August, 2010

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August 31 Budapest

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010
I arrived at the Wiking Marina, under the Pad Arpad Danube bridge, yesterday evening. The weather forcast was worse for today than it was yesterday. So, I got a 7.30 start and went from k.m. 1806 to k.m. 1651 in 11 hours. That is almost 1oo miles which would have been a decent day distance in a 24 hour period sailing on the ocean. It is a good day to do chores, laundry, etc. I have a mechanic retorque the head on the engine. I never did this since I had the engine apart last fall and I was supposed to do this after running the engine for at least 20 hours. And this might be the cause of the black smoke. But otherwise the engine has been running well and I hold my breath that it will make it to the Black Sea. The old Renault 16 HP engine never had much use other than to get in and out of a slip or a harbor. Till I did the ICW a couple times and from Amsterdam to here it must have run more than in its prior 30 years. 
I wrote the previous blog on Friday from Bratislava. When I left the internet cafe it had started to rain in earnest and I got soaked through my old foulies and lost my way. A very nice gentleman took pity on me. We put the folding bike in the trunk and he drove me to the marina. Saturday the weather was dark and rainy and I did some hand laundry and slept a lot, hoping this would be help the troubled eye get better. Sunday I got up early and took another ride into Bratislava. This early on Sunday the traffic was not as bad on the highway portion without a bicycle path. I went to 9 a.m. mass at the Saint Martinus dom. The liturgy was in Latin and the sermon and readings in Slovak. What an experience to be in this magnificent church. Bratislava used to be the capital of the Hungarian kingdom, till the Brits and the French turned it into part of the new Tsechoslovakia, after the first world war. Between 1563 and 1830 eleven Hungarian kings and queens were crowned in this church, including Maria Theresia.
I left the marina at 1.30 p.m. and made it to a very pleasant anchorage near a town ( I am not kidding…) named Horny Bar. That Sunday afternoon I passed through the last lock for another 900 k.m.s. till I get into Serbia. What a releive. Not only the hassle but the average 1 hour wait. So, that was one of the reasons I made such good distance yesterday. And with that prospect I figure that I’ll be done with the remaining 1651 k.m. by the end of September. There will be several days for stepping and repairing the mast in or near Sulina.
Unfortunately the weather has not been ideal for taking pictures here in the last few days.
I might have mentioned the book that Negley Farson wrote about his descent of the Danube in 1925, using the former Ludwig Canal and the Main River. He wrote the following about Budapest:
“You are now on the edge of Civilization” I was told in Vienna. Sitting down here in Budapest hearing the laughter and life of the gay evening parade on the Corso and seeing across the clean tree shaded Danube the stupendous grey pile of the Royal Palace I am wondering on which edge the meant. Surely the savants of Vienna knew what they were talking about this part of the world is their playground. Yet this city is infinitely more beautiful than Vienna, refreshingly cleaner and gives me a feeling of security, contentment and well being almost unknown in the Austrian capital. A writer has to watch his superlatives when describing this pearl of the Danube for Budapest seems to be the most adorable, bewitching and intoxicating city in Europe. It is all tha Vienna might have been and isn’t.”
I hope the Austrians do not take offense but so far I have not been disappointed in what I expected to find. Last night I saw the bridges illuminated and today I rode my bike to both sides of the Danube. I find it to have all the charms and impressive sights, wide boulevards, of  Paris, Buenos Aires and Washington D.C.  but the passing of the many different cultures and ownerships since the birth of Europe have left a distinct feeling and mark to this pearl on the Danube. I had been looking forward to see Budapest and very much enjoyed the visit to Bratislava. I still have much to look forward to before I reach Turkey.

