July, 2011

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Tuesday,July 19. The view at the top.

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

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The Danube level went down a foot and a half since yesterday. It is going to be dicey getting out of here. I am having a cool draft beer in the shade of the park, it is 4 p.m. It is still in the nineties. I am going to do some provisioning now and then take off in the morning. The next couple of nights I will most likely be at anchor and no internet access.

I can’t wait to turn the engine off and slide down the current under sail. With my luck there will be wind and a reach.

Boiko took a look at my stuffing box and he suggested that I needed to add one more piece of packing. Which I did. I’ll find out tomorrow if that was of any help.

I am back from my provisioning. The folding bike was barely able to bring it in. Nice supermarkets, Kaufmarkt and Carrefour. The Danube has gone down another 6 inches today. Dicey. But at least I should clear all the remaining bridges.

Monday's sunset


Sunday July 17. A real Sunday.

Sunday, July 17th, 2011

I was able to go to 10 o’ clock mass at the Catholic Church here. All in Bulgarian, but at least I knew all the time what was going on. The priest was an Italian in his early forties.  The majority of the congregation were older women. About 75 people, 50% of the church’s capacity. These countries could use an infusion of the Holy Spirit.

This morning it looked like it was goig to rain. The clouds hid the moon and a wind started clattering the halyards. But then it became another hot sunny day in the low hundreds. I took my siesta  and then managed to get a coat of Cetol on the house teak trim and Clear Epoxy on the rub rails.  A few more coats and then the boom goes on and the halyards are lead back again.

A German power boat came in on their way back to Northern Germany from the Black Sea. The captain is selling me a collection of his Turkish and Greece charts that I am really happy to have and he is giving me an older version opf Rod Heikel’s cruising guide for Greece. Yesterday 4 young men from Bolzano, Italy came in to spend the night. They are driving a large inflatable outboard. They had covered 300m km in one day, upstream from Constanza on the Black Sea.

A thunderstorm and decent down pour just had every one scramble for cover here. My forward hatch is open. Oh, well they do not last long.


Church in Rouse





Saturday Evening Post July 16. Mad dog.

Saturday, July 16th, 2011

When I looked at my watch it was almost 2 p.m. and I had not taken a break. In over a 100 degrees Fahrenheit that qualifies me for a Mad Dog, according to Rudyard Kipling, since I am certainly not an Englishman.

Boiko’s brother had stopped by earlier to warn me that this would be a very hot day and to wear my cap and take frequent showers. I sanded the teak trim on top of the house before I re-install the boom and lead the halyards back. I also had a nasty “auweey” on the starboard foward hull that needed sanding down to the bare wood and be epoxy patched. That happened in “Z” town during the launch. I am not happy with the hull finish, it never got hard. And it already has quite a few scratches/bruises. So, next time back to a two part poly urtehane or epoxy paint. But it is very easy to patch, since it is one part. I should have been at anchor on the river this morning to get a better view of the full moon set.

Tomorrow I’ll be attending 10 a.m. mass at the R.C. church with the Italian priest.

Details of the "Profit Yielding" building. Does a soldier "yield profit???"



Friday 15 July. Tuning the mast.

Friday, July 15th, 2011

It was another hot day, in the eighties. Since I am not an Englishman or a mad dog I stay out of the noonday heat. Reclined, in the same prone position as the mast was, on my bunk letting the 12 volt fan buss me into my siesta. It is now after 8 p.m. and I am in the park having a cool Zagorka and fried spratling fish (sprotjes).

Boyko keeps a serious album on all the visitors to the Marina here. And since this is about the only marina on a 150 plus k.m. stretch, practically all Danube sailors have made a stop here. I searched through his records to see if I might be able to claim my first s/h US sailor to do the Danube.  And I believe that the answer is, yes. There have been other s/h sailors. A Kiwi, Glen Alborn, in a 20 foot boat that he purchased in England.

