October, 2010

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Tuesday Oct 19. Progress, but slow.

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

I had to make a few corrections on my engine installation. I had cut the forward bed bases too deep. But a couple plywood patches and epoxy and that has been taken care off. With a little luck I should have the engine sitting where it belongs by tomorrow evening. Sunday evening we had a little party,with Christy and Marian, on the pontoon next to the one I am boarding at. This pontoon is operated by a private company out of Severin. It provides moorage for one of the ferry boats and an occasional tug. I drank the Romenian plum brandy called Tschwika, in Hungary Schlibovitch. On Monday morning I thought that I had a bad hang over. When I got up I had to grab on to the bulkhead because I thought I was going to pass out. I had no energy to get on with the engine installation and spent the morning reading. But I felt better in the afternoon and the continuous rain had let up to a drizzle by then. I never left the boat yesterday. Then when I went to bed down last night I had the same nearly fainting spell. Like I was totally drunk. This morning when I got up I had the same symptoms. It last for about 20 seconds and then I am fine. I think it might be Vertigo from a flue. Marian brought an electric heater, Sunday. And it has made life aboard a lot more bearable. Neru, the man who tends the pontoon next door, let me use his shower today. That is the longest period that I can remember ever having been between showers. The previous one was in Budapest on September 2nd….

If you think Seattle is a depressing place in the fall you have not been in Calafat. It has rained steadily for the last three days. Right now it is a drizzle again but from late yesterday till this afternoon it rained steadily without a pause. I managed to fill my water tank from the pontoon’s roof down spout, saving me the trouble of hauling canisters up  and down the river bank.

Sunday Oct 17. Tired but progress.

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

I decided to skip the Orthodox Church service. “You’ll never get to heaven if you break my heart or, in my case,  if I stay in Calafat”  the sixties of Dionne Warwick.

With a little luck I should be able to reach Giurgiu by Saturday and then it is a short bus ride to Bucarest, where there ought to be a service that I can understand and finally be able to go to communion again.

Marian did bring the transmission back, yesterday, and managed to machine the old flange to mate with the new transmission. Then I discovered that I had miscalculated the adjustments to the engine beds. My old Renault was hung on about 3″ hangers from the top of the beds, whereas the new one sits on top of the mounts. This meant that I had to remove 4 chunks of  2 1.2 x 3 1/2   x 6″ (65 x 90 x 155mm) from the beds. After hand sawing and chiseling for ever Marian came to the rescue with an electric jig saw. It took about ten minutes to cut the two forward chunks, which would have been nearly impossible to do by hand because there is hardly any space to move a hand saw back and forth. But then the electric jig saw broke down. And Marian was nowhere to be found. So it was back to the manual mode for the last rear mount. The “upside” of living in a floating Stradivarius is that genuine Mahogany, of which the engine beds are made, is very easy to saw and chisel. But I got it all done and just finished epoxying it all. So, tomorrow I should have the engine bedded down. I expect that there are still a few items to replace. The battery cables are most likely too short as  the alternator is on the port  side, whereas the Renault had the alternator on starboard port side.

It has warmed up but still misty and moist.

Saturday Oct 16

Saturday, October 16th, 2010
Marian took the new transmission and the old shaft coupling to make them match. I hope he does not end up on one of his weekend binges. I need the transmission first of all to make the foundation adjustments. There will be battery cables to be lengthened, but fuel lines, exhaust and cooling water hoses all appear to be an easy match. I just pray that it stays dry. It is dark and everything is soaking wet from the recent rains and the misty weather.
The men from the Capitania had a barbecue and Florin invited me to join in. Marinated veal ribs, bread and one of the ferry boat men brought the large jar (center table) of canned red sweet peppers (paprika). Washing it down with plum brandy and white wine.

From left Jean (?), Adi and son David, ?, Florin

Friday Oct 15. The engine is in the boat

Friday, October 15th, 2010

From Right, driver, Marian, Christi and ?

But not hooked up yet. It is sitting on the cabin sole. The box in the picture was brought in the trunk of a compact car of the truck driver’s boss. He met him in Craiova, which is about 35 miles from here. But the biggest challenge was getting it down the stone steps to the gangplank of the pontoon. Christi and Marian did it all. Right now Marian took the whole transmission and my old coupling, that fits around the propellor shaft, to be ground down to fit. And then I’ll be working on lining up everything. It still is going to be a lot of fitting and adjusting.  It was drizzling and miserable this morning but it looks like the weather is improving. 

