Travels with S/Y Thetis

Thetis only

2002: Gramvousa to Leros

This web page contains the logs of the seventh and final leg of a 53 day sailing trip that I took with S/Y Thetis in the Greek Aegean from the small island of Gramvousa, next to Amorgos, to Partheni, in Leros, where Thetis spends her winters. The logs cover a period of 10 days of single handed sailing. Places visited along the way are: the islands of Amorgos (Akrotiri, Aegiali, Vilakárda), Kinaros, Levitha, and Lipsi (Katsadia, SE Cove, Moschato).

The logs are illustrated with maps and also include some historical and geographical descriptions of the places visited, as well as several links to other related web sites. The usual photographs are missing because my digital camera broke down.

Route to Leros
Route to Leros

Wednesday October 9, 2002 Day 49

Fortunately it was a totally uneventful night. Thetis’ anchor held perfectly although she was swinging all over. Today’s forecast called for variable winds of force 3-4 which will later become southerlies. I called my brother Byron. Good news. My mother spent a good night and may even be released from the hospital this afternoon. He gave me the telephone number of her hospital room. I called her and she sounded well. Her post operation recovery was much better than I thought possible for a 91 year old.

Sketch of Akrotiri
Sketch of Akrotiri

I raised the anchor at 0830 and motored towing the zodiac. The wind was 3-8 knots WSW. First we went, just to check, in Akrotiri [36° 48.7' N 25° 47.3' E], a lovely cove in Amorgos not far from Gramvousa. It looks like a good place to anchor in 5-8 m over sand and light weed. We continued motoring, past Nikouria and the Kakoperato Channel to Aegiali [36° 54.2' N 25° 58.6' E] where we arrived at 1115 after 14.3 M. I anchored off, almost inside the little harbor, in 7 m depth. Although it was actually quite calm and there was no wind, the swell was appreciable.

I took a shower and shaved and then went ashore with the dinghy. I bought some provisions: bread, fruits, bandages for my foot etc. Because of the swell, I did not want to stay too long, as I was originally planning, but instead to go on and try a cove just a few miles east of Aegiali. I had noticed this cove several times and made a mental note to try it when either there is no wind or the wind is from the south. I had a nice lunch at the Limani restaurant (Katina’s) and then went back on Thetis.

Sketch of Vilakarda
Sketch of Vilakarda

We departed from Aegiali at 1435 and motored the 3.4 M to Vilakárda (Βιλακάρδα) [36° 55.5' N 25° 58.6' E] where we arrived at 1520. It is a truly spectacular cove. Narrow, surrounded by high cliffs, a pirate’s dream. We entered slowly and anchored in 7 m letting out chain and backing to 4.5 m where I drooped a second anchor from the stern. The cove is so narrow that making a turn would be difficult. I am glad that I have taken advantage of the low wind to come here because with the usual meltemi (N wind) the cove will not be tenable. Too bad there is no camera.

I had a swim in the crystal clear waters but it was a little chilly. The only problem was that there was no GSM signal in the cove and I could not get any further news about my mother. In the evening I had an ouzo. Darkness came early in this enclosed cove. For a light supper I made an omelet which I ate along with fresh bread and fruits in the cockpit. It was a magnificent moonless night. Here there were no artificial lights, not even a glare, just perfect darkness broken only by the brilliant starts which almost illuminated the near-by rocks. I played the Tous les Matins du Monde CD. What more can a sailor ask?

Thursday October 10, 2002 Day 50

It was a remarkably quiet and uneventful night, there was no wind at all. The Navtex forecast called for light S winds of force 3-4. I pulled up the stern anchor and decided not to lift the zodiac but tow it since there was no wind and it was so calm. Raised the bow anchor and left Amorgos at 0755. The wind in the open sea was 4-6 knots WSW and I had to motor.

