Travels with S/Y Thetis

Thetis only

Thetis 2019: Leros to Samos

This web page contains the logs of a 5 day solo sailing trip that I took with S/Y Thetis in the East Aegean. I sailed from Partheni in Leros, where Thetis was launched, to Samos Marina via Archangelos near Leros, Papandria in Lipsi, Tiganakia, and Marathi.

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 to Samos from Leros
Route to Samos from Leros

Friday May 31, 2019, Day 1

When I woke up at 5:45 there were still mosquitoes in the main cabin despite burning all night an anti-mosquito coil. I had my coffee and then prepared the boat for her launching. I rigged bow and stern lines and hung 3 fenders on each of her sides.

At exactly 8:00 Nicholas, the travel-lift assistant came to warn me while the Dimitris was approaching with the travel-lift. I disconnected the AC power and moved the car out of the way. Then I drove the car in front of the office and explained to Irene that it will be collected later. I then paid back Irene the 900 € that she had given to Antonis for the various boat license fees. She still had not finished with Thetis’ accounts. I walked to the chandlery store, now run, by another Irene, number 3. She checked but they did not have any fender covers. These are desperately needed to replace the almost deteriorated ones that are about to fall off.

By the time I left the office, Thetis was up on the travel-lift and slowly moving to the launching “pool.” I followed on foot. At exactly 0900 she was in the water and free of the travel-lift straps. In the mean time, Nicolas had brought the dinghy and its outboard and he but it in the water. Then Nicolas and Dimitris helped me install the large genoa, and after a couple of false starts this was done. All was well. The plan was to relocate the boat out of the “pool” to one of the mooring buoys. But after turning the engine key and it started, it revved up by itself and then sputtered off. Following this it refused to start again. Dimitris called the mechanic.

Yiannis, the mechanic, and his assistant, also Yiannis came. They tried bleeding the fuel but no joy. After disassembling the fuel lines they found that no fuel was flowing from the fuel tank to the first filter. In the mean time Dimitris was anxious to clear the “pool” because it was needed for launching another boat. So with the help of Dimitris, Nicholas, and the 2 Yiannis we moved Thetis out of the pools and secured her along side. Yiannis continued tracing the problem. Finally, to our relief, they found there was no blockage from the tank but the hand operated bleeding pump at the input of the first filter was blocked. They removed it, disabled it, and after cleaning it put it back. Now they bled the lines and the second small filter and tried starting the engine. It came back to life. Music!

At 1115 I cast off and headed, slowly, towing the dinghy, and checking all systems including the autopilot to the little island of Archangelos [37° 11.9' N 026° 46.3' E], just 1.2 M from Partheni. We arrived there at 1145 and anchored in 6.5 m depth letting out over 35 m of chain. I snorkeled and check the anchor. The Rocna anchor is amazing. It was completely buried under the sand. Also, the new Mantus stretch line hook that I had brought with me worked like a charm.

I had a light lunch and took a nap. Nice to be afloat again. Latter I tested the outboard and the genset. Both worked very well. My evening plan was to go to the Stigma taverna for dinner. Before that, I took a shower and shaved. I noticed that the water flow in the shower (the water comes from the water tanks via a pressure pump) was very low. Also, after the shower, when I pushed the button for the pump which drains the accumulated water in the stall, instead of pumping the water out it just made bubbles and gurgling sounds. This was bad and it has to be addressed. I just will have to return to the yard tomorrow.

I finally went ashore to the Stigma (Το Στίγμα) taverna where I was greeted by Mr. Yiorgos, his wife Evrope, and daughter Demetra. They were wondering what had happened to me and Mrs. Aliki. I had a very good home made meal. By 10:30 I was back in my boat falling asleep. No mosquitoes here!