 

August 27 in Bratislava, Slovakia

Friday, August 27th, 2010

I left Tulln Thursday morning at mid morning, after doing grocery shopping. It was a nice hot day. Just one lock before Vienna. One of the very few impolite boaters I met along the way, except the power tripper without their rear view mirrors, was right in line behind me for the lock. An Austrian. He would have heard me ask the lock keeper on which side the floating bollards were. He raced right around and in front of me and took the only floating bollard. I could have killed the idiot. He had just a light small power boat with two crew and I had a heck of a time because there was a fierce wind keeping me struggling on the individual changes down the 10 or more fixed bollards. When I complained he just ignored me. But then waiting for the next lock, in Vienna, there was Peter a Viennese 60 year old out taking videos of  me while I was waiting along the side for my turn. He gave me a bag full of tomatoes that he had just gathered in his sister’s garden. So, I did not even make a stop in Vienna. I have seen Vienna on several previous trips. Beautiful city but, frankly, I prefer the smaller places like Bratislava, Passau, etc.

Vienna has the worst Danube presentation of any city I have so far passed through. Very unattractive river front. Just a pack of tour boats and unattractive apartment and commercial buildings. On the left bank, which is a peninsula between the old Danube and the dammed Danube, there are male nudist showing off their tans to the occasional boaters like me and the commercial river traffic and the tourist boats. Weird.

There were not a lot of moorages to puck from beyond Vienna and it was getting late and the weather predictions were for possible lightning storms. The river current kept getting faster. I tried to enter into a couple spots that would have been out of the current but was unable to power back into the current. I picked an anchorage spot and for a while it looked that I was set. But then I saw the anchor slipping and next I was hitting bottom. The current pushed the boat over on its starboard side. I had no way to power off. I was just getting ready to call for a rescue. But then the current pushed the boat back into deeper water again. The Danforth just does not grab into a gravel bottom. So, I changed to the heavier plow anchor. And then, it was getting dark now, I saw an abandoned gravel pit loading area. Two tugs were parked inside. I managed to turn inside and then sighed relief. A friendly push boat captain let me raft onto his tug. Here I was for the first time again in a country where I do not speak the language. But Marosi Frantisek and I had a grand evening. We finished off a fifth of Cognac. We used pen and paper to make some conversation. He had just lost his 27 year old son. This morning he had breakfast ready for me. What a guy! Dakujen Pekne! He showed me his two 12 cylinder diesels and his generators are bigger than most small tugs would have as engines…. It is incredible what these guys push up the Danube in this roaring current. Just before my anchoring mishap I ran into Leendert Hoogendoorn on “Volonta”. He is Marinus’s older brother.  It looked like he was carrying a load of coal back down (to New Castle?). But I am not sure he knew who I was.

So I was just a half hour away from Bratislava, last night and I arrived in the marina just south of the city at 8 a.m. I rode the bike into town. There are no cycle paths and it is a bit scary on the main highways. Even in the city itself I have to use the sidewalks. As you all know I have been in more churches than all the Popes put together. But Saint Martin dome has to be one of the finest. The stained glass is exquisite. The treasure chambers with the altar ornaments and vestments worn by the cardinals and bishops that have served here over the centuries are very well preserved and exhibited. The below picture of the glass covered hole in the church floor, down to the burial caves, underneath the church, which can also be visited. I also show the contrast of the many old historic buildings that have been totally left in disrepair during the communist rule.

The vision in my right eye is still blurred and I have trouble making out the color of the red and green channel markers. I must try and find a repair job for it. I shall stay here till Sunday and hope to be able to make another trek into town on the bicycle for mass at St. Martin at 9 a.m. Then Budapest is only two/three days flush away. I plan spend a few days sightseeing Budapest. Seth has purchased my new lap top.

I am now at KM 1865. So, about 1/4 done on the Danube. I have done about 1/2 the distance of the approx 3400 k.m. journey. But this last part is much faster than the earlier part. I should be done and in the Black Sea, at this rate, by the end of September.

