Travels with S/Y Thetis

Thetis only

2019: Preparation

There were several changes/improvemets this and last year. These were:

  1. Repairs:
    1. Modified the spray hood to fit better.
  2. Yearly Maintenance:
    1. The sails and the tent, were washed.
    2. Serviced the engine.
    3. Serviced the outboard.
    4. Serviced the genset.
    5. Serviced the dinghy.
    6. Inspected the rigging.
    7. Checked the autopilots.
    8. In addition, there was the yearly maintenance of the hull and keel: eliminating all scratches, polishing of the hull and stainless rails, and applying of anti-fouling painting.

Monday May 27, 2019

Believe it or not I am in Leros. After skipping 2018, for the first time in in 22 years, because that year we could not travel due to family health issues. But this year, once more, we can.

The plan now is for me to get dear Thetis ready, launch her, and then sail her to Samos where a fairly large group of cousins will be visiting from the US. In the mean time, my wife Alice has flown to Wyoming and is now in Lander visiting our daughter Corinna’s new home, her boys Rohan age 7, Leander age 4, and her husband Siva. Corinna has a new ecological research job with The Nature Conservacy an international organization. If all goes well Alice will be joining me in Samos on June 17.

Thetis looks great. The shipyard here, where I have been keeping her on land since 2000, has changed their name from Agmar Marine to Moor & Dock. Most of the personnel and the owner, Angelos Gaitanides, are the same but with the notable exception of Panayiotis the very good boat electrician. The technical manager Mastro Michalis is still here and so is Antonis and Irene the customer relations people.

While most of the work I had requested in the “2017 Do List” seems to have been completed, there are 2 bureaucratic problems that prevent the boat from being launched:

  1. Thetis’ 6 year license expired in 2018 and despite Antonis’ best efforts it could not be renewed without the owner’s (me) presence in person.
  2. The Greek government had declared earlier this month a new tax for all boats over 6 m afloat in the Greek waters. Irene had advised me of this and sent my an internet link to the government’s specially opened site for this issue. Despite all my efforts I was unable to comply. I went to this link which had me fill a form with my tax status, family history, email address, and other details. It then informed me that I will be receiving an email with further instructions. Indeed I did receive an email from them with another link and was instructed to “click here”. I did so and all I got was an empty web page.

Thetis looked beautiful. I had asked the yard to wash her down and clean the inside cabins. They had also arranged for a car rental. The car was waiting for me at the airport when I arrived. After the very short drive to the yard and greeting everyone, I started moving-in the boat. Irene at the office gave me the 2 bags of laundry that I had left in October 2017. In the bags were 2 sets of bed sheets and pillowcases. I made my bed in the right cabin and stowed the rest. There was some drizzle.

After installing myself in the boat I drove to Lakki to get some provisions. But first I went to the ATM of the National Bank of Greece where I have an account to get some cash. It rejected my PIN, so no cash. After this frustration I went to the fabulous fruit & vegetable market and got some supplies, I paid with the debit (ATM) card without a problem. Then to the large supermarket for some more provisions. I tried again to use the debit card but because the total charge was over 25 € it needed my PIN which it rejected and I had to pay in cash. I then drove back to the yard, stopping at a station to add fuel to the car.

Later I took a shower and went for dinner to the Archontiko taverna just across from the airport. I met there a French couple from another boat. By 9 PM I was back in Thetis and in my berth.

Tuesday May 28, 2019

At around 3 AM I was wide awake and there was no point in trying to try to sleep some more. I re-arranged the left cabin which is used for storage, and stowed the extra sheets from the laundry. I then put there my travel duffle bag which I will not be needing until we arrive in Samos. I also stowed the items for Kalami that I had brought with me from the US. After doing these I did manage to go back to sleep for about 1 more hour.

Up again I turned on the Camping Gas and made my coffee. After leisurely drinking the morning coffee I went back to work. First, I put up the tent and the spray hood. This day will be dedicated to the endless Greek bureaucracy. I shaved and changed the bandage on my forehead. Few days ago I had a small operation to remove a melanoma and now it needs to be bandaged until the stitches are removed.

By 8 o’clock I was in Antonis’ office. Antonis (the customer relation person) had prepared all the needed paper work for renewing the boat’s license that expired on May 28, 2018. But since I was not here the officials refused to renew it. They needed my presence and signature plus new photographs, mine not the boat’s. The plan was to follow Antoni’s car to the center of Platanos village and go to the only photographer. There was nowhere near the photographer to park. So, I continued on to Lakki and went to the National Bank of Greece to see about the ATM card. I spoke with the director and she referred me to Mr. Fotis Iliades—same surname as my mother’s family. He checked on his computer. The problem he explained was that since the card had not been used for more then 1 ½ year, the bank, in their wisdom, had deactivated its PIN. This despite of the fact that my account had been very active with lots of transfers in and out. He needed to restore the PIN and he assured me that a new temporary PIN will be available by Thursday. If I am not in Lakki then, I can call him and he will give it to me over the phone. Then I will have to go to an ATM, enter it, and following instruction change to a new PIN of my choice. There was no problem withdrawing from the bank but I had to wait on a fairly long line. By that time Antonis also came to withdraw from his account. When my turn came I withdrew 500 €.