The anchorage in Archangelos

Saturday June 1, 2019, Day 2

In the morning I decided not to install the mainsail as I was planing but to depart, right after my coffee and go back to the yard and address the plumbing issues. I left Archangelos at 0655 and motored back to Partheni, 1.3 M, arriving at 0715. On the way I used the 2nd autopilot driver. It too worked well. There was outside the “pool” a large fishing boat leaving just enough space for Thetis to moor side to. I prepared bow and stern lines and hanged 4 fenders. I approached very slowly with the bow almost touching the fishing boat. I threw the bow line around the bollard, and then jumped ashore and secured the stern line. Very pleased to have accomplished a solo mooring after all this time. Both bow and stern lines were doubled for easy escape.

The issues I wanted to address were:

  1. The shower stall did not drain
  2. Slow water flow in the bathroom

After a while Yiannis located the trouble with the shower drain. There were 2 hoses going to 2 different pumps. One went to the electric and the other to a hand operated. The fitting of the first one through the stall’s wall was broken. I told him the quick fix: Interchange the hoses. So now he connected the second hose to the electric pump. When Thetis returns to the yard for the winter they will replace the fitting now leading to the hand pump.

After this, Yiannis disconnected the hoses and pipes from the 2 water tanks and checked their flow. The ones from the left (port) tank were fine but there was no flow from the right (starboard) tank. Following this he found that all the hoses and pipes were clear but there was no water coming out of the full tank. He was unable due to the narrow clearance to clear the tank outlet. To do so the whole tank had to be removed. I decided that rather than waist at least another day for this I will have to make do with only the left (100 L) tank. After switching to only the left tank the flow to the bathroom was normal.

While Yiannis was working on the water tanks I decided to raise the dinghy to its davits. Then I realized that while the front steel wire sling was there, the rear sling was missing. I walked to the office and spoke to Mastro Michalis and Antonis. After some confusion Michalis asked Antonis to go to the shop and have them make a new sling. I walked back to the boat. After a while Antonis brought me the new sling. With both slings now I easily raised the dinghy to the davits and secured it.

I then went to the office. Irene now had my rather substantial bill. I took it with me and will pay it via bank transfers.

Back on the boat as I was about to cast off a Coast Guard vehicle drove straight to the end of the “pool” and 2 officers came out and walked directly to Thetis and asked to see her papers. I told them that it was very thoughtful of them since I just had them all renewed by their office. I do not think they got the sarcasm. I took out the official papers folder and handed it to them. After leafing the folder the asked “how about ΔΕΣΠΑ (DESPA)?” I had no idea what that was, but I showed every recent paper, one after the other. It turned out it was the new paper that collects official stamps, which of course had a 2 day old stamp by their office.

After motoring for 5 M we arrived in Papandria, Lipsi [37° 16.5' N 26° 46.5' E] at 1310. There was already there one large sailing catamaran, and 2 smaller S/Ys. I dropped the anchor in 4 m over sand depth and let out 25 m of scope. Then I lowered the dinghy thus freeing the swimming ladder and snorkeled to the anchor. It was well set.

I had a bite to eat and took a long nap under the tent. In the evening I wanted to go to the harbor and have some of the excellent grilled octopus. But I first took a nice hot shower. No problem with the water flow, both hot and cold, nor with pumping the water out of the stall. I got dressed and taking with me an empty bag and a knife, I went ashore with the dinghy. From there it is a 30 minute walk to the harbor. On the road I stopped and cut some fresh thyme with a lovely blue flower to be used for cooking. In the harbor I went straight to by favorite Nick & Loulis taverna. Nikos, the proprietor, hugged me and told me that he was afraid that another of his customers was gone. His wife, Louli, who 18 years ago was a very beautiful young woman and still a very attractive one also hugged me and kissed me. This is also Greece. One may even forget its horrible bureaucracy. I had, as usual, ouzo and grilled octopus along with several other mezedes (tasty treats). After that I walked to the bakery where I got some fresh bread and indulged in a plate of δίπλες (diples - light fritters with honey).

