The Long Road Back

We arrived in Preveza, Greece in the early afternoon of June 20th.  We spent a couple of hours on the boat dropping off our bags of supplies and taking a look around to determine our next steps (oh, there were many….so many it threatened to overwhelm me!) Every season we bring several large duffles loaded with spare boat parts and various other items we find easier and cheaper to get at home and shuttle out with us.  All of these goodies would need to find a home…..I think we’re going to need a bigger boat 🙁

Having spent 5 hours driving from Athens, we didn’t spend a lot of time working on the boat the first day back.  We basically plotted out how our next week would go in order to be ready for our launch on Friday (it was currently Saturday).  We checked into our favorite little apartment that we had found at the end of the season last year.  It’s located right on the edge of the city center, so it is peaceful and quiet but an easy walk to downtown and all the shops and tavernas.  We were still jet lagged and rundown from our travels, so we got settled in and hit one of our favorite little restaurants down near the waterfront.  Tomorrow would be a big day.

The next few days, we worked from morning until early evening getting Zoe put back together and ready for sailing.  I will spare you the boring details of all that had to be done.  Needless to say, I was near tears several times by the sheer magnitude of the tasks I needed to complete.  On top of that, we went back to our apartment every evening completely exhausted with every inch of our bodies aching.  Keep in mind, our boat deck is 8 feet up in the air which requires climbing a ladder every time you get on and off the boat.  None of the systems are up and running since we are out of the water and there is no air conditioning.  As you can imagine, doing all this work in the heart of summer was a hot, sweaty endeavor.  

Life on a boat comes with it’s own set of unique challenges, and living on a boat for an extended period of time might not be for everyone.  Not only are you living in a tiny space with limited storage, but everyday tasks can be quite challenging.  One task I hate above any other (and yes that includes cleaning bathrooms) is making the bed.  The beds on our boat are slightly odd shaped and one side butts up against the wall.  The other side is open but only about 1/2 way up and then it butts against the wall as well.  It is also about hip height for me.  Are you picturing this?  I’ve heard other women say that you needed to be a gymnast to make a boat bed.  I’ve determined it’s more like wrangling a cow (no, I have never actually wrangled a cow).  Here is how it goes.  I take the mattress pad and fitted sheet and climb up to the top of the bed.  Then I jump on the corner, straddling it, so I can pull the entire corner up off the base and wrestle the mattress cover and sheet over the corner.  Then I have to repeat this on the other side.  Next, I crawl down to the end of the bed and slide down to the floor to make the bottom of the bed.  Every so often, it is at this point I realize that I oriented the sheet the wrong way and have to start over again.  I’m usually spitting nails when this happens.  I try to get everything tucked down nice and tight around all 4 edges (remember the odd shape I mentioned?  Normal sheets don’t fit nicely).  Since I like my sheets military tight, this becomes a quick exercise in frustration as I crawl from one side to the other trying to make everything tight.  Then I get to do it all over again in the guest cabin!  Heaven forbid Dan needs to get under one of the beds to deal with the batteries or water heater, he’s likely to lose a limb after I’ve worked so hard to get a perfectly made bed.  As you can imagine, my perfectionism with bed making drives him crazy.

Hospital corners a drill sergeant would love…
Applying antifoul to our sail drives.

By Tuesday, we had made pretty good progress and hoped that we could get the marina to put us in the water earlier than Friday.  By doing this, we would be able to finish our work while living on the boat (and enjoying the strong breezes that come up every afternoon).  Sadly, they were too busy with other launches, and we would need to wait until Friday.

On Thursday, Dan huffed it over to customs to try and get our transit log back.  Once you’ve paid the cruising tax (a fun adventure in and of itself), you need to go to customs with all your documentation in order to get this log that allows you to sail around Greece if you are a non-EU boat.  When he arrived there with all our paperwork, the lady gave him the riot act for not self-quarantining.  He politely explained that we had followed all the protocols that we were expected to follow at the time of our arrival (and we did in fact stay in a hotel in Athens which was the required 1 day quarantine).  She also told him that we could not get our log back until we had the document from the marina showing that our boat was back in the water.  Hmmm?  Seemed a little ass backwards (the transit log allows you to be in the water), but who were we to argue.  She was very unpleasant in the beginning, but Dan said she seemed to soften up the more they talked (he seems to have that effect on people!)  We were then told that the office is closed due to Covid, so we needed to email all of our paperwork, and they would tell us when to come in to the office.  

