Travels with S/Y Thetis

Thetis only

2016: Samos to Leros

This web page contains the logs of an 18 day solo sailing trip that I took with S/Y Thetis in the East Aegean of Greece. I sailed from Samos Marina to Partheni in Leros, where Thetis was hauled-out and will spend the 2016-17 winter. On the way I stopped in the near by cove of Mycale, in the island of Agathonisi (Gaidouravlako), in Tiganakia, Marathi, in Patmos (Livadhi tou Geranou, and Lampsi), in Lipsi (Moschato, Platys Yialos, and Papandria), and finally in the small island of Archangelos.

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.

Route Samos to Leros
Route Samos to Leros

Friday September 30, 2016, Day 1

I moved the rest of my stuff in the boat, I left the rented car in the marina having already settled my bill, and prepared for departure. I cast off at 1048 and motored slowly the 1.2 M east of the marina to Mycale (Μυκάλη) [37° 42.1' N 026° 58.8' E]. I anchored in 3.5 m on sand with 25 m of chain. After launching the dinghy and uncovering it, I snorkeled to the anchor, it was well set in the sand. The breeze was about 10 knots from the N, and the sea was calm.

I decided to spend the day and night here and get everything organized inside the boat. Maybe tomorrow I will go to Agathonisi. I put up the tent and later installed the spray hood to shelter the cockpit from the afternoon breeze.

I had an ouzo while watching the lovely sunset. I spoke with Alice and Cynthia; they had a nice day yesterday in the Acropolis Museum and the Parthenon. Today they visited the Benaki Museum. I continued reading Jeffrey Siger’s Santorini Caesars a mystery set in the island of Santorini.

For dinner I cooked some rice and pan grilled 1 pork chop.

Saturday October 1, 2016, Day 2

First thing in the morning I tried to make coffee but the stove igniter did not work and I had to light it with a match. I checked its battery and it seemed OK. Also, I saw some thick oil in the bilges, it did not look like engine oil could it be cooking oil? We shall see.

I raised the dinghy, I put up the tent, and pulled up the anchor. We departed from Samos at 0920 heading for Agathonisi. The wind was a light NNE 8-12 knot breeze. I opened the full genoa and turned off the motor. We sailed blissfully for about 5.5 miles when, at 1040 the wind went down to 5 knots and I started the engine and turned on the water-maker to flush out the biocide solution used when the water-maker is in storage. While rounding the SE of Agathonisi I saw hundreds of discarded life vests by the refugees.

We arrived in Gaidouravlako (Γαϊδουραύλακκο) [37° 27.2' N 026° 57.67' E] in Agathonisi (Αγαθονήσι) at 1250 after 16.4 M. This is a lovely cove about 1 mile SW off San Giorgio, the harbor of the island. I prefer to stay here instead of the harbor which can be easily reached with the dinghy. I anchored in 6 m depth and let out 36 m of scope. The boat settled in 8.8 meters. Usually here in addition to the anchor I take a line to the W shore to prevent the boat from swinging too close to the rocks of the E shore. But this time I anchored more to the W and I hoped that the shore line will not be needed. I lowered the dinghy and snorkeled to the anchor, it was well set.

I changed the battery of the stove’s igniter and now it worked. The old battery read 1.5 V while the new one read 1.58.

Later Thetis did swing rather close to the E shore. Here it gets deep rather quickly so we were still in 7 m depth but I did not like our proximity to the rocks. I pumped some air to the dinghy because its floats were soft, then I took several lines, and a chain loop and drove to the W shore. I placed the chain loop around a large rock and tied a 30 m line to it. Then drove slowly towards the boat. On the way I tied a 20 m to the 30 m one an then another thinner line. This allowed me to reach Thetis where I secured the thin line to her bow. Back onboard I pulled the thin line, then the 20 m line until it was taut and the boat a comfortable distance from both the E and W shores.

In the evening I went to the harbor of St. Giorgio. I walked around for a while and eventually went to the Glaros (Γλάρος - Sea Gull) restaurant. Yiannis, the owner, greeted me very warmly since he had not seen me for several years now. I had an ouzo with fresh fried squid (καλαμαράκια - kalamarakia) and then katsikaki kokinisto (κατσικάκι κοκκινιστό - young goat meat cooked in a tomato sauce). Next to my table was a Greek family from Karlovasi, Samos. They turned out to be friends of Stamatis Skoutas. The wife is from Leros and they own a large inflatable as well as a restored 7 m wooden caïque (barkalas).

Later I had an ouzo during the sunset, now at 1907. There were wonderful colors reflected by the cloud formations. The barometer was 1017 mB.

Back onboard Thetis all was well. I finished reading Santorini Caesars and started Jules Verne’s Master of the World in the 31 books in English translation, collection. I slept well.

Sunday October 2, 2016, Day 3

I received an e-mail from Alice, she is safely now back home in Washington, DC.

After the coffee I went ashore and took a 3 hr hike. On the beach there was a lot of refugee related trash.

After returning to the boat I looked at the bilges. There was still some oil mixed with water but certainly there was no leak from the engine. I cleaned the bilges and will be watching. I also cleaned the fresh water filter and I put up the tent. It was a cool day.