August 25 just 20 miles away from Vienna

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

I am 270 kms further since my last blog from Passau. Tomorrow I will be in Vienna. Today I made it to Danube k.m. 1963, in Tulln. Monday nigth I anchored at k.m. 2170 near Untermuehl. The moorage charges inn the marinas are steep. In Heining, by Passau, I paid 20 Euro. Tonight it is 21 Euroes. In Holland for an overnight it was usual nine Euro. So, I will be doing more anchoring. Anchoring is the best way to spend the night. Even with the wakes of passing traffic it is gentler on the boat than being tied up to a moorage. With the current the direction of the the scope is predictable. Last night I tried to go into a marina at Grein that was supposed to have a 2.5 meter draft, according to my cruising book, but I got stuck in the entrance and I doubt it was any deeper than 1.5 mtr. So, I just put the hook down at the city river front. See the below picture.  The scenery has been changing from  rolling hills to Alpine foothills to relatively flat country. Monday night,at Intermuehl I was surrounded by fairly steep hills. It was raining most of the night. Dark and still. I blew my Solomon Islands conch shell it echoed through the canyon and I was anticipating a reply by an Alpenhorn. Today, from the very scenic old city of Melk, there was a lot of river cruise boat traffic. This is a very scenic part and has a long stretch without locks, so ideal for river boats. But I have never ever encountered rougher water in all the oceans I have sailed. These river mavericks have absolutely no concern for any other traffic and plow a wake that keeps bouncing back and forth from the banks for ever. I took water through the hatch. The inside of the boat was a mess. I hobby horsed for ever and it just killed my forward motion even with the following current because these waves are so close together and so steep, unlike the barge traffic. Yesterday, while waiting for my turn to enter a lock, a cruise boat came out and threw a wake that threw the boat violently against the assigned mooring.  The next worst offenders are the careless stink potters who should be forced to install rear view mirrors to at least watch the mess they create. I keep meeting just great people. In Heining, another boater in the marina had this perfect anchor light kerosene storm lantern. I mentioned that I had been looking for one. The next day he left it for me and a bottle of kerosene. Albrecht, from Goettingen, and his Norwegian friend Stein, were done with their cruise. And then they also gave me their complete set of courtesy flags for the ten countries on the Danube. I believe I have finally parted company from the Austrian couple on “”Oliver””. Josef and Margiet. I saw their boat yesterday in a new marina in Vilshofen. My right eye is very slow healing and the vision remains blurred. But is draining less than before.

I am not planning to spend much time in Vienna and will probably not spend the weekend there.

Monday August 23rd Passau

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

With a little luck I will have a laptop again in the next two weeks. Seth and John have come to the rescue. Right now I am in an internet cafe in Passau. There is no way to add pictures because these computers do not allow USB connections.

I left Kelheim last Friday in the early afternoon after posting my last blog and getting fuel at the marina. I made it to Regensburg by early evening. I tried to get into the marina in downtown Regensburg. I had to double back against the current after passing through the locks. I had been warned that the current can run very strong under the old Steinbruecke. I was making very little progress but when I finally got to the Steinbruecke I started bouncing on the bottom. The sun was setting and blinded me and was unable to read my depthsounder, so I had to double back and find a spot further down river in the Regensburg Marina. The caretaker, Rolf, let me use his laptop for emails. Early in the morning I rode into Regensburg. I had the same problem there finding an internet connection with a USB port but I did find a good pharmacist who fixed me up with an ointment for the right eye and pills to fight the Herpes infections. In Nuernberg I tried to get an eye doctor to look at it but they did not take walk ins. It is getting better and less painful but has not cleared up yet and I have difficulty reading signs in the distance. I had wanted to stay the Sunday in Regensburg but it was such a nice day to travel that I decided to push on to Deggendorf. I passed through two locks the first was a 1 1/2 hour wait and the next took just twenty minutes. But still managed to make the 93 kms by 7 p.m. because my speed has now gone up, with the current, to about 16/18 kms per hour. The Austrian couple, Josef and Margiet, had arrived earlier in the same marina. We had a very nice evening there with some of the other members of the motor boat club. Bob and Lilly Berensen from the Schinkel YC had been there a few days earlier, according to the guest register. I will probably run into them when they come back to Kelheim from Vienna. I am not the first American sailboat to make this trip. A couple from Jacksonville took their 36 footer this route but since none of you have answered my earlier invitations I have now withdrawn them and go for the Guiness Book of Records as the first American to do it singlehanded as part of a singlehanded world circumnavigation. There are a few stranded dreams of boats for sale along my route, from people who have given up for different reasons. Like the boats you find in Neah Bay, San Diego, etc.

