I am starting this year’s narrative while S/Y Thetis is peacefully anchored in the sheltered cove of Partheni in the island of Leros. She spent her winter on land in the Agmar shipyard (renamed Moor & Dock), less than half a mile from here.
This year she was launched on Saturday May 25, 2002 after a lot of effort and delays. These were caused, to some extend, by my delayed arrival in Greece because in late March my wife Alice and I took a 5 week trip in South Africa where our daughter Corinna has been doing environmental research under a Fullbright fellowship. The rest of the delays were caused by the major work that Agmar did over the spring months on Thetis.
To begin with, they reconditioned the gel-coat of her hull and deck and re-painted her. This entailed the removal and re-installation of her mast and all of her deck fittings. Then they replaced all her standing rigging and the teak in her cockpit. They repaired all the stanchions, push-pits, pull-pits, etc. They serviced the engine (replacing oil, fuel and oil filters, belts, and sacrificial zinc anodes) and installed a new water filter for her raw-water engine cooling, and a new tri-color mast light. Also, all the remaining 18 year old cabin upholstery was replaced.
Other major replacements were: a new set of sails, a new watermaker (Powersurvivor 160) replacing the old one which died last year, and a new Magellan NAV 6510 color GPS/Chart plotter (Magellan gave me a good replacement price after I complained on the high price to repair my old one), and a new radio/CD player.
Thetis may be an elderly lady of 18 but now she looks gorgeous.
But let me start from the beginning:
May 1- 19, 2002
Alice and I arrived in Athens from our trip in South Africa just in time to celebrate Greek Easter which this year fell on May 5. I have not been in Greece for Easter, the most important of all Greek holidays, since 1967! My brother Nikos gave an Easter party with the traditional lamb on a spit and all the trappings. We had a great time especially since my 91 year old mother was able to attend.
After Easter, we took the plane to Samos to open our summer house in Kalami. Our plan was to spend just a few days in Samos and then to proceed to Leros, launch Thetis, and go on cruising. Unfortunately however the work on Thetis was behind schedule and we were forced to cool our heels in Samos until Alice had to fly back to Washington, D.C.
May 20 - 24, 2002
On the morning of Monday May 20 Alice went to the airport and I took the hydrofoil from Pythagorio to Ayia Marina, Leros carrying a very heavy duffle bag. I had already forwarded to Agmar the new sails and a suitcase with the new watermaker. From Ayia Marina, the Partheni shipyard was a short taxi ride away.
At the yard, Thetis was clearly the most beautiful boat there, sparkling with her shining new paint and all her metalwork newly polished. All the workmen greeted me very warmly and full of pride for their work which, after inspection, I found almost flawless. Unfortunately Thetis’ interior was still a mess. The upholstery had been ripped off from all surfaces, dust was everywhere, and almost everything had been re-arranged. It was inconceivable that I could live in Thetis until the upholstery work was over. Ersi, Agmar’s efficient and friendly secretary, quickly made arrangements for me to rent a motor-scooter (5€/day, delivered at the yard) and stay for a few days in a hotel.
In the next few days as work progressed slowly Thetis became livable again and I was able to move in on Friday. With the help of Panayiotis, the mechanic, I installed the new watermaker replacing all the old metal hoses and fittings with plastic ones to keep the generated fresh water from taking any metallic tastes. I then spent some time to gather all the various pieces (anchors, life raft, fire extinguishers, spinnaker pole, etc.), which had been removed during the paint and deck work, and put them back in their place. With the help of the electrician, also named Panayiotis, I installed the new GPS and tested all the electrical circuits. This was necessary since all the instruments and the mast connections had been disconnected for the paint job. During this test we discovered that the electrical head (toilet) pump had died. It was replaced.
When everything was finally ready for launching the boat, the people of the yard insisted in giving her a complete wash to show her off. During this wash, we had a great scare. Water started leaking from the deck into the cabin. My hopes for a Saturday launch were dashed. All bets were off until the cause of the leak was isolated. Other than the great uncertainty, because of the leak, what still remained to be done was the repair of the inflatable dinghy which had a small leak, the final mounting of the new GPS whose bracket I had foolishly left back in D.C. (Alice already sent it by courier), and the issuing of the inspection certificate, promised to Angelos (the director of the yard) by the inspector several weeks ago.
During these days I met again John Richmond of the British flag S/Y Rick, Dave Baynor of the British flag S/Y Manidee, and Marós Kamened of the Israeli M/Y Manta Ray. We went together for dinner almost every night, each one encouraging the rest that his boat will be launched “real soon now.”
Saturday May 25, 2002
The great day arrived but before Thetis could be launched the source of the water leak had to be found. Michalis, the chief Agmar technician, had scheduled Thetis to be the first of four boats to be launched in the morning. Now he had to rearrange his schedule and she was moved to last. At 7:30 AM five people converged on Thetis and started hosing her and removing the cabin ceiling. Soon enough, they found the cause of the leak. It came from where the instrument cables, which were re-installed after the paint job, were fed into the cabin. The leak was then easily repaired and the launching schedule was once again re-arranged.
Thetis was launched at 1110. There were no problems with the launch nor were any water leaks and after hitting the starter button the motor purred into life. Pantelis and Nicolas, the travel-lift operators, helped me install the new sails. All was ready now. According to the company rules, before departing Partheni, actually before launching, I had to settle my bill. However Angelos, the director of Agmar was down with a violent flu and had not prepared my final bill, but I am deemed a good and trustworthy customer so they will send me the bill later.
