum of Modern Art]

Museum of Modern Art

Photograph of Hora
[Near Batsi]
Near Batsi

We later rode South to Korthio. On the way we found a deep inlet and we went swimming to cool off. In Korthio bay we swam again. Back in Batsi we transferred diesel fuel from a jerry can to the main tank and took the empty can for refill with the scooter at the gas station outside the town.

On board I spent some time troubleshooting the wind generator. As its LED indicated that it worked I suspected an open circuit somewhere in its mast. I cut the wire at the bottom of the mast and measured its voltage. It did have an open circuit voltage when the generator rotated but it did not charge the batteries nor did it brake, as it should, when its leads were shorted. I was not sure what was the cause and I had to think about it. I also found another electrical problem. The DC to AC converter tripped the circuit braker when it was plugged in. This was bad because we could not charge the portable VHF, nor Corinna’s video camera, nor could we use the portable computer. Well, such is life!

In the evening, after taking showers, we returned the scooter and had a delightful dinner ashore consisting of assorted mezedes.

Tuesday June 24, 1997 Day 5

We departed from Batsi at 0700 heading for Psara. It was still very calm and there was almost no wind. We negotiated the infamous Cavo Doro (Kafireas straight) which was as calm as a lake. Hard to reconcile this with my memory of other passages through this channel between Andros and Evia. By the afternoon there was a slight breeze and we managed to motor-sail, mostly for the shade of the sails! The water-maker started to misbehave. It just rejected the water. I cleaned its membrane both with the alkaline and the acid solutions but the problem persisted, so we could not replenish our water supply. We arrived at Psara (Ψαρά) [38° 32.4' N 25° 34' E] at 5:30 having covered 62.8 M.

Map of Psara

We docked with Corinna maneuvering and me managing the anchor and jumping ashore to tie the lines as there was no one there to help. It was a perfect docking! We strung the passarella (gangplank) and everything was fine except for the water-maker, the DC to AC converter, and the wind generator.

We ate dinner at one of the restaurants. I had a nice dish of local roast pork and Corinna had fried zucchini and grilled cheese. After dinner I tried to troubleshoot the water-maker. It appeared that the reject solenoid was always activated. I opened its circuit to deactivate it and tasted the water. It tasted fine. I suspected it was the salinity sensor that was defective. As a temporary measure I installed a switch to manually activate and deactivate the solenoid. I made an attempt to troubleshoot the DC to AC converter but I was not as successful.


Psara was a very important island during the Greek revolution. Although during the middle ages it was uninhabited it was populated in the 15th and 16th centuries by Greeks from nearby Chios, from Evia, and from Thessaly who were fleeing the Ottomans. Slowly the new inhabitants became able seamen and traders. By the early 1800s Psara had the third largest Greek fleet, after Hydra and Spetses, consisting of 45 ships. During the revolution this fleet with their fireboats were very effective against the Ottoman armada. The famous firefighter heroes Papanikolis, Pipinos, and Kanaris all were from Psara. The Ottomans in retaliation for these activities invaded the island and on June 22, 1824, after three days of fighting, massacred the population. A number of the oldest men together with the women and the children who could not fight were hiding in a cave on the Black Hill (Μαύρη Ράχη) over the town housing the gun powder. When the invaders approached the cave the people in the cave blew it up rather than risk being captured. All together very few people survived the invasion and even today the island has an abandoned look. It is one of the most moving incidents of modern Greek history:

Στών Ψαρών την ολόμαυρη ράχη
περπατώντας η Δόξα μονάχη,
μελετά τά λαμπρά παλικάρια
καί στεφάνη στή κόμη φορεί,
γινομένο από τά λίγα χορτάρια
πού είχαν μείνει στήν έρημη γή.
On the Psara Black Hill
Glory is walking all by herself,
contemplating the brilliant lost brave young people
wearing on her head a wreath,
made by the few remaining weeds
left on the desolated earth.

(This poem I learned in school, it was written by Dionysios Solomos who also wrote the verses of the Greek National Anthem.)

Photograph of the Harbor
The harbor of Psara

Wednesday June 25, 1997 Day 6

In the morning the wind increased dramatically with very strong gusts. We put spring lines as an extra precaution. The wind generator was making a terrible noise without producing any electricity. I tied a rope around its blades and although we could not charge the batteries at least we, and our neighbors, had peace and quietness.