I went to mass in the beautiful old Pfarr Kirche in Deggendorf. Our Lady of the Assumption. The pictures will be added later. It has a gorgeous gold altar. The organist played well and fortisimo. It has been in the high seventies and people are playing all along the Danube´s shores. Swimming, water skiing, on the weekend. I spent about two hours with a very nasty dirty job. A few days I stopped to fix a cooling water problem. From a sailboat to stinkpotter I had now become a Steam Boat. After I took the pump apart and found nothing wrong it turned out that blowing on the water intake hose I had fixed the problem. But apparently the hot engine block had melted the corner of the plastic Vetus muffler and water had filled the engine bilge and spilled over into the cabin bilge. Fortunately I carried a spare muffler. Onward to Passau after pushing off after 4 p.m. I made it by 7.45 p.m. to Heining.KM 2232 There is no moorage in Passau and I took my bike into Passau this morning. I will be in Austria KM 2223 later this afternoon and then should be in Vienna KM 1935 this weekend.

Over the Hump! 20 August on the Danube, at last…

Friday, August 20th, 2010

I am in Kelheim and shall be in Regensburg this afternoon and plan stay there through Sunday. And I should be in Vienna by this weekend.

Right after I wrote the last blog, in Nuernberg, I had a boiwl of chicken soup in an Asian restaurant. Hoang, the Vietnamese waiter gave me a fortune cookie “Power Total, tolle Aussichten! Mit Ausdauer kommen Sie zum Zuge”  ” With your full energy you will have much to look forward to. if you persist you will reach your goal” I needed that chicken soup I felt sick and had a headache. The rain just was not going to stop and I had a couple major locks to get through yet and I wondered what I had begun in Amsterdam. I stayed another night in the Nuernberg Marina and slept 12 hours. In the first lock I was promised floating bollards but there was not enough room to attach to them with one large barge and another pleasure craft. I almost lost it because of the enormous force the water came in and then when the barge pulled out with his propeller wash I was unable to hold the bow line. Fortunately the power boat saw my predicament and straightened me out. Then they, Josef and Margiet, a very nice Austrian couple, agreed to let me to raft up in the next locks. And they were the largest and meanest of the entire trip but they did have the floating bollards. These locks were over 81 feet deep. My boat speed in the canal had gone up to 10 k.m. per hour and just enough to follow the barge and the Austrian couple into those last two uphill locks. Then we reached the highest point of this voyage 1375 feet above sea level and then the next three locks in the Main Danube canal are downstream which is a piece of cake and, with the exception of the last one, all have the floating bollards. So, what a relief! It is all downhill from now on and the Danube has only about 10 locks over its 2400 k.m. to the Black Sea.

The canal from the beginning till about k.m. 120 was not very interesting, mostly flat farm country. But the last 50 k.m. ran through the old Altmuehle river bed and the former Ludwig canal and it was more like the old villages and countryside along the Main. Here you run into the river cruise boats again and the camping places along the water´s edge. The weather has turned sunny at last and we are promised a few more and then back again to the same cloudy days.

In the last lock I follwed the Dutch barge “Wijkerzand” ?? turns out the skipper´s sister is married to Leendert Hoogendoorn, the older brother of Marinus of the “Glissando”, Leendert is ahead of me on the Danube on his barge.

