Sunday, September 04, 2011


[Kyle]At first light we pulled up the anchor along with several other local fishing boats that had appeared mysteriously in the night, and sailed out of the bay at the south end of Fouroni. In the warm light of the cool morning we made for the island of Samos in a building crosswind.

Leaving Fouroni at sunrise, and one of many engine sessions on route to Samos

Several hours later as we sailed into the lee of Samos the wind died to the point that the engine was required. After a few minutes it seemed the engine just didn’t sound right. Our engine, like most boat engines, has a water-cooled exhaust; this also muffles the engine noise to some extent. Our engine was sounding a little louder and growlier than normal (the same thing that happened in the French canals when we had a blocked intake). The first thing I suspected was that water wasn’t getting through and a look over the stern at the tail pipe confirmed a reduced flow. The engine temperature was normal so I toyed with the idea of ignoring it until we got to port (not 100% sure I wasn’t imagining it), but once I started thinking about it I realized that it would be a lot easier to troubleshoot at sea than in the harbor. If I had to dive under the boat to clear the intake open sea is MUCH cleaner than harbor water.

We checked the raw water strainer: clean. I put on fins and mask and dove under the boat to inspect the intake: I could find nothing there either. We restarted the engine. It still ran normally but seemed no better. After thinking about it for ½ mile or so we decided to check the impeller (the paddle wheel that aids the pumping of the water and the next point upstream in the water intake). The impeller did indeed have one of its blades broken off. Maryanne found a spare from our stores, I installed it and we soon had the engine running again. Unfortunately with no improvement, it just wasn’t right.

When we took out the old impeller we couldn’t find the broken off blade, and Maryanne was worried it had been carried further into the heat exchanger or otherwise blocking the system. I dismissed her, thinking it small enough to be carried through to the exhaust and out overboard. Maryanne was adamant we had to find the broken part and dismantled the heat exchanger to look (oh yes, I know she is a keeper!). We found nothing and again put the engine back together and tried our hardest to convince ourselves that any strange symptoms remaining were just our imagination. At our normal cruising RPM of 2800, water should have been chugging out of the exhaust, but instead it was not much more than a trickle. Maryanne decided it must be in the hose between the impeller and the heat exchanger so once again we shut down the engine while the current drifted us backwards and dismantled everything. It turns out there was something blocking the impeller outlet hose. We dug the offending obstruction out and it turned out to be not only our missing impeller blade (which we matched like a jigsaw piece with the old impeller) but a previous broken blade also (been there for who knows how long). So it turned out that the blades did not get flushed out of the exhaust system; I was wrong and she was right – It happens all of the time so I should be getting used to it, but I just keep trying. That little adventure cost us about 1.5 hours, time we were planning on exploring Samos once we arrived. Doh!

An hour or so later we entered the harbor of Pythagorion (renamed in 1955 after some mathy guy who was born there {Maryanne - that's Sacrilege Kyle!}) on the Island of Samos. We found a spot, dropped anchor and pulled up to the wall with the help of a waiter from an adjacent restaurant, who took our lines. We were itching to do some sightseeing, but formalities must come first (Samos was to be our last harbor in Greece and we needed to clear out of the country, and the EU, officially, before leaving for Turkey).

Pytagorion, on the Island of Samos

At each port in Greece where Port Police have an office we are required to check in and out and receive official stamps; we were getting quite used to the process by now. We headed for the Port Police, but I spotted the customs sign first and went in that office; the woman there advised us we needed to visit the local (normal) Police station first, and gave us excellent but lengthy directions. At the Police station we were helped by a man with a strong resemblance to Sting (the musician), he kept leaving to go into another room for advice on the procedure and after a few times it seems the supervisor gave up and just came out to take over our process. We were asked repeatedly where we had come from and where we were going. We explained that we wanted to check in for arrival at Samos (we’d been in Greece for about a month), and then also (hopefully at the same time) check out of Greece for a trip to Turkey first thing in the morning. Initially we were told we could check in now, but we’d have to return at 11pm to clear out for our morning departure. Most places we’ve been too accept a 24-hour rule (you can clear out any time within 24 hours of departure, so if you are only staying for a short while you can check in and out at the same visit). I was hoping to be asleep by 11pm, so we asked a couple of different times and finally the supervisor, after a heated conversation with Officer Sting, told us it would be OK – all the paperwork in just the one visit. Our passports were stamped and we were sent from there to the Port Police.