Sketch of Kinaros cove
Sketch of Kinaros cove

At 1100 we entered the only cove on the small island of Kínaros [36° 58.6' N 26° 17.3' E]. It looked like a very good place and well sheltered from the northerly meltemi. There was only a single house here. The cove is narrow and one has to anchor in about 5 m depth and maybe take two lines ashore to keep the boat from drifting to the rocks. We did not stay but continued motoring to Levitha.

Thetis arrived in Levitha [37° 00.1' N 26° 28.1' E] at 1230 after 25.6 M. I caught a mooring and relaxed. There were no other boats. It was getting hot, 29°C (84°F), 68% relative humidity, and a high of 1018 mB. I put up the tent, had lunch and while reading under the tent I drifted to sleep. My toe was oozing fluid and I had a hard time keeping it from soiling the carpet in the cabin. Later a charter sailboat with a Norwegian family came into the anchorage. The children, a boy of about 8 and a girl about 11 were full of life and got into their dinghy and drove all over. They did remind me of my girls Cynthia and Corinna when they were that age. Eventually they came to visit Thetis. They were very polite and spoke good English. They inspected everything.

In the late afternoon Mr. Kambosos’ son came but he did not charge me a mooring fee since I had already paid one a few days ago. I had a nice swim and a shower. With all this motoring my water tanks were full. After an ouzo while watching the sun go down, I went ashore. I slowly and painfully walked to the hamlet and had dinner. Today they had fish. It was very fresh and grilled to perfection. I gorged myself for 20 €. Very peaceful night.

Route to Leros
Route to Leros

Friday October 11, 2002 Day 51

The forecast predicted near gale winds of force 6-7 SE. These will be favorable for sailing to our next destination Lipsi but I was not sure whether I wanted to leave or spend another day here. In the end I decided to play it safe and leave so that I can be closer to Leros. While debating the issue the children from the Norwegian boat came for another visit. They stayed interrogating me about everything on Thetis and helped me prepare for departure. Thetis departed Levitha at 1030. The wind was nothing like the forecast, just 1-4 knots ENE. No option but motoring. The visibility was bad and I turned on the radar. The barometer went down to 1014 mB. When we were about 8 M from Lipsi a slight breeze came and I opened the genoa. It was not strong enough to move the boat more than 3 knots so I motor-sailed.

We arrived in Katsadia [37° 16.7' N 26° 46.2' E] after 23.8 M at 1450. I anchored right in the middle of the cove in 11 m. I wanted to be in such a position that Thetis could swing freely 360° to accommodate any variation of the wind. However, after snorkeling and looking at the anchor, I re-anchored over a better patch of sand in 7 m. There were only a few boats in the anchorage but soon they all left.

Later in the afternoon, a chartered sailboat with 4 German men came and anchored not too far from Thetis. But few minutes later they raised their anchor and anchored again further away. No more than 10 minutes went by when they raised the anchor and moved to the W side of the cove. This time they anchored and took a long line ashore to the rocks. But it seems that this was not a satisfactory arrangement because they took in the line and re-anchored. All this activity was accompanied with lots of loud commands. When they appeared to have settled down they launched their dinghy and two of them went ashore. Soon the other two raised the anchor and followed in the direction of the dinghy. After they recovered the other crew members and the dinghy they drove their boat straight to Thetis. They asked me if I could speak English. They then inquired if I was aware of the near gale forecast which would make this anchorage dangerous. They will go to the main harbor of Lipsi. I told then that I was fully aware of the forecast and that even if the S wind rose (there was no wind at the time), I would go to the N side of the island and not to the harbor because of the swell. They moved away and approached another chartered boat with a young couple and after delivering their warning they motored in the direction of the harbor. After the Germans left, the young couple came over and asked my opinion. They were terrified because they did not have much boating experience and the situation sounded dire. I reassured them that we were in no immediate danger and that we were in a safe anchorage but of course in the sea there are no guarantees. I invited them to come over later for a drink. They did come later. They are Australians and on their honeymoon. Very attractive but still scared, I promised them if we were in any danger I would rouse them and lead them to a safer place. They were very much relieved.

