Well, I guess all the painful travel arrangements were worth it – we arrived back on Greek soil in brilliant sunshine at about 1015am Greek time yesterday, having left our temporary winter home in the UK at 1830 the previous evening. Artemis, The Luckiest Cat in Greece – was returned to her place of birth after spending a very long time in her cat carrier, and telling everyone around how mean and cruel we were to her, by yowling at the top of her voice for almost the whole journey. I think she was mostly complaining that she hadn’t been fed for 12 hours!
We picked up a hire car at the very tiny Ionnina airport (only two flights a day, from Athens) and drove two hours south to Lefkas Island – the only island in Greece that is joined to the mainland by a very small lifting bridge, to allow boats to pass through the tiny channel. Hiring a car in Greece is so much simpler than in the UK – if you don’t have the right documents they just shrug their shoulders as if to say “no problem”, or ask you to bring it later. We didn’t have the original booking voucher, and didn’t have a credit card, only a debit card, but that was fine.
Another time in Greece, in Lefkas town, after paying the princely sum of 14 euro to hire a small car for the day, no deposit required, the car hire office told us when returning the car later, to park it some distance from the office and put the keys through their letter box! We were very tempted to substitute a toy pedal car for the actual car, or remove some of its fixtures and fittings, as they had no proof of who we actually were when we took the car in the morning! And once on Mykonos, due to parking problems, the office man actually gave us a photo of the car we had hired, showing its colour and number plate, as he didn’t have time to take us to the car park and handover the car! We returned it to the same spot and returned the keys, and they never checked it at all, again, no deposit needed.
Back to Ionnina airport – I misheard the very nice car rental lady – I thought she said – “You have a very lovely car….” – and I got all excited as I thought she was going to give us the latest prestige BMW automatic with all the luxury extras, but it turned out that she actually said – “you have a very lovely CAT…..” – so we ended up with a scruffy Fiat Panda……it’s most endearing feature being that when engaging reverse gear, the knob and the spring underneath at the top of the gear stick eject themselves fiercely, and end up on the floor under your feet, so you have to scrabble around to find them, before moving on. This happened twice, even before leaving the car park…..
So it was back to Fandancer today, the first time we have seen her for over six months. She has been out of the water at the Ionion Marine yard in Preveza., where there are hundreds of boats stored for the winter. I think Tim was secretly very excited at seeing her again, and couldn’t wait to get aboard, jumping out of the car before I turned off the engine, and even stealing someone else’s ladder before ours was delivered. When we left her in October, it was the worst weather ever, with torrential rain and wind, not ideal conditions for tying down tarpaulins and keeping everything dry. So our first job was to undo hundreds of pieces of string, rope and tape that secured several tarpaulins over her cockpit and wheelhouse.
Down below, everything was just as we had left it, no apparent leaks, and just one small minor damp problem which had attacked Tim’s leather belt, an old tee shirt and his working shorts stored in a closed locker. Everything else was bone dry – all the bedding, pillows, upholstery, towels etc, nothing smelt of damp, all fresh as a daisy. The first job was to check the batteries – we bought them new five years ago, expensive heavy duty ones, with a separate one for starting the engine. We didn’t expect a problem, so it was a bit of a surprise when Tim reported they were not showing any charge at all! After a bite to eat and time to mull things over, Tim realised that he had omitted to include the starter battery on his test, so the circuit was incomplete, hence no charge showing. Once this was rectified, the batteries displayed the correct voltage and he declared them healthy and good to go!
We have exactly two weeks to get Fandancer ready for re-launch, and as well as general engine maintenance, the main job will be to work on the outside of the hull – new anti-fouling paint on her bottom, and a good clean and scrub-up on her white topsides. There is plenty of work also needed down below, but lots of these jobs can wait until after we are afloat, and we will probably stay another week on Preveza quay or in the marina, getting her ready to sail and start this year’s adventures….