Travels with S/Y Thetis

Thetis only

2021: Preparation

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

  1. 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.
  2. New items:
    1. Alternator.
    2. Regulator.
    3. Several replaced cables.

Monday May 20 to Tuesday June 1, 2021

I had booked a ticket with British Airways for May 20, arriving in Athens on May 21. I had also booked a ticket with Olympic Airways from Athens to Leros on May 22. The reason I had booked with BA was that their bussines class has a partion on each seat so that the passengers are isolated. This, of course, is very desirable during the COVID-19 pandemic. But it was a mistake. The BA flight form Washington D.C. to Athens consists of 2 flights: an overnight flight from Washington D.C. to Heathrow airport in London and then a transfer, 2-3 hours later, to a Heathrow-Athens flight. All this time you are in the transit area of Heathrow.

The British Airways website did not warn that passangers arriving from the US and transferring to Greece even if they stay in the transit area are considered as arriving in the UK and need to have written proof, not older then 3 days that they are COVID-19 free. Proof of full vaccination does not count.

So, on May 20 my nice housekeeper Evelyn and her daughter Ovelyn drove me to Dulles airport. Fortunately they waited for me to check-in. The agent at the BA counter wanted me to have in addition to a COVID-19 free written proof but to have a copy of a formidable UK entry form. So, despite my already printed boarding pass, I was denied boarding. After some considerable time he re-booked me for the same flights on Monday May 31 arriving in Athens at 7 PM on June 1. Evelyn and her daughter drove me back to my home in DC.

During the ensuing days I had to re-book my OA flight to Leros for June 2 and my hotel reservation at the Athens airport hotel. I then spent a lot of time making an appointment for a COVID-19 test on Saturday May 29 and partially filling the formidable UK entry form that had to be completed after getting the test results. Also, I had to fill a Greek entry form, since I would be arriving from the UK. They acknowledged receiving this but they will send it to me on the day of the travel.

All these forms were completed. I had an email from OA that I could print my boarding pass. I tried to do so but now their website showed that I was on "stand-by". Afte a frantic phone call the agent told me that they were having problems but if I checked-in at 5 AM on Wdnesday morning I would be alright.

The Greek form arrived just 2 hours before leaving for the airport on Monday May 31. I printed, just in case, all these paperwork before Evelyn and Ovelyn drove me once again to Dulles airport. Check-in on BA this time was a breeze, all forms were already in their computer. They gave me both the DC to Heathrow and the Heathrow to Athens boarding passes. After thanking Evelyn and Ovelyn I cleared security. Now I had several hours to kill. The BA lounge was shut.

Both of my flights were fine. On the London flight there was no-one near me. The Athens flight arrived early. After checking in the hotel, I had light snack and went to bed.

Wednesday June 2, 2021

By 5 AM I was at the OA/Aegean counter. I had no problem checking-in and they already had my earlier assigned seat. So the OA agent I spoke with on Monday was right. I had to wait for some time until boarding.

I arrived in Leros at 8 AM. Mr. Giannakos was waiting for me with the reserved rental car. After I got my duffle bag I drove to the yard.

Everything that I had asked Moor & Dock (it used to be called Agmar Marine) to do appears that they had done. The dinghy, with its cover, was next to Thetis. Mastro Michalis and Andonis (the customer relation manager) as well as Irene #1 and Irene #2 were at the office. The offices had been re-arranged and the owner/director Angelos Gaitanides was out of town.

About 1 month ago I had received an e-mail from Moor & Dock informing me that they had inspected, as I had requested, the mast and its standing rigging. They advised me that the rigging is now too old and should be replaced when Thetis returns back to the yard for her winter lay-out. They even quoted me a price for this work.

For dinner I walked to the nearby Archontico taverna where I had an adequate meal and a salad.

Thursday June 3, 2021

First thing in the morning I spoke with Antonis and Mastro Michalis and we agreed that Thetis could be launched tomorrow. But as I was leaving the office I saw Marko who had helped last year with a problem encountered when we were installing the genoa. He asked me if I had seen the top of the forestay which supports the genoa roller reefing system. I had not been aware that there was a problem with the forestay but after I looked at its top I could see that it was badly frayed. This was very serious and potentially dangerous. If the cable was to fail the mast could fall off! It could even kill me. All this was news me as I had not been told about it.

