Travels with S/Y Thetis

Thetis only

1998: Near Samos II

This document contains the logs of a short trip with S/Y Thetis in the Greek Aegean from the island of Samos, to Arki, Patmos, Lipsi, Agathonisi, and back to Samos. The logs are illustrated with maps and photographs, and also include some historical and geographical descriptions of the places visited as well as several links to other related web sites.

August 10 to 19, 1998

I spent this time in Kalami supervising the renovation project and waiting for the arrival of my daughter, Corinna, from the US. I kept going to Pythagorio every other day, checking on Thetis and doing some maintenance work.

I called Autohelm in Athens to further discuss the SeaTalk problem and the results of my trouble shooting with their technicians. All their technicians were on vacation and will not be back until August 24. I called Autohelm in England and talked with a technician there. He agrees that the problem must be caused by inadequate DC current and suggested powering the SeaTalk bus from the autopilot. I experimented with this arrangement but it did not seem to make any difference. Could it be that the bus leads are too resistive or that the bus cable is too long?

I called PUR, the makers of the watermaker, in the US. They thought that the reverse osmosis membrane was fouled and they recommended the following procedure: fill the watermaker with the alkaline solution and let it stand for 15 hours, to be followed by an acid solution for another 15 hours. I did so, but I was not sure if it fixed the problem.

I also called Mr. Petros Filipakis, the electrician, about the fresh water pump. It is, he said, repaired, and he will send it to me in Samos. I also called my brother Nikos and asked him to send me the Istanbul to Samos C-map cartridge. Both of us have the same Magellan NAV 6500 GPS/Plotter. Each one of us has several map cartridges but we also have a number of them, of less frequently visited regions, in common, such as the Istanbul to Samos cartridge.

On the boat, I re-caulked the Plexiglass of the right main cabin window with silicon inside and out. I also finally traced down the tachometer problem to a bad contact on the sensor. I had been looking before, but I was misled by the photograph in the Yanmar service manual, and looked at a different sensor! Once the problem was located the fix was trivial.

In town I bought a new set of oars for the zodiac and a trolling line (συρτή) to try my luck in fishing while making a passage.

Corinna finally arrived, and after a few days in Kalami, we took a short trip with Thetis. Before leaving, I had been in contact, via e-mail, with Turgut Ayker whom I had met through the Internet. He in Turkey, Michail Meneklis in Greece, and Antonio Stoppani in Italy, have started a Turkish, Greek, and Italian sailing organization promoting friendship and exchanges among sailors in these Easter Mediterranean countries with its own web page which does not exist any more (2001). He, too, owns a sailboat, and since we share many common interests and beliefs we had become electronic pen pals. Now, he will be sailing from his home port in Çesme to southern Turkey and we have made arrangements to meet. He called me in Kalami and gave me his cellular phone number and we planed to meet in Agathonisi, subject to confirmation.

Route to and from Samos
Route to and from Samos

Thursday August 20, 1998 Day 1

We, Corinna and I, started raising our anchor but the chain was fouled. At least two other boats had crossed our chain and a third’s anchor was tangled with it. We slowly extricated ourselves from this mess and by 1110 we were leaving the harbor of Pythagorio heading for Arki. The first thing that went wrong was the autopilot which did not work at all. I replaced the controller unit with the one that used to not work in the track mode. Now it worked, track mode included. All of these clues point to bad contacts. I cleaned all the contacts, both at the control unit and at the tiller actuator. We motored toward Samiopoula with hardly any wind. After we left the land behind us we had a SE breeze, still too weak for sailing. It was only when we were about ⅓ of our way to Arki that the wind changed direction and became a more reasonable 15-22 knots from the NNW that allowed us to sail. It then increased its strength some more and we reduced our main to the first reef. We had a very pleasant fast sail at 7 knots.

We arrived at Arki and anchored at our favorite cove, Porto Grosso [37° 22.4' N 26° 44.4' E], at 1515 covering 21.9 M. Corinna swam a cavos (shore line) and tied it with a chain loop to a rock ashore. Nice to have a competent member aboard!

The watermaker is indeed working once again. That is the good news. The bad news is that a lot of water is accumulating under the engine, and when the boat tips it floods the side cabin. It is not abnormal for some water to enter from the shaft and the stuffing box but it should drain into the bilge. After I emptied the water, I looked under the engine with a small mirror. The draining holes to the bilge were clogged. I took care of them. Also the bathroom door came off its railing. The rivet that holds its railing wheel was broken. I fixed it.

In the evening we took a long walk, past the village. We talked to some shepherds. After we returned to Thetis, Corinna cooked her favorite pasta with poutanesca sauce. It was a very pleasant quiet, starry night.

Navtex messages:

180615 UTC AUG98
IN POSITION 37 07N - 025 39E AT 180515 UTC

211105 UTC AUG98
FELL IN POSITION 37 52N - 025 23E AT 2001030 UTC

We were at [37° 22.4' N 26° 44.4' E] so we could not do very much. The frustrating thing about these interesting navigation warnings is that you never know the followup or the details. Were these people ever found? How did they fall off the aircraft? Were they pushed?

The weather forecast for the Samos Sea called for force 4 to 5 northerly winds increasing.

Friday August 21, 1998 Day 2

We left Porto Grosso at 0900. The idea was to go to Patmos, refuel, and then decide what to do next. The wind was 15-20 knots NW. We had a wonderful fast sail going at a speed over 7 knots on a reach. We arrived under sail past the entrance to the Skala [37° 19.4' N 26° 32.9' E] harbor at 1100. These were very easy 11.6 miles.

