June, 2011

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June 11, Saturday Evening Post. Be sure to wear Red!

Saturday, June 11th, 2011

That is if you are celebrating the feast of Pentecost. The pouring out of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles.

I plan to give it one more try, at a local Orthodox church. This year the Western Christians and the Eastern Orthodox are on the same calendar.  What I really need to do is try to have someone explain me the liturgy. So far it has been all Greek to me. The few, mostly older women, in attendance cross themselves every 10 seconds and people are walking in and out lighting candles and kissing the icons. The priest appears for a while by opening a door to the tabernacle and then he disappears again.   Monday is a holiday here, 2nd Pentecost Day. Or Whit Monday. Just like in most of the western European countries. Now if you are a Romanian, or for that matter any Eastern Orthodox Christian, emigrated or a tourist in the Western Christian civilization, chances are a lot better that you’ll be able to worship in a familiar setting.
There is no crisis here in vocations. It’s a respectable job and celibacy is not a requirement . This week I met Lilianne a friend of Camelia. Her youngest son is an Orthodox Priest in Jongkoeping, Sweden. She has another relative who ministers in Los Angeles.  As much as I wished this opportunity would be provided by my church of choice I prefer my priest to be celibate and it be a vocation rather than a job.

Yesterday, Friday, there was a bus load of 8th graders having an overnight here. Right now there is some family celebration. I like their choice of music. they are playing rock and roll, Blue Suede Shoes, but Spanish music has dominated. Julio Eglesias, etc. While I was taking my shower, the ladies apparently can not not read the men’s washroom signs. I held my breath, the shower curtains cover about ¾ of the shower stalls.

Yesterday early afternoon a storm came out of nowhere. It started with the usual very strong winds. Between 30 and 40 knots. It blew all the sanding dust into the Black Sea; and the ladder down.  I had to repel down to the ground, when the storm had blown out.

There are two dogs here. Nero, a 16 months old real handsome German Shepherd and Skippy an eight year old mutt. Skippy just lays around in a sunny spot. Nero is always chasing balls and empty plastic water bottles. Skippy is old, unattractive and unloved. Since I fed him some of my morning’s lunch preparation, a piece of sausage and bread, he has taken up residence on my porch. A couple nights I got so crossed with him. He participates in the chorus of barking dogs in the surrounding ½ mile radius. This is often prompted by the pygmy owl, and can be any time in the
night.  Nero, does not mess with these mutts.

I finished reading my first Kindle book, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”.  I like reading from my laptop, and the Kindle format. The book started out disappointing for all the high marks I had heard of it. It read like a 10th grader’s essay. But the plot was good. I am reading books now in a different light since I have been involved in my own writing project. The writer wrote it more as a reporter/journalist and less like a fictional story. Blomkwist, the main character, hops in and out of bed indiscriminately,  with a number of women he uses. This is what apparently makes for a best seller, not my choice. I still give very high marks to  my favorite, “Shantaram”.  I am just starting to read “The Balkan Trilogy” by Olivia Manning. It plays in Romania during the second world war. Camelia let my borrow it.

My left shoulder feels like it has been puled out of it’s socket.  I cannot lift my left hand above my chest. It must be due to the sanding under the boat where I had to keep the sander above my head. I had a very rough night trying to find a way to be comfortable and fall asleep.It rained off and on till mid afternoon. There were dry spots on the keel, for instance, that I could work on and I installed a new engine exhaust system.



Wednesday June 8. The tough part is done

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011


First of all I want to remind any one who has not yet made a contribution or a pledge that this weekend is the Alpe d’HuZes challenge. See my post for May 18. A few of you have responded. But I had expected a much bigger turnout. I put the invitation to contribute as a show of appreciation for the adventure that I am sharing with you. So, what is the message that I am getting?

I completed the sanding of the under the water line today. So I am out of the coal pit. And now the fun part starts. Painting. There is still a little more prep work to be done, epoxy patching. Then a primer on the epoxy, next painting the cockpit, part of the house, the hull, boot stripe and anti fouling.  Now I can make an educated guess that I should be back in the Danube by the 1st of July.

The weather is changing, we are in for some stormy conditions. Well, I could use a good rinsing away of the sanding dust.  I did manage to protect my eyes to day, using my reading glasses (seldom used for reading) and breathing through my mouth only with the dust mask.

I picked batch of the black Mulberries last night and stopped to get a pint of vanilla ice cream. For desert at Camelia’s. She let me do a load of laundry and with a little luck the storm will wait till I have them dry off the laundry lines at my scout camp.



Tuesday June 7, another hot day in the mines.

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

But I am happy, sitting behind a cold beer in the Zimnicea hotel. An old Bollywood soap is playing, and all the waitresess are glued to the T.V. Camelia gave me the eveing off, to fend for my own dinner. She had to go to a friend’s husband’s funeral today in Alexandria. 54 years old, heart attack.  Life expectancy here for males is under 70 years, Romania ranks 55th on the UN data base. Of all the countries I have visited Romanian men smoke the most. For women I’d give that record to the Dutch.

I start early before the sun starts beating down on the project. Today at 2 p.m. I packed it up. The problem is that I cannot wear goggles and a dust mask at the same time. My glasses or goggle will steam up. So, I stick with the dust mask and try stay in the right wind direction. But my eyes were starting to hurt too much.  I have had a couple problems again with the epoxy not curing correctly. Because of the heat I try to mix small batches, otherwise they kick off too fast. But the smaller the batch the more likely that you may not end up with the right ratio. I carefully use a scale for this.  Then when it does not cure properly you end up with a messy goo that takes hours to remove. Sunday I made a batch, but I did not trust it. I left it alone. Yesterday I found that it had set up just fine. And in the sanding of the hull I still discover patches when I had a problem back in 2003 with the West System pump. And then I have to sand back down to the bare wood, because nothing will stick to those surfaces.

