Travels with S/Y Thetis

Thetis only

1998: Near Samos I

This web page contains the logs of two short trips with S/Y Thetis. Both trips start and end in the island of Samos. The first is a solo trip to the Dodechanese islands of Arki and Agathonisi. The second is to Fourni, then Patmos, and Agathonisi. The logs are illustrated with maps and photographs, and also include some historical and geographical descriptions of the places visited as well as several links to other related web sites.

June 27 to July 12, 1998

We have been in Samos, staying in our house in Kalami, while Thetis was at first left in Poseidonio (Ποσειδώνιο) or Posidonio. But this was not to last. A few days after we arrived, Mr. Soutos, the owner of the underwater mooring (remetzo - ρεμέτζο) on which we tied Thetis called and asked me not to use his mooring anymore because he was expecting some visitors in Poseidonio with a power cruiser and they will be needing the mooring. So Alice and I drove to Poseidonio, re-anchored Thetis and tied a long line ashore. Poseidonio is maybe the most secure anchorage in Samos during the meltemi (seasonal northerly winds blowing in the East Aegean during the summer) season but its bottom is mostly weed on mud and the anchors, under a strong wind, can uproot the grass and drag. For this reason I did not want to leave Thetis unattended under anchor alone.

A few days after the re-anchoring I received another telephone call, this time from the Limenarchio (Coast Guard). They informed me that our shore line created a “menace to navigation.” It seems (as I later learned from Mr. Nikos) that one of the local fisherman complained about our long line. It inconvenienced him to have to go around it, almost 30 meters! Not wanting to get into long arguments and bad feelings, on July 3 Alice and I motored Thetis from Poseidonio to the harbor of Pythagorio (Πυθαγόρειο) [37° 41.2' N 26° 57' E] 4.6 M. I took us 57 minutes. During this ride both GPS units stopped working. We moored without any difficulties. Since the last time we were in Pythagorio things have changed. Mr. Yannis, who was the conscientious harbor keeper, has resigned because the municipality owed him over 6 months of salary. The harbor refueling station is no longer in use. The owner of the local gas station, which is located about 4 km from the town, used his political influence to shut down the harbor station, operated by the municipality, because it offered “unfair competition to private enterprises.” His station will refuel yachts, provided they require an amount of fuel large enough to be worth his time to drive his truck to the harbor. Now, in effect, a small sailing yacht cannot refuel here. On the other hand, water in the harbor used to be metered and a small fee was charged depending on the water consumed by a yacht. Now it is free for the taking, since there is no attendant to collect the fees.

So for the time being, Thetis was secured in the Pythagorio harbor. But it would not last. I was informed by the Limenarchio, that Thetis, along with all the other yachts, would have to vacate the harbor from July 13 until July 16 because Pythagorio would be a stop for the 1998 Aegean Rally!

In the meantime, I talked on the telephone with Mr. Petros, the electrician in Athens, who had originally procured and installed the failed fresh water pump, and who had sent us the new Johnson pump with the relay transient. I sent him back the failed Jabsco pump. He, also, spoke to the Johnson dealership and they gave him a 10,000 µF capacitor which he mailed to me. It took care of the problem. I also traced the GPS problem to corrosion on the plug to the GPS antenna. After I cleaned the plug and its socket and reset both GPS units, they both worked.

In addition to these problems, I also ran into a bureaucratic one. My insurance contract with the Ethniki Asphalistiki listed the old Evinrude outboard. I visited their local branch in Samos to try to change the contract to list the new Yamaha outboard instead. In my naive way I thought that this would be a rather straightforward routine procedure. Instead, after several telephone calls to their headquarters in Athens, they informed me that I had not paid the insurance premium, and that Thetis was no longer covered. I was undone. I located the entry in my Pisteos Bank checkbook of 154,000 GRD that I had paid them on October 97. They agreed, after a lot of calls, to continue the coverage, until I could produce written evidence of my payment. As the agreement was just an oral one over the telephone I did not rest easily. I went to the local branch of Pisteos Bank and talked to the very polite and sympathetic manager about getting a copy of the canceled check (Greek banks do not return canceled checks every month as most US banks do). It turns out that this is a very complicated procedure and may take months! I hate bureaucracy!

