Travels with S/Y Thetis

Thetis only

2008: Preparation

The work on the rudder, following last year’s misadventure, turned out to be minor. The big ticket item was the engine. This engine has served us faithfully for 24 years with only one major overhaul and that was 14 years ago. It was high time for a second overhaul. Unfortunately the major expense for this was not the overhaul but the labor for the removal and re-installation of the engine in the boat. This in addition to the labor of disassembling the engine, replacing worn parts, cylinders, and rings and then re-assembling made the total cost more than the cost of brand new engine. So, I reluctantly decided to replace the engine rather then overhaul it. The new engine was also a Yanmar, model 3YM30. The big improvement was that it is not cooled by raw sea water but via a heat exchanger. It is a 30 hp, 3 more than the old engine. Since I was going to all this expense, I also decided to replace the old fashioned stuffing box with a dripless seal. Other improvements were the replacement of the incandescent bulbs with LEDs which have a much longer life expectancy and consume a fraction of the power. Also 2 of the 3 main cabin, fluorescent light fixtures had to be replaced but Agmar Marine (now Moor & Dock) could not find the exact replacements so, they replaced all 3 of them. They also did a complete service on the windlass. This work was done in addition to the usual yearly maintenance of varnishing the exposed outside woodwork, polishing the stainless railing, the hull, and applying a new undercoat. This was a lot of work for my friends in Agmar.

Tuesday May 13, 2008

I arrived in Partheni, Leros with the morning flight from Athens having flown from Washington, D.C. the day before. Thetis looked gorgeous: clean, shiny, with a fresh undercoat, woodwork newly varnished, metal sparkling. The new engine although slightly more powerful than the old one is actually a little smaller. The engine compartment was perfectly clean and all the cables were neatly arranged. Just a few odds and ends to be completed and Thetis would be ready to go. But, inside the cabins complete chaos was reining. Due to the work many things had been moved about and were now re-located or hidden. This was something of a challenge.

My first job was to make the right cabin, where I usually sleep, livable again. I stowed what was on the berth and put on the clean covers (bagged after cleaning last year), the mats, and made the bed. My second job was to make the bathroom functional again. These jobs took some time.

I 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. The new water-heater had shrank the available space under the right cabin’s bed and now it was even harder to stow my clothes.

I rented a scooter for 8 €/day from my friend Yiannis. My cruising friends Moo and Anastasis Raftopoulos from the M/S Vassiliki were here. We met briefly and agreed to get together tomorrow evening.

Wednesday May 14, 2008

I was waken up my a very heavy downpour. The only item in the long list I had left for Agmar Marine (now Moor & Dock) to do which was not completed was the making of a new tent to replace the 24 year old one. But, in the confusion of moving and rearranging all surface items they could not locate the old tent which was to be used as the model for the new one. To their credit, they did call me in Washington but I could not rememberer where I had left it. Now, of course, I did find it but it was too late. The new tent will have to wait and I will just have to make do with the old one. The rest of the work on the list had been done.

The plan was to launch Thetis tomorrow and do some sea-trials of the new engine. Agmar have already done one sea-trail but they want to repeat it with in my presense.

I spent the rest of the day cleaning and establishing a semblance of order inside the cabins. By the end of the day they were reasonably clean and somewhat livable.

For dinner, as we had arranged, I went to with Moo and Anastasis. We went to a new Mezedopolio (a taverna) in Ayia Marina. On the way back it started to rain and I had to leave the scooter at the hotel where Anastasis and Moo were staying. They drove me to the yard.

Thursday May 15, 2008

After recovering the scooter, I went to Lakki and did some provision shopping but did not get very much because once Thetis is launched and tested I planed to take her to Samos where I would do more extensive provisioning. I cleared the boat with the Limenarchio (Greek Coast Guard). I also bought some gasoline for the outboard.

Thetis was launched at 1500. There were no leaks. The electric head pump, while it did operate, it did not draw any water, but after filling the head with fresh water it was primed and it worked. Mastro Michalis, Agmar’s technical chief, and a new mechanic, Yiorgos, boarded and we motored away from the “pool” for the sea trials. Following the dripless seal’s instructions we bled it. No water entering from there, not a drop! The engine worked smoothly but we then encountered the first problem: there was no current produced by the alternator. It turned out that the alternator’s circuit breaker was open. Fortunately the problem was discovered early and there was no damage done. The second problem was the new tachometer, which now gets its signal from the alternator, was off and needed to be calibrated. Mastro Michalis revved the engine to its maximum RPM, Thetis moved at better than 7.5 knots, a speed never before reached without sails. While I was very pleased Mastro Michalis was not. He did not like the way the valve at the hot water heat-exchanger return was vibrating. He wanted to make some re-arrangement on the plumbing and eliminate the vibration. By the way, the hot water on the sink was really hot, burning hot, even after such a short engine running time. We were back at 1610. Total distance 1.54 M but a very successful sea-trial. Mastro Michalis promised that everything would be rectified by tomorrow.

For dinner I went with Moo and Anastasis to Dimitris that overlooks Vromolithos. They served us excellent mezedes (tasty hors d’oeuvres).