Travels with S/Y Thetis

Thetis only

2015: In Samos

This web page contains the logs of 2 excursions in in the island of Samos: a single day excursions to Tsopela, with friends, and a 4 day excursions to South Samos with S/Y Thetis. The rest of the time Thetis stayed in Samos Marina.

The logs include either some historical and geographical descriptions of the places visited or links to these descriptions. Also included are links to other related web sites.

Routes near Samos
Routes near Samos

Wednesday August 25, 2015

Newly bottled vintage 2014 wine

Thetis’ marina neighbors for many years, Bob and Ann Brown of M/Y Voyager came to Kalami to help, as they did last year, with this year’s grape harvest (trygos - τρύγος). Together with our caretaker Yiorgos we cut the grapes and then crashed them. Our crashing machine not only crashes the grapes but separates them from their stems. We then placed the crashed grapes in two stainless steel drums for their primary fermentation.

While the grapes were fermenting I emptied the 150 liter barrel and bottled last year’s Kalami wine. All together I filled 134 bottles. These I corked and labeled them. After that, Yiorgos washed the now empty barrel and fumigated it with sulfur to kill any remaining microorganisms.

Sunday August 29, 2015

Our caretaker Yiorgos and I pressed the fermenting grapes yielding almost 150 liters of must. We filled with this our 150 litter oak barrel.

Friday September 4, 2015

In preparation for tomorrow’s day excursion with guests I went to the marina and washed down Thetis, with the pressure hose, the deck and the cockpit and re-filled the water tanks. I also connected the boat with the shore AC power and turned on the refrigerator.

Saturday September 5, 2015

Yiorgos & Vasilis
Courtesy Dimitris Vourliotis

Our friends Dimitris and Vanessa Vourliotis and Yiorgos and Artemis Tsesmetzi were my guests for a day excursion with Thetis. There was very little wind so I put up the tent. When they arrived in the marina I asked which direction they preferred to go. They chose west towards the small island of Samiopoula.

We left from the marina at 0950 and motor-sailed for a while with the headsail in the 3-6 knot ENE breeze. But soon the wind changed direction from the WNW and we had to roll-in the sail.

At 1115 and after 7.8 M we arrived in the cove of Tsopela (Τσόπελα) [37° 38.3' N 26° 49.9' E] on the south side of Samos. We anchored in 6 m depth over sand and let out 20 m of chain. It was perfectly calm here and there was absolutely no wind.

After lowering the dinghy I snorkeled to check the anchor but the water was so murky that I could not located it. Later Yiorgos found the anchor. It was not well set but up side down! It did not matter as there was no wind and the boat was held only by the combined weight of the chain and anchor.

We all got into the dinghy and drove to the lovely tiny beach just west of Tsopela. Here the water was clearer and we all had a very pleasant swim.

After we returned to Thetis the food came out. The combined contributions from the Tsesmetzis and Vourliotis was enough to feed a regiment. There were all sorts of Greek delicacies: κεφτέδες (keftedes - meat balls), τυροπιτάκια (tyropitakia - small cheese pies), σπανακοπιτάκια (tspanokpitakia - small spinach pies), several salads, beer, wine, ouzo, you name it. We all had a grand time swimming, eating, drinking, and bringing each other up to date since we had last been together a year ago.

While washing the dishes there was no muddy water coming out on the sink from either cold or hot water. My theory is that the mud was in the water heater and it was not flushed after the cleaning of the water tanks. After usage the clean water replace the muddy water.

At 1830 we raised the anchor and started on our way back. There was no possibility of sailing so we motored all the way to the marina where we arrived at 1950. All together we had covered 16.8 M.

After we all pitched in closing the boat we made arrangements to get together next week and we left.


This year the island of Samos is very different. In addition to the political/financial crisis in Greece and the upcoming elections on September 20, 2015 after the failure of the extreme and inept left wing government, the island, like many of the other East Aegean islands, has been flooded by refugees from the wars in Syria. These refugees are in addition to the immigrants from Africa, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan.

Now thousands are arriving every day landing with small inflatables in most eastern coves of Samos and then walking to the town. A number of these people have been drowned. While the island of Lesvos has been getting a lot of attention from the international media, Samos is facing similar problems. There are appalling conditions facing these poor people while the Byzantine Greek bureaucracy is processing them. Ferry boats transport 1500 per day processed refugees collected from Samos, Chios, and Lesvos to Piraeus.

