November, 2010 browsing by month


Thursday Nov. 25 Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

The steroid eye drops that the doctor prescribed are helping. Some of the scar tissue has cleared up and I can see better. But it is still not anywhere where it was before the infection started, last August.  Probably a coincidence, but the second doctor call I had planned, for my dizzy spells, has evaporated as well. It stopped a few days ago. Still a mystery as to what caused it.

Sunday I met a number of old friends at Ste. Therese church here in Chesapeake. We have had a number of days in the mid seventies, Fahrenheit.

Sean cooked the Turkey. A feast. Katie my grand daughter in law and my two great grand daughters Madison and Lily had dinner with us. Lily is three weeks old and it was my first chance to get to admire her. They are dolls. If I had a car I’d buy the bumper sticker : “My great grand daughters are cuter than yours!”

Saturday November 20. Chesapeake, Va.

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

The damage done to my right eye will be very difficult to repair. That is what the verdict is from yesterday’s examination. I had a thorough exam in an eye clinic here, Imoved up through a level C to a level A doctor. They confirmed that it was another Herpes virus attack that left the scars. The scars are right in the center of the eye and very little can be done to mess around in that part of the eye.  The last examiner gave me drops of a styroid medication. He hopes that possibly they will clear up some of the damage. I have another appointment on Monday. 

It is 6 p.m. here and the Irreverent Reverent is broadcasting his Prairie Home Companion from Houston on National Public Radio. After a year back in Europe I feel torn between two continents. Everyone just spoiled the heck out of me in Holland and the Romanians stole my heart, with all the generosity they poured out. It is just 5 days to Thanksgiving and even though I did not grow up with this holiday it is the time that I have missed more than any other holiday when away from the family in the U.S.A.  We’ll be having our Thanksgiving Dinner with my brand new great granddaughter, Lily, her sister Madison and her mom Katie and all the Virginian McDonnells.  

Tomorrow I’ll be joining my old friends here at the 8.30 mass at Ste. Therese church. It will be the first time I’ll participate in a R.C. service since Bratislava on August 29.

From here on in till I get back to the Danube there will be less to report and you all will get a holiday from checking in with this blog.

Friday Nov 19. The sparrow has landed in the land of the Eagle.

Friday, November 19th, 2010

I am back in the good old U.S. of A. The flight from Amsterdam was one of the best Atlantic crossings I have flown. I slept through most of it in Business Class…. My train connection from Washington D.C. arrived in Richmond, Virginia after a two hour ride, at 20.30 hours local time. Jeannine and Gabrielle picked me up and it was around 4 a.m. Amsterdam time by the time that I went to bed here in Chesapeake.

In an hour I will see an eye doctor here to see what can be done about the damage done to my right eye.

I am excited to start on my long planned writing project. This is an ideal spot. A harmonious household, a quiet room. I love Holland and the Pacific North West in the summer but Virginia has mostly bright skies in the winter. It is crisp the trees are still in all the diffeerent shades of gold and red.

Monday Nov 15. What a difference a day makes..

Monday, November 15th, 2010

You have heard this before. Yesterday was dark and rainy. Holland at its worst. I wished I were tucked away in a warmer climate aboard “Fleetwood”. But then today the skies cleared and walking through the old center of Sneek and riding the train back to Amsterdam through the Frisian countryside Holland showed its very best.  

Jan wanted to attend Sunday services in Putten a rural town on our way to Friesland. My brother is involved in the activities of the museum of the Nazi concentration camp of Neuengamme, which is near his home in Germany. This is also the camp where the leader of our mother’s resistance group perished. At the time that the battle of Arnhem (“A bridge too Far”) was fought, nearby Putten, in October 1944 a small group of partisans from Putten attacked a German army vehicle. All the men of the village between 18 and 50 were rounded up, in reprisal, and over 600 of them were sent to Neuengamme. Except for a handful all perished under the atrocious conditions of the camp. Jan has met, in the last years, the annual delegation from Putten to commemorate their fallen townsmen at the Neuengamme memorial service. The Reformed Church was packed. All ages. There are still a few pockets left in Holland that remind me of the forties and fifties when the majority of the Dutch trekked to their respective churches.