During the night I was rudely awakened. The boat who made the enormous wake was long gone but the wake was at least 5 times more violent than I have experienced from any passing ships, here in Calafat. It threw the boat up against the pontoon four times and the starboard rub rail is completely busted. Fortunately it is the rail that needs to be replaced any way from damage to the mid and forward section. I guess that had to be some fast patrol boat.  “Fleetwood” looks like it got caught in the Bosnian war. For the next hour there was this constant clinking of glass bottles against the hull. The maniac boat had washed all the accumulated shore side bottles back into the Danube. That is the “down”side of living “in”side a Stradivarius. 

I hope that America gets its house in order soon. In the 6 weeks since I came here I have to pay $ 10 more to buy $170 (500 Lei) worth of exchange.  That hurts. That is a 6% drop in the dollar.

Thursday Oct 14. Tomorrow

Thursday, October 14th, 2010
The driver called. He was delayed in Germany. The engine will now arrive Friday. Today is a miserable cold windy drizzle and showers. So, a good day to sit in the O.K. restaurant here with a good hot cup of coffee and a delicious bowl of soup for lunch.

I just pray that I’ll be spared the nightmares, like the ones I had for years, that I was still going around Saigon trying to get some one to figure out how to prepare my Army discharge papers. Everyone had left Saigon years ago and I am still making the rounds. This actually did happen but it was only a week or so. No one had ever taken his discharge in Vietnam. You just rotated out after your one year tour. But I loved the place and decided to hang on for another 4 months and then I toured S.E. Asia again and hitched a ride on an Airforce cargo plane back to California. I finally found an old sergeant in the Marines who took care of my discharge. I was not only the first to discharge in Vietnam, in January 1963, but probably also the only one who arrived in Vietnam as a Private First Class and left as a Private. I had been busted down to Private at least four times. A long story. You can read more details at http://cometosea.us/albums/log-Vietnam.htm 

I just don’t want to wake up in the middle of the night in the coming years and find out that I am no longer riding my folding bike in Calafat.

But just like Vietnam, Romania is growing on me. The people are truly generous and kind. Christy showed up once again at the boat with a bag full of canned goods from his wife. Pickles, condiments, etc.  The servers here at the O.K. restaurant are very kind and as the picture shows very attractive. Geta, (pronounced just like the English Jetta) speaks fluent Italian and Denisa’s English is excellent. The manager, the owner’s son, Claudio also speaks English well. At lunch time the place fills up with local merchant men. I also visit the “Coliseum” where they also have free Wireless. It is a restaurant and hotel and most of the Spanish foremen of the bridge building company stay here.

I woke up with a nasty sore throat. That’s all I need is a cold while installing the engine. My right eye has not improved over the last three weeks and I fear I may have scar tissue on it and not sure if that can be removed. I only have a blurry picture from the right eye and it sometimes has the same, but milder, pain symptoms I had at the start of the problem in early August.

The crew at the "O.K" Restaurant, Calafat

Tuesday October 12. R.I.P. my sweet companion.

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

Let the pictures speak for themselves.

The old Renault engine has left her home for the last 28 years. I feel like taking her to the nearby cemetery and bury her and heap flowers on her grave. She has served me well. How many hours have I stood there in the cockpit and beat the rythm of her two cylinders with her?

I had rehearsed the exercise of how to get her out of the boat and onto the pontoon for the last week or so. And, if I may so, sometimes there is a bit of genius in me. I lay no claim to it, I inherited it from my exceptionally gifted children. The way I am moored against the steel wire rope it would be impossible to transfer the 220 Lb monster from the cockpit to the pontoon. I used the two to one tackle that I have made up to haul a man (or woman) overboard back into the boat. I attached it to the mast. But first of all I had to get the stern of the boat closer to the pontoon. The trick with setting the anchor upstream really payed off. As you can see in the pictures. I will stay moored that way till the new engine arrives, this Thursday morning. Both Christi and Marian came to help lift the engine out and then we had a little celebration on the pontoon, with a local bottle of wine. Christi talked to the Romanian driver and everything is scheduled for his Thursday arrival. So, I have work to do tomorrow. Cleaning out the bilge, filling in the holes of the old shock absorbers, etc.

