Travels with S/Y Thetis

Thetis only

2007: Preparation

AC Panel I had left a number of repairs/improvements for Agmar Marine (now called Moor & Dock) to do over the winter. First of all the 22-year-old water tanks had corroded and needed replacement. Since work was to be done on the water system, Agmar installed a small water heater that works both as a heat exchanger with the exhaust engine cooling sea water and by AC electricity whenever shore power is available. This work led to the installation of a small AC circuit breaker control panel, 2 AC input plugs, new hoses for the hot water, and the replacement of the bathroom and galley faucets.

Another maintenance task was to replace the sound insulation in the engine compartment. This too had deteriorated over the years.

On deck, I asked Agmar to install a small bimini to provide some shade when sailing because Thetis’ large tent goes over the boom and cannot be used when the mainsail is up. Angelos, Agmar Marine's owner and director suggested to change at the same time the spray hood with a new larger one that will integrate with the new bimini.

More routine work was the usual engine and hull maintenance. I also asked them to service all the winches and to replace the packing on the stuffing box.

The mainsail was sent to Athens to its maker, Alpha Sails, for an adjustment and minor repairs.

Another improvement was that I had bought an interface that allows the ship’s sound system to connect directly to my iPod and play it over the speakers.

Thursday May 17, 2007

I arrived in Partheni, Leros with the 10 AM flight from Athens having flown yesterday from Washington, D.C. At the Athens airport I met Mike and Nichola form the S/Y Gordian Knot, we were traveling together. Thetis looked good with her new undercoating, newly waxed hull, and polished railings. The new spray hood is nice and large but unfortunately the new bimini is way too large and covers the whole cockpit with its large and space consuming framework. Not at all what I had ordered. After some talk Angelos acknowledged the mistake and promised to rectify it but Sideris, the tent man, will not be in until tomorrow.

The new water heater worked well with AC power but we will have to wait and see how it will work with the engine. Antonis, the office coordinator, has done rather well with the bureaucratic paperwork. Both the life raft and the fire extinguisher certificates were at hand. Also, the coveted boat inspection certificate should arrive tomorrow.

It took me some time to establish some order in the cabins so that the inside of the boat could be livable. I put back the clean covers over the cabin cushions and made my bed. The new water-heater has shrank the available space under the right cabin’s bed and now it is even harder to stow my clothes.

I rented a motor scooter and in the evening went to Blafouti at the I Thea Artemis (Η Θεά Άρτεμις) taverna where I had a decent meal of fresh fish. The evening was windy with a S wind.

By 10 PM I was in my cabin sound asleep.

Friday May 18, 2007

Thetis on her stands Having jet-lag, I woke up at 4:30 AM. I worked inside the cabin, cleaning and organizing things. Later in the morning Sideris, the tent man, came and measured. The bimini frame need to be re-made. Work started on this but it looked doubtful if all the work will be completed by tomorrow. It rained. The inspection certificate did arrive. I drove to Lakki where I cleared the boat with the Limenarchio (Greek Coast Guard). I then bought some provisions and rode back to Partheni.

I made a long list of things to do. Finished cleaning the cabins, cleaned the galley, the refrigerator, and the bathroom. Placed the rugs on the floor. Now Thetis looks nice from the inside as well as the outside. I installed the new iPod interface. It worked well.

On deck, I rigged all the running lines which were stowed for the winter.

I finished reading Final Exam: A Surgeon’s Reflections on Mortality, by Pauline W. Chen. The memoirs of a lady surgeon with a strong description and critique on how the medical system emphasizes life prolongation at the expense of compassion and the overall well being of the patient. Over the years she came to realize that many people prefer a dignified death surrounded by their loved ones instead of few extra days in the intensive care unit. It is up to the doctors to communicate various options.

For dinner I went to da Giusi e Marcello in Alindas where I had an excellent meal.

Saturday May 19, 2007

A very violent downpour woke me up at 5:00 AM. Tremendous amount of water full of red mud kept on coming and coming. The clean deck was transformed into a red muddy mess. The heavy rain kept at it all morning. This red mud is caused by red dust from the African desert brought by the S winds. The wind was ferocious.

The new bimini frame was finished and was installed. Sideris, the canvas man came in the afternoon, took some more measurements and promised to have all the canvas work completed by Monday. If lucky then we should be launching the boat some time on Monday.

I went shopping and got a load of provisions.

I discovered a new problem: it seems that dogs or rats had chewed the dinghy’s painter (the line that holds the dinghy). This was spliced into 3 places. Now it needs to be replaced. Angelos volunteered to have the yard do the work but since I was running out of things to do I just asked him for the rope and to borough the yard’s hot knife and I will do the splicing. More rain.

By evening time the rain had stopped and I rode the scooter to Xerocambos at the S of end Leros where Mike and Nichola are staying. I met them for dinner at the Aloni restaurant. Lefteris and Evelyn, the proprietors, were very pleased to see me. The meal, as usual, was very good but I did have to pay a heavy price for it. As I was leaving the rain started again and by the time I reached Thetis I was thoroughly drenched.

Sunday May 20, 2007

I slept until 7:00 AM. There was a glorious sunshine and no wind. Gone was yesterday’s fury. After coffee I took advantage of the lack of wind and I installed the headsail. This was very time consuming because, if you are all by yourself, you have to feed the edge of the sail to the roller-reef extrusion, go astern to the winch, raise the sail a little and then go fore and feed the edge some more. This had to be repeated countless times but finally the sail was all the way up and I could roll it in.

After some rest, I attended to the dinghy’s painter. I made the 4 splices and trimmed them with the hot-knife.

Then it was the mainsail’s turn. The installation of the mainsail, although more complicated with its 4 battens and 3 reefing lines, is actually easier for a single person than installing the headsail. After finishing with the sail I hung the wet clothes that I had washed 2 days ago, to dry in the sun. After lunch and after the clothes were dry and collected, I hosed down the deck and cockpit. Most, but not all, of the red mud was removed. Once again, Thetis looks “shipshape.” In the evening I went to eat at the Steki in Alindas. Dimitris, the owner and chef, was pleased to see me and we exchanged some gossip. I also spoke on the phone with Anastasis Raftopoulos of the M/S Vassiliki. We missed each other by a few days. They are now in Syros and on their way towards the Ionian Sea.