First trip from Samos
First trip from Samos

Monday July 13, 1998 Day 1

Today Alice and my Mother left Samos for Athens. Since I am alone and I have to move Thetis out of Pythagorio anyway, I took the opportunity to test the waters, so to speak, and try singlehandling again for a few days. I am very exited but also very nervous. I packed a few clothes, some fresh tomatoes from our garden, and some cheese and rode our little motor scooter to Pythagorio. I paid the docking fees to the Limenarchio which were surprisingly a very reasonable 2,700 GRD for 9 days at the harbor. I can never figure out these fees, they seem to be totally arbitrary. The best strategy is to keep the receipt of the lowest fee, and whenever asked for a higher one complain and produce the low price receipt; this usually works.

Thetis was about the last boat to vacate the harbor for the 1998 Aegean Rally. Nevertheless another boat had managed to cross our chain. I extricated the anchor with the minimum of fuss. We left Pythagorio at 1115 heading towards Arki (Αρκοί). The weather was very good and, after we cleared Samos, where the wind was variable, we got a steady 15-20 breeze from the west and we had a nice sail for better than ⅔ of the way. The autopilot and the GPS were working well except that I could not use the autopilot in the track mode. I do not still know the cause of this. The right main cabin window had a small leak. The ride, while under sail, was wonderful. It was a great feeling to be under sail all by myself again.

Message received on the Navtex

131345 UTC JUL98.

We arrived at 1510 and anchored without any problems in 11 m depth on the second cove south of Port Augusta, Arki.

Arki is a small island with about 50 inhabitants all in one hamlet with a small harbor, Port Augusta [37° 22.7' N 26° 44.1' E].

Horses in Arki
Horses in Arki

The cove is part of a double cove, separated by a sand bar. I checked the anchor with the snorkel, it is well dug in. Thetis is the only boat here, and other than a few scattered houses ashore we are surrounded with goats, sheep and a few horses. The water is crystal clear, rippled by the strong gusts, up to 25 knots, but they cause no problem.

Photo of Port Augusta
Port Augusta

I called Athens with the Autolink and talked to Alice. They all arrived safely. I walked to the little hamlet of Port Augusta, had an ouzo at one of the three modest establishments, then walked back to my cove. The sunset was magnificent and I watched it while having a second ouzo. I cooked pasta with tuna and capers. Had dinner in the cockpit with some Turkish red wine, left over from last year’s trip. It was a little windy but very pleasant. Lots and lots of stars here since there are hardly any electric lights. It is nice to be alone and afloat. It is a magic hour watching the stars while listening to Hadjidakis music. I am totally content. This is precisely the moment that I was afraid that I would never experience again. Alone, on a wonderful, isolated cove, with the water and the stars. I started reading a science fiction novel by Hogan, Bug Park. It seems interesting. I slept very well.

Tuesday July 14, 1998 Day 2

I woke up at 6:00 and had coffee in the cockpit with the music of the goat bells. This place is one of the last truly spectacular places still left in Greece, unspoiled, and untouched by “civilization,” despite the few rather ugly houses.

View from Arki

By 7:45 I was ashore with my glitsa (walking stick) and hiking boots, off for a two hour hike. I climbed the peak of the island. The view was great. Samos to the N, Fourni to NW, Ikaria and Patmos to the W, Lipsi to the S, and Agathonisi to the E. All clearly visible. I watched a sailing yacht enter the cove flying the Greek flag upside down. They anchored inexpertly, too close to Thetis for comfort. I climbed down and walked back. By that time their anchor had dragged and they were leaving.

I put up the tent. I looked for a sealant to fix the leak on the right main cabin window. I also found the spare oil filters. They were totally corroded. I cleaned and dried the filters and applied sealant to the Plexiglass window. After a swim and lunch I lay down in the cockpit to read. I felt very lazy under the warm tent and I fell asleep.

In the evening, after a hot shower, I had an ouzo and watched another gorgeous sunset, but while eating a crisini my tooth implant broke lose. This is the only flaw to an otherwise perfect day. There was no wind and the water was very flat, reflecting the sunset colors and later the stars. I made dinner with the rest of the pasta and a sauce from fresh tomatoes, onions, and olives from Kalami, capers, and hot pepper, a sort of poutaneska. Before going to bed I called our home in Washington, D.C. to see if Alice had arrived safely. The time there was 5 PM and I only got the answering machine.