Many of you have been very helpful on this project, but I am particularly indebted to my brother in law, Herman, who guided me through the process, step by step, and assisted in getting the engine and all the miscellaneous parts purchased and shipped and made the payment arrangements for me.  

Monday Oct 11. Progress

Monday, October 11th, 2010

The engine has been loaded in West Friesland and I talked to the Romanian driver.

The weather warmed up into the high sixties from a cold morning, just above freezing. This gave me a chance to do some more prep work for the engine. I removed the dodger so that we have better access through the companion way to raise and drop the engines.

Something struck me the other day. As long as I have been here in Calafat there has never been the noise of an overflying airplane or vapor trails in the sky.  This is the end of the world.

Now that my HP laptop is working again and I have organized my photos I discovered that I have lost all my data between June 28 and August 6. Pictures, e-mails, etc.  I hope that there is still a way to recover it from the second broken down hard drive. But most likely it went the way as the painful loss of not having brought my back up hardware with me, last winter in Vietnam. This is the period from Sneek in Friesland to the beginning of the voyage on the Main river. This includes the time Jeannine and Gabrielle were visiting me. I do have the pictures that In posted on this blog during that time. Guess what I am doing today.”Een ezel stoot zich in’t gemeen geen twee keer aan de zelfde steen”.

Sunday Oct 10. I made another try

Sunday, October 10th, 2010

To understand and get something out of the Orthodox Catholic mass. I recognized the Credo. But the rest is still Greek to me. The last time I mentioned that they make the sign of the cross every 5 minutes, make that 15 seconds. The whole liturgy is sung in a bit of a drone. It is not Gregorian. Some parts are very melodious and then there is the one very low base, at times. Sounds like it is coming from a deep well. And after sitting there again for two hours I still have no clue if they actually serve communion. The vestments are gorgeous, the rituals obviously very specific but I miss the Spirit that I always felt in other countries where I did not understand the language, like Vietnam, Philippines, etc.

That wind blowing off the river started yesterday but it is not as strong and I am better buffered. A few days, ago when it was a nice afternoon, one of the small runabouts that are moored here, put my 25 lb Bruce type anchor out upwind from the boat, so that if it gets rough again I can try pull the bow away from the pontoon and not continuously have to fend off from the steel wire cable.  It is just a few degrees above freezing in the early morning and then it warms up some in the afternoon, now that the sun has come out again.

Last night Christi, one of the Harbor Master men, invited me to have a glass of wine with him and Marian, the mechanic. Marian brought a bottle of his home made red wine. It was indeed an excellent wine. But Marian was already three sheets to the wind. I hope he’ll be sober when he comes to help install the engine, as agreed earlier. Chrsiti’s wife still spoils me with her home canned delicacies and an occasional jar of soup du jour.

October 9 I have crossed the Rubicon on the Danube

Saturday, October 9th, 2010

But I will be in the poor house for a while. The Sole Mini 17 has been purchased and I was just told that it should be on it’s way on Monday. I had a nasty surprise when I found out that the Dollar costs over 1.40 Euro. I was still at $1.30. This hurts even more. This engine just so happens to fit my existing engine foundation and hookup nearly precisely. Usually there have to several changes made to the line up from the center of the transmission to the drive shaft and also the placement of the four mounting pads. All I need to do is move the pads fore/aft. They are on exactly the same centers, width wise. And the shaft center is only 1/2 mm different from the Renault engine.

Today would have been our father’s 112th birthday. He passed away 54 years ago. He loved to travel and he is no doubt folowing my adventure on the heaven’s internet. Below is one of the very few photos of my dad. The picture was taken on the Dutch Queen, Wilhelmina’s, birthday in 1939. The next 5 years the Nazi occupants forbade the flying of the Dutch flag on the rotal birthdays.

Thursday Oct 7 Still engine shopping.

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

I am still waiting for prices, delivery time and compatibility with my current reduction gear ratio, etc.

The weather has just gone from summer to winter. A week ago I was still sleeping under the mosquito net and waiting till midnight to cool off enough to use the sleeping bag. Now it has dropped to around 10 degree Centigrade, in the low fifties Fahrenheit. A cold penetrating wet drizzle. From shorts to gloves in a week’s time.

I am so impressed with Windows 7. The Vista just never worked well. Now the speed has doubled. I have been sorting my pictures and came across the below pictures. These two gals at the Yacht Club were so playful and sensuous, in a way. Miss Goga and Natasha in Novi Sad, September 5.