NOTE: Sorry for the delay, the technical problems with our blog host came back again and delayed posting till now (Saturday Oct. 8th) and the formatting is off a bit so thanks for your understanding while we once again try to sort out the blog host problem.
Just to show that we will go to any lengths to keep you well entertained, I’ve typed up this second installment of the latest update from the Good Ship Möbius. As I noted in the previous Part 1 Update, this past week has been quite the ride up and down the twists and turns of the Good News/Bad News Rollercoaster of life. I decided to break this up into two Updates; in Part 1 I covered the ride up to new highs on the roller coaster ride with my trip up to Gardner in the UK to take part in the dynamometer testing of the new Mr. Gee 2.0. If you have not seen that Update Part 1 already, you can go read and watch that HERE.
This second part picks up as the roller coaster ride peaks after the very successful dyno testing and the ride started to plummet downwards when I flew back into our neighboring island of Kos from Gatwick airport in the UK. As you will soon understand, things have been a bit hectic since then and so I’m a bit late in getting these updates put together and posted but here you go and thanks for your patience.
Part II; the Rollercoaster ride down;
I’ll keep this one short as it is just a “SitRep” or Situation Report to update everyone on the latest challenge we have run into and that there may be some delay in bringing you the next updates about getting the all new Mr. Gee 2.0 installed so we can head back out to sea and continue our travels West and most likely out of the Med.
Short summary is that our 90 day Schengen visa time has run out, and when I flew back into Kos on Thursday was informed that our application for an extension was rejected at the last minute . We had been trying to get this extension for over a month when we saw how long it was taking to get Mr. Gee shipped up to England since the beginning of August. However in the brilliance of bureaucracy they won’t process an extension application until a few days before it expires. A lot of discussion ensued but in the end they said that I needed to leave Greece and the Schengen area …………………….. NOW!
Christine and Möbius were another ferry ride away over on on Kalymnos and so fortunately, after a good bit of persuasion, I was able to talk the Immigration officials into allowing me a day more to take the ferry over to Kalymnos so I could at least pack some clothes and make some kind of arrangements to leave Möbius docked there for some undetermined amount of time.
Christine has a bit more time left on her visa as the two weeks she was back in Florida don’t count towards her total Schengen time so she could stay in Greece longer but given that we had no idea of when we will be able to get back into Greece, we decided to both leave Greece for now while we figure out how to resolve this latest challenge. If need be, Christine can go back to Möbius using her remaining 17 days.
And so, I find myself writing this update and SitRep to you from a lovely little AirBnB we were fortunately able to find on such short notice that is located just outside the Turkish town of Bodrum. Turkey is not a member country of the Schengen Agreement (more on that below) so we are allowed to be here while we sort out things for getting back into Greece.
For those of you shaking your heads wondering what the heck this is all about, a quick bit of background on how this Schengen Agreement works. The Schengen Agreement which was first signed on June 14, 1985, is a treaty that led most of the European countries towards the abolishment of their national borders, to build a Europe without borders known as the “Schengen Area”. It is a truly amazing agreement that allows for borderless travel by land, sea or air between all the current 29 member countries and the agreement remains one of the world’s biggest areas that have ended border control between member countries.
You will notice that Turkey is NOT a member of the Schengen Agreement and therefore we are able to be here on our resident permits which fortunately are still valid for another year.
For visitors such as ourselves from non Schengen countries, you need to have a visa which is very easy to get and is essentially granted upon entry into any Schengen country. This Schengen visa allows you to stay in any of the member countries for up to 90 days out of any 180 calendar days since you first arrive. For most people, three months is plenty of time but for Nauti Nomads such as us, and most other cruisers, three months can be very short. The tricky twist is that unlike visas in many other countries where you can reset the duration by simply leaving and then combing right back in again, the Schengen agreement rules are that you can stay for up to 90 days within any 180 day block of time on the calendar, starting when you first enter. What this means is that after you have used up your 90 days you have to leave the Schengen area for at least 90 days before you are allowed back in.
Not sure if it will help or just give you a bigger headache than you already have, but this illustration might help understand how this works.
We have been to Europe and the Schengen areas quite frequently over the past 10+ years and have previously been able to get an extension without much trouble, just a lot of paperwork. But not this time!
So What’s the Plan Stan?
At this moment, we don’t know.
I have provided the Greek Immigration authorities all the details on our rather unique situation where Möbius is our full time home and that we can’t leave, on Möbius at least, until the new engine arrives back from the UK and I can get it reinstalled and be able to leave. The tentative plan is that I am to provide them with proof that Mr. Gee has arrived in Kalymnos and is ready to be reinstalled and then I can submit a new application for an extension of 10 days or so to give me enough time to reinstall the engine and get Möbius sea worthy and then we will leave. IF this extension is approved then I can use it to re-enter Greece and travel back to Kalymnos, complete the installation and the sign ourselves and the boat out of Greece and the EU and head to either Turkey or Tunisia most likely.
As you can tell, a very tentative plan with no assurances or promises that they will approve the 10 day extension either, but best we can do is keep our fingers crossed and that some logic will prevail. If not then we’ll just need to regroup and figure out next best option.
I also want to be clear that the Immigration officials are simply doing their jobs and following the rules for Schengen visas. Greece is well known to be the most strict enforcers of the Schengen rules and we are but the latest of many we know who have been caught up with these kinds of situations. We all hope for some leniency and understanding when there are extenuating circumstances but just as with agents at any border crossing, you have to deal with the ones you get and whatever interpretations and decisions they make. None of this has or will affect our feelings about Greece and her wonderful people. This is just the most recent speed bump in our nomadic life.
Mr. Gee 2.0 Update:
As I type, Mr. Gee is being transported by truck and ferry, having left the UK last Friday 28th Sept. I received this photo from the logistics company on Tuesday 4th October that he had arrived in Piraeus the port in Athens and was awaiting clearance procedures into Greece. He needs to go through the Customs clearance procedures for entry into Greece and then put on another truck and ferry to get from Athens over to Kalymnos.
As your long history with it has proved, nothing ever goes smoothly or cheaply when it comes to shipping and so this past few days have been a flurry of Emails, WhatsApp texts, wire transfers and phone calls trying to get all the various people and companies involved with the whole process to have all the paperwork and fees they require. As of a few minutes ago (Friday afternoon here on Oct. 7th), I *think* things are finally all sorted, but I won’t believe it till I get the photo of Mr. Gee sitting on the dock beside Möbius.
As of now, I’m told that they have all the paperwork and the various clearance fees (don’t ask!) and so he should be fully cleared and ready to be picked up in the next few hours, end of day on Friday over here. IF that all goes well he is due to be on the ferry out of Piraeus/Athens tomorrow (Saturday) and due to arrive in Kalymnos on Sunday. (Oct. 9th) Once he makes it to Kalymnos he still has to go through the final customs clearance which is due to take place on Tuesday and
For now we are on hold and “in exile” in Turkey until the engine is on the dock beside Möbius and then I can submit the new paperwork for a 10 day extension and see what they say. Once Mr. Gee arrives and we know if they have approved the extension or not, I will be able to post a new SitRep for you and you can continue to follow along the adventures of the Nauti Grandparent Nomads.
Do stay tuned for the next installment of “As Möbius.World Turns” and we hope we are living up to your entertainment eXpectations?!!