An American flagged 35 foot “Maria Sorg Mutineer” came down the river s/h but the skipper, Alois Peyr, was a Czech born Australian. He purchased the yacht in the USA. About the time that I arrived in the Chesapeake in 2007, he was towed in by the Coast Guard with a leak, out of fuel an a damaged mast. It took him 61 days to cross the Atlantic to Europe. According to the people here the man was a nut case.

“Island Lady” was the American boat I  had heard about earlier on this trip. It was a 27 footer, registered in Florida, owned by a Polish American and crewed with another real Pole. But I have not been able to determine if it came across the Atlantic on his own or was shipped across.  Apparently the two-some were another story. The marina manager never had an opportunity to meet the skipper in a sober moment.

So, here, at last, comes this nice old sober Christian Dutch American sailor to set the record straight. Today a Belgian power boat came in. They are going back to Ghent against the current, they have done the French rivers/canals to the Med and came up from the Black Sea. But his boat handling skills are about what anyone would expect if I were to fly a 747. He barged right into me. No damage done.

Can anyone figure out the language on this T shirt I spotted today? I searched on the internet if there happened to be a regatta like this in New Zealand, Santiago City ? Must have been created in the back alleys of Shanghai??

Le Quatorze Juillet. Le Jour de Gloire est arrivé!!! An erection without Viagra.

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

After 12 month in a prone position “Fleetwood” got the stick up.

I had my reservations in this river port. But in the end I have to take my skipper’s cap off to Boyko the marina manager, his assistant and the port crane crew. This was probably the most painless mast stepping I have ever had.

The dock crane looked ancient and I had my reservations but Boyko had this all pre-planned.  He had the boat anchored with a line to the crane quay.

This is the place to do it, the cost was 40 Euroes ( sixty bucks). I spent all morning to get everything prepared after spending most of yesterday on the preparations. Tomorrow I will tune the rig and then I need to be hoisted to the mast head to set the tri-color and Windex. So, I plan to leave after 10 a.m. Catholic mass here on Sunday.

I have had some more suggestions on my shaft log/stuffing box problem on solving it in the water. Today, in the short motoring to the crane, I had left the stuffing box pressure on the packing fairly loose and there was no overheating at all. I am tempted to try changing the packing here here. Because, the boat is not going to sink here in about 6 inches under the keel. But the water here is very murky for me to try and dive to the prop. So, I will try and see if today’s setting of the packing pressure are a permanent solution and sail most of the way further down towards Galati where they have travel lifts.


Wednesday 13 july. The mast maker’s grandson.

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

That is what I did for most of the day. Repaired some of the damage to the mast. Because tomorrow she is going to be re-erected. This was the perfect spot to do it, in the slip that I am in.

I did get some more suggestions on how to deal with my stuffing box problem. Bart Boosman, the OSTAR racer I ran into on the Atlantic in 2009, has some great tricks on how to do it in the water. Champagne Corks…. I think that would be a very good excuse for a party.

But they are going to have to pry me away from Rouse. This is one of the most pleasant stops. I am sitting here in a park restaurant bar. The place is full with people having a drink and snacks in the evening cool under the chestnut trees.

The Holstein kiddie has a brother and a third same age from another litter, with some tortoise shell features, have been driving me nuts. Is this what happens when I become old and the women have discarded me the young dogs in Zimnicea and the cats in Rousse start harassing me???


Tuesday July 12th No Rush in Russe

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

I just lost an hour’s work on the blog, just went “Poof”. It is 9 p.m. and it has been a long day so I will try again in the cool of the morning.

But I wanted to try and see if I can get some more counseling on my stuffing box problems. Iemand in Holland, Schinkelaars, Paul Boosman?

You can read the comments from my friends  Hilmi and Matthias Klemm. The shaft is as old as the boat, 32 years. At one time I did have some electrolysis/corrosion problems, I filled the cavities with epoxy and I never had any more problems. But the shaft has worn slightly in the area of the packing.