We looked at a Folkboat on the Keteldiep and a flat bottom Schouw in Stavoren, which were on Jan’s shopping list. On the way we stopped in Urk. The pictures I had made in Urk last July were lost in the (second) lap top crash, I duplicated a few that I intend to incorporate in a Botter story I am writing. My cousin Siebold and his wife Tineke were my hosts in Sneek last night. We had seen each other last June when I came through Sneek on “Fleetwood”. This morning I spent several hours at the Frisian Maritime Museum, which is just around the corner from Siebold’s home. There I also replicated the pictures that I had made here last June and I gathered more material for my Botter story.

My flight arrangements have been made! I expect to land in Washington D.C. this Thursday, the 18th. The Virginians and I are excited to spend the holidays together.

Tomorrow I’ll be visiting the Nieuwboer Botter Yard in Spakenburg to take more pictures and fill in a few gaps in my story.

Holland at its Best. Taken today from a fast moving train

Saturday Nov 13 Amsterdam

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

I just returned from boat shopping. My twin brother, Jan, is here from Germany to look for a sail boat. He has not taken me up on my offer to buy “Fleetwood”. Tomorrow we will look at more boats and then on Monday he has a few appointments in Friesland. I am accompanying him there and I will take the train back to Amsterdam on Monday. We sat around the dinner table with our older sister and brother in law here yesterday, a great opportunity to catch up with each other.

Below is the link to a follow up interview by the Zimnicea radio station. After “Fleetwood” was brought ashore.

This weekend Saint Nicolas made his annual way into Holland, from Spain. The picture below is taken of his arrival on the waterfront in Harderwijk. From now on the children can start putting their wooden shoes in front of the fireplace to find them filled each morning with candies or little trinkets, untill Saint Nicolas eve December 5th.

Nov 11 Veterans Day in Bucharest

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

In the introduction to my article on “Fleetwood”‘s visit to Vietnam, in Cruising World, I was called “Veteran Sailor”. I wonder if it meant 1) experienced sailor, which from all my trials and errors I still do not consider myself qualified for, 2) Vietnam Vet or 3) old. The last two work for me.

Yesterday, with Camelia’s help and translations, we came to a very reasonable agreement on the storage conditions at Zim Tub. “Fleetwood” will be brought inside a large hangar and be protected from the weather. They will also let me work on the boat in the hangar, on my retrun next spring. There is no Ace Hardware or West Marine nearby so I will need bring all with me from Holland and the USA. I need to repaint the bottom and hull and replace the rub rails. And I will probably take advantage of the ideal inside storage to remove the leaking teak deck and replace it with plywood and also refinish the interior and the house and cockpit. So, as has happened to me before, there is often a silver lining to a dark cloud moving across my horizon.

The bus to Bucharest left at 6 a.m. and I checked my heavy back pack in at the Gara du Nord and walked to the center of Bucharest. I found a Starbucks and that meant I needed to buy a Bucharest Starbucks coffe mug for Lisa’s enormous collection. The tall Late costs about $ 4.00, four times the price elsewhere in Romania for a similar Cafee Lunga. The same Yuppee type of clientele as in the US. Camelia, my travel agent, translator,hostess, promoter, cook and friend made all the arrangements to be sure I would make all my connections and not come back for another shipwreck period in Zimnicea. She is storing the valuable gear from the boat and the Klapfiets till I return.

Bucharest is not a particularly attractive city. The picture is taken on the main square. Victoria square. The banner on the taxi is part of many of the protest that are staged here. The Romanians are not very happy with the way their elected rulers run the economy here.

I stand corrected. My friend Howard Richardson, who is older and more travelled than I am, liked Bucharest. It turns out that Victory Square is not the real center of Bucharest. By coincidence I asked directions to the bus stop for the airport, after I had collected my heavy back pack from the North Station baggage check in. A fast talking Bucharesto convinced me into taking a ride in his pseudo taxi after we came to 25 Lei from his initial 50 Lei. This is around 11 a.m., then 5 minutes later he gets a call for another ride. He asks me when my flight is. We have time. He picks up his two college professors near the parliament building. Photo below taken through the windshield. But this part of the city around Republic Square was more like Budapest. Nice 19th and early 20th century architecture. Churches, parks. Five star Raddison, etc. So, I stand corrected. I’d like to see it again on a Spring day.