At the Port Police office the woman examined our documentation and looked very confused. “You came from Turkey today and are leaving for Turkey tomorrow?” She asked. “No, we’ve been in Greece for a while but are leaving for Turkey tomorrow”. She explained that the police had just cleared us into the country and then back out again. She made a couple of phone calls and I was informed I would have to take the passports the several blocks back to the Police station to be corrected. Once at the local police station again the supervisor who had stamped my passport initially was visibly annoyed at having to search for the correct stamps among the many in my extended but almost full passport. He seemed to be thinking ‘why the hell does this guy have to travel so much’, but eventually all was found and corrected.

[Maryanne] Meantime I was left to finish the paperwork with the port police as best we could with the missing forms. Eventually I was presented with the bill €8.

“Er, no, that is not right, we have to pay for our Transit log when we leave, it should be more like €200”, I said, but was told I had to pay customs the extra amount. Just then the customs lady walked in and asked to take our paperwork so she could get a head start.

“Ah, is the is the lady I pay?”, I asked. The customs lady looked blank,

“No, you pay on entry, not exit, you should have your receipt”.

I knew we hadn’t paid on entry, we were explicitly told to pay on exit and had held aside sufficient cash for the job. They joked that Greece could certainly do with the money right now, but insisted I must have already paid and sent me to go and check my receipts aboard.

About the time I was on the boat searching for receipts I knew I didn’t have, Kyle returned so we walked back to the customs office together, assuming we could pay for the Transit log now. But no, a different region was supposed to collect the money. Samos can’t collect on their behalf. Nobody would take the fee. We agreed to spend the money on Samos somehow (After all, we “owed” it and the Greek economy did need it) so we would have a cracking meal and go shopping for clothes and goodies paying our fee one way or another. Officially at least, all was ready to set sail and leave Greece in the morning.

[Kyle] I did not wholeheartedly share Maryanne’s insistence on adding to the Greek economy whether through fees or shopping. I was all for saying we’d saved a bit of money and could treat ourselves to something or another, but she seemed determined to match penny for penny the saved customs fees. We eventually settled somewhere in the middle. I got a nice, thin cotton pullover shirt – perfect for a sunny, hot climate. She got two, plus some shorts. We both got a new bathmat. I’m pretty sure it’s the same shopping spree Paris Hilton has in a new town.

My big concern during the engine repair earlier in the day, custom snafu’s and shopping was that we were losing out on precious tourism time (not to mention day light). A quick review of our guides showed that by then most things in the town had closed (museums and such); mercifully preventing us from a Maryanne style itinerary of touring the entire island! It did leave us with the castle, just a short walk from the Marina and an exploratory hike for the aqueduct, the Tunnel of Eupalinos (one of the 3 great Greek engineering feats according to Herodotus, the “Father of History” (and lies)). The other two sites he mentioned were ALSO on Samos: the harbor Mole at Pythagorion and the other the temple to Hera in Ireon, the next town to the west.

More Pytagorion - note a new shirt, who knows how long it will remain white?

Just as we were stepping off of Footprint, the woman at the boat beside us rather snottily said that we had laid our anchor chain across theirs and that we would have to reset it. We were almost positive this couldn’t be true. We had deliberately set our anchor down a little on the wide side from where theirs was likely to be. Our rode was cranked bar-tight and was pointing away from theirs.

I asked when they were leaving.

