You just can’t spend a month in Greece without running into the occasional old building.
Another week and another week and another week. They say the most stressful thing is uncertainty and that’s what we’ve had the last several weeks as departure dates have come and gone. We really did arrive in this town on the 4th of January expecting to leave about two weeks later. We wouldn’t have been able to because the boat simply wasn’t ready, but the delays from the reregistration of the boat from Greek to Canadian have been absolutely mind-numbing. We still don’t know what happened. We’ve seen the Port Authority, the broker, his notary, and ourselves in action trying to get this resolved but the permutations are hard to understand when we’re speaking French and English and they’re speaking English and Greek and among themselves, only Greek. Whether someone didn’t know their job or missed a new law or didn’t have the right information we’ll never know now. But the good news is that finally, on February 7th, Greek registered Thetis became Canadian registered Chelona and when the original copy of the Canadian Registry finishes its fed ex’d journey from Montreal to Patras, we will be free to go. That is supposed to happen today, Monday, February 12th. And no more will we wake up thinking the line that Alexandre coined: “Ah, another day in Patrasdise!”
Trouble is, the document that was tracked to be here at 6 pm hasn’t shown up yet, but, it’s fed ex. How late can it be? So currently we plan to leave tomorrow morning, February 13th, and in all honesty there really wasn’t any wind today anyway. You can check on us though. If you google “challenge vert autour du monde” you will find Sylvain’s web-site and if you poke the “suivez moi” button you’ll get led to a map and a red dot which is us. Any time, in theory, you can see where we are, and I hope that very soon the distance between us and Patras will start to lengthen.
The boat is in better shape than it has been in for years. Sylvain and Alexandre and I have been absolutely uncompromising in making sure everything is up to date and secure. Sylvain has done it all before and has helped us understand how a boat that is sailing for weeks on end has different needs than one that is going out on occasional afternoons. It’s an expensive business (for him) and hard work but this boat is ready to go and we are more than ready. Amid the frustration we have all known that once we’re a week or two into the trip the doubts and delays will pale in comparison to the experience we’ve come to share – sailing this boat through the Mediterranean Sea in winter. We really don’t know what we’re getting into, but I’ll let you know when we find out. The obvious changes will be a world in perpetual motion with no more hot water, cabin heat, or fresh food. Or bureaucrats.
In the meantime it hasn’t been all work and no play. We all took a run up to Athens a few weeks ago to try to get some movement on the registration front. After doing time in the Port Authority offices for a morning Alexandre and I bailed out and visited the Acropolis and the nearby Acropolis Museum.
It’s absolutely a fantastic site and we had a beautiful sunny day with few other tourists. We even met some worshippers of the goddess Athena who were having prayers in the theatre behind the Acropolis which, they explained, was once reserved for the priests of the goddess. To each his/her own . . .
These are actually replicas of statues that have been holding that roof up for quite a while. We saw the originals (but one) preserved in the safer Acropolis Museum. A missing one was pilfered by Lord Elgin years ago and is in a British Museum, to the Greeks’s chagrin.
Then there’s the Odeon of Herod Atticus which he built in memory of his wife, Regilla. It’s amazing what you can do for your wife when you have access to the public purse.
After another night in Pyraeus (virtually a suburb of Athens), we set out the next day first to spend some money in one of the myriad marine stores in the area. The port of Pyraeus is enormous and full of ferries going off in all directions. There are so many Greek Islands, of course, that the services are many and Pyraeus is a major ferry terminal.
Sylvain headed back to the boat and Alex and I went on to Delphi where there is an extraordinary ancient site as well as views that are beyond imagination. It was exciting for me to pass towns and see signs for Corinth, Thessalonica, places to which Saint Paul sent his letters a few millennia back.
The road took us high into the mountains where towns are perched on the edges of cliffs like bird’s nests with equally good views of the surrounding country.
Delphi, we discovered, is also the site of the center of the universe as seen in this photo. In my view, if you stand back about 50 feet and look at it directly, it pretty much does seem to be about the exact center of the universe. I think they got that right.
At sites like this I’m always fascinated by the accuracy of the carving that was done in ancient times with primitive tools. Not just statues, but walls such as this that are so smooth and flat on one side, yet made with stone that is carved to fit together so well amaze me. How they did it and how much time it took is hard to imagine, but whenever I’m working on something that seems too difficult or beyond my ability I think of these people and give it another try.
Entertainment seems to have been an important part of their culture. There is an ancient theatre
as well as a sports stadium that the Romans built when they took over. This field is nearly level and it is where the contestants competed naked. The raised seats in the middle of the rows were for the judges. Of what, one wonders? You had to be at the end to see who was the fastest runner.
After Delphi it was back to the boat via some spectacular switch back and coastal roads.
Another week of work has been completed. Lists have been filed, low priority jobs got some attention, and although our crew is now down to three because of the delays, we’re eager to be off and running.
We did get out for a sail to shake the bugs out. We have stayed in the dock while still Greek registered for fear of even more troubles with the local authorities. Once officially Canadian we felt a little more freedom so here are some shots of that.
Sylvain and Alexandre discussing technology, no doubt. In fact the auto helm is on, which is why neither of them is steering.
And last chores included stocking up on two plus weeks of food for three hungry people. The fresh stuff gets bought and loaded last. This is load #2 of long life stuff to be stowed away before the fresh.
Aside from our position as mentioned above, there are other things you can look for as well if you have the time and feel like it. You can check the web-site windy.com to see what the wind is doing anywhere in the world, including what it’s doing to us. Another fun site is marinetraffic.com which shows you all the shipping anywhere in the world. Every commercial ship or boat (us included) is obligated to carry a thing called an AIS which gives name, position, course and speed at any time. We have an AIS in our cockpit and during the daysail above we could see ships within five miles on a small screen, including their course and heading. And no doubt they were looking at us. Then, of course, google earth gives a nice picture of the geography we get to sail past.
I trust that’s all for now. Departure is finally within a few hours. When we land at Gibraltar I’ll blog again and let you know about the water in between.