Saturday Oct 30. Back on the Fiume Dolorosa

Written by Jack van Ommen on October 30th, 2010

My Mazeltov ran out 6 k.m. down river from Svishtov. And I am back on the creek without a paddle, literally. I had intended to take off at daylight but the fog was thick and did not lift till 10.30 It became a perfect day to travel. Crisp but sunny. About 5 k.m. on my way I started slowing down. I concluded that I was dragging branches so, I put the engine in reverse. Then nothing. The propeller and shaft had dropped right out of the boat. Water was gushing in through the shaft log. The space between the transmission flange and the shaft flange is only about 1.1/4″ (30 mm) and the only thing I managed to worm in the hole was a bottle cork. I had to hand pump like mad. Put the anchor down. Then I had to saw one of  my tapered wood plugs back from about 2. 1/2 inches to 1. 1/2 inches. Then I unbolted the shaft flange from the transmission flange. Pumping in between and putting out a rescue call on the VHF radio. After I got the flange off I had enough room to hammer in the shortened plug. That stopped the rush of water. Later on I secured it with rigging wire. A very scary experience. The one sailors have nightmares of.  I am not sure what caused the shaft to come loose from its flange. I had a near experience on the Saint John’s River in Florida a couple years ago when I had not tightened the four nuts on the flange enough. That time the shaft did not drop out. So, I know the routine and I can only conclude that the vibration due to the worn out shaft log bearing caused the loss of the prop and shaft. The flex mounts on this engine are much more flexible than the old engine and therefore more vibration. This time the Romanian Harbor Control came to the rescue. They were better boat handlers than the experience on Thursday night. So, I am moored at their pontoon in Zimnicea, right across the river from Swishtov.

My plan is to try hitch a tow to the Stentor yard in Oltenita, 90 k.m. down river. On Monday I will try get a hold of them. They are owned by Stentor Yachts, Sneek, Friesland. I have a spare (fixed) propellor on board. The folding prop was due for replacement. After 30 years it was getting very worn in places. If they can haul me out then I plan to winter the boat there as well.

There is just nothing going on on the Romanian side so I took the ferry across the river back to Svishtov. I got a hotel to get a good night sleep and  a shower. The web showed that there is a Roman Catholic church here but that turned out to be incorrect. This is the weekend of All Souls ands All Saints.  I am not sure that I can do an update on Monday from the Romanian side. Internet appears unavailable. Pray that my luck improves. This Danube has become the most difficult part of the circumnavigation.

The Romanian Rescue team

 

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