The stuffing box that I had on the boat for the last 3 to 4 years ( after the breaking of the gland off Celebes/Sulawesi in 2006) required 1/4″ packing whereas the original one, which I have now replaced with the brand new VETUS stuffing box tube/gland uses 3/16″ packing.  The VETUS gland fits perfectly on the stern tube whereas the American gland is slightly larger in diameter and I used an insert over the stern tube.

But possibly I’d be better of going back to the larger 1/4″ packing and the Algonquin stuffing box. It did work fine for the last 4 years. But that means pulling the shaft out and I wonder if any one has any experience doing this in the water, without lifting the boat above the water. If I use a crane it will require a couple hours because the 6 nuts on the flexible coupling have to be very carefully released and tightened in the right order and pressure.

I am on a second breath and it has cooled off. It reached between 35 and 40 degrees again today.

This morning I went exploring the town of 175,00 plus inhabitants. Has always been an important river port and fortified city. After the 500 year Ottoman occupation, in 1884, the city bloomed and was the origin of most of the still very attractive neo-rococo/baroque style. Rousse/Ruse/Russe often called the Vienna of Bulgaria. Wide boulevards, parks, tree shaded streets. In the late afternoon I had a young lady from the tourist office give me a private tour to the St. Dimitrii Bassarbovski rock monastery. This location was established by Greek Neolithic priests in the period 2000/1000 before Christ. St. Dimitrii, born in the 17th century was a local farm boy who became a monk here. He attained saint hood and several miracles were attributed to him. The next stop was the Holy Virgin’s Rock Church. The murals from the 14th century are the main attraction.

I had a discussion with the monk of the St. Dimitrii monastery about my disappointment in trying to find some inspiration in the Orthodox services in Romania. I learned a lot about the history, the importance of Bulgaria with the patriarchs in Constantinople, Jerusalem, Macedonia.

Last year from leaving Holland in late July till my arrival in Calafat, Romania, in September I had little bright sunny warm summer weather. I’d look in the guide I used with the pictures of people sitting in side walk cafes, swimming in the Danube and I’d wonder what went wrong. I slept every night in my sleeping bag. Now it is truly a Mediterranean summer here. I sleep under the mosquito net on top of a sheet and cover my self  with it beyond mid night.



Seven Eleven and I’m in Sailors heaven

Monday, July 11th, 2011

On the road again. The Border Police officer never showed up at the promised 8 o’clock, last night. So, they were going to have a man there at 6 a.m. when I wanted to leave. I showed up at 7 and then they tiold me that he had gone home and to come back at the 8 a.m. regrular office hour opening. I did. “Mister, probleme” and to come back in a half hour. I did. “Mister, 6 more minutes”. I was getting a little tired of this. Were they trying to show me that I should have been there at 6 a.m.? So, I told them that I was taking off for the next Romanian port, Giurgiu and would check out from there instead of going directly to Rouse/Russe in Bulgaria.

So, at last I was off at 8.45. After about 15 minutes on the way I checked the stuffing box because of the problems I had after I was afloat again. I had steadely tightened the nut on the packing gland in the days prior. But now it turned out that I had overdone it and the stuffing box and shaft were very hot. So,  I loosened it up some but that was not bringing the temperature down much. In hindsight I should have put new packing in the gland.  For the veteran followers on the “Lisa” list, you might remember the emergency I had for the North Coast of Sulawesi in 2006. When the rubber tubing of the stuffing box had broken open. I replaced the entire stuffing box with an American 25mm stuffing box. Last April I found the right size gland for the old 25 mm stuffing box, which fits the shaft much better. And I did not bother to replace the packing because it looked in good shape.

I do have extra packing with me and I decided to try and replace it at the pontoon of the Border Patrol/Capitania in Giurgiu but after trying to tie up at two different pontoons, that they could have had available but turned out to be occupied or cut off by mooring lines of a cruise ship, I told them that  was going back across the river to Rouse. So, I am now at the local Yacht Club. I managed to just fit in their visitors slip but have about an inch under the keel. The marina manager, Boiko (?), helped me get cleared in because it could have got a little dicey since my paperwork had become a bit convoluted with the game (?) the Zimnicea border patrol played with my patience.