Mikro Chorio
Mikro Chorio in the distance

I spoke with Alice on FaceTime. She sounded tired but fine. I also received an e-mail from Cynthia. She and Alexander are also safely home in Brisbane, Australia after their long trip.

In the evening I removed the tent. The days are getting short now and by 7:15 it was dark. I had an ouzo and then for dinner I pan-fried the last pork chop. I started reading on the Kindle Tess Gerritsen’s In Their Footsteps a mystery thriller with love, spies, taking place in England, France, and Greece. By 10:30 I was in bed.

Monday October 3, 2016, Day 4

After a leisurely morning coffee I transferred to the main tank one jerry-can of Diesel fuel. Now there is only one more jerry-can left. Then I took the dinghy to the Tsangaris cove where I took a hike. There is, in the cove, a semi-sunk largish wooden boat exactly where I usually, when moored here, tie a shore line. I walked up the hill to the double chapel of Ayia Irene and John the Baptist. I then walked up on the newly made dirt road to the chapel of Ayios Christidoulos at the top of the hill. Wonderfull view from there. Then back to the cove and Thetis. The whole expedition took over 2 hours.

Semi-sunk boat
The semi-sunk boat in Tsangaris
Ayia Irene and John the Baptist
The double chapel of Ayia Irene and John the Baptist
The chapel of Ayios Christidoulos at the top of the hill
View from the top of the hill:
Megalo Chorio on the right

I put up the tent, put the table on its stand in the cockpit, and relaxed. This day, like yesterday, was cool. I checked the bilges. Considerably less oil then yesterday and some water, but I cleaned the bilges again. I suspect the water comes from condensation. I then washed the cockpit from the accumulated crumbs. Following that, I washed the dinghy. There was plenty of water in the dinghy. I sponged it out but more kept coming. I suspected that its bale-out plug leaked so I replaced it by a new one. After a few hours there was more water in the dinghy, so the suspect plug was out. After looking carefully I saw that the water came from its keel compartment.

I removed the tent when the sun was low and went to the harbor, sometimes after 6. There, after I bought some fruits, I walked up the road to the Megalo Chorio (Large Village) and then back to the harbor. Too lazy to cook I went back to the Glaros and I had a nice meal. Yiannis’ 23 year old lovely daughter served me. We had a nice chat. She wants to be a journalist and she will be leaving tomorrow for Samos where she hopes to find a job. Yiannis had made a mixture of anchovies, tomatoes, and octopus for an ouzo appetizer (mezedes). Then I was served a grilled fish that Yiannis had caught earlier today. It was delicious.

When, after the meal, I returned to the dinghy it had a lot of water. I sponged it off and headed back to Thetis. Had I made a crack to its underside when I pulled it on the pebble beach of Tsangaris this morning?

I finished reading on the Kindle the book In Their Footsteps and started its sequel Thief of Hearts.

Tuesday October 4, 2016, Day 5

First thing in the morning I looked at the dinghy. It was full of water. I pumped it out, collected the shore lines, coiled them, and stowed them in the sail locker. I then raised the dinghy on the davits, with its bow higher then its stern, and while it was still hanging I removed its bail-out plug. After the floor was drained I saw more water seeping from the keel section. With some difficulty I removed the keel plug. A torrent of water came out. When no more water came, I replaced both plugs and secured the dinghy on its stands.

I raised the anchor and we departed from Agathonisi at 0925. Before departing I had uncovered the mainsail in the hope that we could sail. The wind was from the NNW. This was a good direction for our course to Tiganakia but the wind's strength was 1-14 knots, mostly near 1 knot. I opened the genoa and motor-sailed with an apparent wind of 5-8 knots. I ran the water-maker with the engine at low RPM instead of my expected sail. Nevertheless we had a fast passage often doing better then 6 knots. We arrived in Tiganakia [37° 21.5' N 026° 45.1' E] at 1125 after 11.3 M. We anchored in 5.5 m depth and let out 30 m of scope.

After anchoring I attended again to the dinghy. I raised it again with its stern lower then its bow and after removing its plugs let it drain. I then lowered the swimming ladder and snorkeled to the anchor. It was beautifully set. The sea water was bracingly cold but I swam for a while. Back on board, the dinghy was drained and after replacing its plugs I lowered it to the water.

By 3 PM in the afternoon there was no water in the dinghy. I ran the genset to get 220 V AC to power the coffee grinder.

Later in the afternoon the small ship Luisa, not a motor cruiser, anchored close to Arki. After a while they launched a large inflatable and two crewmen drove it to the little beach near Thetis. They went ashore and looked as if they were cleaning the little beach and I thought “how nice.” Then they went away and after an hour or so returned with 2 more crewmen, all 4 wearing red jackets. They unloaded a table and a contraption. They then started a fire. Back and forth they went to the mother ship. After it got dark they erected the contraption which turned out to be a large aluminum frame full of white LED lights. The whole shore was illuminated. After that they brought the passengers and the crew served them for the next 2 hours a meal of grilled meats. So much for a picnic in a natural setting.

While observing all of this I had an ouzo, boiled some spaghetti, and served it with 3 slices of a chicken roast that I had bought and cooked in Samos. This along with Kalami wine. The night was rather calm and I left the tent on to keep the humidity away from the cockpit.