Wednesday July 15, 1998 Day 3

I got up early and had a leisurely coffee in the cockpit. I then raised the anchor and left for Agathonisi at 0750. The sea was very calm and there was no wind. Not even a prayer of a chance for sailing, it was motoring all the way. During this time I marked the anchor chain with colorful tie-wraps to help during anchoring. By 1020 we had covered the 13.2 M and were entering the anchorage in Agathonisi (Αγαθονήσι). I chose, once again, the Τσαγκάρης (Tsangaris - shoe cobbler) cove [37° 27' N 26° 58.2' E] just S of the harbor, Port St. George. I first anchored temporarily. Then, after launching the zodiac, which I usually lash on deck during passages, especially when I singlehandle, I took a line ashore and secured it on a rock with a loop of chain. I pulled the line taut with the zodiac and tied a fender to the other end. I then re-anchored and, letting out 45 m of chain, backed up to the fender. It all went very smoothly.

Tsangaris Cove
Tsangaris Cove

I had a nice warm swim and checked the anchor with the mask. I then had a bite to eat and rested under the tent. The Navtex forecast called for calm conditions for today but predicted deteriorating conditions with strong N winds starting tomorrow afternoon. We shall see what to do in the morning. The problem is that the Pythagorio harbor may not be free until late in the afternoon.

The Autolink gets no signal here so I took the zodiac to the harbor and, after considerable difficulty, I managed to speak with Alice back in Washington, D.C. It was a terrible connection but I gathered that she had no difficulties with her trip.

In the late afternoon the wind increased somewhat so I set a second cavos (shore line) just in case. Otherwise it was a lazy afternoon spent mostly reading and swimming. Later, after having an ouzo, I took the zodiac back to Port St. George and had dinner at the Glaros (seagull) restaurant, but unlike last time with Alice, they did not have fresh fish. Instead I had a delicious pork chop and salad.

Thursday July 16, 1998 Day 4

The Navtex now forecasted calm seas for today and the expected strong northerly winds are due tomorrow. Also a front is slowly moving eastwards from S Italy to the Aegean.

Garbage in Agathonisi
Garbage in Agathonisi

I went ashore for a hike. I started on the same path that Alice and I took a few weeks ago toward the double church but turned left and eventually joined the dirt road leading to the large village (Megalo Chorio). From there, I kept going on the cement road toward the N of the island. The people here must love cement and plastics, they use them at every available opportunity. After an hour walk, past Megalo Chorio, I came across the smelly garbage dump and also I could see 3 lovely coves despoiled by fish farms and their ugly installations ashore. Eventually I arrived at the tiny harbor that we had visited with Thetis last year to take photographs of an old Tsernikoperama (a now very rare type of wooden caique) for Nikos’ naval architect friend Dr. Costas Damnianides who was preparing an exhibit on traditional wooden boats.

Agathonisi, view to NE
Agathonisi, view to NE

The little harbor is still a gem of a place despite the nearby fish farm. I struck up a conversation with a fisherman and his wife while they were fixing their nets. The place is called Καθολικό (Catholiko - Catholic) and all the boats here, 4-5 small fishing caiques, as well as the 2-3 stone cottages, belong the same extended family. They live here year round. The old Tsernikoperama belongs to his cousin who had her towed to Pythagorio where she underwent repairs and is now up for sale. The fishing is not so good anymore. The large ανεμότρατες (anemotrates - fishing trawlers with large tow nets) from Piraeus and Kalymnos, with their Egyptian crews, devastate the local fish population. They illegally enter into coves and shallow waters while the authorities look the other way, ignoring the pleas of the local fishermen to enforce the law. The fish farms are not very popular with the local folks either. They belong to two companies from Samos and mostly employ cheap Albanian labor. They ruin the tourist prospects, which leave much more income to the local economy, and the local fishing while making millions for their owners in exported fish (τσιπούρες - porgies and λαβράκια - stripped bass). Despite strong local opposition the municipality grants and renews their license for a very modest fee. My own feelings on the subject of fish farms are also quite negative. A few years ago I thought that they were a good idea but after seeing cove after cove taken over and strongly polluted and defaced I am now against them.