The sunset was very beautiful. After the Australians left, I made a pasta ala puttanesca. It was nice quiet night.

Saturday October 12, 2002 Day 52

It is 7 PM when I am writing this. It has been a very long day. In the early morning hours some swell developed in the Katsadia cove. I listened to the AM radio weather forecast which on Saturdays is at 7 AM. It called for near gale winds of 6-7 on the Beaufort Scale from the SW for the Samos Sea. I also received an e-mail from my daughter Corinna in Samos. She looked up the Poseidon and Wetter weather web sites which predict light S winds for today turning into 20 knots N tomorrow. Very different from the radio forecast. On the other hand the barometer has continued its downward trend from 1015 yesterday evening to 1009 mB. Now SW winds are the only ones to which Katsadia is susceptible and so I decided to leave and go to the SE Cove of Lipsi which I had discovered few days ago. The sunrise was fantastic. I hailed the Australian couple on the VHF as we had previously arranged and informed them of my intentions. They decided to go to Marathi but they will follow Thetis through the tricky inner passage round the SE corner of Lipsi.

I raised the anchor at 0800 and motored around the point with the Australians following. After clearing the reef infested passage, they proceeded to Marathi and Thetis made it to the SE Cove [37° 18.3' N 26° 46.6' E], 4.5 M from Katsadia, arriving at 0845. I anchored in 4.8 m depth over a patch of sand. Everything was fine and there were no problems. It was calm and the wind a breeze of 10-15 knots from the SSE.

I launched the zodiac and went ashore. I had put on sandals and with them I could walk slowly. I wanted to find some hydrogen peroxide to clean my toe. When I reached the town some 50 minutes later, I did some shopping in the small old fashioned grocery located in the square. They now have a large picture of Yiotopoulos, the arrested N17 terrorist suspect, with a sign: “Our former customer.” They did not have peroxide but directed me to the agricultural doctor/pharmacist. The doctor, attended by two nurses, cleaned my toe and shook his head. He was afraid that I may get it infected. He re-bandaged it and gave me anti-inflammatory pills and antibiotics. He also gave me a bottle of disinfectant to keep it sterile. After that I slowly walked back to the cove and boarded Thetis.

A local fisherman told me that the wind will get very strong and that in this cove the bottom is not firm and anchors may drag under heavy load. In the mean time the Navtex had received a new forecast and a gale warning. The prediction now called for gale force 8 SE winds. But at the time the cove was calm and the wind no stronger than earlier in the morning. Later a second fishing boat arrived. The new fisherman repeated the first one’s warning about the holding of the bottom. He strongly advised me to go to Moschato, a few miles N, which is an excellent all weather shelter. The barometer had fallen further to 1007 mB. All this negative information—Navtex, fishermen, barometer—affected me and I decided to play it safe and go to Moschato.

Sketch of Moschato We departed at 1610 and motored N for 4.6 M arriving in Moschato [37° 19' N 26° 43.2' E] at 1700. Now Moschato is a largish bay with five coves, three of which are taken over by fish farms. The cove on the SW was taken over by a German sailboat. They had set two anchors and 4 shore lines. Maybe they were expecting a hurricane. This left for Thetis the W cove. But, the W cove is very deep and then it gets shallow very fast and if there were any strong gusts (gale?) the boat could be blown to the rocks. So, I dropped the anchor in 5 m near the head of the cove and backed out letting about 45 m of chain. Then I took 2 shore lines, one to the left and one to the right. Most likely this arrangement is an overkill but it will guarantee a good night’s sleep gale or no gale.

The sea here this evening was flat and the wind not too strong, 8-14 knots mostly from the S-SE, with some weak gusts. There was light drizzle and some swell. There was no GSM signal. Later I prepared rice with clams (from a can). Not bad. I read some and went to bed early.