Wednesday October 5, 2016, Day 6

After my morning coffee I went with the dinghy ashore to Arki. There was no water in the dinghy. In Arki I took a 2½ hour hike with just one stop in the Port Augusta harbor where I had a fresh orange juice. By the time I was back on Thetis it was 11:30. I was hot and I took a long swim. The water was bracing.

Toy boats in Port Augusta

The afternoon was partly cloudy. The good news was that there was no more water in the dinghy which ruled out a crack on its keel. Also there was no more oil in the bilges. The forecasts called for light SE winds on Friday and Saturday. I was not sure whether to go to Patmos on Friday as I was planning. We shall see.

In the evening I took a shower and shaved and had an ouzo around 6 as the sun was going down. I finished reading Thief of Hearts and started on the Kindle another Jules Vern novel Off on a Comet from 31 books in English translation: a collection.

For dinner I cooked some rice and had it with 3 more slices of the chicken roast. One worry I had was that when running the engine the charging current did not reach the usual high values given the Ah indicated on the meter. It started at 27 A and not at the upper 40s as it should.

Sunset in Tiganakia

Thursday October 6, 2016, Day 7

Today’s forecasts called for a light SE wind starting tomorrow evening but reaching force 5 by Saturday morning and by Saturday afternoon returning to NW. Now my plan was to go to Marathi today and to Livathi tou Geranou in Patmos tomorrow. But the Livathi tou Geranou cove is exposed to the S winds although the little island there shields it somewhat. So, I could stay in Marathi for tomorrow or I could go to the Moschato coves on the N side of Lipsi. These are totally protected from the S winds. I will make the final decision tomorrow after seeing the latests forecasts.

I spent most of the morning reading. At 1130 we departed from Tiganakia and slowly motored towing the dinghy the 1.1 M to Marathi [37° 22' N 026° 43.6' E] where we arrived at 1145. I decided to try a new strategy for securing a mooring. I took a 20 m line and tied it to the right cleat in the middle of the boat. I then untied the right side of the tent for easy access. The idea was to hook the mooring from either midship or from the stern and pass the free end of the long line through its ring. I slowly approached from upwind a free mooring putting the engine on neutral when we were a few meters from the mooring’s buoy. It worked like a charm. While Thetis was drifting toward the buoy at less then a knot and when the buoy was at midship I gave a burst of reverse and I caught it and secured the line to the buoy. Then it was easy to walk the free end of the line to the bow, shorten it and tie it to the bow cleat. The whole maneuver took less then a minute. I then went with the dinghy to the bow and secured the boat to the mooring with another line ending in a shackle to prevent any abrasion. We had arrived. The time was 1145.

While I was mooring Mr. Pandelis was leaving with his speed boat Katina but I went ashore and met his wife Katina. She hugged me and said that they worried because they had not heard from me since I was here with the MacMillans and were about to call us. I did confess that we did come to Tiganakia last month and intended to come to Marathi the next day but Alice and Cynthia, not liking the forecast, decided that we should return to Samos.

Around 4 PM I went ashore and took an hour hike around the S side of the island. There were 2 other S/Y in the cove: a Swedish and a German. Both with an elderly couple. Back on board I took a hot shower and had a tiny ouzo. After dusk, around 7:30, I went ashore to Pandelis. I was the only customer. As usual I had a very nice meal sitting together with Pandelis and Katina who was in and out bringing dishes. I had the usual salad, kolokithokeftedes (fried zuchini balls), and 4 small μπαρμπούνια (barbounia - red mullets - Mullus surmuletus) fried in olive oil. It was almost 10 when I returned to the boat.

Friday October 7, 2016, Day 8

I slept well but woke up at 6:30. It was too late to go back to sleep so I looked up the weather forecasts to figure out what I would do today. They now predicted variable light winds for most of today turning in the evening to either SE or SW in the Patmos area and having force 3 to 4. Then increasing after midnight to force 4 to 5 and by noon tomorrow changing to northerlies of force 3 to 4. With this information I decided to go to the Livathi tou Geranou in Patmos where the small island will provide some shelter and where there is a lot of room to swing.

We departed from Marathi at 0918. The wind was, as predicted, from variable directions at 1-4 knots. Motoring was the only option. I ran the water-maker and plugged the flash light and iPad to charge. Soon the water tanks were full. We arrived after 7.1 M to the Livathi tou Geranou [37° 20.7' N 026° 35.3' E] at 1040. I chose an anchoring spot to allow the boat to swing for 360° and still be in reasonable depth. I then dropped the anchor on a sandy patch in 6.5 m depth and let out 34 m of chain.

There were no other boats here and it was very calm. After lowering the dinghy I snorkeled to check the anchor. It was well set. Although the water was rather cool I swam for a while.

Later in the afternoon the breeze first came from the SE and then from the WSW but it never exceeded 7 knots. Alice called me on FaceTime. It looks that hurricane Mathew that had already savaged Haiti is now in Florida but most likely will spare Washington, DC. Later the breeze changed direction first coming from the N then from the W, then E, and back. It was still calm.

I had an ouzo and baked slices of potatoes in the oven. These I again ate with the inevitable 3 slices of the chicken roast. Along with this I has some white wine. I was still worried about the alternator because during our motoring its output did not exceed 28 A. Could it be that some of its Zener diodes were burned?