Tuesday Aug 17 Nuernberg

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

I am really up the creek (Main Donau Canal inj this case) without a laptop. But I have niothing better today today than take the bus and the U-Bahn into downtown Nuernberg to find an internet connection. This is getting spendy since I cannot pre type it on my own laptop. So, the blogs will be shorter until I am healed again. And my emails will also be shortened.

Sunday was the feast of  Mary´s Assumption. I went to the small old village church in Viereth. The custom is to bless all the Herbs that people gather for the winter. The pews were decorated with them and large baskets full were placed  in front of the altar. Afterwards the herbs were being given away. There were about 50 of the men and women of the church all dressed in similar Bavarian costumes who distributed the blessed herbs.

I stayed the afternoon and night in Viereth. I wanted to change one of the injectors. Ever since I left Amsterdam the engine has been burning black smoke. But just before I got on with the nasty job I checked the oil and found it to be much lower than usual, so, I figure I am burning oil rather than passing unburnt fuel through the exhaust. Anyone out there with a suggestion?  The engine runs o.k. but the smell and soot is unpleasant. And oil is expensive here. I am just hoping that the little 30 year old Renault will make it to the Mediterranean.

 Thank God I made it all the way up the Main with its 34 locks and unusual strong current. I did about 65 kms on Monday on the Main Dona Canal. This is a new experience. I went through 6 locks and some of them were as deep as 61 feet…. It is dark down in there. I had one tight call where I almost lost my hold on the boat lines and the bollard in the locks. The water comes cascading in there in the beginning and then it calms down again. From now on the locks will be even deeper, some of them, but they will have floating bollards. So then I can take a couple wraps on them and not hav e to continuously have to adjust them and move from one attachment point to the next. In the 61 feet height there were as many as 20 changes. So I did 6 of the 16 on this canal, yesterday. I have the added advantage that I can now keep up with the slower moving barges. I now do about 8 1/2 k.m. per hour without the nasty current. And the barges usually are scheduled right through without waiting and I can move right in behind them.

It rained all night and most of this morning and it still does not look good so this is a good day to travel into town. Last night I had a drink with Patrick a retired French Physics professor on his motor boat. They are on their way back to Bordeaux from a cruise to Vienna. His daughter Anne and her friend Greg accompanied him on this part of the voyage. Patrick was born in Hanoi. His grandmother was Vietnamese.

Besides my gate crashing, bicycle dumping and the usual arm and hand injuries in the locks I am also inflicted one again with an infection in the same right eye. The reinflammation of the usual dormant herpes virus. It makes it difficult to read and see in the distance because the eye is draining and it hurts. The last couple of times it went away without medication. I believe the last time was in Cebu in the Philippines.

The article in the Main Post can be found at : http://www.cometosea.us/albums/MainPost.pdf spread the word to the German readers. I have asked the Friese Courant for a similar copy of their recent article about my visit to de Lemmer.

I figure that I´ll be on the Danube by this weekend. Only 105 k.m. to go. And probably stay the weekend in Regensburg.

I have asked John to help me purchase a new lap top for me but I have not heard back. Any other volunteers? I just do not have the way any longer to write a lot of emails to others or to surf the internet for a replacement. I have an

address in Vienna where it can be sent.

Saturday Evening Post from Bamberg

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

I arrived in Viereth by 1.30 Franz a member of the club and married to a Dutch lady took me into Bamberg to check on the laptops. Both are toast. But I can only buy a new one here with a German keyboard and that is a not an oiption for me. So, I´ll go shop on line and see if it can be sent post restante/general delivery to Vienna or possibly Passau.

I am now in an internet cafe and it takes a lot of money to sort my photos and write my blogs on internet cafe time.

