Adventures in Greece as we cruise the Mediterranean on our boat Matilda, an Adagio Sundeck 44 Trawler
The winds continued all week, finally easing up on Friday morning. It’s been a massive relief. Of course there are always trade offs. Why did the wind stop? Because of a big high pressure pushing up from Africa, so now we’re sitting here with very limited breeze and 35C — 40C days… careful what you wish for!
The big news is that both Karina and I passed our Powerboat License! Come Monday we can pick up a temporary certificate and we will be able to legally captain Matilda here in Greece (and elsewhere as well) while we wait for the permanent card to come through. This of course formed the major focus for this week which has been largely administrative and boat task focussed in nature.
We hired a car for four days and drove into the city every day:
- Tuesday: Last power boat training course
- Wednesday: VHF Radio Operators course
- Thursday: Off to the city for my second AZ vaccine shot and some shopping
- Friday: Early morning to sit the powerboat exam and take the practical test
One of the adjustments to living in Greece is that things don’t always run on your schedule. The common phrase we hear is “no stress” when people feel you are being a bit pushy or if you’re late and apologising. Collecting the hire car was no exception.
There is a small rental agency here on site at the marina and they HATE making bookings — they basically tell you to just “rock up” and take what’s available. I guess it is easier for them to manage that way! Anyway, because we wanted to car for four days we were able to book, and we were insistent that we could pick the car up by 10.30 in order to get to our lesson on time. No worries they said.
We arrive on time and the woman at the counter leaves to run someone into Lavrion — “I’ll just be 5 minutes” she says. Of course she was more like 20 minutes. Then she brings someone back with her and sees them first. So we are already running late for our lesson by the time we leave. Such is Greece.
On the flip side, most Greeks are incredibly generous people too. We were walking back to the boat and saw the van for the Volvo mechanic that did our sea trial — we texted him and once he’d finished the work, he popped by to say hi and gave us a lot of good advice and reprogrammed the computers from French to English for us, all for free! Another time at a coffee shop we only had a large Euro note to pay, we offered to pay by card instead, but they let us have it for free.
Aside from all the errands it’s been a never ending saga of trying to fix the front hatch. I’ve already commented on how boat tasks seem to take longer than you’d expect, and two tasks this week took WAY longer than expected.
The front hatch leaks, so I want to replace the rubber seal. But it turns out that to do that, you have to remove the hatch and then the metal “rim” around the outside to seat the seal. A few YouTube videos later, I know what to do, but of course it’s been years since the hatch was removed (if it ever was) and all the screws are seized with salt and rust. I broke several tools trying to move them and burred out the screw head, but I eventually got about 80% of the way there. The last 20% though is impossible — I’ve now had to order a new metal hatch frame, because the only way to remove the existing one is by destroying it (drilling out the screws through the aluminium and stripping the threads in the process). Hopefully the rest of the job is easier…
Similarly when mounting a new blind / fly screen combo, it should have been as simple as placing it and screwing it in, but unfortunately it was a little too big for the frame, not a problem as I just screwed it into the headlining (the ceiling outside the frame where the old one was mounted as well), but then I screwed it too tight which warped the frame because the headlining sits a little lower than the frame, which popped the screen off the rollers and I spent 2 hours pulling it all apart and working out how to re-assemble and re-tension it. All working now though!
On Thursday I also purchased a new drone (DJI Mavic Mini 2) which is an amazing piece of equipment and I hope to shoot a lot of boat footage with it. Here’s my first very in-expert attempt!
All those tasks aside, the week really has been focussing towards the powerboat course. It’s been a critical milestone in our plans — there’s very little point in owning a boat you’re not allowed to take anywhere! Karina and I studied extensively together and by Friday we felt very prepared.
The exam was an interesting process. We met at Glyfada Library. Everyone had a different set of questions and of course, they were all in Greek. We had our translator with us and she read the questions to us and we chose the right answer while a port authority person supervised us. It’s a challenge answering verbally! The questions are often all the same, but maybe one or two words changed — working out which words is the key (for example, The crown light is a light of arc 135 degrees that faces to the stern…. or to the bow).
Of course it wouldn’t be Greece is there wasn’t some way to work the system. We were given seven past exams to study and learned all those answers, most of which were in our exam. We also worked off the working paper and circled the answers, I’m fairly sure if we circled the wrong answer, she would have re-read the question again and stressed certain words, all in front of the port authority (who to be fair was mostly looking at his phone). Happily both Karina and I were very well prepared and passed this section of the test 100%.
Then we all went to the port, waited for an hour and a half in 40 degrees for the papers to be graded and if you passed, you could move on to the practical test. While we were sitting waiting for the papers to be graded, I noticed all the other students around us practicing knots. I asked the translator, “Do we need to demonstrate those knots?”
“Yes, of course” she says “didn’t Dimitris (our instructor) teach them to you?”.
Ahhh — no. OK, no real drama for me as I already knew them (although I took the time to refresh real quick), but which knots, the names are different in Greek of course and unfortunately Karina wasn’t familiar with any of them at all. So while we’re waiting for the practicals to start, we had a crash course in knot tying!
The practical exam was on the boat, the port authority would have you do a few docking manoeuvres that we’d been practicing, all the time quizzing us on various regulations and rules. At the end, he pulled out a map and tested us on a range of things there. And that was it, we passed!
Now we’re looking forward to Monday when we can go back to Glyfada to collect our temporary certificate and then on Tuesday we’ve got a captain joining us, along with Camille to head out to some nearby islands for our first real boat holiday.
Other than that, we continue to work on the boat, take the tender out to local beaches (we collected a garbage bag full of trash onshore yesterday while at the local beach, so many wretched plastic bottles!) and try survive the heat. With this last week out of the way, that’s the end of the administrative things — we’re waiting on a couple of pieces of paperwork now (the final captains licence and my drivers licence) and then we are free to head off and explore.
Don’t forget if you have Instagram to follow us on https://instagram.com/matildatheboat for even MORE boat related postings…
Until next time,
Tim & Karina