Saturday October 8, 2016, Day 9

The predicted SE wind arrived around 3 AM and it started blowing at 15-19 knots. Thetis’ anchor held well but the boat was performing a wild dance to the waves incoming to our cove. This continued all morning. The sky was overcast. It was a gloomy day.

I ran the genset for about one hour. Its output goes into the 220 V AC charger. This now certainly produced more current than the alternator did yesterday and this confirmed my suspicions about burned Zener diodes.

The forecasts predicted that the wind will change to NW by 6 pm. We shall see. I read and finished Off on a Comet from 31 books in English translation: a collection on the Kindle. It is a far fetched story and more incredible then most other Vern stories. A comet grazes the earth and carries part of the West Mediterranean together with people and atmosphere. Then after 2 years it returns and the people on it escape back to earth on a balloon. I then started re-reading Alexander Kent’s Midshipman Bolitho in paperback. There was no word today from Alice.

In the afternoon the clouds dispersed and the wind changed direction first coming from the W and by 6 PM from the NW, just as it was forecasted. The sea calmed down. I went ashore and ate in the local taverna. The proprietor recognized me but neither of us spoke about our verbal fight several years ago but I did congratulate him for keeping the beach clean! In the mean time, a S/Y with a French flag and a couple arrived and anchored in the cove.

After my meal I went for a stroll up the road. By the time I returned to Thetis all was calm. Since I did not sleep very well last night I was tired and went to bed at about 9:30.

Sunday October 9, 2016, Day 10

The night was very calm and I slept until 7 AM. Later in the morning I put on mask and flippers and after checking the anchor which had not moved I swam ashore. I walked along the beach. There were there only 5-6 people.

After swimming back to the boat I sat in the cockpit and read. I finished Midshipman Bolitho and started re-reading the Jeffrey Siger's Mykonos After Midnight. I need to download more books.

In the late afternoon I spoke with Alice on FaceTime. She is getting ready to fly to Jackson tomorrow and visit Corinna and the grand children. She will then return to Washington, DC on the 19th, the day that Thetis is scheduled for her haul-out. The forecasts predicted the same calm weather for tonight and tomorrow but on Tuesday the southerlies will be back. My plan was to relocate tomorrow to Lampsi, the cove about 1 mile NE of Skala, Patmos’ harbor, do some shopping and spend the night there and on Tuesday morning go to Moschato in Lipsi.

Later in the afternoon I went ashore and took a 2 hour hike along the #7 trail that leads to the Panayia tou Geranou. After my return I had the obligatory ouzo and then ate pasta with more of the chicken roast.

From the trail
From the trail looking at the road
From the trail
From the trail looking at Thetis

Monday October 10, 2016, Day 11

After my coffee, looking up the weather and reading the news on my iPad, I raised the anchor at 0820 and motored slowly, towing the dinghy, for 2 M to Lampsi as I had planned. To my surprise the alternator behaved normally producing over 70 a of current. I was bewildered. We arrived in Lampsi [37° 19.5' N 026° 33.4' E] at 0850. Here the bottom slopes stiffly. I anchored in 6.2 m depth and let out 40 m of scope. Thetis settled in 12 m depth.

After I made sure that everything was fine I boarded the dinghy and drove it to Skala. There I got 5 L of gasoline for the genset and the outboard, fruits, fresh bread, and other provisions. After returning to Thetis I put up the tent and then snorkeled to check the anchor. It was buried under the sand.

In the evening I decided to go back to Skala with the dinghy and eat in one of the good restaurants. First I had a shower and an ouzo. I left for Skala a little before 7 since by 7:30 it now gets dark. It was a disappointment. All of my favorite restaurants, including Tzivaeri were closed. I walked around trying to find any appetizing place. After surveying the field I narrowed it down to 2 candidates: a rotisserie and the Mermaids. I first went to the rotisserie; there were several customers but also there was a loud TV screen. That ruled it out. There was no one at the Mermaids but I had a satisfactory meal here several years ago. I sat. The food was indifferent but the young man serving me could not had been any nicer.

Back on board Thetis I ran the genset for a while. According to the Ah meter we had already consumed 190 Ah out of the 500 Ah service batteries. Then I got a forecast update. My plan to move to Moschato was still on. I received an email from Alice she has safely arrived in Jackson.

Tuesday October 11, 2016, Day 12

While I was having my coffee in the cockpit just before the sunrise I was startled by loud screams. I could not figure where they came from as there was no one on the shore. Then I looked up to the sky and saw a flock of crows, hundreds of them not croaking but screaming while flying to the east. The sunrise was lovely. According to the latest forecast there will indeed be a SE to SW wind reaching force 5 in the afternoon and force 6 tomorrow.

I prepared for departure and raised the dinghy. By 0807 we were under way. There was almost no wind just a 4-8 knot easterly breeze. Again no sailing. I ran the water-maker and charged the Kindle, the iPad, and the iPhone. While approaching Moschato (Μοσχάτο) I send e-mails to Alice, my daughters, and brothers advising them of my proximity to my destination and that there may not be any signal once the boat is in the cove. I first headed to the 2nd cove from the W and anchored in 8 m depth but I did not like the situation because if there was to be either a strong SE or SW wind the boat will drift too close to the rocks. Up came the anchor and we went to the next cove to the east [37° 19.1' N 026° 43.4' E]. The time was 0935 and the distance we came was 8 M. I anchored again in 8 m depth and let out 45 m of chain. Thetis settled in 14 m depth. Had I gone deeper into the cove to shallower water there may not be enough swinging room. The down button of the windlass stopped working. Later I open the control box and found that its wire was loose. I fixed it. After lowering the dinghy and snorkeling to the anchor I ascertained that it was well set.

