Travels with S/Y Thetis

Thetis only

2009: Lavrio to Samos

This web page contains the logs of a sailing trip that I took together with my wife Alice on S/Y Thetis in the Aegean Sea in Greece. The logs cover a period of 18 days of sailing from the harbor of Lavrio, on the Greek mainland, to the island of Samos (Klima, Samos Marina) via the islands of Kea or Tzia (Koundouros), Syros (Grammata, Finikas), Despotico, Schinousa (Aligaria, Livadhi), Amorgos (Aegiali), Levitha, Leros (Archangelos, Partheni), Lipsi (Papandria, Platys Yialos), Marathi, and Arki (Glipapas).

The logs are illustrated with maps and photographs. They also include several links to other related web sites which provide historical and geographical descriptions of the places visited.

Route to Samos
Route to Samos

Friday June 5, 2009, Day 1

In the morning Alice and I did some shopping, in the fabulous Friday morning market in Kolonaki, and then took a taxi to Lavrio. All was well with the boat except with the electricity. When I arrived here on Tuesday and connected Thetis to the Vernicos Yachts outlet there was a young lady from a chartered catamaran trying to connect to the one and only outlet. She had the wrong plug connector. So I brought a multiple connector with the proper plug and connected both yachts. Now I found Thetis disconnected and the catamaran, with a proper plug this time, being the only yacht connected. Since I had left the refrigerator running, Thetisʼ batteries were now down to about 50% of their capacity. It was good that I had left the tent so that the interior of the boat was not too hot.

After stowing Aliceʼs things we had a light lunch and departed Lavrio at 1315. We headed back to Koundouros, Kea to be there tomorrow for my brother Byronʼs birthday party. The wind was 8-12 knots SW and we were able to motor-sail with the headsail. We arrived in Koundouros [37° 34.8' N 24° 16.6' E] at 1540 after 14.2 M. We anchored in 8 m depth without any trouble and let out 50 m of chain. Byron with Ivi III was already there. I snorkeled and checked the anchor. It was well set in a patch of sand in this rocky bottom. We spent the afternoon reading and getting settled. I finished Little Doritt and started reading Robinson Crusuoe and Bodwitch on the Kindle.

Later Byron drove us to his house up the Katevati hill. Ivi, Byronʼs wife, did not come to Tzia (Kea) for the weekend because of some family business but our other sister-in-law, Mirka, had come with Byron. We had dinner with them and by midnight, early by Katevati standards, we were back on Thetis.

Saturday June 6, 2009, Day 2

I was wοken up early by bloodthirsty mosquitoes while Alice slept, catching up with her jet-lag. Later we were joined by Mirka and took a taxi to Chora where we visited the well appointed museum and saw the famous Late Cycladic female statues from the Ayia Irini excavation. This was followed by a nice lunch at Rolandoʼs. Then the taxi took us back to Koundouros and after stopping at Ayia Marina to visit the Hellenistic tower, still standing but in perilous condition.

Kea City Hall
Kea City Hall
Ayia Marina
Ayia Marina and the tower

We rested on Thetis and I read Simon Millsʼ The Hostage to Future: The dramatic story of the last Olympian HMHS Britannic that Byron had loaned to me. I also ran the genset for an hour. In the late afternoon Byron, Mirka, and Thanasis came on Thetis for coffee. Soon my cousin Petros Riginos, his wife Angie, and their son Yiorgos arrived with Petrosʼ cruiser the M/Y Fortunado.

Byronʼs birthday party was held at the Saint George restaurant. There were about 30 guests and we all had a good time.

Byron’s Party
Byron’s Party
Courtesy Byron E. Riginos

Sunday June 7, 2009, Day 3

The Lovely Cove of Poles
The Lovely Cove of Poles

It was a very quiet morning other than receiving over 100 e‑mails, most of them not personal. It was the early afternoon when the Katevati crowd mobilized. Byron came with Mirka, Spelios, and Haroula. Alice and I joined Petros on the M/Y Fortunado and she, along with Ivi III and Speliosʼ boat, headed for Poles, on the SE side of the island.

