We didn't have a plan for what we'd be doing or where we'd be going once we had checked into Greece at Samos, so when the man at the port police office asked where we were going to next, I just said "West". He smiled and said "Which island?" With a confused look on my face I replied "I don't know, we haven't decided yet." He peered at me and said "How long will you stay here?" This was something else I didn't know so I plucked a random number out of thin air and said "Possibly 12 days, maybe more." This seemed to satisfy him and he stamped our DEKPA with various stamps and handed it back to me. "Come see me when you decide where you are going next. Enjoy your stay."
That 12 days turned into a month. We were anchored just outside the inner harbour of Pythagorion in south Samos. It was a fairly well protected spot in 4 metres (13 feet) of water and we were just about in range of a Wi-Fi signal from one of the beach bars. We drove our dinghy into the harbour and found a place to tie her up, then wandered into the beach bar and ordered a couple of beers. When the waiter brought our order we had our phones and a pen and paper ready and asked for the Wi-Fi password.
Any freely available Wi-Fi is usually pretty slow and getting things uploaded or downloaded can be frustrating, but it's free so we can't complain as it saves us money and teaches us patience.
Internet connection is vital for us. Firstly for watching the weather and secondly for our work. Every day we check two wind prediction websites and go with the worst case weather scenario. That way we are ready for the worst, but if things turn out to be nicer then that's a bonus.
Once we're up to date with the weather we read the latest comments on our YouTube channel and reply to each one individually. This is essential PR as we build a rapport with our regular viewers and welcome into our community our new viewers. We also learn a lot of boat stuff from the comments as many of our subscribers are seasoned sailors who are happy to share little tips and tricks with us for smoother sailing. That's something we really appreciate.
Each day there are also the Sailing A B Sea Instagram, Facebook and Twitter posts to upload. There's generally a lot of comments on Facebook to reply to and Facebook really chews through Internet data.
Friday morning we release these weekly blogs on our website. They are written from a ‘his and her’ perspective and they generally compliment the weekly YouTube video that we release on Saturday.
Heads down bum up
We'd dropped our anchor at Samos on a Tuesday and with our piggy backed Internet access the first thing to do was to pre-release the coming Saturday's video to our patrons. They get to see our weekly video ahead of the rest of the world and they also get lots of other little perks depending on what Patreon tier they have signed up to. If you want to find out what Patreon is, how it works and see if it's something you'd like to be a part of, you can read all about it at our Patreon page. www.patreon.com/SailingABSea
Now it was time for some hard work. We planned on editing six videos while we were in Samos; that also meant both of us writing six blogs each. Every blog takes a day to write, proofread, upload, populate with relevant photos and then schedule for release.
Each video can take anywhere between 20 hours and 30 hours to edit depending on how many cameras we used to record the footage, what the storyline is and how complex the editing of our 'to camera' talky bits are.
Then, when we're happy with the final edit, it takes on average 90 minutes to upload the video followed by another hour of backend stuff like scheduling, adding to playlists, meta tags, title, description, end cards and closed captions for the hard of hearing.
All of this is done so that we get maximum exposure and maximum chance that the YouTube algorithm will help promote our video to new potential viewers. After all, this is how we earn our living now. We are definitely not anything close to being retired.
While all this was going on at Samos we also took 3 days to install a 12 volt water heating system that we'd been lucky enough to receive from Green Yachting. It was given to us on the agreement that we'd film the complete installation process and produce a video about it.
Car hire with a mission
One of the tools we needed in order to install the 12 volt water heating element was a 55mm box socket. It seemed that nowhere in Pythagorion had something that size that we could buy, hire or borrow. Everyone we spoke to said that we'd probably find what we were looking for in the main town of Samos island called Samos. Hiring a car was essential to getting there.
So that's what we did. Samos is not a big island so we hired the car only for one day at a cost of 25 Euros (AU$40) plus 15 Euros (AU$24) of fuel. As with any A B Sea mission the primary objective has priority so we drove directly from Pythagorion to Samos town, armed with 3 potential business addresses that may be able to supply what we were after.
The first place we visited was a small hardware store and the guy behind the counter delivered a definite negative shake of his head when we showed him the hex shape of the heating element and asked if he had something to fit it.
Our next target was our best hope of the three. It was a store that specialised in supplying and installing 220 volt hot water boilers to houses. There was more shaking of heads as the three Greek guys tossed our request around between themselves. Yes they had a tool that could remove a 55mm hex head, but it was the one they used to get their installation jobs done, they'd had it ferried in from Athens a long time ago. They certainly wouldn't sell it.
We also needed the gasket for the heating element and figured this shop represented our best opportunity to at least buy that item. Nope, sorry was the reply. The heating elements we get come with only one gasket and we don't carry spares. Bugger.
To say we were feeling a little despondent now would be correct. But we still had one last possibility.
Just outside Samos town at the main intersection was a big hardware store. Finding it was easy and we parked the hire car and went in with our fingers crossed. It was a big store with lots of goodies that made us both ohh and ahh as we looked at all their stuff.