While making my afternoon coffee the stove ran out of Camping Gaz. I replaced its canister and completed making the coffee.

Around that time another S/Y came and anchored deeper into the inlet. She was the Dumpel with a German flag and a couple. Later I went and met them. They keep their boat, a Nyad 34'', in Kusadasi. Although they are Germans they live in northern France and spend several months cruising mostly in Greek waters. Last year while sailing early in the morning between Çesme and Chios they rescued a young man who was in the water far from land. He was a refugee and he was transported during the night to Chios. He was told that they were near the island and to jump in the water and swim there. It turned out that they were miles away. The German couple after the rescue took him to Emporio after advising the Greek Coast Guard who met them there. They were very surprised by the coast guard’s and customs’ efficiency.

The day was gray and mostly overcast and there was some drizzle. After my evening ouzo and while cooking some rice to go along with slices of the endless chicken roast I ran the genset. The cabin at 23°C (73.4°F) was warmer then the cockpit. By 10 I was in bed.

Wednesday October 12, 2016, Day 13

I was waken up my the howling wind at about 2 AM. Thetis was fine and the anchor was holding well while the wind mostly from the ESE gusted to over 20 knots. I tied the dinghy along side to prevent any mishap like the one 2 years ago in Emborio, Kalymnos when it was lifted by the wind with its outboard and landed upside down. After 3:30 the gusts quieted down and I went back to sleep.

After I got up, despite the very weak GSM signal, some e-mails were received. Alice was fine. The sky had several light clouds. The Ah meter indicated that we had consumed more then 200 Ah. Of course, as it was cloudy yesterday, the solar panels produced very little electricity. I ran the genset to bring the total consumption below the 200 Ah mark and also to grind some coffee. Today as in the past few days was still warm but the barometer plunged from the 1014 mB of Sunday to 1005 yesterday. Today it was slightly up to 1007 mB. I could not get on the iPad any connection to the web or to whether apps. But I did get on the Navtex last night’s forecast. It predicted force 5-6 SE winds for the Samos Sea area and later coming down to 4-5 but no gale anywhere near where we were.

I went ashore for an exploration. Right near the water line there is a large abandoned looking building. One of its doors was open and I got inside. There were about 5 new looking canoes with their oars and life jackets, a good size inflatable with a large outboard, and a pile of old personal computers. I walked up the dirt road, took some pictures, and then returned to my dinghy and Thetis.

The Moschato cove
The Moschato cove

In the afternoon S/Y Dumpel departed. I put up the tent. The wind then was mostly from the W and SW. I washed down the cockpit and then read a lot. Around 4:30 I went with the dinghy to the next cove E of here. This cove is served by a paved road leading to Platys Yialos and to the harbor. Several boats were moored there. I went up the road hoping to get a signal and then a fresh forecast but it was not to be. In the mean time I felt a strong breeze so I returned to the dinghy. By then the breeze came from the WNW and the sea in the cove was choppy. When I was near Thetis I noticed that she was close to the rocky E shore. I kind of panicked envisioning that if the wind veers to the N staying here may not be tenable. I removed the tent and just in case raised the dinghy on its davits. By that time the wind was back to SW at less then 7 knots. No more thought of a hasty departure.

We received a new Navtex forecast: tomorrow wind 3 to 4 for Samos Sea from the NW. We shall see. I had an ouzo and watched the sunset. while eating an olive I remembered a wonderful story by my old sailing companion professor Antonis Ephremides. He was in the Athens market area and found a store specializing in olives. He went inside. An old man was at the cash register. Every so often he announced: “Olives, eat olives, what do you think the people who built the Parthenon ate? Olives not hamburgers.”

For dinner I made spaghetti with tuna, capers, garlic, and olives. I made enough for 2 meals. Along with the pasta I drank some Moschophilero wine. The night was calm.

Thursday October 13, 2016, Day 14

Nothing happened during the night and it was almost 7 when I woke up. The wind, such as it was, came from the W. Since the dinghy was already up on the davits we could depart anytime. My plan, expecting northerlies, was to go to the harbor of Lipsi.

By 0850 the anchor was up and we were on our way. But after we were outside the Moschato coves and turned to the SW there was a rather uncomfortable swell. Also by that time there was a decent 3G signal and I was able to receive several forecasts: a westerly breeze for most of today becoming NW of force 4 in the evening and stronger NW of force 5 tomorrow. Change of plans. I made a 180° turn and headed round the N side of Lipsi after which I turned to the S. At 0935 we had reached Platys Yialos (Πλατύς Γυαλός) [37° 18.8' N 026° 44.5' E] on the NE side of the island. Despite the diversion we had come just 3.4 M.