By 1215 all was ready and Thetis motored away from the Partheni slip and after 10.7 M arrived in the Agmar Marina in Lakki at 1415. The wind was a light 15 knot SE breeze and there were no problems detected. All systems were working properly. At the marina, I was met by Mr. Nikos, the new manager, who helped me dock. He is an Egypt-born Greek who has recently retired after being the public relations secretary to an Arab prince. A job he held for over 20 years. He speaks four languages fluently, in addition to Greek, and loves boats. He is an ideal person to run the marina.
I spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning, filling the water tanks, and making the cabins more livable. Ersi called me from the yard with the message to call a Mr. Vasilis Psarambas of Ellinikos Neognomon in Kalymnos, the people who had inspected Thetis a few weeks ago and still had not issued the inspection certificate. I called him and he informed me that while they had performed “the mechanical inspection” of Thetis on land they still needed to perform an additional “safety inspection afloat” before issuing the blasted certificate. Further, he cannot come to Leros for at least a week during which of course Thetis cannot legally sail. After a long argument I convinced him to inspect her in Kalymnos where I will sail her tomorrow. We agreed to meet in the small harbor of Myrtia at 1030. I then went shopping for provisions at the Spanos supermarket. They balked at delivering to the boat but after they saw the amount of my shopping and after I threatened to just leave it, they delivered. It is a convenient store with large selections, but after this experience I may not patronize it again.
In the evening, I went to dinner at the marina restaurant. They now have a new chef, Mr. Nestor, who has been a chef in several well known restaurants in Washington, D.C. His food is excellent. At the restaurant I met Dita and Karel deLang of the Dutch S/Y Doffer. She was also launched today from Partheni. I had seen them during the last few days at the yard but we had only nodded at each other. Now, over dinner, we got better acquainted and discovered that we liked each other very much.
Sunday May 26, 2002
I spent the early morning further cleaning and re-arranging. At 0910 I cast off and left Lakki, Leros for Myrtia, Kalymnos where I was to meet the Ellinikos Neognomon’s inspector Mr. Psarambas. The wind was 10-15 knots E, right on Thetis’ nose, so I had to motor the 10.3 M. We arrived in Myrtia [36° 59.4' N 26° 55.8' E] at 1105. There was no sign of Mr. Psarambas. I called him on my GSM phone and he told me that he would be there in “10 minutes.” He did arrive, an hour later. He was a pleasant enough young man, with a naval architecture degree from the Athens Technical University. He performed his safety inspection and he was very impressed that in every respect Thetis exceeds all the legal requirements, not only for a private boat, but for a charter boat as well. He issued me a temporary certificate valid for 30 days. The official certificate, valid for 4 years, will be issued by the head office in Piraeus and will be forwarded to me in due time.
I departed Myrtia on 1305 heading back to Lakki. The wind now was 15-20 knots SSE which allowed me to sail. I raised the main and opened the genoa. This was the first glorious sail of the year. The new sails look very good and Thetis responds to them well. I was so blissful that I was even glad for the inspection that forced me to sail before the boat was completely ready. The only problem was that the plunger-piston of the starboard rail for the headsail broke. By 1430 we were back in Lakki.
I spent the rest of the day cleaning the dishes and all interior lockers. Once again, I had dinner at the marina restaurant together with the deLanges of the S/Y Doffer. Karel, to my dismay, paid the bill before I had a chance to do so. This will not do!
Monday May 27, 2002
More cleaning and re-arranging. I put on the cushion covers and the rugs and now Thetis is beginning to look normal and inviting inside. The new upholstery looks very good. I went to the marina office and checked on the Internet the Federal Express site about the package with the GSM bracket that Alice sent out to me on Wednesday. It has been, days now, stuck in London. An express service indeed! Maybe it will come by tomorrow.
I had a fuel delivery and topped the tank and also filled all the jerry cans, all together I got 65 L of Diesel fuel. My main tank holds only 100 liters, so I carry 4 more cans which effectively doubles Thetis’ capacity. I drove the scooter to Partheni and begged Mr. Michalis to make me a new plunger for the genoa rail. Also, I checked on the dinghy. It has been fixed and does not seem to have any more leaks.
Had dinner with the deLanges again, only this time I paid. They are a delightful couple. They plan to sail N to Samos and Chios. Maybe we will meet as this is also the direction I plan to follow.
Tuesday May 28, 2002
I departed from Lakki on 1030 heading back to Partheni. The wind was from the W at 10-18 knots, straight on the nose, so we motored. I started the new watermaker. It not only works but it has a most impressive 27 L/hr output. We arrived at Parheni on 1220 and docked alongside the launching “pool.” Mastro Michalis, true to his word, had fabricated for me a new stainless steel plunger for the headsail rail. While I was talking to him, Nicolas brought the zodiac to Thetis with the forklift. Now, with the exception of the GSM bracket, everything is on board and the cruising season can begin. Since I was forced to wait the braket’s arrival, I decided instead of staying in Parheni to go across to the small island of Archangelos.
We departed Partheni at 1340 and motored for 1.8 M to a pleasant cove [37° 11.9' N 26° 46.3' E] in Archangelos where I dropped the anchor in 5 m over sand at 1405.
More work. I installed a new 15 A circuit breaker for the watermaker replacing the old 8 A. Also, I replaced the 15 A breaker for the head pump, which was tripping, with the recommended 40 A. While performing these tasks I received an SMS message from my brother Nikos whom I had asked to monitor the FedEx web for me. The package has arrived in Athens. I also tightened the alternator belt which, being new, had loosened.
In the evening, after a long day, I had a hot shower, and for the first time this year I cooked aboard Thetis. While enjoying my spaghetti with fresh tomato and mushroom sauce along with some red wine, I congratulated myself that after all this work I can truly say that Thetis now is in cruising mode. The preparation is over.