Back in Athens

Thursday, March 8, 2018

I arrived back in Athens on Wednesday afternoon. There is nothing so enjoyable as sitting in a window seat beside two parents, each holding a child in their lap for the entire 10 hour flight (to Munich). To be fair, they were quiet for about 90% of the flight. The toddler only kicked me 20 or 30 times while tossing in his sleep and I have been in far less comfortable circumstances in the past.

To realize the full extent of a frugal retirement I chose to take the X96 bus from the airport to Piraeus, it only costs €6, instead of the normal €50 for a cab. It takes about twice as long at 1:20 or so and is actually quite scenic. Not so scenic for me really, I have been riding much of the same route on my bike for three months. I jest a bit. I didn’t mind the ride at all.

The real issue was that I flew with a large suitcase on four wheels, and the walk from Piraeus port to the boat was going to be a bit long, even with wheels. I am no longer jesting. It was brutal. Before Jinhee and I flew to Corfu in October we bought two large suitcases and repacked our belongings into them to avoid ridiculous baggage charges on BA. We expected to simply dump the suitcases when we got to Greece since the suitcases cost less than the baggage fees we would have paid otherwise. Turns out the suitcases have proven useful and have returned to Toronto, and the one I used yesterday, has even travelled back to Greece. It won’t be going further with me.

See when you buy a $99 massive suitcase, it is wise to have low expectations, and the chosen suitcase met my extremely low expectations yesterday. Those wheels, well they kind of melted at the axle as I pulled 45lbs of stuff over Athens’ bumpy sidewalks. By the time I was starting up the hill which separates Piraeus port from Kea marina, I was literally dragging the suitcase and it’s melted wheels. Fun, fun.

One could be upset by such things, but I considered it training, and it was sunny and 22C outside so I was quite content. But then my difficulties increased substantially.

On arrival at the boat, the passerelle wouldn’t extend. First off you think, holy crap how am I going to get on the boat, but really that’s not what crossed my mind. My mind was racing with, oh crap, I hope I didn’t kill the batteries.

I ‘jumped’ across to the boat, went inside and found that I had indeed drained the batteries, and had, essentially, no money on my meter to put more energy into the batteries. Furthermore by the time I got things figured out, the office was closed. I made it through the night with a bit of power but no heat. Overnight lows of 15C meant no hardship.

Ultimately, I have been able to charge the batteries (at 11pm, after 15 hours, they are still charging) and have consumed about €30 of power, but they are on step 2 now (step 1 – bulk charge, step 2 – absorption, step 3 – float). Tomorrow I will test them a bit to make sure they hold a charge when I am not plugged in. It’s pretty critical for restarting engines.

There are six battery banks, including:

1 – starting batteries for main

2 – starting batteries for wing/generator

3 – 12v/comms battery system

4 – bow thruster

5 – stern thruster

6 – house batteries (the largest system)

So this morning I refilled my card with money and got the recharging underway, then the highlight of the day was scheduled. The Sub-Zero/refrigerator repair guy came. I now have (apparently) a working freezer. Sometimes it’s the little things that make you happy. I don’t even care about the (deeply discounted, due to the inconvenience, thank you Wolf/Sub-Zero) €500 really. I just want the boat systems to work.

My engines were tested and run, the bilge pump remains operational and essentially I am ready to leave Athens. That said, with the electrical upset, I am going to stay close to the mainland for a few days and watch things prior to venturing too far away.

In the middle of the day, I completed a 60km bike ride which was fun on the way out, but turned dangerous on the way back with very strong wind gusts from all over the place. Then I started shopping. Three trips to the grocery store for food and drinks to refill the fridge, and a trip to a bike store.

I have decided to put an indoor trainer on the boat. If I anchor out, I can ride onboard. If I am at sea for long periods in flat water I can pass time by riding underway. When I can’t sleep at night I can set up the bike and bang out a few miles. We’ll see how it works, but I have it now and can evaluate later.

That’s it. Now I am exhausted and need sleep. Sorry for the lack of pictures, but soon I will move along and find more new and interesting places to take pictures.

3 thoughts on “Back in Athens

  1. Hi Don,
    Yes we are getting excited, we leave a week on Saturday and I am at the computer about to book my transfers from Vancouver airport.
    I bet you are so glad you decided to have a season in Europe, it looks like a real adventure.
    Freddie and Angela send their love.

  2. Good to have you back Don, I’ve missed your posts. David

    1. Thanks David. You must be getting excited to go skiing! I am learning all the bits and tricks of the boat. Truly enjoying the time aboard. Say hello to the family.

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