Catholiko in Agathonisi
Catholiko in Agathonisi

After the ancient auntie, who seems to be in charge of the hamlet, invited me for a coffee and after witnessing a kitten stealing a fish from the catch and being chased with plenty of stones thrown, I bid goodby to the nice people and started back up the hill for the long way to my cove. By the time I got back 3½ hours had gone by. The path is lovely and smells of mountain tea (φλασκόμυλο) and thyme. I was starving and hot. After a swim, I made a quick tuna salad and ate it with some bread that I had bought yesterday.

Then, for the first time this year, the head (toilet) got clogged. I spent a lively hour dismantling the pump and putting it back together again. By now it was time to leave for Pythagorio. I untied the shore lines, raised and lashed the zodiac, and started raising the anchor. Because the anchor was set in rather shallow water and very close to the rocks in the direction that the wind was blowing, I just pulled about ⅔ of the scope and then reversed hard with the engine dragging the anchor to deeper waters and away from the rocks. I then raise it and departed. It was 1430.

After leaving the protected waters of Agathonisi, there was a very light wind, and it was also hot. I motor-sailed the 15.6 M to Pythagorio with the genoa, while keeping the tent. We arrived at Pythagorio [37° 41.2' N 26° 57' E] on 1730. The inner harbor was very crowded and, as it was extremely hot, I shied away from docking all by myself. Instead, I anchored off-shore in the protected waters of the outer harbor. My idea was to spend the night on-board and dock Thetis in the early morning after some of the boats in the inner harbor would have left.

An Oceanis 390 flying the Turkish flag and the yellow pratique flag (indicating a first entry into the country) anchored next to Thetis. There were two men and one lady aboard. I welcomed them to Greece and asked if they needed any help. They were very friendly people, they had sailed from Istanbul and this was their fourth time in Greece. One of the men and the lady went ashore with their inflatable and quickly cleared customs. They told me that they found the authorities “very friendly.” I was very glad to hear this as this is precisely what both of our countries need: better relations.

I went ashore for some shopping planning to eat aboard. But after an ouzo and some rest, the high heat and humidity changed my mind. Instead I went ashore and ate at a local restaurant. Back on Thetis, the peace of the night was shattered by the emanations from the Bar Pythagoras, an ugly cement and iron structure on the E of the harbor. At 10 PM they started broadcasting extremely loud music of a quality worthy of the worst we heard last year at Kas and Datça. They continued the “music” accompanied by wild screams and yells to well past 3 AM. Even at some distance off-shore it was hard to sleep. Certainly Pythagorio harbor is not a good place to spend the night.

Friday July 17, 1998 Day 5

I waited until 10:30 but there was still no room in the inner harbor and according to the Limenarchio no boats were planning to depart. So, after two attempts I set the second anchor for extra security. The steel British ketch Rusty, farther away, raised their anchor and re-anchored near Thetis. Onboard Rusty was an attractive middle aged couple. They had come this morning from Kusadasi and were planning to stay in Pythagorio to wait for better weather and then continue S to other Greek islands. In the meantime, the weather forecast called for force 7 to be followed by gales for the next few days. I asked them if they could keep their eyes on Thetis and since they had a mobile phone to please call me in Kalami if anything was amiss.

I tied the zodiac at the inner harbor and rode my motor scooter back home to Kalami.

The total distance traveled during these past days was 50.2 M for 9:30 hours.

July 17 to 20, 1998

In the next few days, while I was staying in Kalami, there were gale force winds in the Samos Sea and I had to go to Pythagorio every day to check on Thetis, which was left anchored off-shore. The inner harbor was packed and there were many boats anchored in the outer harbor as well, all waiting out the gale. The nice couple on Rusty kept a lookout for me and during my visits we had many good chats. I kept them supplied with grapes and vegetables from Kalami.

During this time I received a phone call from my nephew Nicky Iliades from Rhodes saying that he and a friend of his would like to visit me in Samos and spend a few days sailing with Thetis. Nicky lives in Massachusetts and is an art student, but last summer he had a job with Vernicos Yachts in Rhodes servicing chartered sailboats. He liked Rhodes and the job so much that he has returned this summer, bringing with him his childhood friend and fellow art student Ben Paterson. They arrived in Samos on July 20 with the hydrofoil from Rhodes, eager to go sailing.

Second trip from Samos
Second trip from Samos

Tuesday July 21, 1998 Day 1

Although the gale was not completely gone yet, we decided to leave Pythagorio because I had to be back in Samos by Saturday to meet my brother Byron who would be visiting me.