The Parliament building is only second in size to the Pentagon in Washington D.C.  It was one of Ceausescu’s follies. Over the dead bodies of his enslaved during the Communist era.

Tuesday Nov 9 My last days in Romania

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

I have booked a flight to Amsterdam from Bucarest this Thursday. If I can get a reasonable fare to fly to Virginia I plan spend the Holidays with the McDonnells and then be back to Amsterdam before Easter.

Today I worked on the boat, winterizing and making lists of the items I need bring here from Holland and USA for the repairs and maintenance before continuing the voyage on the Danube.

Monday November. 8 Fleetwood is on solid ground!

Monday, November 8th, 2010

On November 6th my third great grandchild was born Lily Noel Leon (Noel spelled backwards, or is it the other way around?) The little Leon cub in the below picture is admired by her 1 1/2 year old sister Madison.

Born Nov. 6 Lilly Noel Leon my third grandchild with her sister Madison

And the other pictures speak for them selves. “Fleetwood” is solidly planted on Romanian soil. The same Harbor Master boat that rescued me Saturday a week ago took me under the shore crane. There was a strong southerly blowing but the men did an excellent job. Camelia came along to help overcome the language barriers. The men and one woman crew from Zim Tub did a great job getting a cradle built in no time. They welded up supports and for a non marine yard I take my hat off for their ingenuity.
The plan is then to take me into one of their large sheds, later this week.

And surprise. surprise! As you can see from the pictures.I never did lose my shaft and propeller, after all… The shaft came out about 8″ but then was stopped by the rudder.
I was not aware of this at all. Knowing this I could have pushed it back in from the stern but I am glad that I am ashore and put away for the winter. The shaft has worn some in the cutlass bearing and will probably need to be replaced, the cutlass bearing needs replacement as well. The folding prop is 30 years old and is loose. The mechanic here thinks he can fix that  
There are a number of hours of epoxying fixing the bottom of the iron keel. I bounced on the rocks in one harbor on the Main-Donau canal where the depth was a lot shallower than the German cruising guide indicated and then the dragging over the gravel 10 days ago.
Tomorrow we will have a meeting to see just what the arrangements are for me.

I should arrive in Amsterdam by the weekend. I’ll know better tomorrow. My twin brother Jan, is visiting Amsterdam and Holland for a few days from Friday. so I will get a chance to spend time with him as well. There is a strong warm Foehn like wind blowing from the south and it is in the seventies.

Saturday 6 November.Still Roaming in Romania

Saturday, November 6th, 2010

I just read that Holland had their hottest November night since 1901. It is in the high seventies here again but supposed to change to rain tomorrow evening. I am hoping for decent weather this Monday for the haul out, It is at least 150 feet from the water to the Danube shore.

Here is the link to the radio interview on the local station:  How is your Romanesque?

I am making progress on my botter story for a potential publication in Wooden Boat magazine. My inspiration comes in spurts but there is much to be researched yet. I have been fed dinner by my local friend Camelia every day this week and she always has some interesting company from among her many friends. I have asked her to adopt me but I’m not getting anywhere. Below picture was taken near town, the old man plowing his vineyard. He engaged me in a a long conversation about America, Industrialization, Communism, Lenin, etc. and even though I kept repeating that I did not understand him he did not let up. He needed to get it off his chest, I think, so I was glad I could help him. 

Friday Nov 5. Monday planned haul out

Friday, November 5th, 2010

That’s the latest news. The barge is still being loaded today. The weather turned very nice yesterday. Sunny and warm but cold nights, right now it is into the seventies and is to last all weekend.

I am becoming known around the town. Yesterday and today a radio interview with the local station was being broadcast. Camelia interpreted.  But today I am being outcast by the sad news that the countries favorite son, the poet Adrian Paunescu passed a way today. He inspired many young Romanians and many artists/performers got their start on his t.v. talent show in the sixties and seventies.

I took the below picture just outside of town on my way to the boat. There is something very unique and stark in the Romanian landscape here and in Calafat. I hope to see more of it beside the very southern borders.