Travels with S/Y Thetis

Thetis only

2006: Preparation

Last year, after the transatlantic crossing, I had trouble with dirt in the fuel tank that clogged the feeding line. So, I had asked Agmar Marine (now called Moor & Dock) to investigate how to clean the 20 year old tank. The problem was there is no access to the tank as it is incorporated into the chart table. They had to dismantle the table, remove the tank, and then wash its insides with steam. Because priming the fuel line was so difficult they also installed a new, much more effective, priming pump. I had also asked them to replace the upholstery of the front and two side cabins that had began to peal off. All this work necessitated a complete rearrangement of everything stowed in these cabins and in the chart table. They did a good job but all these things were placed in plastic bags strewn all over the boat.

In addition to these tasks, and the normal yearly engine (main, outboard and genset) and hull maintenance, I had asked Agmar Marine to make some wiring changes to incorporate the new dual output alternator and the new AC-DC converter. Agmar did all this work to my complete satisfaction, which is high praise indeed.

Another item pending was the issue of a new seaworthiness certificate as the old one expires in May 14. All Greek vessels, above a certain size, must be inspected every 2 years and have a new certificate every 4. The Greek law also requires yearly inspection/service of the life-raft (it has to be shipped to Athens for this), and of the fire extinguishers. Before issuing the seaworthiness certificate, the inspecting agency which is a private company, the Ellinikos Neognomon with a branch in Kalymnos, has to inspect the boat while on land, verify the currency of the life-raft and fire extinguishers certificates, the on-board safety equipment, and verify that all radio usage fees have been paid. I would not have minded paying the substantial fees for these inspections if they were real and if they improved the actual safety of my boat. This, however, is not the case. The whole exercise is a paper chasing game.

I flew from Washington D.C. into Athens on Wednesday May 10 and spent the evening visiting my 95 year old mother and my brother Nikos. The next day I took the 9:00 AM flight to Leros.

Thursday May 11, 2006

Thetis looked lovely with her new undercoat, her polished rails, and her newly waxed hull. Inside, other than the complete rearrangement of almost all stowed items and some dust, I was hard pressed to find evidence of the work done on the fuel tank. Everything appeared to be in working order. The life-raft was there but not the fire extinguishers.

Also there was no new seaworthiness certificate, just the expiring old one although I was told that an inspector had looked at the boat. I called Mr. Vasilis Psarambas of Neognomon in Kalymnos and after many attempts I got through to him. He needs a fax of all the other certificates (life-raft, fire extinguishers, radio, etc.) plus the actual old seaworthiness certificate. This he will stamp, with a two month extension, and send it back to Leros. In the mean time, the new certificate will be prepared in Athens and will be mailed to me in due course.

I spent the rest of the day finding things, which were all bagged in plastic, and stowing them back to their proper places. I also rented a motor-scooter for 7€/day.

My old friend Anastasis Raftopoulos, with his wife Mu and their large dog Serio were here on their newly launched S/Y Vassiliki. We went for dinner together to the reliable Mylos restaurant where we had some very good sea-food. Later it rained rather heavily.

Friday May 12, 2006

The fire extinguishers did come but one of them was the wrong size! After Antonis, a new employee here, made several calls the correct one arrived along with a corrected certificate. This along with the rest of the paperwork we placed in an envelope and Antonis took it to Ayia Marina and gave it to the captain of the fast catamaran going to Kalymnos to be handed to the Neognomon office. I then luckily noticed that the new life-raft inspection certificate had the wrong dates. More frantic calls by my hero Antonis to Athens. Yes, so sorry they have made a mistake. A new corrected certificate was faxed to Agmar Marine and then to Neognomon.

In the mean-time, Agmar personnel installed new zinc anodes on the keel and the propeller shaft. They also serviced the through-hull valves.

I discovered that the electric pump for the head did not operate. It turned out that it was completely corroded inside and beyond repair. Unfortunately Agmar did not have a new one in stock, so they replaced it with a manual one. I will order a new electric one. I got a fuel delivery and topped the clean tank with 105 L of Diesel fuel. I also topped the water tanks. With all work completed, Thetis was scheduled to be launched tomorrow morning.

For dinner Mu, Anastasis, and I went to the Guisa’s & Marchelo’s Italian restaurant which always serves freshly made pasta of high quality.

Saturday May 13, 2006

The travel-lift came so early that I hardly had a chance to do my morning ablutions. By 0900 Thetis was in the water. I checked all the through-hulls and bilges: no water coming in. But, after I started the engine there was no electricity going to the voltage regulator. Panayiotis, the electrician, came and found that he had forgotten to reconnect the ignition-switch wire to the regulator. It was a 5-minute fix. Also, the connection to the windlass solenoid had corroded and its fuse was burned. He fixed that too.

I moved the boat from the “pool” along side S/Y Vassiliki. During the maneuver some water came in from the stuffing box. I tightened it and emptied the water.

More phone calls to Neognomon in Kalymnos. They promised to sent the dully stamped seaworthiness certificate with the catamaran arriving in Leros at 12:45. Antonis promised to meet the catamaran and pick up the certificate. I drove to Lakki where I picked up a replacement spare fuse for the windlass solenoid and some provisions. I only needed food for 7-10 days because after sailing Thetis to Samos I have to fly back to Washington D.C. on family business.

Back on Thetis, I stowed the provisions, vacuumed the cabins, and mopped the floors. There was lots and lots of red dust. It takes 2-3 days after launching to get Thetis back to being ship-shape.

The blasted temporary certificate did finally arrive. Now I am legal and my brief criminal career of operating a vessel without a valid sea-worthiness certificate is over, at least for the next 2 months until the final certificate arrives.

It is very windy here and now with gusts over 20 knots. It is not easy to install the sails. The Navtex forecasted less wind for tomorrow and Anastasis promised to give me a much needed hand to install them early in the morning.

All three of us had a pleasant dinner at the Mylos.