We left the outer harbor at 1230 heading toward Fourni. The wind conditions in the bay of Pythagorio can be very deceptive. We had 15 knots from the NE and we sailed with the genoa and the main at the second reef. When we reached the small island Samiopoula, the wind died out and we turned on the motor. A few miles away from Samos the wind came back from the WNW at 35 with gusts above 40 knots and we turned off the motor. The sea was somewhat rough but the kids were enjoying themselves. After reaching Cape Agridio at the S tip of Fourni we turned N and sailing became impossible as we were moving against the wind which had become considerably stronger. We rolled in the genoa, lowered the main, and motored against both large seas and a gusty N wind that by now was seldom under 40 knots. In a cove by the cape there were at least 4 yachts in a very unsettled anchorage. We proceeded toward the good anchorage of Kampi, just S of the harbor, which is not too good with the meltemi. The right window of the main cabin was still leaking. This leak was not a major problem but an anoyance. We made headway at a snail’s pace. We arrived at Kampi (Καμπί), Fourni (Φούρνοι)[37° 34.2' N 26° 28.6' E] at 1820, distance from Pythagorio 26.4 M.

Anchoring in Fourni
Anchoring in Fourni

There were no waves inside the anchorage but the powerful wind was all too present with violent gusts from almost all directions but mostly from the W. We anchored temporarily some distance from the western promontory. I wanted to have shore lines but the wind made maneuvering rather difficult. The plan was to prepare the lines, launch the zodiac and send the kids to tie the first line. Then while one kid would stay with the zodiac, I would re-anchor, letting out lots of scope and then I would backup to the zodiac and take the line. We were saved from all this trouble by the Italian owner of the ketch Syrtaki which was the only other yacht there. He very kindly came over with his inflatable and took our shore line. While we raised our anchor and re-anchored again, the proprietor of the local taverna, who had laid tie-downs on the rocks with cement about 10 years ago, came and tied the line (it is risky to approach these sharp rocks, full of sea urchins with the inflatable). We used 50 m of chain and 10 m rope scope with the anchor and two 20 m shore lines.

Kampi, Fourni
Kampi, Fourni

Fourni actually consists of three islands: Fourni (Φούρνοι), Thymaina (Θύμαινα) or Fimaina, and Ayios Minas (Άγιος Μηνάς). They are part of the Samos prefecture. During the 19th century and earlier they were infamous for their pirates. Today, they are inhabited by fishermen and collectively they own the largest fishing fleet in the Aegean. In the town, there are several restaurants serving seafood and lobsters at a very reasonable price by Greek standards.

The afternoon Navtex forecast called for a strong gale of force 9 for the Sea of Ikaria (where we are). Safely tucked in this wonderful cove with flat water, it is hard to believe that just a few hundred meters away the sea is raging.

Later, we went ashore and ate grilled fish, which was very tasty, at the local taverna. We talked with some locals. There is a program sponsored by the EU that is aimed at reducing over-fishing. It pays a substantial sum to a fisherman who retires his fishing boat, provided that the boat is destroyed. Here, in Fourni where there are many traditional caïques, the effect of this well-meaning but ill-considered program is to destroy some irreplaceable traditional wooden boats. Last winter, we were told, with tears in their eyes, two beautiful trechandiria, in very good condition, were broken with a bulldozer. So, in this insane world, instead of retiring traditional boats from fishing and encouraging either their conversion to expensive yachts, like the Faneromeni, or their exhibition, their owners are paid to destroy them, thus killing a part of a centuries old maritime heritage!

After eating, we walked over the hill to the town and made some phone calls.

Wednesday July 22, 1998 Day 2

The wind was very strong all night but we were well anchored and the shore lines prevented us from swinging despite the violent gusts which continued to come form all directions.

Cemetery at Fourni
The Cemetery in Fourni

In the early morning I walked to town, past the small cemetery, (about 30 minutes) and bought some fresh bread and a local goat cheese, I also called my brother Byron. All ferryboats to Samos are booked for this Friday but he hopes to find tickets through some contacts. He will know in a hour or so. Unfortunately the only phone I can call him from is in town and I cannot get a signal via the VHF to call from the Autolink.