To me the daily sight of these miserable souls, young men, women, and children walking under the strong sun along the roads is heart breaking. I even saw a man with one leg on a wheel chair. But even worse, what I find indefensible is the callus attitude of many local people. They seem to have forgotten their history when in 1922 the islands were also flooded by Greek refugees fleeing their homes in Asia Minor. Rumors are ripe in the island: “these immigrants are wealthy,” “they are undercover terrorists,” etc. I have been repeatedly warned by my middle class neighbors against my practice to give rides to town of women and families with small children. They caution me that I will get into trouble with the authorities. On top of that there are widespread stories of local people exploiting the refugees for large financial gain.

A bright exception to this is the Greek marine conservation organization Archipelagos. Not only had they rallied to help but have made appeals to the Samos residents to join them. They have sheltered families with young children, children without a family, distributed blankets, food, toys, etc. Dear reader of this log if you want to help this organization you can contribute to them as I have already done.


Argyro napping
Courtesy Dimitris Vourliotis

Since last year the town of Samos has a new inhabitant: Argyro. She is a seal. She swims around the harbor and often sunbathes in the popular beach of Gangou where she uses a beach chair and gets rather aggressive if any one tries to dislodge her.

Thursday September 10, 2015, Day 1

Today I took out Thetis for a few days on the S side of Samos. At 0940 I cast off from the marina and headed west. The wind was a light breeze of 4-6 knots from the NNW. I opened part of the headsail and motor-sailed while still keeping the tent that kept me and the cockpit in the shade.

After 5.5 M we arrived in the Kyriakou (Κυριακού) cove [37° 38.3' N 26° 51.8' E] on the S side of Samos, just 2 miles E of Tsopela. This was my first time in this cove. The time was 1055. There were no other boats here.

I easily anchored in 5.4 m depth on the sandy cove and let out 30 m of scope. Later I lowered the dinghy and snorkeled to the anchor. It was completely buried in the sand.

The day was not too hot, and the temperature inside the cabin was 31°C (87.8°F) and the barometer a surprising high of 1017 mB. The forecasts called for light northerly winds until Saturday. My plan was to stay here until tomorrow and then, maybe, go to Samiopoula.

It was a lazy day spent swimming and reading under the tent while playing classical music. I was reading Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend, on the Kindle, a story about 2 very intelligent but also very poor girls growing up in Naples in the 1950s. This is the first book of a quartet. I also continued reading on the Kindle App on my iPad Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall a historical novel on Thomas Cromwell during the reign of Henry the III. This is a very long book and very complicated that I had started some time ago in Washington, DC and have been reading it off and on.

On the beach there was only one group of people under two umbrellas. It was very quiet.

In the evening, after I removed the tent, I went ashore for a walk. The group with the umbrellas was replaced by two young men with many fishing rods and spearguns. One of them came and helped me drag the dinghy on the beach. I walked around and explored the large abandoned property that dominates the cove. The property is enclosed by impressive stone walls, now slowly collapsing, has a stone boathouse with a large totally ruined rib inflatable boat, and a stone house up the hill with a commanding view. The house has two stories and it is beautifully built but now it is a total ruin with the furniture still in it. It is clear that somebody had spent a fortune building all these and then they were mysteriously abandoned. The young men told me that the dirt road to this cove is very, very rough.

Back on Thetis I had my ouzo and then warmed a pot roast that I had brought from Kalami and served it with spaghetti along with a 2013 vintage Kalami wine.

By 10:30 I was in my cabin falling asleep.

The Kyriakou Cove

Friday September 11, 2015, Day 2

The night was very quiet. The two young men after a lot of fishing spent the night here and were back fishing in the early morning.

After my slow morning coffee I washed down the cockpit that had accumulated a lot of crumbs and then I put up the tent. I also tightened the slightly loosened screws on the base of the dinghy stand posts.

The rest of the day was uneventful and lazy after I had decided not to move from here. I read, swam, and listened to music. In the afternoon I spoke with my wife Alice in Washington, via FaceTime.

In the late afternoon the two fishermen left and I, around 5:30, went ashore and walked on the dirt road up the steep hill. While by the sea the temperature was pleasant it got hotter as I climbed up the hill even as the sun was going down (sunset was about 7:30).

Back on Thetis and after a cooling off swim I removed the tent and then I had my ouzo while the sun was setting behind the Bournias mountain. All around the boat a large number of small fish were jumping.