The guy behind the counter took one look at the heating element and shook his head. I asked if he had a gasket for it. He furrowed his forehead, produced a box of rubber O-rings and instantly fished out one that was the right fit. Beggars can't be choosers and although there is a lot of difference between a gasket and an O-ring, but we bought two O-rings anyway. They were just 25 cents (AU$0.40) each.
Dismayed and disappointed we got back into the car and headed off on our tour of the island for the rest of the day.
As a side note, we did eventually borrow a 55mm hex socket from the marine mechanic who works at the marina just next to where we were anchored. When I returned it to him I included a six pack of beer as a thank you.
I'm guessing that if you went to school and took maths class then you'll have probably heard of Pythagoras. After all who could forget that the square of the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the square of the other two sides of a right angled triangle?
Yeah I know, it's crazy what sticks in your mind from school. Not that I've ever had the need to use Pythagoras's theorem ever, not once in my whole life so far. (rolls eyes).
But I digress. Pythagoras was born on the Greek island of Samos and we were driving to the location of the cave where he hid out from persecution from the government of the day. They didn't like his revolutionary thinking and teachings.
When I learned that he was a bit of a rebel I did a Wikipedia search on him. Wow! What a guy. He was well ahead of his time, did so much that I never knew about and influenced so many people. Do yourself a favour and check him out on Wikipedia and let me know in the comments if you think that Pythagoras was a bad ass. If only they'd taught us that stuff in school, it would've been much more interesting.
Equipped with a sat nav and well maintained roads to drive on, we did a lot of driving along precipitous mountain roads to get to the small parking area below the cave. How the hell did Pythagoras make his way there, way back in the days before Christ had even been born?
Walking up the steep steps laid and carved into the mountainside was a bit of a thrill, especially as I don't like heights and the last 7.5 metres (25 feet) was a challenge I only completed by not looking down and having a Vulcan 'death grip' on everything I could get my hands on.
The cave is an average cave as far as caves go and inside there is a precipitous drop off to some levels much deeper which can only be accessed with a guide and proper spelunking equipment. We took some photos of the view, shot some video and then cautiously sweated our way back down the steps in the midday sun.
There are actually two caves, the one we visited was where Pythagoras taught his eager students. The actual cave he lived in is even higher up the mountainside and if you watch our YouTube video of that day I explain how I go and explore the narrow side path for a little way before it became even more gut wrenchingly scary than the main path and I decided to give up on that idea.
Pythagoras is currently my new Greek hero and although he died at age 75 in 490 BC, his life and teachings are in my opinion, something that should be widely celebrated.
Driving along the coast road we passed through various small resort areas with many restaurants all offering traditional Greek food cooked from grandma's recipe. Everyone knows that Greek grandmas are great cooks. Unless we have been recommended somewhere we generally follow our gut instinct and the first two resort areas we passed through were not calling our names.
They were quite surreal looking really. Every building and low wall was freshly painted, all the tables and chairs were neatly laid out and the wait staff were standing around looking eager. But there were no tourists. Well that's not quite true, there were one or two couples that we glimpsed laying on the beach sun loungers and a handful of people walking along the road side. In just a few days it would be June and we wondered, when did the summer season start to get busy. How do these businesses manage to survive with potentially only a 4 month busy period? What do they do for the rest of the year?
Eventually we came to a small harbour and decided to get out of the car and stroll along the front to see which restaurant menu caught our eye. In the end we chose the one with what we considered the nicest view and sat down for lunch and a couple of beers.
After lunch we drove back towards Pythagorion where just outside the town is the Eupalinos Tunnel and it's one of the most pioneering and important technical works of ancient times.
During the golden era of the tyrant Polykratis the capitol of Samos was booming but it also had water shortage problems. The location of a viable fresh water spring was known to be on the other side of a hill located above the city. The best way to get the water to the city was via a tunnel.
Eupalinos, the engineer appointed the task of construction, decided that the quickest way to get the job completed was to start digging the tunnel from both ends at the same time. No mean feat for engineers even today, but this all took place in the 6th century BC.
It took 10 years to excavate its 1,036 m (3,399 feet) length and when the tunnel shafts met in the middle the vertical difference between the two was only 4cm (1.6in). It is only the second known tunnel in ancient history which was excavated from both ends.
We were very excited about our visit and tour of this place, we'd even brought several torches to illuminate our way. But when we got there it was closed. A sign on the big locked gates declared that it was open every day except Tuesday. A quick check on our phone confirmed that today was in fact Monday.
Disappointed, we walked back to where we'd parked the hire car and marked it down as not being open due to the fact that at this time of year there are not enough interested tourists to make it worthwhile them having staff on duty.
While we had the car we did a big shop at the Hera supermarket in Pythagorion and safely got all of our goodies back to A B Sea. After returning the car to John's Car Hire it was time for a cold beer in the cockpit where we were treated to a spectacular sunset as we chatted about where we were going next. But I'll tell you all about that in next week's blog as this one has gone on quite long enough.