October, 2010

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Oct 31. Finally a real Sunday

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

Two months and two days since my last opportunity to share holy communion in Bratislava. This morning there was actually the host distributed at the mass in the church of The Holy Trinity in Svishtov. I still did not understand much of the whole service but seldom has a piece of bread satisfied me as much. The church was built in 1867 and has a beautiful Iconostastis. See picture. There were two ladies doing the liturgy chants and just one priest and about 10 people attending mass….

It dropped again under freezing. I did not realize that Bulgaria is an hour behind Romania and I was trying to find a cup of coffee at before 6 a.m. I love the smell of the wood stove smoke. Reminds me of the skiing in Austria in the sixties. There was a very busy market going on. I could not believe the enormous sizes of the cabbages, leeks, butternut squash, etc. Well it’s time to head back to the boat. I wished I could stay here a couple more days and feel like a human being.

Saturday Oct 30. Back on the Fiume Dolorosa

Saturday, 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

October 29. In Svishtov with my usual Mazeltov

Friday, October 29th, 2010

The whole problem with the transmission has been solved. For some unexplained reason a large nut had come unscrewed on the flange that connects the transmission to my propeller shaft. It could have been caused by the shaft being too close to the nut and unscrewing it in reverse or the factory just did not have it torqued enough. I needed a 32 mm open end wrench/spanner to tighten this large nut in a very tight space between the nut and my propeller shaft.  The Bulgarians had me fixed up with this enormous wrench in 5 minutes. So, I am off to Galati again tomorrow morning. I might be able to reach Giorgiu by tomorrow and then I will consider a bus ride to Bucarest to find a church service that I can understand, for Sunday. I am right now “uptown” in Svishtov. From the water, see below picture, it looked like an uninteresting industrial city. Not so. It is oneof the three largest Danube ports in Bulgaria. The history of it traces back to the first century. After the Ottoman occupation had been defeated it lost much of its importance.  I like Bulgaria. The guys at the Harbor Master and the Immigration/Custom office were of a lot of help trying to be sure I got all the help I needed.

Thursday Oct 28. My Fiume Dolorosa?

Friday, October 29th, 2010

It was a beautiful crisp clear day. Saw White Pelicans. But the day ended very badly. Around 4.30 p.m. I had reached my intended anchorage at k.m. 647 the entrance to Vadim on the Bulgarian shore. The book had warned of shallows, so, I very slowly searched my way in. But the depth dropped too fast and the current pushed me further into trouble. I backed off right away but made hardly any back way. Then the shaft spun loose from the transmission, or worse, the transmission from the engine.

Fortunately there were hardly any waves andthe water was relatively calm. I called a MayDay. Back and forth with the Romanians and the Bulgarians. In the end the Harbor Master launch from Swistov, about 10 k.m. up river, came to the rescue. But they, just like my experience the night before Calafat, were not very expereinced in boat handling. And by coming alongside on the up current they pushed me even higher on the shallows. It was a jet boat, without a prop, thank God but they would have wrapped the tow rope around their prop, but very difficult to maneuver in the current. Then they would swing around in an enormous spurt and take a hard jerk on the tow line. The fair lead broke right off, my bow pulpit took a beating. I need todo a second check on the keel bolts that they are not seeping.

I just phoned the dealer of the new engine. I hope that there is no major repair job involved. I probably have to remove the transmission, right a way. It is a cold day, frost on the ground this morning. No heat in the boat. But it is sunny and dry. I can dress for that.

Wednesday, Oct 27 K.M. 650 Danube

Friday, October 29th, 2010

The daylight hours have shrunk much since September 11. From 8 a.m. till 5.30 p.m The day started out grey and dim then it rained and drizzled then visibility dropped to a couple 100 feet in a mist/drizzle next that nasty Easterly came up around 1 p.m.  The short waves had the boat hobby horsing slowing it’s progress.  Not exactly what the Danube travel brochure described, When I saw a decent potential anchorage around 3 p.m. I took it. With the current going east and the wind coming out of the East I had the same predicament as the night before I reached Calafat and I dragged anchor in the same storm conditions. I anchored from the stern this time and led the anchor rode through the wind vane support so that the rode would be far enough away from the transom hung rudder and not foul it. But the wind at times was still be stronger than the current and push the boat against the anchor chain.
But I believe I have found the solution. I set my Danforth spare anchor up on the bow, then slowly motored forward into the wind at the same time slackening the rear anchor line, then
quickly went forward and let the Danforth down. Then I winched the stern anchor back in. It works great.

Oct 26 1st On the road again

Friday, October 29th, 2010

I am at anchor at KM 739 43.50.50 N 23.16.40 E, just down stream from Lom, Bulgaria.
That is a 50 k.m. day. I did not get the anchor up in Calafat till 11.30 I went to check my mail at the O.K. Restauarant at 9 a.m. and to say good bye to the ladies who took such good care of me and to Claudio the manager. Christi came at 9.30 to have a farewell coffee with me. Last night we had a drink together at Neru’s pontoon, with Marian. Neru filled up my two 20 liter canisters with Diesel at a very reasonable rate. I decided to get a few clothing items for the cold weather at the local market. I did not bring much in the way of winter wear since I had expected to be in Turkey before the winter. Yesterday I bought warm training pants. Today I added two sets of tites, long underwear with feet. Two pair of warm socks. The market lady was so sweet and made sure I had the right sizes. Beautiful smile even though she is missing  a few teeth. Then I wanted something that just does not exist in even the most outrageously priced foul weather gear and that is an outer garment that is water proof after using it a couple times. So I ended up spending $ 8 on a knee lengths camouflage vinyl coat. Wait till I tie up at the  Saint Francis Yacht Club and walk in in my Romanian foul weather gear….  The sales man decided to try the one other language than Romanian he knew on me. Bingo!  Dutch. He had lived in Holland. His daughter works in a Wassenaar restaurant. All the other stall owners who by now had seen me every day in the market could not figure out how I could be in this lively conversation with one of them. He made sure that everyone around him was made aware that he can speak a totally weird language. He got a bit carried away when another potential customer asked him a question he answered him in Dutch…