Bamberg is truly a uniquely beautiful city. But I was a bit disappointed in the interior of the heralded Dom church. Very stark- I liked the Sankt Michaels better. It is a 12 k.m. bike ride from the boat to downtown Bamberg, so, I may opt for the local Viereth parish church for Sunday service. I took a nasty spill on the bike when I was trying to keep up my speed on a downhill section with a following uphill to the St. Michaels Kirche. I hit a curb and cut my face just above my right eye. And a few other scratches. Maybe a helmet is not such a bad idea after all. I´ve done without for 65 years and many thousands of bicycle miles.

Saturday 14 August in Eitmann

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

Only 14 k.m. left to go on the Main to Bamberg where the Main-Donau canal begins. The scenery on the Main was breathtaking but I often wondered what I had begun with the 34 locks and the 384 k.m. at the snail’s pace against the current. Each k.m. is marked along the river bank and at times the current slowed me down to 14 minutes per k.m. That is just slightly more than 4 k.m/hour… Pedestrians were passing me.

Friday the 13th brought me another setback. My trusty back up laptop, the Acer I bought in Capetown, three years ago, has given the spirit as well. It has been difficult to shut down and it stayed on all Thursday night and even thought the green light came back on after recharging it for hours it will not start up at all. So now what to do? I may need to buy a new laptop. But if I were ever to try and spend the money to recover the lost data on the HP laptop I might be better of trying to get it fixed, with the apparent broken  video card. I also happen to have an extra large battery for it that has come in handy at sea. Any digitally gifted readers that have a suggestion?

In my last blog I asked for your prayers for Martin and his mom on the “Roedel See*. It worked again. Danke Schoen! When I left the harbor in Wuerzburg they were casting off as well and I saw this proud skipper in the wheel house pass me on his way to Kitzingen to load for Rotterdam. They had been stuck in Wuerzburg since November without any income other than the 535 Euro monthly state pension of the mother.

The harbor fees in Wuerzburg were very expensive nearly 20 euroes. But the next Wednesday night I stayed for free along the river quay in Marktbreit at k.m. 277. This is a gorgeous old town with a river running through it into the Main. But I arrived late and too dark for photos. Thursday morning it rained hard. That evening I again had free moorage on the city front of Schweinfurth at k.m. 332.  Two local cops showed up in the locks before Schweinfurth and I was sure they came to check my papers but they were just interested in what I was doing and where I was going. One of them, Adie. showed up, changed into civilian clothes when I was mooring in S-furth and he told me that he had told a friend who is a reporter for the Main Post about me. He showed up a few minutes later. The article is to show in today´s issue. He promised to send me a digital copy and I will let the German readers know when I get it. The journalist took me for a Heffenweizen beer next door from my parking spot. S-furth was practically totally destroyed in the 2nd WW. It is the home for the worlds three biggest roller bearing factories. It has been rebuilt but many cities in Germany have done a better job in rebuilding in the historic styles.

Bamberg will be a sight to see. And I plan to go to mass tomorrow at the old Kaiser Heinrich dome church.

A club member at the Y.C. where I am parked now lets me use his computer in the local Ford agency. He has given me lots of good information on the Main Donau canal that I sorely needed.  The heavy mist after last nights showers is starting to lift now and I shall be be on my way.