The weather is a strong gale of force 9 and no significant change is expected for the next 24 hours. All ferryboats are grounded. We spent the rest of the day spearfishing (Nicky caught a kefalos-gray mullet), swimming, and in general not doing very much. The cove is very attractive and quiet with just a few bathers and sun worshipers.

The sun was very strong and I tried to put up the tent but the strong wind broke the tent pole, stupid of me to even try.

In the evening, with the help of the kids I addressed the problem of the wind generator. The wiring to the foot of the generator pole is well connected but the generator behaves as if it is shorted (it does not turn very fast). We did some resistance measurements on the wire but we could not find a problem. I had a new set of replacement blades for the wind generator which are redesigned and are supposed to be more quiet. So with three people working together we replaced the blades. We then raised Nicky up the mast to see if he could replace the burned deck light but he was not able to open its lens and get at its bulb.

In the evening all three of us walked to town and had a marvelous lobster for dinner for just 16,000 GRD with wine and vegetables. The wind seems to be a little less strong and a ferry boat did come. I called Byron. He still does not have tickets but maybe tomorrow…

Thursday July 23, 1998 Day 3

The wind came back during the night with a vengeance. During one of the strong gusts, I observed that the LED on the wind generator was lit, indicating that it was generating current. The ampmeter, however, showed no current.

In the morning I woke up the kids, as we had arranged, hoping to leave for Patmos in the early morning. The wind was as strong as yesterday and I decided not to leave for the time being. The Navtex now forecasts force 8 for the Sea of Ikaria and force 6 for the Samos Sea with a slight attenuation by this evening. We are at the border of these two seas.

The kids went for a walk to take photographs while I traced the wiring of the wind generator. Once again, Mr. Petros the electrician did a very nice job but made the wrong connections. He wired the ground from the generator switch directly to the ground of the starter battery instead of the common shunt that is used by the meter. He had made a very similar mistake wiring the AC charger last year and I had to redo it. After making a temporary fix (typically, the leads were nice and neat but too short and I had to splice a 15 cm extension) the ammeter indicates positive current when the wind generator’s LED is on. But, after I turned the generator switch to OFF (shorting the generator), while it did brake as it was supposed to, it did not start again when I set its switch back to ON. So, maybe there is another problem as well. The water maker’s output is too low.

After the kids came back and we had some lunch, we decided to leave since the wind appeared to be less strong. We raised and lashed down the zodiac, and Nicky swam ashore and released the shore lines, while Ben raised the anchor. It is amazing how easy it is to maneuver Thetis when there is crew.

We left Fourni at 1245. The wind just outside the cove was fierce from the NNW with gusts of 35-38 knots and occasionally well over 40. We had at least one gust near 60! We raised the main sail on its 3rd reef and actually sailed very nicely since the wind was almost directly at our stern. Also, as I expected, after clearing Cape Agridio, the wind diminished to a more civilized 15-30 knots. We tried to open a small amount of the genoa but it was flapping too much and we gave up. Later we shook one reef and changed our course by a few degrees to allow us to use the genoa and thus gain some speed, as I did not want to increase the sail area over the 2nd reef. Altogether it was a rather pleasant downwind sail to Skala, Patmos [37° 19.4' N 26° 32.9' E] where we arrived at 1650 covering 18.4 M.

Map of Patmos

The kids gathered the sails and we motored into the harbor. It was half empty with plenty of spaces. The fuel dock was also free and we went there first. We docked very smoothly sideways and refueled, taking 49 L of fuel. Then we moored stern-to with Nicky handling the anchor and Ben the docking lines. It was a very easy maneuver especially since the water attendant and his girlfriend, the peripteron (kiosk) proprietor, were also helping. The kids are very good. They have caught on very fast, especially Nicky, to the boat routine. They are also very polite and considerate young men.

By the time we finished with the boat, it was too late for the kids to visit the famous Monastery of Saint John the Baptist. So they will be going in the morning. I located a wood shop near the stadium but the owner was not there so I, too, will come back in the morning to see if he can make a new tent pole.

We had dinner at the Pyrofani restaurant, mostly vegetarian fare plus a very nice sargos (a broad silver fish with a black tail). We even had μπάμιες (bamies - okra) which we all found delicious. After dinner we met the family from the boat next to us, Lady Christina, a Hallberg-Rassy 49 from Israel. They are on their way to the Ionian Sea. They come often to Greece, but they prefer the calmer Ionian to the meltemi of the Aegean. They told me that visiting Israel by boat would present no problems as there are now plenty of new marinas, especially near Tel Aviv.

