The word quarantine originates in the forty days sailors of old had to wait to ensure they were plague free before being permitted ashore as opposed to isolation which implies the group being kept apart are infected or likely to be infected. Onboard ship the yellow Q flag has in more recent times become a request for Free Practique rather than an indication of quarantine. It is the signal that says we, the master, crew and if any, passengers, are free from disease and wish to be permitted to land to clear customs and immigration. For Temptress though it signifies we have not yet been granted practique and are in quarantine.
Saturday marked the start of the second week of quarantine imposed on us by the Greek authorities. Sunday was the seventieth day since Temptress departed Djibouti. It’s a couple of days longer than that since we last entered a supermarket or took part in any of the normal activities of a cruising yachtie or landlubber. By the time next Saturday comes around we will have served almost twice the plague quarantine, making us among some of the last likely virus carriers on the planet.
That’s not to say we haven’t had contact with other people, we have; the two Suez pilots were on board a few hours apiece and keeping our social distance was difficult in the confines of the cockpit, but that was already more than three weeks ago. I worried too about the shopping delivered in Egypt. At Port Ghalib they were quick to disinfect the quayside after Temptress had been alongside (we weren’t permitted ashore) but few of the Egyptians wore masks or gloves, however we survived! Again in Crete we had similar worries but there have been few cases on the island and again that’s more than a fortnight ago. So now we sit on the boat in Messolonghi until next Saturday.
We haven’t been idle, with assistance from our friends Pat and Tony, things are slowly being ticked off the list. The engine now starts and stops; the starter motor has been stripped down and rebuilt by a lorry mechanic in town. A new stop solenoid has been ordered but the repair Jules and Kevin made in Ierapetra seems to be fine for now. A new gearbox oil filler/dipstick is on its way to us from Holland. The chainlocker was emptied in order to gain access to the foresail furler, which on Temptress is mounted below the deck. The problem proved to be the lower bearing. Photos were sent to a rigger up in Lefkas. Whilst the chain was over the side, we cleared the locker of a couple of years worth of stones, shells and chain markers then hosed it out. A new furler drum proved to be not much more than the parts to repair the old one, once the costs of the rigger’s trips had been factored in so it has been ordered. The alternative would have meant two trips plus labour in their workshop.
The watermaker was extracted from beneath our bunk and the high pressure pipes removed. Tony has delivered them to someone in town who is going to make new ones. On deck the stanchions and bimini framework have been washed polished. Gradually the desert dust and salt is being eradicated.
Boat canvas like the dodgers and rail pockets had the accumulation of desert dust and salt washed out. The sprayhood windows were miraculously restored to clear vision; they had been a murky grey since a chemical fire in Malaysia had covered the then new windows when we lived in Singapore. Tony offered a bottle of bottle of headlight restorer and it worked a treat, even the ship’s compass can now be read without peering through a haze. Meanwhile below decks we are gradually working our way through the soft furnishings and covers, laundering and mending. There’s plenty more to keep us occupied through the coming days.
Having paid for a months mooring in the marina and no idea when we will be able to travel across Europe by plane, train or car to reach a Donaghadee, we are starting to think about what to do when our quarantine is lifted. Maybe some local land travel as Greece now permits movement both inland and in the water though only for those already here. Once our month here is up then perhaps a few weeks cruising the Ionian, from th past Monday, boats can move freely between the islands though with a few restrictions relating to the number of passengers.
The logistics of reaching the UK also loom large in our thoughts. The first challenge is flights as with borders closed travel by land or sea is impossible. Currently there are no direct flights from Athens and using several flights increases the risk of exposure to the virus on the planes and in the airports. The second challenge is again quarantine; we will have to serve another 14 day period on arrival as required by the UK government, but cannot do that in the house at Donaghadee as that risks Rhona’s health. We will need to find an alternative location close to our destination where we can hole up for 14 days. It’s a conundrum which I’m sure we can solve somehow in the coming months.