11 August Wuerzburg

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

After my last report from Stadtprozelten I had to get fuel from the nearby gas station. As is quite common in Europe they are often unattended and self serve with debit cards. But it would not take any of my cards.  Fortunately another kind German boater went with me back to the station and paid with his card and I gave him cash. So, I did not get underway till 2 p.m. and then made it to Wertheim/Bettingen marina, 24 k.m. The marina was part of a large camping complex. One section, the short stay, were all Dutch tourists on their way back from Austria and beyond. The river has become even more scenic, flowing through farmlands, meadows, wooded fringes and the steep hill sides with their vineyards are further away from the river. The narrower parts of the river have slowed me down even more with stronger currents. Monday I was able to put in a 14 hour day and made it to Wernfeld at K.M. 216 or better than half way of the 384 k.m. Main voyage. But it was getting dark by then and it turned out that the yacht club had no room for me, so, I had no other choice but to put the hook down, for the first time on this river trip. It worked out fine. The boat lay perfectly still along the bank, which was only about 20 feet away. There were two village clocks that almost simultaneously chimed off the hours, so that I was frequently reassured, while in my bunk, that the boat was still in the same location and not drifting down across the previously passed spill dam. In the early morning, when I tried to start the engine, there was not even a click. I had to hand start, which this time worked after just three hard pulls.  The trains tracks follow the river and the freight trains pull just one commodity, cement mixers, containers and the longest of all is the beer train. I arrived at Wuerzburg, one of the largest cities on this Main voyage, at near 2 p.m. I stopped at the fuel barge that was listed in my river guide, but they only sell to commercial barges. The book also suggested that the fuel barge had a marine store. And I needed to find a new starter button for the boat. They suggested that I go into the city commercial harbor and tie up to a barge called “Roetelsee”, who has been here in the harbor for some time repairing it”s engine. I could not have been at a better address. The young skipper, Martin, was able to help me better than an experienced marine mechanic. He isolated the starter problem right away and he also had the parts for it and at the same time fixed my kill switch problem, that I had attempted to fix in Amsterdam. And then he helped me get fuel. Next I went to a nearby Computer repair shop to fix my HP laptop problem. They suggested that I put the hard drive back in that the people in Florida put in and then was replaced in Hoorn, with a genuine HP hard drive. Martin turned out to be an expert on computers as well and he found that none of the two hard drives work any more and that I have a bad graphic card. So, I managed to get my motor problems solved and the lap top problem analyzed. Yesterday I made good time because the two locks I went through were open and ready when I showed up. So, instead of at least an hour”s delay it was more like 20 minutes per lock. Also I am getting a little less anxious about the deep slippery caverns.  Oh, I forgot to mention that Martin lets me use his internet connection. Say a prayer for this fine young man that he finds a cargo to get out of here. His ship was built in the town I stayed the second night on the Main, in 1925. But the cargoes are hard to find now and prices have dropped much because of  the economy and many shippers stay away from older vessels for insurance reasons. He runs the ship with just his mid seventies mother. His father passed away two years ago.

Sunday Morning Aug 8 Stadtprozelten

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

I am not sure when this will make it on the web site. Of all the countries I have travelled Germany rates as one of the least wireless accessible. About the only public access is in the
the few Turkish cafes where the men play checkers and card games and in the back they have a couple booths with ancient PC’s where they do not let you use your own lap top. In this town they do not even have the Turkish Booths. There is a large camping operated by the marina I am in right now and they have no internet. Practically every marina and camping in Holland and France have wireless available.
So, where is Jack? I did better yesterday than on the first day on the Main when I did only 40 k.m. Friday I got to Erlenbach at KM 101.2, Through 5 locks. I was getting better at the locks, till the last one. I was the only boat in this enormous lock, about 12 x 300 mtr ( 40 x 1000 feet) and the rise is about 18 feet. They started filling the lock before I was properly tied up. Usually there are two large barges ahead of me and they absorb some of this enormous cascade of water that pours in from the front end. It takes a lot more water to fill the lock without these monster barge displacements to fill the lock. So, I am unable to hold the bow into the rush of water and the boat goes sideways in the locks, the mast is longer than the lock is wide. What to do? I ended up giving up on trying to  pull the bow around and cranked the engine up and centered the boat in the lock and kept the boat from bouncing off the walls.
But my trials were not over yet and I should have skipped this Friday all together.
I arrived around 7 p.m. at Erlenbach. A very nice marina and pretty spot. I wanted to get a few groceries and the store in the village was open till 8  o’clock. I took off on my folding bike. When I got to the marina gate it opened automatically but then it also came down hard on my head in the next instant. It threw me off the bike and I it the ground hard and cut my lip, my left hip is sore and I have a few more scratches. But the worst was that it infuriated me why no one warned me or had a sign up. On my way back I showed it again to one of the club members what the gate does to a bicycle. Apparently it works fine on automobiles but there is really no other way to get through with a bike or a motor bike. After I got back from the town I gave the harbor master a piece of my mind but he did not even give me an apology. I look like I was on the losing end of a street fight. After I gathered my self from the ground I took the wrong turn to the town and ended up seeing the store close a minute before I got to it. Then I went to the only internet cafe. The bartender offered to let me use his password to get on the internet. Then I realized that I should have skipped this Friday all together because next my fine HP laptop decided to crash once again. This time it prompts me to reinstall Windows and then it just so happens that the people in Florida who replaced the crashed hard drive just put one of their Windows VISTA versions back on. So, I have nothing to reinstall the software with. And this is the last place in the world to get some help. But I have my old Acer laptop and I backed up the HP laptop only two weeks ago on my external drive.