For dinner I fried one potato, made a salad, and cooked a turkey cutlet with a balsamic vinegar sauce. After the meal I turned on the anchoring light and after turning off all the other lights I lay in the cockpit admiring the dark sky full of stars. After a while I drifted off into sleep. When I woke up I relocated to my much more comfortable berth in the port cabin.

Saturday September 12, 2015, Day 3

Having slept a long time I woke up early at 6. I had my coffee and looked the weather forecasts in the Internet. They predicted low winds for this morning but stronger NW winds by the afternoon and increasing during the night reaching force 6. I decided to move on to Samiopoula and then, depending on the weather, to either stay there, go to Mycale, or return to the Samos Marina.

I prepared the boat for our departure. Because the distance from the Kyriakou cove to Samiopoula is very short, I did not raise the dinghy but set towing lines. By 0740 the anchor was up and we started motoring slowly, because of the dinghy with its outboard under tow, the 3.3 M.

We arrived in the Psalida (Ψαλίδα) cove in Samiopoula [37° 38' N 26° 47.4' E] at 0845. I dropped the anchor near the west shore on a patch of sand in 7 m depth. Here the bottom slopes quickly and because of a very light easterly breeze I had to maneuver away from the rocks on the W side while letting out 25 m of chain until Thetis was a comfortable distance from the rocks.

I snorkeled to check the anchor. While it was set it was not well buried. At any rate in this light breeze the boat was held in about 11 m depth by the weight of the chain. I put up the tent.

About one hour later the wind changed direction from E to NW and Thetis drifted away from the shore in deeper water of 15-20 m. I let out about 20 more meters of chain.

It was a pleasant morning with reading and swimming. Later the usual day-trip boats arrived but by 12 o’clock they were gone. The taverna up the hill seems not to be operating. I had my light lunch and looked up again the forecasts which predicted NW winds of force 5-6. Based on this information I decided to leave this nice place and spend the night in Mycale with the option to either return to the marina in the morning or in the evening.

I raised the dinghy on its davits and then the anchor. We departed from Samiopoula at 1335. In the Samos-Samiopoula channel there were strong gusts and a bad chop but after we cleared the channel, the chop got less and the wind less gusty at 4-6 knots from the WNW. Once again all my sailing expectations were frustrated and we had to motor on a course of 090. As we got closer to Pythagorio the wind increased to 10 knots, then to 15, and then to 20 knots from the NNW.

We arrived in Mycale [37° 42.2' N 26° 58.8' E] at 1525 after 10.8 M. I anchored in my usual spot in 3.5 m depth and let out 25 m of scope. Here it is sandy almost everywhere. Thetis settled in 4.2 m depth. I lowered the dinghy and snorkeled to the anchor. It was completely embedded in the sand, only the chain was visible.

Later after a nice hot shower I had my ouzo. For dinner I finished the pot roast. To go with it I made a rice pilaf. After eating I gazed at the stars and then went to bed.

Sunday September 13, 2015, Day 4

During the night the wind-generator woke me up as the wind had had increased. I turned it off and went back to bed. It was 3:30. I then woke up by myself at 6:00. It was still dark and I could see the Orion and on the SE a very bright Venus.

After my coffee because it was really not very pleasant here with the gusts I decided to go to the marina and do so before the day would got too hot. First I covered the dinghy and then raised it on its davits. I was perfecting the technique of covering it. First, while the dinghy was still in the water but attached to the davit lifting lines, I covered half of the dinghy. Then I raised it, extended its stand arms and lowered it to them and covered its other half. Finally I put the 2 straps over its cover and tightened them. After finishing with the dinghy I hanged the fenders and tried to hail the marina on VHF channel 9. It was about 8:20. Instead of the marina I was answered by another yacht also wanting to get in.

At 0825 I raised the anchor and departed. While the boat was under the autopilot I secured the anchor and arranged a long line from the bow cleat anticipating an unassisted docking. The plan was to lasso the bollard on the quay, and then catch the mooring line with the boat hook. All these precautions turned out that were not necessary because as soon as Thetis enter the marina at 0845 Ilias, the new attendant came to help. He caught my temporary line and handed me the mooring line and the docking lines which I had left in the C45 berth.

We had arrived. The distance from Mycale was 1.5 M! After loading my stuff to the waiting rented car I had an orange juice at the café with Alfredo of S/Y Ricki with Austrian flag. Then I drove back to Kalami.