On the way we crossed the wake of S/Y Cresswell Jenny sailing very slowly north. I waved to Andrew and Karin whom I had met 2 years ago in Fourni and last year in Samos Marina. After we anchored in the lovely cove of Poles we all climbed up the hill and visited the newly landscaped ancient site of Karthea. This is located in a most beautiful setting and the landscaping is very well done.

We had a late lunch aboard Fortunado catered by Angie and Mirka. Lots of fun and sun! By the time we got back on Thetis it was past 6 PM. There was another party in Katevati but Alice and I declined as we were planning to sail early in the morning. We had dinner on board with garlic-pasta and a salad.


Monday June 8, 2009, Day 4

We raised the anchor and departed for Grammata, Syros at 0655. There was hardly any wind and we motored the 32.6 M. We arrived in Grammata [37° 30' N 24° 53.6' E] at 1210. There was a large motor cruiser in the N cove so we went to the S cove. We anchored in 4.5 m depth and, the cove being narrow, we let out only 30 m of chain. Here we were alone. Alas, this did not last. Another motor cruiser came to be followed by 2 small ones, a sailing yacht and then another, and another…

In the afternoon I took a line to a rock ashore with Alice helping. By 7 PM all the boats save one charter boat had left.

For dinner we made an omelet and served it with a nice potato salad that Alice had made earlier. Quiet and pleasant night.

Thetis in Grammata
Thetis in Grammata

Tuesday June 9, 2009 Day 5

Grammata - Letters
Grammata - Letters

In the morning we took the dinghy to the N cove and walked for a while along the inscriptions carved on the rocks. These give the name to the cove: Grammata (Γράμματα- Letters). After we returned to Thetis with Aliceʼs help I removed the shore line and stowed it. Now we were ready to depart except that two charter boats had dropped their anchor right over our chain.

We swam and had our lunch. In the meantime, the wind kept freshening. Eventually, after the charter boats left, we were able to raise our anchor and depart from Grammata. It was 1320. The wind was 15-27 knots from the N. We kept the tent and opened about 60% of the headsail. We could have sailed as the wind was from our quarter but had to motor-sail because our batteries needed charging. We arrived in Finikas [37° 23.8' N 24° 52.8' E] at 1445 after 7.6 M. We anchored in the bay in 5 m depth with 35 m chain. I snorkeled to check the anchor; it was nicely embedded in the sand. It was rather gusty.

By the evening the gusts had stopped and it was calm. We went ashore to meet Sue and Yankos Krinos and had dinner with them at the Foradenes restaurant.

Wednesday June 10, 2009, Day 6

Thetis in the Finikas Marina

Around 1100 we raised the anchor and moved Thetis to the marina. The reason for this was that we needed water and to charge the batteries. With our water-maker inoperable we seem to need water all the time. Also, since leaving Lavrio with half charged batteries and then spending almost 5 days at anchor, the batteries were low. Although it was rather windy most charterers had left and there was ample room. With Alice handling the anchor we moored stern-to without any difficulty. The attendant, Anargyros, was very helpful catching our lines.

I connected to the shore AC and started equalizing the batteries. We also filled the water tanks. While the tanks were being filled Alice took advantage of the water bounty and washed some clothes.

In the early evening we took a taxi to the Krinosʼ house in Episcopio where we had dinner with their neighbors Janice and George Kalpakis. It was a lot of fun. Later Sue drove us back to Finikas.

Thursday June 11, 2009, Day 7

While the batteries were still being equalized, I walked to the gas station, about 1 km away, and re-filled the outboard and genset canisters with gasoline. I also bought some provisions and 18 bottles of water (1.5 L each) which I asked to be delivered to Thetis. I washed the deck and the cockpit and topped the water tanks. As there was a fuel delivery to another boat, I took advantage and topped the tank with 28 L of Diesel fuel.