The weather on Friday was still cloudy and an occasional shower. But this has all changed today. My departure Friday morning was delayed because of a heavy mist but once this burnt off it was a beautiful sunny warm day.
The landscape has changed. I am now going through the higher hills of Hessen, through the forest of Spessart. The river winds in all directions through the valleys. At one time I am heading south and a little later I am heading north east.
I passed a couple of towns I would have loved to be able to explore, Hanau, Afschaffenburg, Freudenberg and Miltenberg. But I am starting to find out that the places for me to stop often are not deep enough for my six foot draft. Most of the marinas are designed to accommodate small power boats. And that was also the reason that I stopped today at 4 pm. at Stadtprozelten at KM 144, because there is nothing where I can fit further away before dark. But it turned out to be a good stop. A charming historic spot. I climbed up to the ruins of the 17th century Henneburg fortification. A great view of the Main river and the Spessart forests. I plan to attend 10.30 mass at the old  Sankt Vitus church.
It is Sunday morning now. It has been raining steadily and I fear that this will mean more adverse current on the Main River.
Well, no church service for me. I found a closed door here at the local church. Turns out the service is held alternately in Stadtprozelten and Dorfprozelten. With my luck this week I ended up at the right pew but the wrong church. Dorfprozelten is too far away to get there on time.

The sun is coming out once again and I’ll be on my way. The marina manager is letting me hook up my external drive to his p.c. I might end up going as far as I can and then stay on anchor for the night.

If I had known the challenges of this trip I might have opted for another route. It is a dream for the eyes the river, old villages and castles, the water fowl, etc. But the same discovery as I had doing my first inland cruise on the Chesapeake Bay in 2007. On the ocean voyages I love the long passages by myself and when ashore I am always meeting fellow travellers with whom we have common grounds. But on the Chesapeake and on the Main I am a strange Duck among the freshwater fowl.  Sharing the experience with someone else would make a big difference. In 2008 I met Lynne on the Chesapeake and we had a great time together later on the Intra Coastal Waterway. Sharing the story with all of you in this blog and getting some of your reactions keep me going and I am certain that I’ll be an experience richer by the time I reach the Black Sea. Yesterday things went much better in the locks. I finally figured out why I could not talk to the tenders on the portable VHF/marifoon. There is a switch for USA and International. Now I ask the tenders to be sure that I am hooked up before they open the sluice gates. The way the locks are set up it actually takes only one person to tend the lines because the posts for the lines are at least over 100 feet from each other so I center the bow and stern line on the same cleat. But it would be nice to have another hand to push of the bow or stern, when needed.

Anyway, if anyone cares to spend part of  the trip with me there are some good deals now on flying to Europe. See, for example,
http://www.tripadvisor.com/Flights-g188590-o60878-Seattle_to_Amsterdam.html