Heat a medium soup pot or deep-sided skillet over medium high heat with 2 turns of the pan of EVOO, about 2 tablespoons. Add the bacon and cook until brown and crisp, 2-3 minutes. Add the chopped celery and carrot strips. Pull the sliced leeks from the water with your hands, trying not to disturb the water too much so that the grit and dirt stays put on the bottom of the bowl. Transfer the sliced leeks to a kitchen towel to drain off some of the water then add them to the carrots and celery. Stir veggies together, add thyme springs and bay leaf, and season with salt and pepper.
While the leeks cook to wilt, about 3-4 minutes, slice the potatoes: Cut each potato into quarters lengthwise, lay them flat on a cutting board and thinly slice. Reserve. Stir the flour into the pot with the veggies and cook for a couple minutes. Add the sherry and cook for a minute or so.
Add the sliced potatoes to the veggies then the stock, half-and-half, hot sauce and seafood seasoning. Bring up to a bubble and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
While the soup is simmering, run your fingers through the crab meat to remove any leftover bits of shell and cartilage. Place crabmeat in a bowl, sprinkle with the seafood seasoning and toss to coat.
Once the chowder is cooked and the potatoes are tender, add the crab to heat it through.
Remove from heat, add parsley and adjust seasonings. Serve immediately along with some crusty bread.