The damaged top of the forerstay

The forestay had to be replaced. Mastro Michalis marshaled all the resources. Soon the crane arrived. In the mean time Marko improvised with 2 other lines from the top of the mast. He loosened, after marking the position of its tension mechanism, the cable backstay and tensioned the 2 top lines to support the mast. He was then raised by the crane and removed the defective forestay with the attached roller reefing system.

Once the forestay was on the ground Marko carefully measured its length and Moor & Dock ordered a replacement from Piraeus. But it will not arrive until Saturday because there are no ferry boats on Friday.

I had a water delivery and topped the tanks.

In the afternoon I continued reading on my Kindle the The Puma Years by Laura Coleman, a fascinating memoir of a young woman leaving in a remote animal shelter in the Amazon jungle.

Later I had a shower, no hot water, in the yard's facilities and a shave back on Thetis with water I heated on the stove. Then I drove to the Mylos restaurant where I sat outdoors and I ate, along with their house white wine, 4 large grilled crayfish followed by grilled salmon. Everything was excellent.

Marko on the mast top removing the forestay

Friday June 4, 2021

In the morning I drove to Lakki and bought provisions: fruit from the fabulous fruit market, and other supplies and cleaning pads from the Kritikos supermarket. I then returned to the yard and the boat. On the way back I refilled with fresh Diesel fuel all 4 of the jerry cans, and refiled the 2 small canisters with fresh unleaded gasoline.

In the afternoon after my light lunch I continued reading the first book of a 6 book series Breaking Strain by Arthur C. Clarke & Paul Preuss.

In the evening I walked back for dinner to the Archontico taverna. The only dish they had was made with 4 shrimps cooked in a wine sause with peppers, onions and other vegetables. It was not very good but it was rather expensive.

Saturday June 5, 2021

The wire-rope arrived. Marko started dismantling the roller reefing contracpion which was around the old forestay wire-rope in order to put it around the new one. But everything was heavily corroded by electrolysis between dissimilar metals. So, what we expected to be done in an hour or so it took all morning. The plan which was to put the roller reefing around the new wire forestay, instal it, and then launch Thetis was impossible and had to be postponed for Monday because on Saturdays the yard closes at 2 PM.

I did not like the looks of the old roller reefing contraption and I was thinking that we should not to use it. Instead to just mount the new wire-stay stay and then I could use the small jib (headsail) on the existing smaller wire-stay. I spoke with my brother Nikos, who has a lot of sailboat experience and he agreed that this would be the prudent and safer course. Then after Thetis returns to the yard in the fall to get a new roller reef mechanism and install it when the yard replaces the old steel-wire standing rigging. This was very frustrating.

Earlier in the morning the yard brought the Genset (small gas operated electric generator) and the outboard. I uncovered the dinghy and after mounting the outboard I inflated it with the hand pump.

In the afternoon I finished reading Breaking Strain by Arthur C. Clarke & Paul Preuss and continued with The Puma Years by Laura Coleman on the Kindle.

In the evening I drove to Alinda and took a long walk. I ended at the Gourna restaurant. He served me an excellent sea-food meal: calamari (squid) followed by a very good grilled tsipoura (Gilthead seabream).

Sunday June 6, 2021

In the morning I found one of the 3 dinghy air compartment was deflated. I assumed that I had not tightened its valve yesterday, so I re-inflated it.

I spent most of the day reading. I started on my Kindle the second book of a 6 Arthur C. Clarke's Venus Prime 2 by Arthur C. Clarke & Paul Preuss.

In the evening I drove to Lakki. I took a long walk and then I went to my favorite restaurant the Petrino. The proprietor was glad to see me, he even remembered that I worked with satellites. I had an excellent meal but with very slow service. I ate a saganaki (σαγανάκι - grilled cheese) and then a large veal chop served with a mount of fried potatoes. With these I had their house red wine.