I did not like the amount of vibration in the engine so, after the first few k.m.’s I put the anchor down and messed with the engine mounts once again for a couple hours. This has helped but it is not a permanent fix. What I had noticed when connecting the drive shaft is that I need to replace the cutlass bearing. There is a lot of play in the shaft. I have done this once before in 2004 and all the motoring has worn it down once again. Replacing the cutlass bearing needs to be done out of the water. The engine also kept losing rpm’s and then coming back. But that has worked it self out. I am keeping at just around 2000 r.p.m., which is probably around 65% of it’s capacity but it gives me 12 k.m.s. per hour, with the current and that is as good as the old engine could do. I need to run the engine in anyway and needs to stay at a modest speed. I like the fact that the block and the radiator keep the cabin nice and comfortable for a couple hours.

Monday, Oct 25. Sweet Music

Monday, October 25th, 2010

The sound of the new engine. At last. Forty five days, 5 days more than Jesus’s trials in the desert, in Calafat. Was there a bad omen in that I arrived here on 9/11?

 Last night I went to bed, disappointed. Everything appeared to be ready to go but the engine would make a short attempt to turn over and then quit. It was getting too dark and I had burnt out the only 220 volt light bulb I had. But this morning it started after a short hesitation. Sunday I spent another several hours in trying to get the transmission controls to work properly. It turned out that there was a loose connection on the old panel rather than at the engine.

I shall be on my way to Galati at daybreak, Tuesday. The adventure goes on the river road again.

Because I plan to make time and there are so few mooring spots from now on that I should be at anchor the coming nights and the blog will be back when I end up in civilization again.

Saturday Evening Post Oct 23rd

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010

I spent hours on trying to get the transmission control cables to line up. I gave up. This evening I shall read the original instructions that came with the Vetus control panel. When all else fails…. The arc is much larger than on my old Renault. It is hard to do this alone since the controls are in the cockpit and I have to make the adjustments inside crunched under the quarter berth.

The barometer rose to 1028 millibar, backed down no 1025. Beautiful crisp clear winter weather. There was frost on the  ground this morning. The moon and sun rises and sets have been breathtaking. I am sure glad for the heater that Marian brought. I flip it on around 6 a.m. And then turnover again in my warm sleeping bag. In the afternoon, the sun warms the boat up to where I do not need the heater.  I still have my short dizzy spells when I get up and a cold/flue? But it has not intervened with the work.  Yesterday I did not get to the wireless spot. I was too tired to move after dinner. I hate to make any predictions any more. But if I get the transmission hook up figured out it should be done. The wiring to the instrument panel is working I have the cooling water and the exhaust all hooked up.

Thursday Oct 21. A rough day

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

During the night that nasty wind across the Danube came up. It blew the clouds away and it was sunny. But the rest I could have done without. I had a constant fear that the anchor would break lose. It blew a good 30 knots, white caps, and like sitting on a Rodeo bull. I had to muster up more fenders. And it was difficult to concentrate on the engine job. And it did not go well at all. But at the end of the day I am a few steps further after taken a bunch backwards. When I thought I had everything lined up, to mate with the propeller shaft and fastened the flexible mounts down, everything was out of whack again. So I had to remove the 8 heavy fasteners that hold the mounts down, readjusting the angles to the shaft, a tedious process sitting all crunched up in the engine compartment. It too0k all day. But it is done. The wind let up enough for me to feel safe in leaving the boat and go do some grocery shopping and post this blog. Now the fun part comes getting to hook up the wires and hoses, filling the engine and transmission oil and then flip the ignition on and see the lights come on…

It looks like a full moon today or tomorrow. I had no idea of the moon position since the skies have been covered for the last two weeks. I am going to see if there is a picture for tomorrow’s blog.

October 20. The engine is bedded down

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

My fears that after all the many measurements I would need to haul the engine out again to make some more adjustments were unfounded. The little blue engine that could is sitting in her new home and I am smiling but very tired. The propeller shaft is perfectly lined up to the engine. Marian and Christian came and helped at the critical moment to set her on the new mounts. I had set it all up with the block and tackle but I was not able to do it without their assistance. I still have a full days work on the final fastening of the flexible engine mounts and hooking up hoses and wires and the control cables. Some of them need to be made up to fit. And according to the Romanians I need to have a little festivity before taking off. Can’t argue with that. When In Romania do like the Romanians do…. So that will probably take place on Saturday and then I might be on my way on Sunday.

It did not rain today!!! And the sun even came through the overcast and clouds for a couple fleeting moments. It is actually quite mild now.

I still have the dizzy spells. Still think it is a stomach flue. Today I had to look up to the block and tackle and that’s when the whole world started spinning. But I feel fine. And it has not affected the 12 hours or so that I was busy with the installation. Sitting all cramped up in the engine department, drilling, chiseling, adjusting the engine angles to the shaft coupling, etc.