I anchored in 6.5 m depth over sand and let out 35 m of chain. The boat settled in 7.5 m. It was very calm here and there was no swell. The sky was partly cloudy. I lowered the dinghy to allow me to crawl under it and step down the swimming ladder. I then snorkeled to the anchor and verified that it was well set.

I first spoke with my brother Nikos on the iPhone and then I put up the tent and relaxed.

In the late afternoon I went ashore for a hike. I walked following a dirt road to the N which I suspected ends in the Moschato cove I had left. On the way I met 5 young ladies walking in the opposite direction. They were volunteers-work study students with Archipelagos, a conservation organization that I support. They confirmed that the road does end by the large building that I had explored yesterday. This building will be the Lipsi headquarters of Archipelogos where they plan to shelter in the cove and rehabilitate marine mammals.

After I returned to my boat I admired the lovely view. This is cruising: solitude, beautiful coves, clear water, some fear. After a rare bad or dangerous situation is over this fear adds some spice. After that you contemplate the next bad situation. Yes you relax but not the same way as you do on land. You are constantly aware the extend to which you are exposed to the caprices of mother nature.

In the evening I had a relaxing ouzo and then made some rice and finally, at last, finished the chicken roast. By that time a NE swell had started creeping in the cove. I went to bed around 10.

Friday October 14, 2016, Day 15

I woke up around 3:30. Thetis was once again dancing to the swell. This year’s cruising I suppose should be labeled “swell cruising.” There was no danger since the anchor was holding and the boat was a good distance from the shore. I tried to go back to sleep. Maybe I dozed for a while but the motion got worse. The swell often lifted the stern and the next swell crashed it down with a bang. It was motion with sound effects. How can one sleep? I read a little, dozed a little, and so on. I even contemplated departing for Katsadia/Papandria to the south but this would be foolish to risk the many reefs in the area while dark.

Eventually dawn came. I had my coffee and waited for more daylight while raising the dinghy. This was, to say the least, a challenge because the boat’s stern was dancing up and down and crashing with the swell. I had a very hard time to attach the lifting lines and rounding the straps under the dinghy’s keel. Finally the dinghy was up and secured.

By 0825 the anchor was also up and we were underway. The wind was 10 to 18 knots from the NNW. This was very favorable to sailing, for a change, but I was too exhausted to raise and then lower the mainsail. This had not happened to me before. Am I getting too old? So, we motored while running the water-maker and a least re-charging the service batteries which by now were down to 300 Ah out of their 500 Ah capacity because with the last cloudy days the solar panels were not very effective. After we rounded Lipsi the swell subsided. Now the next challenge was to avoid the bad reef in the middle of the narrow channel. I had to be very vigilant and not to make any mistakes. Fortunately the safe course was well marked on the plotter from our previous passages via the channel. When we were near the channel I slowed down to less then 2 knots and took the tiller by hand. To my relief the reef was visible and we cleared it by just a few meters, like all the other times. After that I relaxed.

We entered the Katsadia/Papandria cove at 0935. There were 2 S/Y in Katsadia and 2 in Papandria. I decided to anchor in Papandria [37° 16.8' N 026° 46.2' E]. I dropped the anchor in 4.5 m over the beautiful sand and let out 35 m scope. We had come 5.1 M. Here it was very, very calm. No swell. I lowered the dinghy and snorkeled to the anchor. Once again, it was beautifully set. I hope I do not become complacent to this.

I called Agmar Marine and they confirmed our haul-out date for Wednesday morning of October 19. But they also reminded me that strong motherly winds have been forecasted and should the weather deteriorate we may have to advance this date to Tuesday or even Monday. We agreed to speak again on Monday and then make the final decision.

Two more S/Y arrived later in the morning including Carpe Diem a 31' with a German flag. I was sure that I had met this boat before but could not recall when or where.

Around 6 PM I went ashore and walked to the harbor. I had my usual ouzo with their sensational grilled octopus at Nick’s and Louli’s. Both Nikos and his wife Louli asked me about Alice since they had not seen her for several years now. I assured them she is alright and we all wished each other a good and healthy winter. After that I went to the Kairis bakery where I bought fresh bread and had a dipla (a fritter with honey).

Then I walked under the moonlight, 2 days shy of a full moon, to Katsadia and the dinghy. Just in case of a repeat of the dinghy mishap in Emborio I tied it along side Thetis with its bow painter and a stern line. The night was windy but calm. I was in bed by 10.

Saturday October 15, 2016, Day 16

I slept until almost 7 AM. It was a lazy morning spent mostly reading. I was planning to hike to the Panayia of Charos church but the wind increased and was gusting up to 30 knots. So the plan was abandoned.

The wind kept increasing until sunset. I had my usual ouzo watching the sun go down and the almost full moon rising. For dinner I warmed in the oven the left-over spaghetti with tuna and I finished the already opened bottle of Boutari Ayiogitiko red wine. By 10 the wind was much reduced and I went to bed.

Almost full moon
Almost full moon, Papandria

Sunday October 16, 2016, Day 17

The forecasts this morning predicted light winds for today but strong very gusty winds for tomorrow and Tuesday, then light winds on Wednesday. I prepared to depart from Papandria for Archangelos which is about 1.5 M from the shipyard. The idea was to do there all the possible preparations for the winter layover. The most important of which are the removal of the sails. This is a dangerous operation when the boat is on the stands because of the risk of tipping over. But when the boat is anchored all is needed are light but steady winds so that the anchor is not dislodged.