Sunday June 2, 2019, Day 3

This was a busy and exiting morning. I woke up just before 6 having slept soundly. First thing, of course, was to make my triple Turkish coffee and sip it while looking up with my iPad in the internet, via Cosmote, the weather and news (UK, NY Times, and Greek Kathimerini). After that fairly lengthy process it was time to work and take advantage of the low sun.

First, I raised the dinghy. No problem there but it does take some time, about 20 minutes. Then it was time for the big job, installing the mainsail. The last time I did this was 2 years ago with my dear Alice’s help. First I got the the sail out of its bag and found the battens in the left cabin. I had to turn the sail around to find the correct corner which feeds into the boom. Before going on with the sail I had to remove the tent and free the 4 lines in the boom that go from the goose neck to its end. One of these is the one that pulls the sail, the other 3 are for reefing. Then I slowly fed the sail in the boom slot while pulling it with the line. That accomplished, I now had to slowly raise it with the halyard while feeding the sail slides on the mast. Every so often I had to stop and insert the appropriate batten and reefing line. I did make a few mistakes and had to redo part of this but eventually the headsail was up and correctly rigged. I then raised the lazy jacks and slowly lowered the sail while folding and strapping it on top of the boom. By the time I finished with the sail it was almost 10 AM.

Then I prepared for departure. My plan was to sail to Tiganakia (Τηγανάκια) just S of Arki because I did not want to go to my favorite Marathi on a possibly busy and crowded Sunday. I will go there tomorrow. I raised the anchor and departed from Papandria at 1010. I turned on the water-maker and motored. The wind was about 7 knots from the SW, too weak for sailing. The first obstacle was to clear the reef [37° 16.9' N 026° 47.7' E]. Before getting too close to the reef I lowered the boat speed to almost 1 knot. Fortunately this time the reef was visible, but I do have it well marked on the chart plotter. After that it was clear run. We arrived at Tiganakia [37° 21.6' N 026° 45' E], after 6.2 M at 1115. It took me 2 tries to anchor to my satisfaction. I finally did so in 7 m depth over sand and 30 m of scope. Thetis settling in 6.5 m. There was no other boat here other then several large motor cruisers and a lovely old schooner in the next cove some distance away.

I lowered the dinghy, freeing the swimming ladder and then snorkeled to the anchor. It was very well set and almost buried under the sand. The water was, unlike yesterday, almost 24° C (75° F) and very comfortable so I enjoyed the swim. My problem was that my skin had not seen the sun for almost 2 years now and I wanted to prevent it, as much as possible, from burning. So I used plenty of sun screen, wore a hat, and minimized the time of exposure. Despite these I still got plenty of exposure. So, I did not swim as long as I would like. I was currently reading Liz Clark's Swell: A Sailing Surfer's Voyage of Awakening, a sailing journey in the Pacific. I had a light lunch and a short nap.

In the evening I managed to connect my iPhone to the Bose bluetooth speaker and now I even have music. I am slowly getting into “cruising mode.” The evening was a little chilly, cockpit temperature 24°C and cabin 27°C. I had a very pleasant evening listening to Greek nautical songs. As the sun was setting I had an ouzo. This was a very relaxed ½ day. For dinner I made spaghetti with a sauce of tuna, capers, garlic, and onions. I ate on the cockpit table sprinkling the spaghetti with graded Parmezan cheese. I then had some apricots but they were not the best. I could not wait for the ones in Kalami.

I went to bed just before 11 PM.

Monday June 3, 2019, Day 4

I slept well although there was some swell but after checking the boat I went right back to sleep. The task for today was to empty the left storage cabin, open its berth and stow in it all the items that will not be needed until the boat returns to the shipyard in the fall. After that I put everything back but neatly this time. I also cleaned the cockpit from the accumulated bread crumbs with bucketfuls of sea water.

I spoke on the phone with our Kalami caretaker Yiorgos who offered to help me move my stuff from the marina to our house. I also spoke to the Marina and Aramis advising them of my expected arrival late tomorrow morning and the need to rent a small car.

