September, 2010 browsing by month


Sept 30 I am beat!

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

The mechanic never showed in the afternoon either. No show today either. But he would not have been able to get on board anyway from the pontoon to my galloping home. The wind blew all night and I had to get up every 10 minutes to push the boat off the steel wire cable. In the gusts the cable would stretch like a violin string and rise above the deck and ride against the stanchions. So I’d have to sit there on the edge of the deck and try push the wire rope back with my feet. Fortunately the wind calmed down some around 4 a.m. and then I got a little sleep. The boat was rocking and groaning which made it hard to even take a little catnap in the early part of the night. Then after breakfast the wind got even stronger and gusty. There was really nothing that I could rig to bring the wire rope below deck level.

I  am sick and tired of this spot. This is a very bad place to be in these storms that come right off the river. I just wished I could figure out how to get the engine going again. I am at wits end. The only place to find a mechanic with a compression meter is about 100 k.m. from here. And then I always have the language problem. And by now I have little faith in the Romanian mechanics.

I did try to check the injectors once again by starting them outside of the engine. They spray a very nice mist from three holes in the injector nozzle. This also should mean that the injection pump is o.k.

Other than the fact that it is my oldest son 39th birthday, as far as I am concerned, I could have done just fine without September 30.

Wednesday Sept 29. The Latin Way

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

Fane (short for Stefane) never did show up this morning. Now he is announced for 3 p.m. I will not hold my breath.

The weather has changed. That nasty Southerly ( the last time I called an Easterly, till I took a better look at the compass) is back. Not as strong yet as the last time, but the white caps are forming. At least this time I am prepared with fenders and mooring lines. But it is totally clouded over and I need the sun to recharge my batteries while trying to start the engine.

Sept 28 Matinee edition

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

The weather continues to be absolutely superb. Today is in the low seventies, with broken clouds. In the morning I start out with socks and jeans and by 10  I am back in shorts bare feet and T-Shirt. So, it was a perfect ride to Ciuperceni Vechi to find the mechanic. It is another attractive country village with unpaved streets. The 9 k.m. ride paralleled the Danube to the S.E. Fane was working out of a workshop that would be too small to park a Smart Car. But he appears to know what he is doing. The way he checked the injectors was a crude piston hand pump with which he pressed fuel through them. Two were good, one so-so and one bad. Marion had possibly used the same gizmo but he gave me three back of which the so-so one actually turned out to be good and vice-versa. I had discovered that two days ago already but that still did not solve the problem. Fane thinks it has to be the injection pump and he is coming to the boat tomorrow. He speaks enough German to make sense.

But for the experts: here is what I discovered when I removed the injectors today. The aft one was nice and clean and had diesel fuel on it when I pulled it. The forward one was totally covered with an oily feeling black carbon. Does this give a clue to anyone? This was not the case when I had them both out on Sunday.

Tuesday September 28. Groping for Clues

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

I have found a new name for a second mechanic. Marian just seems to have his own agenda. I also have an address, 8 k.m. out of town, that can test and clean my injectors. I’ll be on my way.

Twin brother, Jan, found a partially reconditioned Yanmar 2 GM for sale in Holland.

Some of the sojourners from the beginning of my voyage might remember my comments about the American exports I had to listen to on my local radio stations in the Pacific. Right now one of the top hits on the radio stations here is: ” I want to be a billionaire, so f… bad” When I heard it at first I thought that possibly my hearing had gone the same way as my right eye. There are two versions, the one you hear is “fricking bad” but the very same singer sings the export version. Just 10 seconds ago, after I started typing this, its on the radio again. Ad Nauseum! There are plenty of rap songs as well with the “F” word. Most of the D.J.’s here probably have no idea what is being sung.

Monday Sept 27 Biding my time

Monday, September 27th, 2010

Marian ( not Mario) is around the dock here somewhere, but just like last Saturday he totally ignores me. I think he is drinking aboard one of the tug boats. He was supposed to meet me at 1 p.m. according to the guys from the Capitanaria. I need find another mechanic, one with a compression gauge.

Maybe part of the revelation for the reason of being marooned here is the fact that it turns out to be a good spot to run out of propane. It happened Saturday evening while cooking dinner. On Sunday one of the men from the Capitania (Harbor master) saw my empty tank and offered to take me to have it filled. Well, every country has its own ways of filling tanks. In Holland I had to junk my South African tank and this time I needed to have a reducer made up to fit the Romanian system. But the friend arranged for all that and then he came with a sack full of home canned delicacies his wife had given him to bring to me. Delicious pickles, olives, peppers and a chunk of fresh Goat cheese. So after eating bread with salami and tomatoes and the canned pickles for the three meals yesterday I’ll be able to cook again. The 10 3/4 liter propane cost me $9. That is my entire utility bill for 8 months living and cooking aboard. Remind me when I feel sorry for my self again…. Electricity from the solar panel.