At about 0940 the anchor was up and we were under way. The wind was 12-17 knots from the N, I opened 60% of the headsail and had the final sail of the year. The sea was rather choppy and confused. It was a sail but not the most comfortable one. When we were near Archangelos the wind almost died and I had to motor-sail. We arrived in Archangelos [37° 11.9' N 026° 46.3' E] at 1050 after 5.2 M. I anchored in 5 m depth and let out 32 m of chain.

It was very calm here with a slight NE breeze. Next to Thetis was a lovely gaff-rigged wooden cutter the S/Y Blue Jay. It looks that the Stigma taverna has installed 2 permanent moorings but unless I snorkel and inspect them I will not trust them. I lowered the dinghy and snorkeled to my anchor. It was well set. I then snorkeled to the nearest mooring. It looked OK but it had a lot of growth which I doubt that it was accumulated in just few month here. It must had been moved here from elsewhere.

In the early afternoon, taking advantage of the light breeze and calm I opened the genoa and lowered it on deck. I then bundled it and lashed it. I only got a scratched knuckle from this exercise. The removal of the mainsail is busier and more time consuming but easier then the removal of the much larger genoa. After that task I snorkeled again to the anchor and verified that it was not dislodged while the large sail was open and fluttering with the wind. In the mean time, 2 other sailboats, both with the French flag, had arrived.

Around 4:30 it was again very calm and although I was planning to remove the mainsail in the morning I decided to take advantage of the calm and do it now. It took me over an hour but eventually it too was down, bundled, and lashed on deck. I was very glad that these two essential chores were behind me.

I celebrated this with an ouzo while waiting for Alice to call me on FaceTime as we had prearranged via e-mail. She did so and we had a nice chat. I also spoke with my daughter Corinna and grandson Rohan.

At about 7:30 it was getting dark. I went with the dinghy to the Stigma taverna. Demetra and her parents, Europe and Yiannis, greeted me as an old friend: hugs and kissed from the ladies. Two couples from the French S/Ys were already there. All of them, as they explained, were not French but Brittons. Although their english was limited and so was my french they invited me to join them at their table. Both of their boats are also scheduled for a haul-out tomorrow, one in Agmar Marine and the other in Artemis, the newer shipyard in Partheni. The food was good and there was plenty of all around good will.

When I returned to Thetis it was extremely calm. Was this the “eye of the storm?”

Monday October 17, 2016, Day 18

I was woken around 3:30 by the sound of the gusting wind. Surprisingly it came from the S and not from the predicted N. This caused Thetis to drift in 4 m depth. The wind kept changing direction but the gusts were much stronger then 14 knots. Unable to sleep and anxious about drifting to shallow water I read for a while. Then I went back to sleep.

After I woke up again and while drinking my coffee I looked at the latest weather forecasts. They predicted N wind increasing by 1500 to force 5 and reaching by 2100 force 6 and possibly 7 by midnight. For tomorrow they predicted for 6 to 7 for all day. Then, on Wednesday morning the wind will be less strong.

I waited, and after 9 AM called Agmar Marine and spoke to Tassos in the office. I told him to ask Mastro Michalis about the scheduled haul-out on Wednesday morning. After a while Tassos came back and told me that Mastro Michalis will squeeze Thetis to be hauled-out around 1 PM today instead of Wednesday because the wind may not lessen by Wednesday morning and after the force 7 of Tuesday there may be a large swell in the “pool”.

With this change of plans I went ashore and told Mrs. Europe that after all I will not be coming for dinner tonight. Then, I returned to the boat and killed some time reading. I then raised the anchor and at 1138 motored slowly, towing the dinghy, the 1.4 M to Partheni [37° 11.3' N 026° 48' E]. We arrived at 1205. All of Agmar’s moorings were free. It took some effort to catch one because the dinghy was getting on the way but it was done. The travel-lift had just left the “pool” carying the S/Y Blue Jay to the yard.

I lifted the dinghy to its davits and then hanged the fenders and prepared mooring lines: 2 astern and 2 in the bow. The travel-lift returned carrying a French S/Y. After she was launched they lifted a small French S/Y with a singlehandler. Thetis will be next. Dimitris the travel-lift operator informed me that Nicolas was not here today but he is assisted by Yiorgos. While waiting for the return of the travel-lift I had a snack and a coffee.

Thetis was hauled-out at 1450. Another year of cruising was over. While the boat was transported to her winter resting place I walked to the office and greeted Irene the ever helpful administrator, Tassos, and finally Angelos and Mastro Michalis. I also asked them to arrange for a rented car. By that time Thetis was on her stands. I connected her to the yard’s AC, turned on the MacBook, and send e-mails to the family advising them that Thetis has just stopped being a boat and is now a camper!

I felt too tired to do very much. I rested, read, and listened to some music. In the evening I had a hot shower at the yard’s facilities. Everything appeared to me that it was moving, especially the shower stall.

I then walked to the Archontiko taverna which is right across from the airport. But it was shut. Back to the boat I made an omelet, washed the dishes, and called it a night. It was windy, now definitely force 6. There was a lot of rattling and it was not warm inside the boat.