At 1140, now fully supplied, we left the marina and and anchored off in the bay in 4.5 m depth with 40 m of chain. Once again I snorkeled and checked the anchor. All was well in Thetis until the wireless Cosmote Internet connections stopped working. I called their service number and was told that a technical person will be calling back around 9:00 AM. But our plan was to depart early for Despotico near Antiparos. Alice and I, with the computer and its Cosmote dongle in a knapsack, took the bus to Ermoupolis. We then visited the Germanos store, the Cosmote representatives. They told us that we were the third customer today reporting a similar problem with their mobile Internet connection. They tried all sorts of things with our computer, their computer, our dongle, their dongle, etc. All to no avail. We then went shopping and bought some Saint Michalis cheese, a Syros specialty, a chicken roast, fruit, and, most important, several jars of capers, another Syros specialty, enough to last us a year.

Later Yankos and Sue picked us up from Ermoupolis and drove us to the village of Saint Michalis, where the cheese comes from. The village is located at the W side of the island and affords a spectacular view of the sunset. We sat at the Plakostroto (Πλακόστρωτο - Paved) restaurant (tel. +30 6973 980 248) where we ate rather well. By the time we were driven back to Finikas and were aboard Thetis it was past midnight.

Friday June 12, 2009, Day 8

Exactly at 7 AM, the time that the local bakery opens, I was ashore buying fresh bread. After returning to Thetis I raised the outboard and by 0740 we were on our way to Despotico, a small island S of Antiparos. The wind was very light, 2-8 knots NW but nevertheless we managed to motor-sail most of the way with the full genoa.

On the way, as they had promised, a Cosmote representative did call and guided me into reseting the dongle. Now, once more, we can connect to the Internet and, more important, I know what to do on a similar occasion.

It was getting hot so we put up the tent. After 30.1 M we arrived at 1230 in the lovely Despotico Bay [36° 58.2' N 25° 01.4' E]. It was very calm. We anchored in 4.5 m depth over nice clear sand and let out 35 m of chain. There were 3 other sailboats here: a French catamaran, a German, and a Swiss sloop. Also a couple of day-trip boats but these soon left. I snorkeled and checked the anchor. No problem there.

It was very quiet but as the afternoon progressed the wind picked up and there were stronger and stronger gusts. By the evening the wind was howling, although the sea was flat.

For dinner we baked the chicken roast (a boned chicken, rolled with cheese and bacon) that we had bought in Ermoupolis. We also baked tomatoes with garlic and basil. It was a very nice meal along with Kyr Yianni Paranga red wine.

The Entrance to Despotico

The Entrance to Despotico

Despotico Bay

Despotico Bay

Saturday June 13, 2009, Day 9

I was wakened up at 2 AM by the screaming wind but everything with the boat was fine and the anchor was holding so I went back to sleep. In the morning I connected the MacBook to the Internet and checked the weather forecasts. The Navtex (National Greek Weather Service) predicted northerly winds of force 6-7. But both the Meteo (Athens Observatory) service and Poseidon predicted only force 6. We decided to sail to Schinousa.

We raised the anchor and departed at 0740. The wind outside the bay was 15-20 knots from the NW. We raised the mainsail and set it on its 1st reef, we then opened about 50% of the headsail and finally, finally were able to sail without running the motor. We had a nice sail reaching for over 2 hrs, then the wind started gusting up to 28 knots and changing direction anywhere from the NW to the NE. Nevertheless we kept on sailing until we reached the Iraklia-Schinousa channel. At that time the wind dropped to less then 8 knots and it came from the S. I rolled in the headsail as we turned to the S going down the channel. While doing so I saw a white line of waves approaching from the NE. Being conservative, I lowered the mainsail. It was good I did so because as I was lashing the sail a squall hit us with NE winds of 25-30 knots and very confused seas. We motored the last 4 M.

We arrived in the SE cove of Aligaria in Schinousa [36° 51.4' N 25° 31.6' E] at 1240 after 26.4 M. We anchored in 6 m depth and let out over 50 m of chain. Here it was calm but gusty. The anchor held well.

The large house in Aligaria
The large house in Aligaria

This cove and its NW neighbor Livadhi are separated by a peninsula with the islet Agrilos at its tip. One has to sail around both the peninsula and the islet to go from one cove to the other. The peninsula is dominated by a large house complex which was built by Christos Michaelides and his partner Robin Symes who has been convicted of trafficking in illicit antiquities along with Getty Museum curator Marion True.