I spoke to Byron. He has tickets and will be in Samos on Saturday morning. We too will head to Agathonisi later tomorrow and to Pythagorio early on Saturday.

Friday July 24, 1998 Day 4

I woke the kids up so that they could visit the monastery and we could leave for Agathonisi before it got too late. While they were gone, I went to the wood shop but the owner said that the only hard wood he had was Iroko which was not suitable for a pole. He advised me to find a pole used by house painters for their brush. The store he directed me to had an assortment of poles but they were considerably thinner than the broken one. I bought one anyway. After some minor shopping, I returned to Thetis and started cleaning the water maker’s membrane with the alkaline solution. The kids came back while I was still at it so we had to wait until I was done before departing.

By 1120 we were ready and left the harbor without any difficulties. Lady Christina had already left at 8:00 before we had received the latest Navtex forecast. As I had promised them, I hailed them on the VHF and read them the forecast: 6-7 northerly for the Sea of Ikaria and 5-6 for the Samos Sea. They were very appreciative. We sailed the 20.6 M to Agathonisi with the full main and most of the genoa, arriving at 1540. On the way, while sailing at low speed (before opening the genoa) we took turns jumping into the water as it was very hot and the wind was light.

In Agathonisi we anchored on the one but last of the coves, Spelia, [37° 27.3' N 26° 57.8' E] N of the harbor, Port St. George. Nicky put on flippers and swam one shore line at a time tying it to rocks. Everything, once again thanks to the crew, went very smoothly. Both boys seemed to enjoy themselves and were getting used to the boat tasks; often now, they did them before I even asked them. Like all youths, of course, they were too cool to explicitly show their real emotions but still their pleasure was evident.

Ashore there was a wooden hulk of a Turkish caïque. I swam to take a look at it. A group of soldiers and their captain were swimming near the caïque. They told me that she was confiscated last winter from illegal immigrant smugglers. She was then auctioned but there were no buyers so she was donated to the municipality and now, after she has been stripped, she is abandoned. What a waste! The illegal immigrants are a real problem in these border islands. These are desperate people, mostly Kurds fleeing from Iraq who find their way into Turkey and then employ the services of runners who, for exorbitant fees, pack them like sardines on small boats and run them to remote Greek beaches, thus entering Greece, with liberal political asylum laws, and the EU. Along with the soldiers on the beach there were three young ladies who lived in a tent behind the hulk. Nicky and Ben got very interested in these ladies but were too shy to go and make contact.

Nicky and Ben
Nicky and Ben

Later, we went with the zodiac to Port St. George and had some beers and appetizers but did not stay for dinner. Instead, I cooked Thetis’, famous pasta with fresh tomato sauce. We ate in the cockpit with plenty of red wine while admiring the numerous stars.

Saturday July 25, 1998 Day 5

I woke up to the sound of the alarm, after a very peaceful night, at 4:30. After I drank my coffee, I woke up Nicky and while Ben was sound asleep we prepared the boat for departure. We untied the shore lines, raised the anchor and were on our way to Samos by 0528, towing the zodiac. The wind was almost nonexistent and the sea calm and very flat. It was still dark. We motored the 16.1 M to Pythagorio (Πυθαγόρειο) [37° 41.2' N 26° 57' E] where we arrived at 0840.

There was only one spot in the inner harbor. We anchored and backed into this spot without much difficulty other than the complaints of the Germans of the adjacent boat who were upset by being squeezed. Such is life in the crowded Eastern Mediterranean harbors! As soon as we were finished mooring, Mr. Yannis (who used to be the harbor keeper) came and told me that this spot was not very good because of its angle to the prevailing wind and because large tourist caïques usually moor here. He also pointed out that a much more desirable spot was being vacated. So, while Ben went, on foot, to guard the newly vacated spot, Nicky raised the anchor while I untied our docking lines. We moved in position, Nicky dropped the anchor and we backed up to the new spot. Ben who was there, caught the lines and tied them. We had arrived. By the time we finished tidying the boat, raising and lashing down the zodiac, collecting our clothes etc. it was 10:30.

We had traveled 81.4 M for 17.4 hrs.