Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Have I mentioned that the refrigerator fix didn’t work? Yeah, the fridge guy came out, replaced a fan, that was noisy for €100 and said all was good. Alas, 24 hours later, the freezer simply stopped working. Home Free has two freezers, so we saved the food, but the return visit by the repair guy went a bit awry when he was stuck behind a security fence and didn’t text me. I’m pretty confident he was upset with me and it has taken a while to get him to return.
Today I had him come back out and he replaced a €300 fan. Alas, the freezer still sits at a very temperate 82C. Certainly not cool enough to make ice, but growing bamboo may be an appropriate use for the two freezer trays. Not just that but he arrived at around 1:30 so my morning was gone.
[Today’s featured image is small boats lined up at the shoreline of Marina Zea in Pireaus. We are moored about 200 feet from these boats.]
But to back up, I have been busy doing busy work. Yesterday, stymied by the general strike, which shut down a variety of services like trains, my day involved researching bilge pumps, procrastination, some cleaning of the engine room and research for today’s other shopping. Today, after the Fridge guy I went shopping. I bought a bunch of electronics bits at a robotics store (I will come to that later) and a Dremel tool to make it easy to cut piping and old screws in tight spaces.
My bilge pump is still not installed, and because I am now getting itchy to leave Athens, I bought a replacement which will suffice in the near term (a Viking Power 16). The old pump has both intake and output on one side, the new one is inline, meaning the input and output are at 180 degrees from each other. That has led to all sorts of teeny issues. Tomorrow I will hopefully try to install that bilge pump, but I need some plumbing.
You would think that a chandlery selling bilge pumps would sell piping and so forth, alas that is not so true in Athens (I kind of miss going into Mason’s Chandlery (now Fogh Marine), telling my old friend Mike what I need and seeing it magically appear, in a timely fashion at a price I had faith was fair). In any case, today I was able to get some of the plumbing fittings from a plumbing store, but they didn’t carry appropriate piping, so tomorrow I will find a store that carries pipe appropriate for bilge waste. (That means it shouldn’t degrade when oil and fuel go through it among other things). My new friend, Big John here in Athens has provided me with a local contact. I didn’t get to him today, but this seems to be a good spot to insert some local knowledge!
Just to remind those who care, I have two bilge pumps, a lower one that gets rid of water coming from the shaft drip and any other little bits that may get into the boat. The boat is spec’d for a 10 gpm lower bilge pump, but I am replacing it with a 5 gpm pump. Given that in most circumstances this pump turns on every two or three days and it is the same capacity as that suggested by James at NordhavnOnly, I am confident it will be sufficient for now. By comparison, the other pump is more like 70gpm and prevents water getting to the engine if that lower pump can’t keep up (in the case of a hull breach or something like that). Overall I will likely get the old pump rebuilt and reinstall it later, but for now, I just want a working solution so I can hit the water next week.
Next are the two other projects that have been on my mind. There is a built in computer on-board. Nice old beast. But it needs a bigger hard drive, bluetooth and more memory so I took it apart today and looked at replacing the mother board. It is a custom computer (designed in the UK) and the motherboard is highly specialized and made in…Canada. Okay, so we are keeping the motherboard and it’s super ancient CPU because replacing it would be expensive and require a new case. Not exactly convenient. Instead we will simply upgrade the hard drive and memory add a bluetooth transceiver and possibly swap out a few other bits. Parts should be in tomorrow and then I can rebuild and re-install that computer.
The next project is part hobby, part work. I have with me a Arduino system (a small CPU/project kit to design hardware) but left all of the key tools in Toronto because they are heavy. I brought two important things with me though, a soldering iron and a voltage generator. I have now blown both up plugging them into 220V (with a converter), so I need new ones, ones wired for 220V. They have a very nice, and really well organized robotics store in mid-town Athens and I went there today and bought most of the bits that I need.