[View of Psara]
View of Psara

Corinna and I took a long hike up the hills, inaugurating my new hiking boots. It was very windy and hot at the same time. We had a nice swim on the way back. The island was preparing for a big celebration on Sunday commemorating the burning of the Turkish flagship by Kanaris after the massacre of Psara. There was a lot of construction with plenty of noise and dust. I called PUR, the makers of the water-maker in the US, they suspect the solenoid and will be shipping me a replacement in Samos. I also called in Arizona the makers of the wind generator Air Marine. They think that there must be a highly resistive contact between the switch and the generator. The unit with its built-in regulator is very sensitive to resistance and they seem to be familiar with our problem. Will have to investigate further when we get to Samos.

We met with the couple from the sailboat Glaros docked next to us. The owner, Chris, is a retired British Navy Officer and was the British Naval attaché in Athens. We ate onboard. I made spaghetti with tuna and Corinna ate yogurt. The Navtex was working very well and predicted that the winds will decrease.

Thursday June 26, 1997 Day 7

We pulled out of the Psara harbor at 8:30 AM heading for Marmaro, Chios. The wind was a good 15-25 knots from the NNW and at about 45° off our course, so we had a very nice sail to Chios with the main on the 2nd reef. We arrived at Marmaro (Kardamyla) [38° 32.7' N 26° 06.7' E] after 30 M at 14:20.

When we were not very far from Marmaro we heard a noise as if we hit something. As we could not find anything wrong we kept going. After looking harder we discovered that we were trailing a long fishing line with a stick at one end and a substantial lead weight at the other. It was a miracle that the propeller was not fouled.


The inlet to the harbor is completely exposed to the N and the only protection is provided by the jetty. We docked sideways with the help of some Germans who very nicely pulled our lines against the wind bringing us gently to the jetty. The town looked rather unremarkable. Despite the wind, it was hot, and after securing the boat we headed to a café for a cold drink. The officer from the Limenarcheio came and very politely charged us harbor dues. We called Alice in D.C. and Nikos in Voula. Nikos was out but we spoke to Rozina. They were planing to either sail tomorrow with the Faneromeni or on Saturday heading for the Dodecanesus. We had supper on board.

Masacre of Chios

Chios (Χίος) is a craggy island with the highest peak Profitis Ilias of 1297 m (4297 ft) in the arid North and the lush Cape Masticho on the South where the unique gum mastich (μαστίχα) grows. It is one of the alleged birthplaces of Homer. In the antiquity the island was very prosperous and after the Persian wars it was an ally of Athens and then Sparta. In the 11th century AD it was taken from the Byzantines by the Venetians who were succeeded by the Genoese who formed a special company in the 14th century just for the trade of the mastich. In 1566 the Ottomans took the island from the Genoese and held it until 1922 when it joined Greece. During the Ottoman period Chios was granted many special privileges and joined the Greek revolution very reluctantly under the coercion of the Samians in 1822. The Ottoman reaction was devastating. After beheading three Chians who were hostages in Istanbul they sent the Turkish armada to invade the island. On March 30, 1822 they landed on the island. Within 24 hours they massacred over 8,000 unarmed inhabitants. The horror lasted for months. Over 25,000 were killed and 47,000, mostly women, were sold into slavery. Within 6 months from the original 120,000 inhabitants only 18,000 were left. The repercussions of this tragedy were felt all over Europe. Intellectuals like Lebrun, Müller, and especially Victor Hugo with The Child of Chios and the painter Delacroix publicized the event which proved crucial for mustering support in Europe for the Greek revolution.

Friday June 27, 1997 Day 8

Map of Chios
Map of Chios

I woke up early and with Corinna’s help transferred diesel fuel from one jerry can to the tank. We stopped, with the can on the cart, at the friendly Limenarcheio to ask where we can refill it. The officer made a few phone calls and ascertained that the gas station near the town, 1 km, was on vacation and it was shut, but the second one, 2 km, was open and would expect us. On we walked in the hot morning and finally filled the can. While I was stowing the can Corinna went shopping. By 11:30 we were ready to leave for Oinoussa.