Later we had a phone call from my dear sailing friend, Turgut. They were in Beirut with their S/Y New Life participating in the 2009 EMYR (Eastern Mediterranean Yacht Rally) and having a grand time.

In the evening we went ashore and walked about 25 minutes to the village where we sat at Gogos - Γωγώς (tel. +30 22850 72 026) where we had ouzo and some tasty meze (snacks). Sitting near us were 3 men, one of whom talked in rhymes. He made a very clever satirization of people talking on their mobile telephones. As we were getting ready to leave, another of the gentlemen produced a violin and played tunes from Crete and Naxos. We had a lot of fun. By the time we actually left it was quite dark.

After we got back on Thetis we had dinner of left-over rice and chicken roast and a salad. It was a very windy night.

Sunday June 14, 2009, Day 10

For the second night now, I was woken up at 4 AM by the howling wind. However, Thetis was fine: anchor holding and no waves in this snug cove. But, the Navtex was now issuing gale warnings forecasting force 8 N winds for the SE Aegean. Well, we will be spending at least today here.

It was rather windy all day. Despite the wind we put up the tent. The wireless Cosmote connection was spotty but I discovered that if I use a USB extension cable and then place the dongle higher up on the boom the reception was good.

In the afternoon we ran the genset for ¾ of an hour. I Finished reading Robinson Crusoe on the Kindle, continued reading Bowditch, and started reading Alexander McCall Smithʼs Tea Time for the Traditionally Built which I had downloaded sometime ago. The wind was gusting over 30 knots. In the evening, to ensure peace of mind and tranquil sleep, I deployed the second anchor.

Monday June 15, 2009, Day 11

For the third night I was woken by the wind at 4 AM which was gusting to almost 40 knots. Both anchors were holding so we had no problem other then being marooned here.

Later in the morning the wind kept gusting. It was not possible to put up the tent, so we had to be in the sun. The Navtex continued to issue gale warnings. We were certainly stuck here today. Maybe tomorrow…

We spent a lazy day, mostly inside the cabin away from the sun and the wind. Using the new trick with the USB cable I was able to connect the MacBook to the Internet and do some banking and pay some bills.

By the late afternoon the wind was down to 10 knots, and we had a very beautiful sunset. Earlier I had snorkeled and checked the anchors. They were both buried under the sand.

Later in the evening we walked back to the village. We first had an ouzo at Gogoʼs and then a very nice meal at Pothitiʼs. We walked back using our flashlights since the night was very dark. Things were very quiet aboard Thetis.

Tuesday June 16, 2009, Day 12

Once again I was woken at 4 AM by the gusts. This was becoming a not very welcome pattern. This time however, they were weaker than yesterdayʼs. Nevertheless, Alice and I decided to leave. If conditions are not bad we will go to Aigiali in Amorgos; otherwise, we will go to the Livadhi cove just W of here. A friend of my brother Nikos, Costas Negrepontis, an airline pilot, has a house in Livadhi and reported that it was not so gusty.

Before departing we had to raise the second anchor. We did so rather painlessly with the windlass. After securing the anchor, its 20 m chain, and 60  m line, we raised the primary anchor. It was 0840. But after we motored about 1 M out of the cove we decided that conditions were too severe and unpleasant, 10-35 knots NW-NE, to go on to Aigiali. So, we turned tail and headed for Livadhi [36° 51.6' N 25° 31.4' E] where we arrived after 4.3 M at 0930. We anchored in 4.5 m depth and let out 40 m of chain. Conditions here though were not too different from those in Aligaria.

Later I went ashore and visited Costas while Alice stayed in Thetis and checked her e-mail. When Costas heard that we were low on water he urged me to use two cans of his and fill them from his garden faucet. I took these cans to Thetis and emptied them in the water tanks. I also emptied the spare can that I always carry as a backup. Then I went back to shore and repeated the exercise with all 3 cans. I returned Costaʼs 2 cans and refilled the spare one.