The day was somewhat windy, 8 - 15 knots from the WNWand cool about 22° C (71.6° F) in the cockpit. At 1020, after I raised the anchor, we departed heading, towing the dinghy, to Marathi (Μαράθι) [37° 22' N 026° 43.6' E] 1.9 M away where we arrived at 1038. There were plenty of available moorings including all of Pantelis’. While catching a mooring was no problem getting its heavy line was rather tricky because it was completely submerged and some distance from the floating buoy. After tying the buoy to the bow I had to go with the dinghy and the boat hook to fish the heavy line out and secure to a bow cleat. I also passed to its loop a thiner line and tied its end loosely on the bow cleats to be used tomorrow for an easy escape.

After securing the boat I went ashore to meet the family. Mr. Pandelis, Mrs. Katina, and their daughter Toola were very glad that I had come. They all asked about Kyria Aliki (Alice). They all are in good health but Pantelis has slowed down after his stroke. I will see them tonight.

Exactly 2 years ago on June 3 was the last time that I saw here in Marathi my dear departed friend Turgut Ayker, his wife Arzu, and their son Orhan. I called Arzu and spoke to her. She, Orhan, and her brother were with New Life in Mykonos and eventually planed to stop to Patmos. I will miss them.

I started reading Andrew Hart's Lies That Bind Us, a novel set in Crete of a dysfunctional group.

By the afternoon more boats had arrived: 5 S/Y and 4 motor cruisers, most with a Turkish flag. Later in the afternoon I undertook to clean and organize the odds and ends in the self under the companion way. Slowly Thetis is getting ship-shape. But she will need another thorough cleaning inside and pressure hosing of her deck and cockpit. After these tasks I went ashore and took an almost 1-hr hike around the S side of the island.

Back on board, I took a nice hot shower and shaved. Then I went ashore again, this time for dinner. Toola brought me an ouzo and a small platter of mezedes (appetizers). Then some white wine, their special salad with caper leaves and soft goat cheese, and a wonderful grilled fish, specially put aside for me by Katina. Pantelis sat with me and we had a nice conversation covering Greek politics, pollution, etc.

After this nice dinner and my goodbyes from the family I returned to Thetis. I set the alarm for 4:30 so that I can get an early arrival to Samos Marina.

Tuesday June 4, 2019, Day 5

I woke up, before the alarm, at 3:30. First I prepared for myself a large Turkish coffee and read the weather on the iPad while slowly drinking it. Then I prepared the boat for departure. I pulled the double line so it was holding the boat and the other line on the cleat was slack. I went to the bow with the dinghy and removed that line and the cleat. After that I raised the dinghy on its davits and secured it. I kept the tent because I still needed to protect myself from the sun. Any sailing will have to be with the headsail.

The Dinghy

I cast off at 0545. The wind was about 8 knots from the SSW, a tail wind. First we motored along the W side of Arki to its northern tip running the water-maker. I filled 3 bottles from the water-maker and then switched it to the tank. After rounding Cape Koumbaros I set the waypoint on the chart plotter for Samos Marina and switched the autopilot to its “Track” mode, I then opened the headsail. It was marginal as the “apparent wind” was less than 4 knots. I kept the motor on. After about an hour the left tank (the only one now usable) was full and I turned off the water-maker.

About 1 M from the marina, I prepared the docking lines, and hanged the fenders. I tried hailing the marina put there was no response. I then called them on the iPhone. I entered the marina but it took some time before the attendant appeared. He first wanted Thetis to moor infront of the café but I asked him to moor her near Voyager as it was done for the last 10 years. After some hesitation and a phone call he guided me to C11 [37° 41.45' N 026° 57.49' E]. After handing to me the stern mooring line he tied the 2 bow lines. The time was 0930 and we had come 21.2 M. I installed the bow ladder and replaced the temporary mooring lines by the stronger ones with springs.

Soon Alexis from Aramis came with the rented car and so did Yiorgos, our Kalami caretaker, with his truck to take my luggage. After removing the tent and covering the headsail I drove to our house in Kalami. The trip was over.