The plans for this year were not very ambitious, just sail in the Aegean. Nevertheless the preparations were extensive.
The most important work was the replacement of the leaky windows. I started on this last spring by asking Olympic Marine to give me an estimate for replacing the large Plexiglass which covers several window openings with individual frames. The idea was that these would not be as susceptible to flexing and thermal expansion as the large Plexiglass. Also, should a leak develop, it would be more localized and easier to locate. By the fall of 1999 I had not received the quote from Olympic Marine but I located a company in Holland, Gebco that can make windows to order. They, naturally, wanted cutouts. After long discussions with my brother Nikos we decided that it would be preferable if Olympic Marine were to do the job because they would both fabricate and install them. So, after some pressure we extracted a quote from Olympic Marine of 750,000 GRD (~ $2,000) and I gave them my approval to proceed.
Well, things did not go as planned. To begin with Thetis did not go to Olympic Marine in Lavrio as early as I wanted. Despite my insistence Nikos could not get a crew to take her from Glyfada to Lavrio until mid March. A month later it was reported to me that the windows were ready and the only items left were some small ones such as repairing the end of the boom and replacing the main sheet traveler which had worn down. By late April Olympic Marine reported that Thetis was ready to be launched. BUT till late May the sad story went like this: “we will launch her on Tuesday” (this was at the end of the week) or “we will launch her on Friday” (early in the week). Finally, after many transatlantic phone calls, the secret was out: the windows had not been installed. In desperation, as my arrival to Greece was getting near I ordered Olympic Marine to launch Thetis and get her back to her slip in Glyfada and to forget the blasted windows. She got back 4 days before my arrival, at which time a Mr. Anagnostopulos called Nikos and informed him that he had the windows ready and he could install them while Thetis was in the water.
During the winter, I had the electrician, Mr. Petros, replace the cables to the bow navigation lights that had been giving me trouble. During this work he ripped some of the upholstery and in true Greek style left it without saying anything. Also, in the US I had sent the Jenssen radio for repairs, via West Marine, but it was lost and in its stead the company sent me a new unit. I also bought a new Statpower Truecharge 40 battery charger.
Last year, near Naousa, Paros, the old 35 mm Nikon camera fell into the water. Despite my efforts to wash it and dry it, Nikon was unable to repair it. So, I bought a new digital camera as a replacement. It is a Nikon Coolpix 950. It is highly controllable but I am still learning how to use it.
June 6 to June 8, 2000
I arrived in Athens on Monday June 5. I went straight from the airport to the marina, where I was confronted with a horror show: three people with power tools were hacking away at poor Thetis’ sides to enlarge the window opening for installing the new windows. These were cheap aluminum frames spray painted black and incredibly ugly. Instead of being shielded with rubber gaskets the were installed with silicon adhesive and screwed on the fiberglass rather then on the inner frames, which were purely decorative and hid the bad workmanship. Regrettably the damage was already done and I had no choice but to grit my teeth and hope that, ugly as they were, they at least may not leak.
On Tuesday Nikos and I sprayed water on the new windows: they leaked. Desperate calls brought back Mr. Anagnostopoulos and his unskilled minions who re-installed the windows. He advised me, as if it was not obvious, that I need to fix the underlying fiberglass and he offered to re-install the window in the fall for no extra charge! The only good news from this sad window tale was that on the spray test on Wednesday they did not leak.
In the next few days I worked furiously to get the boat ready for the planned departure on Thursday when my friend Can Ertem will be coming from Istanbul. I was busy moving stuff from the storage room in Voula, installing the sails, the cushion covers, inspecting, etc.
Mr. Petros came and installed the new charger which worked very well and started re-charging the neglected batteries.
The Nokia Communicator did not work and I gave it for repairs. The store where I bought it was kind enough to let me borrow a GSM phone until mine will be ready.
Upon inspection, I found that neither the Navtex nor the windlass worked, but I figured out that since they worked last year the problems would most likely be bad contacts which I would repair after our departure.
I was informed by Mr. Bibis, who does all the bureaucratic paperwork, that the Greek government had changed the rules and that Thetis’ professional license, valid to 2001, needed replacement at a cost of over 150,000 GRD (~$400). To that end, he would need not only money but a power of attorney. Since this would take at least half a day, I decided to leave it and do it at some future port of call.