Friday arrived and we were super grateful that the boatyard asked if we could launch several hours earlier than our 1:00 appointment.  The winds pick up quite forcefully around 1:00 and there is a nasty current inside the marina.  The thought of launching in the heart of all that, for our first time back on the boat, was less than appealing.  We were launched by 11:00 and sitting in our space in the marina…..no fuss, no muss.  Yeah!! 

On the tractor and sled and 16 tons (35,000 pounds) of boat tractored to the lifting slings.
Into the slings…
Getting lowered down into the water
In the tank and ready to go!
All moored up and in the water where she belongs!

Dan then sent all of our paperwork to customs, and we waited.  Nothing.  We knew once the weekend rolled in, there would be no contact from them.  We decided it was time for a small road trip.  We drove about an hour into the countryside to a place called Acheron Springs.  If you recall, last year we went to the Acheron River (also known as the River Styx….which is where it is believed that souls were ferried to Hades).  Acheron Springs was the gateway to Hades.  As we wandered up this beautiful slot canyon, thigh deep in ice cold water, we found this bubbling pool in front of a concave rock wall.  This was believed to be the actual gateway to Hades.  We continued trekking up the river (sometimes against some pretty rugged current), frequently passing areas where you could hear the water bubbling deep inside the cliffs.  It was a bit of an eery experience but incredibly beautiful.  I have to say, I truly love the mythical history that surrounds so many areas of Greece.

Acheron Springs. A wonderful slot canyon you can wade through in knee high water to Hades!
It was just gorgeous in here.
Hades Gate, where waters bubble up from the underworld.
Love exploring the wonders of Greek Mythology.
We love these roadside fresh vegetable stands.

Before we knew it….it was Monday.  We still had not heard from customs, so Dan called them.  Needless to say, they had not read the email with all the attachments and told us to call back in few hours later.  We called back later and the first question he asked was why our boat was in the water before we got our transit log.  Are you kidding me???  Dan very politely explained that the agent on Thursday said we could not do our paperwork until we had the paperwork showing our boat was in the water.  Welcome to Greece!  The rules change depending on who you talk to!  The agent then told us to call back tomorrow.  At this point, my very easy going husband was getting quite irritated.  Anyway, we called back the next day….had a few more issues (on their part) and were finally told to come in at 1:00.  It was almost comical when we arrived.  Dan and I masked up when we arrived at the door, and when the agent came to the door he told us to wait outside.  The paperwork exchanges all happened through a cracked door despite all 3 of us being masked up.  We were not allowed inside, and it was evident that he did not want to spend any time answering our questions.  With our transit log in hand, we hustled off to the port police to give them our crew list and get our transit log stamped.  We were finally free to sail!  Unfortunately, early in the day, we ran into a problem with our generator and had to have the mechanic out.  He told us that he would need to come back the next day to finish the work.  Noooooo.  Long story short, he arrived in the morning and got us fixed up.  We were finally on our way!

Preveza customs office during a Covid19 lockdown. They have our boat papers while Zoe was stored on land for winter…no papers, no cruising these waters.
Preveza port police to get some stamps on our documents. and set us free!
Joys of boat ownership. Our generator heat exchanger was salted up and needed an acid dip. Luckily we had professional mechanics right next door.

We hope you will stay tuned.  We are a couple of Americans, on an American flagged boat, in a country that has shut down their borders to all Americans!  What could possibly go wrong?!

Sunset beach walks….life is good.
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Mark Garcia
Mark Garcia
2 months ago

Glad you made it and are in the water. I know the feat and all that goes into making your boat ready for another season on the water. Thanks for representing us (pun intended) in Greece. Be safe!

Mark Garcia
Mark Garcia
2 months ago
Reply to  Robyn

Hi Robyn….joining you and Dan is on my calendar for this fall and I’m watching things closely. Hopefully things will open up and I can join you somewhere in your travels. Until then I will live vicariously through your travels….;)
Be safe.