In the evening we both visited Costas. He had not met Aliki before and we had a nice time. When we left he loaded us with fresh eggs, tomatoes, and bread.

The large house in Livadhi
The large house in Livadhi

Wednesday June 17, 2009, Day 13

Todayʼs forecasts called for only 5-6 force N winds for the Sea of Ikaria, so once again we decided to go on. I woke up early, not by the wind this time, and raised the anchor while Alice was in her berth. By 0430 we were on our way. Conditions were not nice but they were not dire either. We had 8-25 knots NE, right on our nose, and large and very irregular seas. First we motored and then I opened about 40% of the headsail and motor-sailed. It was a very bumpy ride especially as we were near Amorgos when the wind died. I had to roll-in the flapping headsail and thus lose its stabilizing effect.

We arrived in Aegiali, Amorgos [36° 54.2' N 25° 58.6' E] at 0830 after 23 M. We anchored off in 4 m depth with 35 m of chain. After we made sure that Thetis was secure, we went ashore for shopping. We bought lots of bottled water, bread, and fruits. After we returned on-board we connected the MacBook to the Internet and got a forecast update. Now they forecasted only force 5 N winds for today but 6-7 for tomorrow. With this new information we decided not to stay here but to go on to Levitha.

Beautiful Aegiali

We departed Aegiali at 1045. The seas were still rough but less so then 2 hours ago. After clearing Amorgos the seas improved further. I raised the mainsail but kept it reefed on its 1st point. We motor-sailed until reaching Kinaros when we opened 50% of the headsail. We made good time and arrived in Levitha [37° 0.14' N 26° 28.06' E] at 1510 after 26.6 M. We caught one of the moorings without any trouble. As usual it was very calm here. In addition to Thetis, there were here one Finish and 2 German sailboats.

In the evening, after enjoying a well earned ouzo, we went ashore and walked to the hamlet for dinner. The whole Kambosos family was glad to see us again. Dimitris, the father of the clan, was still recovering from his heart attack of 2007 but he was much better than when I last saw him in September of last year.

The Anchorage in Levitha

Thursday June 18, 2009, Day 14

We cast off at 0810. The wind outside the cove was 10-20 knots NNE which was not favorable for our course of 045 to Partheni, Leros. Nevertheless we raised the mainsail and set it on its 2nd reef. We motor-sailed the 20.1 M to Archangelos [37° 11.9' N 26° 46.3' E], just outside Partheni, where we arrived at 1205. We dropped the anchor on a patch of sand with 4.5 m depth and let out 45 m of chain.

We had arranged with Agmar Marine to install the water-maker tomorrow morning—the motor/pump had finally arrived in the mean time. There were fearsome gusts. We put up the tent which maybe was a mistake because in the afternoon the anchor dragged. This has never happened before in this lovely anchorage. We re-anchored but when I snorkeled to check the anchor I saw it slowly dragging. We anchored again, for the third time in 5 m depth and let out 50 m of chain. That did it.

All night we were tossed around by very strong gusts coming from all directions, but the anchor was holding.

Friday June 19, 2009, Day 15

We left Archangelos at 0745 and motored the 1.6 M to Partheni. The strong gusts were ever present. We docked side-to at Agmar Marineʼs launching “pool” [37° 11.31' N, 26° 48.02' E] with considerable difficulty because of the gusts and having no one available to catch our lines.

After a while Panayiotis, the electrician, and his assistant arrived to install the water-maker. But, he was not satisfied and had Michalis, the carpenter, make a better wooden base for it. Finally the water-maker was installed but it did not work properly. It turned out that the new motor/pump was wrong. Although Agmar Marine had ordered the correct part for a Katadyn 160E water-maker (I had seen the order) the pump that was received was for the much smaller 40E water-maker. The result was that now it produced a pitiful amount of fresh water, a far cry for the normal 27 L/hr. After repeated and long telephone calls by Angelos, Agmar Marineʼs owner, to the supplier in the UK, it was decided to leave the water-maker in Thetis and wait until the now re-ordered correct part is received. They will then send it to me in Samos and after replacing it I will send the wrong part back to Agmar Marine. All this was very frustrating and disappointing to all of us.

