Ahh the Grecian sky on a winter’s evening.
Everything takes longer than you think, especially if it’s on a boat. I’ve been spending my time making Spray Hood/Spray Dodger which was fun because it is wood and there were a whole lot of compound angles to shape and join as well as curved bases to fit the deck beneath but, and it’s an 8 foot tall BUT, then comes the time to fiberglass it all. I worked in the fiberglass industry years ago and suddenly there I was, once again, cutting out shapes in fiberglass mat to match shapes on the spray hood. Then wetting them out with thinned epoxy resin and tamping them down all over the place in an effort to make this thing at least half as strong as the boat that goes beneath it. Ah, the sweet brain cell crushing smell of mixed epoxy chemically reacting in the mixture and Lord knows what it’s doing in my poor, pathetic cerebrum (maybe making me smarter!) but at least we’re working outside where the air is moving pdq. Or we were, until the rain started, and then I’m working in an envelope of plastic with no vents at all and epoxy in my hair, but for a mercifully short time. The irony is not lost that the only wooden boat owner in the crowd also happened to be the most qualified to lay up all this fiberglass. Sylvain kindly took over when it came time to install the plexiglass.
Sylvain’s custom is to plant a tree in every port of call that he can, so below he and Lilas doing just that in a green space about thirty feet from where the boat has been moored for years. That’s Agostino alongside, a local man who was kind enough to lend Sylvain a bicycle for the duration of his time here. There was some chance that Agostino might join us as far as Gibralter but he doesn’t seem to be able to manage the time.
Everything else, from a new steering cable to life-line netting, from all the marine electronics to internal water tank leaks (in the top. Please. Why bother!) from running rigging fittings to navigation lights, it’s all being checked, repaired, renewed, replaced, or whatever is required.
So now there are two obstacles to departure. Obstacle number one, the crate of gear we shipped from Montreal, has had an interesting journey. Sylvain built the crate out of wood from something else he’d taken apart. Alexandre and I filled the crate, and Jane and I drove it up to Montreal for shipping. Turns out you can only ship new wood to Europe. Old wood may contain parasites, bacteria, insects, or hippopotamuses and is not allowed. Having visited N.Z. and the Land of Aus last year I have all kinds of sympathy for those trying to control invasive species, but they might have at least mentioned it when we delivered the crate. Apparently the shippers broke up the crate, repacked the contents in other crates, and smacked a cheerful added fee on the whole arrangement, inevitably delaying the shipment. Currently the crate is so far behind we’ve had to reroute it to Gibralter.
Obstacle number two, which makes the other pale by comparison, is the reregistration of the boat as a Canadian vessel. We have been told three more days, two more days, one more week nearly since I came aboard January 4th. We now expect the final documents on February 5th. This has been a major wrangle of bureaucratic administrivia. Lilas’ father has had to drive from his home near Tadoussac to Montreal and Ottawa to obtain documents that the broker has recently deemed necessary. This boat has been and will continue to be a commercial vessel used for yacht charter and teaching sailing. No longer named Thetis and under Greek registry, we are about to be Chelona and under Canadian registry. Chelona is Greek for tortoise. The name is not chosen as an indication of our expected speed (there, I got it in first) though it might reflect the speed of Greek bureaucracy. In fact the name is inspired by the concept of the world as depicted in the First Nations creation stories.
Needless to say the degree of frustration as departure dates come and go has been high. Lilas and Nathan left for France to visit family on January 31st, and will be rejoining us in the Canary Islands for the final leg, across the ocean to Guadeloupe. Here’s Alexandre with Nathan stuffed in the spinnaker bag hoping to get hoisted up to the masthead, but it’s not going to happen.
One piece of equipment we haven’t been able to get is a man overboard flag. I guess the Greeks are impossible to knock into the water because they don’t even have them in catalogues. Sylvain wanted to have one so in an idle moment I concocted this rare beauty. It’s a bamboo pole with a bunch of short bamboo sticks attached as a float and two fishing weights to keep it vertical. I asked our good Capitan if he thought it was good enough and he replied: “Oui . . . mais c’est un peu . . . Gilliga’!” Nobody ever drowned on Gilligan’s Island so I guess we’re okay.
We finally installed the Spray Hood, bolting it right through into the cabin and installing the plexiglass. A face book friend and cousin asked if we were going to put some artwork on it and that led to a lively dinner discussion. Sylvain wanted to put a solar panel atop, but taking Ron’s notion I went and suggested that the tortoise motif that takes over the O in the name of the boat might become an enduring symbol of the boat if someone painted a life-sized one on the roof. The debate ain’t over.
And finally here’s the current crew. Left to right that’s Nathan in the arm of Martin, who we hope to pick up in Italy to help us get to Gibralter. He had to bail out short term as two more departure dates bit the dust. Then the grizzled old guy, followed by Lilas, who will be rejoining us in the Canaries with the little guy. Then Alexandre and Sylvain. Work to do and delays notwithstanding, life here doesn’t look so bad, does it?
I may or may not wedge another post in on the eve of departure. If not, I won’t be able to post again till we pull into a port and we’re so late now, that could be Gibralter. I hope you have sunny skies, fresh winds, and a shortage of bureaucratic nonsense in your life in the days ahead!