The below picture shows the typical push boat on the Danube. These power houses ( this one 1600 HP) push these double width triple lengths heavy barges. This particular one pushes the ferry barges and the barges that are being unloaded with gravel, right next door.

Saturday Sept 25. Still no luck with the engine

Saturday, September 25th, 2010

The mechanic was to show up at 10 this morning, after I had brought the charge back up in the batteries with the solar panel. I saw him visiting with the guys from the harbor master office, around 11. But an hour or more later he was gone again. I tried starting the engine by my self. All I got was a thick black smoke coming out of the exhaust. It felt like it would want to start.

My brother in law tells me to do some more tests before throwing in the towel.

You all have a much better weekend than I plan on. I want to get out of Dodge, find a hot shower and a Sunday service I can comprehend and go to communion. But this is most likely just what the Lord planned for me and the answer will be revealed and when it does I will share it with you. I promise.

Friday, Sept 24 No good news

Friday, September 24th, 2010

I am tired, dirty and disappointed.

The parts came yesterday both from France and Ireland. I called the mechanic and spent at least 4 hours putting the head back on. The Mario set the right tension with the torque wrench and adjusted the rocker arms spacing. But then it turned out that there was a slight compression leak at the head gasket. So, I had to take everything off once again. This morning Mario came again but was unable to get the engine started. There was a problem with the fuel coming through the engine’s filter pump. He managed to clear that up but still unable to get the engine to start. Then he went away for a one hour siesta. He showed up four hours later. In the meantime I tried bleeding the air from the lines the way I have always had success. I managed to get engine to turn over but then it just stalled again with heavy black smoke.

We are going to give it one more try tomorrow morning after the solar panel has recharged the batteries. But he fears that the engine is toast. Possibly valves/rings or a broken timing mechanism. We are getting fuel to the injectors. I had high hopes that the parts would do the trick. The prospect of trying to get an engine replacement to this off the beaten track part of the world does not bring much joy. The parts set me back about $ 500 and the labor will be at least $ 100 and I have been here now 2 weeks.

Please, everyone support me in feeling sorry for myself…

Thursday, Sept 23. Full Moon

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Another gorgeous harvest moon Indian Summer day. The morning is fresh but I change into shorts and a T-shirt by nine o’clock. I’m having some exposure problems with the camera. I’ll go through the trouble “shooting” process.

Nothing has come in the way of engine parts yet, from Ireland or France.

Right underneath where I am sitting right now in the internet cafe, the father of the boss is grinding white grapes, in the basement. See picture below.

Wednesday Sept 22nd. Exploring the countryside

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

A mist hung over the Danube and it is cooler today. I decided, to take a bike ride out of town. The corn and grapes are being harvested. When I stopped to take these pictures the grape pickers gave me bunches of the sweet dark blue grapes. The farm houses are all very substantial and attractive looking. Not what you would expect in this harsh and poor environment. It has warmed up in the meantime. When I got here to the internet cafe I had a flat tire. A tumbleweed thorn had pierced the rear tire. I had taken my repair kit with me but it was a good thing that the market is right next door since my rubber adhesive dates back to Papeete and was not usable any longer. I had to wait in line here anyway. The power had been out and the rug rats that play their games are always here. No matter what time of day. I have no idea when they go to school. So the tire glue had ample time to cure. I could never figure out how these kids could afford the rates I was paying here. But then the #2 attendant obviously had been charging me his “special”rates. The boss charges me about 1/4 of what he was getting. And he has fallen in line as well.

Tuesday Sept 21 End of Summer 2010

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

And a memorable one it will remain. Sailing the Ijselmeer and Friesland and later the Veght and Rhine. The retracing of family roots with “Fleetwood” in de Lemmer and Urk and the visit of Jeannine and Gabrielle, particularly showing Jeannine her roots in Belgium. Then the Danube.

The storm has blown away and it is dead calm again on the Danube. The picture below shows the exposure I had. The “D” in “Fleetwood”, on the starboard topside,  has been rubbed off by the steel wire mooring cable.

Mario, the mechanic, brought the engine head back and managed to extract the one injector from it. I am running out of projects on the boat. I wired the 12 volt fan, with a toggle switch in it,  that I had bought before my North Atlantic crossing. Today I mounted the last roll of toilet paper that my crew insisted we needed for the 12 day crossing from the Azores in early July 2009… I am not sure what his problem was.  But thanks anyway! The other inexhaustible supply is my propane. I have been expecting to run out for the last three months. There is no gauge to check. The 11 k.g. tank was filled in mid August, last year and I have been cooking, washing dishes etc. for eight months.

I started reading “Met een Glimlach Rond de Wereld” by Cees de Reus. My cousin Connie gave this to me last fall. He and his wife circumnavigated part of the same places that I visited and they met also several of the same sailors I ran into. The book does not give the period, it was published in 2009. I figure that they were in the South Pacific just a few weeks behind me in 2005 or possibly a year earlier. It brings back many great memories. I like his attitude and writing style.