One of the most important bits however is a voltage generator. Now I am living on a boat that has three seperate power systems: 220V/50Hz, 24Vdc and 12Vdc (that ignores all the 5V USB items, that is not a boat system technically). I can get 220V from any plug by turning on the generator, but honestly if I have a 220V problem I am calling an electrician. The other two systems (which are actually far more deadly, but let’s not do a risk assessment here) are primary to the boat’s operation, but if I want to test something, I can’t just ‘plug in’ to a 24V socket. Same thing for 12V. So testing things is a bit difficult. My solution: when I replace the voltage generator, spend a bit more money and get one that can generate a wide variety of voltages, can be carried around the boat for testing if necessary and can be plugged in anywhere. So I went shopping for a voltage generator that supports 0-30V and has two separate channels (I can have a 5V circuit running and a 24V circuit running, great for designing a circuit to do ‘something’ on the boat). But like everything else, that leads to a problem. (Or why else would I write about it, really, hopefully this is as amusing to you as it is me).
The store is well stocked for many small things, but I am guessing that this voltage generator isn’t picked up by everyone as quickly as it is by me. So they don’t have it in stock and can’t promise that they will have it by week’s end. I have a weather window Monday-Wednesday when I can head South. The best laid plans… I have ordered the voltage generator and we will see if it comes in by Saturday.
Finally, I should update all of you on my Visa status. It too is almost comical. I was advised that I need to go to the immigration/passport/whatever the heck it is centre within 90 days to finalize my Visa application. After finding the building on Thursday, finding the office on Friday and being stymied by the general strike on Monday, I have now made it INTO the office.
I have used the word chaos a number of times in a number of situations, but it would be generous to use the word chaos to describe this office. People (throngs, or madding crowds, might work better here) were waiting outside the outer office, with two policemen guarding the door and an employee yelling at people. People were waiting inside the outer office with an employee guarding the next door and yelling (but only intermittently) at people, and the inner office was mostly empty. Now to repeat from a post a few days ago, all the signs are in Greek. All the yelling was in Greek and there was no order, no lines, no apparent structure to the whole thing.
As the outermost ‘barker’ yelled at a persistent immigrant wannabe, I asked a policeman in English if he knew where I should go. Clearly not speaking English he tried to get the attention of someone else, and then simply let me slide through the ensemble without saying a word. Sometimes I feel bad for being in a foreign country and not speaking their language, but this policeman looked a bit apologetic because he couldn’t speak English. It worked out that I simply got through.
Next I stood behind a ‘client’ deep in discussion at a window for about five minutes. Nothing happened, then I see the door to the inner sanctum open, and the innermost ‘barker’ begins chastising a few people (to be fair he called a few more in by name using a very pleasant tone). I am turning European. I simply walked up to him, interrupted him a few times until he paid attention and asked him if he knew where I should go with my Visa, already issued in Canada. (I can be accused here of name dropping CANADA).
He told me to simply come through the door and wait there. So I did. Nothing happened. He never informed anyone of my presence, never left the doorway actually and I soon slid over to the empty seating and sat for another five minutes. Soon someone behind one of the glass windows began speaking at me (no idea what he was saying, but I moved immediately to the window to take advantage of the opportunity). Within two minutes I was informed that I don’t need to be there. I just need to go to the police station and let them know that I am in Athens.
For the record, every port I have entered has a record of my entry, including Athens, so now I am going to presume I am done and I am in the country legally. If anyone questions anything, I will simply let them know that I spoke with Ioannis at the immigration center and he said I was good to go if I spoke with the Athens Police. Since every third male seems to be named Ioannis and none of their records appear to be computerized, I will hope that it takes them as long to figure out my story as it does to do anything else around here. The simple fact that someone who is spending boat loads (literally) of cash in a cash strapped country and just wants to see the sights before leaving in 4-6 months, should bode well if any questions arise.
I don’t have time to review my two hours in an on-line chat with Roger’s customer service . . . no one can take this much comedy in a single day.
That’s it for today . . . time to put away my new tools and toys.