We finally left Partheni at 1230 and went back to Archangelos where after anchoring we had lunch. We then left Archangelos at 1430 for Lipsi. The wind was still a gusty 18-25 knot NNW again a head wind to our 345 course. We arrived in Papandria, Lipsi [37° 16.8' N 26° 46.2' E] at 1635 after 5.7 M. We anchored in 4 m depth with 35 m scope. But it was so gusty that for our peace of mind we set the second anchor as well.

In the evening we went ashore and walked to the village (about a 45 minute walk) where we had the traditional ouzo at the Blue Tent Café with their incredibly delicious grilled octopus.

After we returned to Thetis in our anchorage the wind was less vicious and it further subsided during the night.

Saturday June 20, 2009, Day 16

The wind was 8-16 knots form the NNE. After raising both anchors we departed Papandria at 1100. We motored for 6.2 M to Platys Yialos [37° 18.8' N 26° 44.5' E], arriving at 1210, where we anchored in 7 m with 35 m chain.

We stayed in Platys Yialos for lunch and a good swim. We departed at 1530 for Marathi. The wind was still 8-16 knots. We motored for 3.6 M and arrived in Marathi [37° 22' N 26° 43.6' E] at 1610. All of Pantelisʼ moorings were taken so we caught one belonging to his competitor.

In the late evening we went ashore. The whole Pandelis family was there, son and daughter plus 3 grandchildren. Kyria Katina prepared for us a large delicious grilled fish. We left only the bones.

Saturday June 21, 2009, Day 17

We left Marathi at 0920 towing the dinghy and its outboard. We motored and crossed the vast Arki channel, 0.8 M, to Glipapas, Arki [37° 22.4' N 26° 44.4' E], arriving at 0940, where we anchored in 3.5 m depth over sand and let out 30 m of chain.

In the calm cove there were two colorful fishing caïques from Kalymnos of the traditional Greek type trechandiria - τρεχαντήρια. We enjoyed watching them and Alice took several pictures of them.

In the late morning we went ashore and walked to Tiganakia region on the S side of the island. We swam in one of the coves. I have never seen the place so crowded. There were 3 cruisers, many inflatables, and the day-tripper Rena. Also, on land there was now a large development with stone walls and bungalows under construction. A very alarming sight for this scarcely populated island.

Later in the afternoon we went ashore again for a walk and to make phone calls to Samos advising Samos Marina of our arrival tomorrow, to our Kalami care taker George, and to Aramis to reserve a rental car. In Glipapas there is no Vodafone GSM signal but, surprisingly, there was a strong Cosmote signal so connecting to the Internet and getting weather reports was not a problem. The forecasts called for weak S winds of force 4.

Before dusk and in preparation for laying over Thetis at the marina, I raised the dinghy on deck. This is a slow process and it took me about 1 hour. For dinner Alice made pasta with tuna.

Fishing Boats

Sunday June 22, 2009, Day 18

At 0745 we departed from Arki. The wind was 5-8 knots from the SSE. We raised the mainsail and removed all the reefs. Because the breeze was not strong enough for the heavy cruising sail we had to motor-sail. The sea was very calm. We headed for Klima in Samos. When we reached the Mycale Channel between Samos and Turkey the wind increased to 15 knots WSW and we sailed for a short time.

We arrived in Klima, Samos [37° 42.4' N 27° 2.4' E] at 1205 after 26.8 M. We anchored in 7 m depth with 35 m chain. There was some swell but it was not too uncomfortable. We spent the afternoon there swimming waiting for the sun to go down and the day to cool.

We left Klima at 1810 heading for Samos Marina in Pythagorio, Thetisʼ home port. The wind was 15-20 knots from the WSW. We motored the 4.1 M and arrived in the marina [37° 41.4' N 26° 57.5' E] at 1900. We were directed to moor in the C11 berth. We did so without any difficulty.

After connecting to the shore AC electricity, we prepared dinner clearing the refrigerator. We will sleep on board tonight and take possession of the the rental car and move to Kalami tomorrow morning.