So, I was “home” early, took a shower to remove the coal miner’s look and then went to pick Mulberries. There are two kinds. Black and White. Both are delicious. I took the pictures just outside the “Tabara” gate. And then this gypsy family came by on their horse drawn wagon.


Monday June 5. Progress with my $ 25 sander

Monday, June 6th, 2011

I did not have electricity yesterday. But I had plenty of chores to do without power. A thundershower came up very sudden and I was totally soaked  by the time I got back to the “Tabara” youth camp.

The Adventist youth choir was a real treat. Thirty nine girls and 11 boys from age 12 to 16, would be my guess. The auditorium was nearly full. About 500 guests. They sang some familiar songs, mostly in Romanian but a couple in English, one was a Negro Spiritual that I had never heard before.

I am sitting outside on the terrace of the Zimnicea hotel, where I can pick up a good wireless connection. A horse and wagon just passed and a foal was harnessed in next to her mother. Getting to learn the ropes. I do not have my camera with me. The mulberries are starting to ripen. The road to the Danube is lined with Mulberry trees. I have been picking mouth fulls. There is a new sound at night added to the Nightingale, it is the Koukouvayia (Owl), pronounced as “koo-koo-VAH-yee-ah”. It sort of sounds like a piece of construction equipment’s backing up warning signal. It is a continuous staccato. The dogs go crazy. It is a very small owl, I have been told.

So, today I got to work with my new 25 bucks sander. It turns out that it is not an orbital sander, just oscilating. But it works just fine and it is less than half the weight of the Bosch oscillating flat sander, that it replaces. I got about 1/3 of the under the water line area sanded. The dirtiest job of the entire haul out. The anti fouling paint dust makes me look like a collier.

Saturday Evening Post June 4. Crossed the River.

Saturday, June 4th, 2011


What a difference 1/4 mile makes. I took the 9 a.m. ferry to Swishtov, on the Bulgarian side of the Danube. A 20 minute ride. And took the 11 a.m. ferry back. I spent all of $ 35.00 for a one way ferry ride, a good cup of coffee, a brand spanking new orbital flat (finish) sander and 18 feet of # 80 4″ wide sand paper. The machine cost me all of $ 25.00…. It’s Bulgarian made but it looks like it will solve my nightmare. A Bosch of the similar description cost about $ 250.00….. If it only lasts for the next 3 weeks I will kiss the Bulgarian shore on exit.

I did not have power today, but will try get the key for tomorrows chores from Camelia’s neighbor. I did some expoxy work on the keel.

It is 20 minutes to curtain time for the 7th Day Adventist youth chorus to perform here. It will be my substitute for my domenical duties.

The picture of “Fleetwood” was taken from the Ferry. You see that she is now nameless. I have new decals with me.




Wednesday June 1. Why can’t they make them, like they used to?

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

On the way back to the boat, after I had sent yesterday’s blog, I ran into two German bicycle tourists. Mario and Bianca (tomorrow I’ll probably run into a couple Italians with names like Marcus and Bärbel) from Berlin. They were doing the Danube tour, like Jiel, the Dutchman, and are also heading to Constanza on the Black Sea. A few minutes later Damien, a Frenchman, joined the conversation he was also heading to Constanza.  The Berliners are also sailors and would eventually like to see more of the world by sail boat. I hope they will and I might have possibly inspired them. The one thing that I’d like to convince others of is that it takes a lot less money and a simpler boat than most people are made to believe. The bigger the boat and the more equipment the more time is spent in port with mechanics and sailmakers, etc.

I spoke/wrote too early about the second life of the Bosch sander. It was more like a swan song. Please, pray that the sick disc sander will hold out another couple weeks.

The thunderstorms came back in late afternoon and it rained hard for a couple hours, after I managed to get back to the camp, in a dry spell. What Marian was butchering Monday evening turned out to be a lamb rather than a calf. He had barbecued it for the gathering they had last night for the directors of the camp. She had made a terrific fish soup with the large fish I wrote about. They made up a plate for me in the kitchen. Last Friday Aura cleaned my room again and changed the linen, another version of the Disney characters, and put a nice table cloth on the porch table. What a sweetheart she is.

A thick fog this Wednesday morning. In the meantime the sun has dropped under the yard arm. No need to pray for the disc sander unless you can revive the dead and walk on water. So, I’m down to my new angle grinder and hand sanding. I may become fluent in Romanian by the time I get this job done.  The problem with the Bosch orbital sander seems to be a frozen bearing.  A Good Samaritan thinks he can replace it.

Here is another “small world” experience. Seventeen years ago, today, we were having lunch in our  favorite Vietnamese restaurant in Tacoma,
“Vien Dong” (Far East). With my twin brother, Jan and his wife Catharina who were visiting from Germany for the first time, and my # 2 daughter Rose Marie.  But we ended up having to get up in the middle of the lunch because Rose Marie broke water on her first son, Elliott. My favorite restaurant  in Saigon, when I spent the winter of 2009/2010 in Indo China, was “Saigon Xua va Nay” ( Saigon then and now). The owner is a Vietnamese American named Mike.
When I mentioned how much I liked “Vien Dong” it turned out that he had been the original owner of it.