September 11th, 2010 browsing by day


Saturday Sept 11 Calafat, Roumania

Saturday, September 11th, 2010

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Wednesday and Thursday I passed through the “Iron Gate”. This is the narrowest and deepest gorge of the Danube. I measured depth of 250 feet. Supposedly no other river in the world has these depths. This gorge was a wild and nasty passage till the two dams were built where I passed through the last locks. It is a very impressive sight, the sheer steepness of the granite rock piles. But it was, a misty rainy day, not good for photographs. Yesterday was also very foggy and then the nasty infamous Easterly started blowing. I could not find a good anchorage after the two hour wait in the last lock and ended up in wind and current exposed anchorage. The current pushed from the stern and the gusty winds kept pushing the boat around and in the end ther boast wrapped around the anchor rode and became completely exposed to the full force of the current over its entire length. I started dragging and I had no way to get the anchor back up because the force on it. Then out of nowhere rescue came in the form of a Roumanian border patrol boat. I asked therm to unwind the wrap by pushing me back one turn. But they did not understand. It was getting dark and I was drifting to shallow ground. I ended up attaching one of my fenders to the bitter end and let the whole anchor gear go. They picked it up. They meant well but they did not know much about boat handling first they dragged me from the stern with the qanchor attached at way too much speed to deeper water. Not exactly good for the transom hung rudder, ther water gushed in over the transom. Then they started dragging my, released, anchor all over the place before they dragged it out. First I thought they were taking off with it. The anchor and chain is nicely polished from the gravel bed and I will have to regalvanize it. I reanchored in the same spot but I used my head this time and remembered the trick I learned from a Frenchman on the Rio Paraiba, in Brazil. Where there was also a lot of current and I did the anchor wrap routine. I anchored from the stern. That kept the bow on the wind and from gyrating. But I did get the rode caught in the rudder pintles a couple times and that takes sheer physical abuse to undo. But what the heck there is nothing better to do on an evening’s anchoring on the Danube. The wind calmed down some and I managed to get a few hours sleep. Right now I am on a pontoon in the river but it is on the inside and much better than the last pontoon rock and roll party.

The paperwork at the borders is incredible. To the point of bursting out laughing. On Wednesday, just paying my 13 Euroes for mooring at the private pontoon while clearing in took three complicated documents and three people involved in it. There is the police, customs, harbor master and health in some places. The building the customs was in in Moldova Veche reminded me of the dumps I saw in Madagascar. Dilapidated, dingy, dark.

I plan to go to mass here tomorrow. Most likely no R.C. rites here. My opportunity to share it with the Eastern Orthodox bretheren. And you all also pray for my tired old engine, please.