Sunday October 13, 2002 Day 53

I was glad that I had secured Thetis yesterday as well as I did. Around 0030 the rain came with a vengeance. Very heavy downpour accompanied by violent gusts of wind from all directions but predominantly from the S. Thetis was held in place by the shore lines after she was turned facing S. I had to get up and close all the hatches and the companionway as well to keep the water out of the cabin. The storm lasted for about 2 hours after which all was quiet again. I went back to sleep. The rest of the night was uneventful.

In the morning I listened to the AM radio weather at 0770. While the forecast for the Samos Sea was 6-7 SE here there was no wind. I took it easy during the morning hoping that some N wind may materialize to allow me to have a final sail to Partheni our final destination for the year. I started servicing the watermaker. I filled it with an alkaline solution and let it soak, as per instructions, for 5 hours. By noon, and after eating lunch, I untied the two shore lines and stowed them, then I raised the zodiac on deck.

At 1300 I raised the anchor and started motoring towards Leros along the E side of Lipsi. It was still calm and there was no wind. After about 4 M a heavy cloud descended and the wind changed from the mildest SSE breeze to 15-29 knots from the NNW. There were violent gusts and the seas became very confused. No chance of sailing. I quickly rolled-in the headsail that I had just opened. We continued to motor. Thetis arrived in Partheni, Leros at 1540 after 12.6 M, the last of the year. I anchored in 7 m and let out 45 m of chain. The plan was to wait here until the haulout tomorrow.

I continued with the service of the watermaker. After removing the alkaline solution I filled it with a biocide solution so that it can stay inactive until the spring. It started to rain with gusts. There was a fantastic sunset: gold, blue, violet, azure, brown, gray, white anywhere the eye could see. I made an ouzo to go along with the spectacle. In the evening, I picked up the charts from the chart table and stowed them away.

I still had some fresh tomatoes left. I experimented and made a sauce with them together with onions, garlic, dried basil (from the store in Naxos), bay leaves, wine, and tuna. This I served with pasta. It was tasty, and there were no leftovers. During the night there were thunderstorms with a lot of lightning and gusts. The anchor held.

Monday October 14, 2002 Day 54

I woke early as usual. The wind was down completely. After coffee I cleaned all electrical contacts with contact spray and then covered them with Vaseline. By the time I finished it was already past 9 AM. I called Agmar on the VHF channel 11 and made arrangements to be met at the haulout “pool” in half an hour. I strung fenders, prepared 4 docking lines, and raised the anchor for the last time this year. The time was 0915.

We motored the 0.4 M to the “pool.” The travel-lift was already there and the reliable Pandelis and Nicolas were waiting for me. By 0940 Thetis was out of the water and on her way to her stands and winter home. Now I no longer had to worry about the weather.

I made arrangement at the office to rent a motor-scooter, connected the AC, and removed the rugs. Taking the rugs to the cleaner was the first order of business because they take several days to dry after cleaning. On my drive back from Platanos (where I left them) it rained and I got drenched. Back in the yard, I washed the anchors, chains, fenders, and all of the mooring lines. Lots of work.

October 15 - 19, 2002

Work, work, and work to winterize Thetis. Lots of washing in fresh water: mooring lines, running lines, covers, cushions, rugs, etc. Everything had to be washed, dried, and stowed away. Fortunately my daughter Corinna came on Wednesday from Samos and helped me with very labor intensive task of washing, drying, and folding the sails. On Saturday at 9:30 Ersi, the yard’s secretary, drove us with our luggage to the nearby airport where we checked-in for the 10:30 flight to Athens. After that we returned to the yard and Corinna and I finished covering Thetis’ cockpit with a tarpaulin. It was that close!

This is the end of this year’s travels with S/Y Thetis. The statistics for the year are:

2002 Statistics
Total Distance 1715 M
Time at Sea 97 days
Engine Time 280 hr
Solo Time 172 hr
Fuel Consumed 460 L
Water Consumed 1405 L