The fuel dock was not free. There was a small ship and on her other side a fishing caique. We talked to the fisherman and he was not sure if the fuel hose was long enough to reach us if we were to tie on the side of his boat. We decided to try it anyway. By the time we tied the fenders and the docking lines so that we could tie with our bow pointed at the wind, another fishing boat took our place. The first fisherman called to us and told us that it would only take 10 minutes or so. We hovered, and when the second boat left we too tied onto the first fishing boat. They had been there since the early morning waiting for a customs official to clear them for duty free fuel. The hose did reach, just barely, and we filled our tank with 66 L of Diesel fuel.

We then decided to anchor off-shore and then rent a motor scooter to go exploring the interior of Patmos. We anchored, had a snack, lowered the outboard to the zodiac, which we had towed from Arki, and went ashore. But no motor scooters were available for rental; we went to 3 or 4 different places to no avail. They had all been rented out already. We bought some bread (Patmos has excellent bakeries), had a cool drink at a καφενείο (cafenio - café) at the waterfront, and went back aboard.

We raised our anchor at 1355 and motored out of the harbor. It was hot! After we cleared the harbor, we stopped the engine and Thetis drifted while we had a swim. We then raised the main sail and set a course for Lipsi. The wind was somewhere between 0 and 7 knots from the W, nothing like what it was earlier this morning. We had to motor-sail, but the further we got from Patmos the weaker the wind became. So finally we lowered the sail and put up the tent. At least we were out of the cruel sun. We inaugurated the new συρτή (trolling line) I bought in Samos. Of course we did not catch anything.

We arrived at Papandria, Lipsi [37° 16.8' N 26° 46.2' E] at 1640, 11.8 M, and anchored arodo (off-shore). We read and swam until the late afternoon. I called, via the Autolink, my friend Turgut and spoke to his wife. They are in Pythagorio and have cleared customs into Greece. We will meet late tomorrow morning in Agathonisi.

In the evening we walked 25-30 minutes over the steep hill to the town. The view was very nice. At the town we had dinner and then walked back to our cove. On board, we lay on the cockpit admiring the billions of stars and the Milky Way. The Navtex forecast predicted force 5 winds for Samos Sea with no significant change expected for the next 24 hours.

Saturday August 22, 1998 Day 3

After watching another glorious sunrise and enjoying a lazy morning, we left Lipsi at 0950. The wind was 5-7 knots NNW which was not very helpful, so we motored toward Agathonisi (Gaidaros in the British Admiralty charts) while keeping on the tent. On the way, the wind picked up somewhat and we unrolled the genoa but we could only motor-sail. The watermaker was now working perfectly. On the way, we hailed New Life, Turgut’s boat, over the VHF channel 72 but there was no response. They must either be already in Agathonisi, or on its radio shadow.

We covered the 16.3 M and arrived at Agathonisi at 1230. We motored to Port Saint George, the main harbor, but did not see a ketch with a Turkish flag so we did not stay there. We also searched the northern coves. We headed for our favorite cove Tsangaris [37° 27' N 26° 58.2' E]. There were no other boats there. In the meantime, a stiff breeze was blowing. I have been in this cove many times, most of them solo, and I have never had any difficulties mooring. Today, although I had my best helper, Corinna, we had great difficulties. First, the anchor did not catch and we had to re-anchor, then we had trouble catching the shore line which we had secured to a fender. The wind had blown it too far away. It took us over an hour before we were satisfied that we were secure. This shows that with boats trouble can always be just around the corner, no matter how experienced you think you are. It keeps you on your toes and prevents you from ever becoming cocky.

New Life and Thetis
New Life and Thetis

We had hardly taken a breather from the rigors of mooring when a motor-sailer ketch fitting the description of New Life was heading for our cove. The trouble was that she had a US flag and not a Turkish flag! When she came closer we could read her name. She was New Life! On board was Turgut, his wide Arzu, and their lovely children Dilek, aged 12, and Orhan, aged 13. They dropped their anchor while Corinna and I went with the zodiac to take their shore lines. After we tied both lines to the rocks and Turgut took the slack, their anchor also dragged. We temporarily tied New Life to Thetis and Turgut and I set their second anchor. During this time, helped by the strong breeze and the extra load, Thetis’ anchor dragged for about 4 m before digging-in again. After re-setting New Life's first anchor both boats were secured.

After these labors, we all relaxed and got acquainted. They are a delightful family, all very keen on sailing, and they have been all over the Aegean. Both children are hands-on sailors and help their parents at every possible opportunity. They are at the beginning of their vacation and will be heading south towards Rhodes and Fethiye. We had a nice lunch aboard New Life.

In the evening, we took both inflatables and went to Port Saint George where we had dinner with ouzo and various mezedes (appetizers) at the Glaros restaurant. Unfortunately, this time that we had guests, not only were they out of fish but the rest of their dishes were below their usual standards. We then retired back to our boats and had grapes from Kalami and some exquisite baklava (philo dough with nuts and honey) which the Aykers had brought from Turkey, while listening a Turkish CD sung by Zeki Müren and Muazzen Abaci. They insisted that we keep the CD so that we can remember this lovely evening.

Turgut in New Life
Turgut in New Life

Sunday August 23, 1998 Day 4

New Life departing
New Life departing

This is the day that we return to Samos. Also it is Corinna’s last day with Thetis for this year. After we all got up, New Life prepared to leave because they had a good distance ahead of them. Turgut pulled up one anchor and untied one shore line. I then went with the zodiac and untied his second line. We watched our new friends leave and then we too started our own preparations for departure.

We left Agathonisi at 0917. The wind was a light 4-8 knots from the NNE, right on our nose. We motored all the way to Pythagorio where we arrived at 1220, 17.2 M. We moored in the inner harbor without any problems. I was handling the anchor and the docking lines while Corinna maneuvered the boat. I will miss her help.

By 3:00 PM we were back in our house in Kalami.

We had covered 78.7 M. Our total time under way was 14 hours.