“Not tomorrow, or even the next day”, came the response.

“Oh, we’re leaving first thing tomorrow, so it shouldn’t be a problem anyway”. We started to head off.

“You’ll have to wait here until the Captain arrives. He’ll deal with you.”

I looked at my watch. Testily, “Well where the hell is he?”

“I’ve called him. He’ll be here shortly.”

You have got to be freakin’ kidding me.

After ten minutes or so, the Captain did show up on a scooter. He took a quick look at the situation and declared everything okay. As we hastily headed off with our late appointment with tourism, we figured out from the conversation between her and the Captain that she was his extremely snooty charter guest, that she knew next to nothing about boats, and that she had taken it upon herself to be Honorary Captain in his absence. She didn’t say as much, but I was beginning to suspect she was using the anchor chain thing as a ruse to get our grotty little catamaran out of her view of the waterfront.

Okay, so on to the castle. Wait! Not so fast. We had taken only two or three steps when we noticed a 4m wide boat backing up into the 3m space between us and the boat on the other side. Despite our protests as well as those on the boat on the other side and a few bystanders for good measure, he pushed his way in. We jumped back aboard to fend him off as did the opposite boat and his own crew. We loosened our stern line on that side, opening up some room at the expense of most of the gap on the other, charter boat side. All the while, he was completely ignoring everybody around him in that way that gate agents do. The only communication with us was shooting us a dirty look when he noticed our stern line rubbing around the corner of the boat he just wedged in. Several different people suggested that he pull his boat forward six inches, all of whom he ignored. In the end, the rest of us all looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders, decided he was a jerk and left. Great! Both of our neighbors hate us.

Castle at Pythagorion

So…the Castle. Ah, I don’t care anymore. It was old and falling down. We got a few nice pictures. Enjoy.

We also managed to find the tunnel. It was constructed to ensure a constant supply of water to the city. From the entrance we found (not the official one) a lot of it was caved in and grown over, but I still managed to follow much of its path. It’s pretty amazing that people were able to tunnel through a mountain over 2000 years ago. {Maryanne: Really, how much more advanced are we?}

Tunnels and Caves abound (along with lots of spiky seed that pierce through my flip flops - ouch!

We were pretty beat and dusty by the time we rolled back into town for dinner. We decided that rather than cook and clean up, we would eat at the restaurant just astern Footprint as thanks to the guy who took our lines. He actually served us. We impressed him by asking for the three most Greek things on the menu: Giant bean soup, Spinach and rice and Briam. We got two of them, but he said they hadn’t sold any spinach and rice for a while. People wanted pizza and burgers. We settled for a Greek salad instead. To wash it all down, we ordered a ½ liter carafe of traditional Samos sweet wine. We were expecting sweeter than normal wine. We like sweet wines, but this stuff is by far the sweetest wine we have ever had. It didn’t have the syrupy consistency of Port or some of the sweeter liqueurs, but it tasted exactly like drinking a glass of honey. This is something that would be good sipped slowly from half-full shot glasses after dinner, but whole wine glasses were way too much. It was like eating a whole cheesecake; too much of a good thing. It was a short walk to Footprint, where we cleared the wine off of our palates by sharing a shot glass of ouzo under the stereo glare of our neighbors. Oh, if only we weren’t too beat to have overly noisy sex. {Maryanne: Kyle!!!!!}

The guy did move his boat forward six inches.

1 comment:

kate said...

that's so weird about the mix-up over your entry-exit fees. and what's wrong with you that you don't speak the language yet? :) i mean, o kirios tha plirosi gia ola! that's ALL you need, maryanne! and what's with miss snooty snooterson? "he'll deal with you!" oh, i don't know if i could've kept a straight face (or my manners - kudos to you both on that score). and then the guy who so rudely squeezed in, was he from delaware or "delaware"? and lastly, congratulations on finding the broken blade and repairing your motor! officially, i have no comment on who was right. [hehehehe]