Tuesday October 18, 2016

The night was very windy. The shaking of the boat woke me up around 3:30. I read for a while and then went back to bed.

In the morning I lowered the dinghy to the ground and looked for the small space heater. After I found the heater I plugged it in and warmed the cabin. I rearranged things inside. Later Agmar came and took for service and storage the genset, the outboard, the passarella, and both sails. I lowered the anchor and its chain on a wooden palette.

For dinner I went to the Mylos taverna where I had an excellent fish soup and a large salad.

Wednesday October 19, 2016

I slept well and woke later then usual. I lowered the water hose and connected it. I then washed all the fenders inside the dinghy. Then I hanged the fenders on the lifelines to dry and I filled the dinghy with fresh water. I lowered all the used lines from the right (starboard) sail locker and put them in the now water filled dinghy to soak. Then I washed the anchor and it chain on the wooden pallet and put a load of dirty clothes to the yard’s washing machine.

I ran some experiments on the battery charging systems. First I turned off the solar panels and left only the AC charger until the charging current was down to a trickle. Later, when the voltage was stable I confirmed my suspisions the the Ah meter was not properly connected.

For dinner I went to Alindas. The old Italian restaurant was now under a new management and it was recommended to me. The food was fine but not sensational. The New Zealand couple from the S/Y near Thetis came and sat down to a table next to mine. We all watched a large group, more then 10, arrive. Everyone of them had a mobile phone. They hardly talked to each other all being busy punching their phones and occasionally taking a bite to eat. It is a new world!

Thursday October 20, 2016

In the morning I updated and then printed the “To Do” list for Agmar. Then I lifted all the lines that had soaked overnight in the dinghy and hanged them to dry. I drained the dinghy, re-filed it with fresh water and lowered the lines and chains from the left (port) sail locker. I then removed some of the running lines (downhaul, sheets, etc.) and put them to soak in the dinghy.

I discussed with Antonis, the customer care person, the 2016-17 “To Do” list and made some appropriate corrections.

I removed all 4 jerry cans. I transferred the fuel from the only filled can to the main fuel tank until the tank was full. I then added in the tank a preservative to keep the fuel clean and without water over the winter. I took the 4 jerry cans to the shipyard’s used fuel disposal tank and drained them. Then I washed them with soap and water, rinsed them, and left them open to dry.

In the afternoon I went with Angelos, the yard’s owner, for a late but fun lunch. After my return to Thetis I did not do very much. I had an ouzo and then made an omelet with the left over grated Parmezan cheese. It was a warm night.

Friday October 21, 2016

Ready for the winter
Getting Thetis ready for the winter

I continued washing ropes & lines. I drove to Lakki and registered at the Limenarchio (Coast Guard) that Thetis will be spending the winter in Leros. They were very friendly and polite.

After returning to Partheni I hanged the lines that had been soaking in the dinghy and then I thoroughly washed the dinghy. Later Panayiotis, the electrician, came and we discussed the needed electric work: check the AIS antenna, connect the GPS/Chart Plotter via the NMEA bridge to the alarm sounder, replace the bow navigation lights, etc. Following my experiments we were both convinced that the consumed Ah indicated on the meter were wrong and that the batteries were indeed full. He will check the meter and its contacts.

Not much work is now left for tomorrow.

I checked in with my Olympic flight to Athens on Sunday and printed the boarding pass. After a nice shower I had a small ouzo and then drove to Gourna and met Panayiotis and his wife Mary whom I had invited to dinner at the Gourna taverna. We had a very good time with plenty of seafood mezedes (appetizers).

Saturday October 22, 2016

I worked completing the final tasks. I covered the dinghy and raised it. I stowed all the dried lines but I had to wait for the sun to dry the rest because the night was very humid. I stowed all the jerry cans in the left sail locker. I washed all the masks and snorkels. I covered both sides of the boom to prevent birds making their nests there. I finally washed the deck and the cockpit. I covered the instruments, covered the winches, cleaned the refrigerator, and stowed the water hose. The only tasks left for tomorrow were the ones that could only be done after I had slept in the boat.

In the evening I had invited Irene the very helpful secretary-customer coordinator along with her boyfriend Michalis to dinner. But he could not make it because he had to work as a night watchman for the Agmar Marine marina in Lakki. Irene does not have a car and commutes with her scooter. So, I met her in Kamara where she left the scooter and we drove to Lakki where we had an excellent dinner at the Petrino restaurant. After dinner we walked to the marina and met Michalis.

Sunday October 23, 2016

Today I am flying to Athens. I packed my duffle bag with 4 bottles of Kalami wine after lowering it to the ground. I put all the unwashed clothes, including the bedding, in a bag to be picked up for washing by the yard. I packed my carry-ons. I had a late breakfast/early lunch finishing the last consumables. I removed the spray hood and the cockpit table. I plugged all the through-holes with plastic bags to prevent any vermin from entering the boat, disconnected the AC and stowed the extension cord.

This is the end of the 2016 cruising.

2016 Vital Statistics
Total Distance 645.7 M
Time at Sea 52 days
Total Time Underway 120.6 hr
Total Solo Time 38 days
Total Engine Time 39.2 hr
Total Fuel Consumed 131.8 L
Total Water Consumed 254 L