[View of Oinousa]
View of Oinoussa

After 8.5 M we were there at 13:00. As it was early and hot, we put up the tent and anchored in a lovely cove for lunch and a refreshing swim. We relaxed there until the evening when we motored to the nearby small town and anchored off-shore [38° 30.8' N 26° 13.1' E]. Chris and Liz with the S/Y Glaros were already there and we had a nice visit with them. Chris has an endless supply of stories from his British navy days. They are sailing slowly to Budrum and may stop on their way in Samos. They promised to call us if they do.

Corinna and I took a stroll in the charming town. While Oinoussa is the birthplace of some of Greece’s wealthiest shipowners who have large villas there, it still retains the old village feeling. It is clean, quiet, non commercial, with pure island architecture. We found a very modest restaurant at the W edge of the harbor run by a very sweet old gal where we had a splendid meal of tyrokeftedes (cheese balls), kolokythokeftedes (zuchini balls), tomatokeftedes (tomato balls), marides (tiny fried fish), and kalamarakia (fried squid).

Photograph of Oinousa Photograph of an old House in Oinouses

Saturday June 28, 1997 Day 9

In the morning we did some light food shopping and raised the anchor at 11:00 AM. We headed straight across to the E shore of Chios hoping to find a nice place to swim. Unfortunately the wind was blowing from the NW at 18-22 knots and everywhere we looked was rough except at Ag. Ioanis Tholis which alas was occupied by a fish farm and thus had murky waters and was not attractive. As a result we kept on going S. We put up the tent and unrolled the genoa and had a pleasant downwind sail to Emborios.

We arrived there [38° 11.2' N 26° 01.9' E] at 15:30 having covered 25.1 M. Unlike the last time that we were at Emborios 5 years ago and where we had a hard time anchoring, we anchored without any problems. After swimming and resting we went ashore hopping to find the nearby archaeological site. After many questions and false leads we gave up and hiked to the near by cove of Mavra Volia, a beautiful black pebble beach, totally deserted. In the evening we ate a local taverna but the Venetiko where we had such a good meal 5 years ago was not there anymore.

[Mavra Volia]
Mavra Volia

Sunday June 29, 1997 Day 10

We slept late and did not leave Emborios until 10:10 AM. The wind was boisterous from the NW gusting at 25 knots dead against us. We thus motored the 10.9 M to the Angelia cove [38° 13.2' N 25° 54.8' E] where we arrived at 12:15. We anchored and took out a cavos (shore line).

This is still one of the few left totally unspoiled gorgeous coves. We had a lunch and lots of swimming in the crystal clear waters. In the evening, when it cooled, we took a 2 hr hike after which we had hot showers and prepared dinner. We made spaghetti with pesto which I had bought in Sardinia. After dinner we turned off all the lights and admired the gorgeous moonless night sky so full of stars.

[Cavos Angelia]
Cavos Angelia

Monday June 30, 1997 Day 11

We woke up rather early. After coffee we untied the cavos and made ready to leave. By 8:45 we were on our way to Samos. There was no wind whatsoever and the sea was perfectly flat. After motoring for 7 M there was a tiny breeze and we raised both sails (no reefs, of course) and continued by motor-sailing. By the late morning the breeze had become a 15 knot NW wind and we were able to sail nicely for almost 20 M. By the afternoon the wind had picked up and was gusting to 38 knots. We reduced the genoa and reefed the main. As soon as we did so the wind died out to 12 knots and shifted direction to the SW. So it went: sail, motor-sail, motor, and back until the wind died out completely. As soon as we lowered the main and put up the tent the wind increased again. This is the Aegean!

Photograph of Thetis in Poseidonio
Thetis in Poseidonio

We arrived in Poseidonio (Ποσειδώνιο) or Mulabraim) [37° 42.65' N 27° 03.3' E], Samos (Σάμος) at 19:45 after 58 M where we anchored and tied a long cavos to the permanent submerged concrete block we used last year. After washing up and tidying up the boat we went ashore where we were greeted by our friends Mr. Nikos Karapanayiotis and his wife Eleni. We ate at the restaurant and renewed our friendship with the owners and waiters who all promised to look after Thetis and call us at Kalami if anything is amiss.

The total distance to Samos was 268.6 M which covered at 47:45 hrs with an average speed of 5.62 knots.

Poseidonio Cove