After that, I drove back to Platanos and parked some distance from the square. I walked to the photographer, had my picture taken, and had several copies made. From there I drove back to the yard. On the way I bought some fresh bread. Irene (the supper secretary) at the yard called for a fuel delivery and a water delivery. When the fuel truck came I topped the tank, and filled the 4 jerry cans with Diesel fuel. The water truck also came and while the left tank took plenty of water, the right appeared full. Strange!

In the office, another new lady, also named Irene, tried to help with the new Greek tax but had no better luck than I did. All she got, just like I did, was a blank page.

For dinner in the evening I drove to nearby Blafouti and had a rather disappointing meal at the Artemis taverna. Back in the boat I went right away to sleep, to be latter woken by a light rain and wind from all directions.

Wednesday May 29, 2019

I woke up at 5 AM, that was better than yesterday’s 3 AM. I made my coffee and read the news on the internet.

After 8 AM Antonis and I, in separate cars again, drove to Lakki and went straight to the Limenarchio (Λιμεναρχείο - Coast Guard). I gave to the official my new photographs and filled 2 new forms (both of them asking the same questions as did the forms already filled by Antonis: father’s name, mother’s name, email, date of birth, place of birth, Greek ID number, and tax number). Antonis handed his pack of forms, plus a stack of parabola (παράβολα - bank receipts of payment made to the Coast Guard). The official told us that it may take some time to prepare the boat license and so we moved to another office to get a replacement of the boat movement log (δελτιο κινήσεως - deltio kiniseos). This has room for an official stamp from a port of call and departure. Blissfully it needs only one of each per year. This is an improvement from past years. To get this new boat movement log I had, of course to fill another form with the same questions plus boat name and registration number. Antonis then produced more bank receipts. In “just” ½ hour we were done. Then we moved to a 3rd office where a friendly young officer, after getting from me all the details about what I had done for the new taxation which I gave him after opening my computer, he entered them on his official computer linked to the internet. This one after a while, instead of the blank page that I had been getting, a formidable on-line form appeared. We filled it in and at last the new tax for May to September was computed. It came to 165 €. He printed another form to be taken to a bank with the payment. This, after it is stamped by the bank will become my official receipt for having payed the new tax. In the mean time the first officer came with a handwritten, cardboard which is Thetis’ new 6 year license. So now with these 2 Coast Guard forms plus the bank receipt of the tax payment, which Antonis got, make Thetis legitimate. What a relief!

Antonis left me to return to the yard while I went to the only hospital’s emergency room to see if I could get the stitches on my forehead removed. I was prepared for a long wait but I was greeted by a very attractive lady doctor who showed me into a curtained cubicle. Within 5 minuted the stitches were gone. She then made some notations in a leger about my particulars and I was done! No payment needed.

I drove back to the yard. They told me that the ordered engine starting battery is expected tomorrow. After it is installed then Thetis can be launched. They finished installing the burned LED of the red running light that last night I found that it was defective. I lifted the 4 now full Diesel jerry cans and stowed 2 of them in the left sail locker and lashed the other 2 on deck.

After a cold shower, because of the clouds the yard’s solar heater did not work, I went back to the Archontiko for dinner. I had a pot roast of young goat meat with rice, and a salad. Back on the boat I had fresh strawberries with a sprinkle of Samos Moschato wine and some sugar. By 10:30 I was in bed.

Thursday May 30, 2019

I had great hopes for this day. Nothing could be done with Thetis until the arrival of the new start battery. In the mean time, I drove back to Lakki and visited the National Bank of Greece. Mr. Iliades, true to his word, had a new PIN for my ATM card. He advised me to use it right away and change the PIN. I went to the outside ATM window, inserted the card, and enter the 6666 he had given me. It accepted it and allowed me to change it to a PIN of my liking. After that, I reinserted the card and punched my new PIN. It worked, and I withdrew the maximum amount. I then went inside the bank and withdrew some more. After that I went to the car rental office and payed for 4 days use of the car, explaining that I may leave early tomorrow and that I will leave the car in front of the yard’s office.

On my drive back to the yard I filled the 2 small canisters with gasoline to be used for the Genset and the outboard. When I got back in the yard the battery had not yet arrived but they had brought to Thetis the serviced Genset and the fire extinguishers. I stowed these and then went to see Angelos, the owner, in his office. As luck would have it he was on the telephone with no other than my nephew George Riginos, son of my cousin Petros, who is to be married in late August in Paros.

After I returned to the boat they did bring the the battery and installed it. The bad battery was installed in the summer of 2015 and I was mystified why it did not last longer. After some thinking I surmised that I found the answer. Panayiotis, the previous electrician, knew that both the service and start batteries should not be isolated, so that the electricity from the solar panels could maintained them with a trickle charge. His replacement, not knowing this, had turned off the master switch. After the battery installation it was too late for today’s launch but Thetis was scheduled for tomorrow morning.

I tried to take a shower but, like yesterday, the water was too cold. For dinner I drove to the taverna Gourna. On the way I bought some more provision. The Gourna proprietor, Fotis, remembered very well from the few times I ate there with Panayiotis the electrician and his wife Marry. He served me a nice salad and a very tasty grilled crab lobster, along homemade fried potatoes, and white wine.

Back in the yard I was plagued by vicious mosquitos.