I tried to replace the packing. But it turns out that is not an option in the water because I will have to remove the packing gland all together and pull the shaft. But I might just have struck another stroke of my, near legendary, luck because the crane you see in the background of the Rousse picture can lift me for Euro 50 an hour and it can step my mast….  Because the Danube level is unusual low I can clear the last two or three bridges before I enter the Black Sea. So, I’ll probably be here a couple days and then I can sail the last 500 k.m. of the Danube. That will be so much more peaceful than the engine. The floating crane where I was the last three days could also have stepped my mast, oh well, next time. There were a couple of spots today where I had but a few inches under the keel. I saw loaded barges, anchored ahead of these shallows, waiting for higher water. A dredge had cut off my vieuw of one channel marker and I went hard aground on the wrong side of the dredge. The boat started tilting on its side but somehow I got off with little pride lost, but probably a smidge off the new bottom paint.

Any one reading this that can council me on the proper temperature of the packing glands.  Is it normal for the water dripping from the packing, the shaft and the rubber stuffing box gland to be hot? I just do not think this is normal but I do not recollect how it was before.

Rousse looks like a very pleasant city. I will have more to show and tell tomorrow.


Sunday July 10. In the starting blocks. Trossen Los

Sunday, July 10th, 2011

I was unable to clear out of Romania to be able to make my first landfall again on the Bulgarian side of the Danube, till this evening at 8 p.m., at the local border police station. My plan had been to leave after I came back on the 3 p.m. ferry form Swishtov. Probably just as well since I still had a lot to straighten out and put in place on the boat after the maintenance job. It has been stifling hot, above 100 degrees. There is a little breeze on the water and I am glad that I bought a 12 volt fan in Florida before I left in 2009.

My fuel tank is full and my 20 liter jerry cans are also full but water is a problem here, so, I expect to fill the water tank in Russe. Russe is less than a day’s journey from here and I plan to leave at the crack of dawn. I bought a few more fresh vegetables and fruit at the Sunday morning market in Swishtov and bought a cordless drill, which is an indispensable tool aboard. My battery pack, for the one I had, almost burnt a hole through the boat and I have not been able to find a replacement.

I am glad I was able to take part in the mass in the R.C. church in Swishtov, even though I do not understand a word of the Bulgarian sermon and liturgy. But there were again some Latin parts and I can follow the sequences. It was an older priest, different from the one two weeks ago. He spoke with less of an accent but was not Bulgarian.

It will be a sad good bye to Zimnicea. This morning I moved the last items out of my room at the Tabara camop and said good bye to Aura, Marian and the shepherd, Nero

July 8. Saturday Evening Post

Saturday, July 9th, 2011

With the help of Gigi (Georgio) mechanic aboard the tugboat at the floating crane and the electrician, Marian, with the shipbuilding project, I got the engine going again. There was some obstruction in the fuel system and Gigi, with a short piece of hose, while I hit the starter button and him blowing the hose at the injection pump, somehow got the system started again.

I finished installing the engine controls and maybe I need to take back my “Dutch moron” part out of yesterday’s blog. Because it now works better than the previous versions.

So, there is little else to keep me here, as much as I regret leaving the friends that I made here. I plan take the ferry to Swishtov and attend 10 o’clock R.C. mass again. Then I should be back at the boat by 4 p.m. and get on my way and anchor Sunday night.

Between 12 and fifteen men showed up at the farewell party invitation.  What a fine great group of men. I’ll treasure their memory for many years.

Most of them work on the construction of “Selene” the yacht being built for it’s owner. An amazing accomplishment. Only one of the men is a shipbuilder, Toma. He has been able to train the machinists, structural engineers, etc. of the pipe factory to build this aluminum yacht.  Next week it is supposed to be launched.