With grandchildren to Wien and Bratislava

So much has been happening the last two weeks that I didn´t have time and energy to write my weekly blog last week. Today is July 30th and I have some restful days in a peaceful marina, MYCB, outside Bratislava, where there will be a new change of crew. It is now almost two months since this adventurous trip began in Lagarde, France, and I am for the first time feeling some tiredness from this boat-life, always going to new places and with new crews every week to be instructed and taken care of and a sometimes failing engine which also needs daily care. Your position on rivers and canals are always in kilometers. For Donau it is the number of kilometers left before it reaches the Black Sea. My position in Bratislava is km 1870, which means that we have done 540 km during our three weeks on the Donau but also that there are 1870 km left before I can raise the mast and set sails on the Black Sea. So I can well need some rest now to recharge the batteries for new adventures and challenges to come.

From Linz, where I finished my last blog, there was a five-day-trip to Wien, now with three teenagers as Joyce´s and my crew, my grandchildren Agnes, 16, and Christoffer, 13, joining Gustaf, 15. So the boat became then quite a boisterous place with those great kids, so full of energy. There was a lot of swimming in the harbors and of course every night cardgames, which always has been the tradition when these kids are sailing with grandpa. We had another heat-wave this week, which we enjoyed, especially as we could be cooled down in the coolish Danube water (except Joyce who had a real hard time with the heat). And the Donau gave us an abundance of magnificent views of the landscape, some parts wild wooden hills (see picture with captain by the rudder),
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other parts as in Wachau, the wine district, with hills filled with vineyards and lovely towns and villages (see picture)
There was a series of big locks, the kids did a good job there and all went smoothly. (see picture).
In Krems Joyce and I celebrated our 4th anniversary by staying on a modern hotel with AC, a blessing for Joyce indeed in the heat-wave and a good relaxation for me too. And here is a lovely picture with my crew on a sunset walk along the Donau in Tulln, the last stop before Wien.
Then we spent six whole days in Wien, where we stayed at the Marina Wien, a comfortable place with a restaurant and the subway close, expensive (38 €/night, the other marinas seldom over 20 €/night) but well worth it. Here we had another small change of crew when Gustaf left us (see picture)
and Agnes´s boyfriend Philip joined us. In Wien we of course made the most important touristy things, of which Schuberts last little room in his brothers apartment where he died at age 31 and his brothers piano where he made some of his great last masterpieces was a high point for me – thank you, Schubert for giving me so much help to join sorrow and joy (see picture).
But also Kunsthistorisches Museum with Raphael magically beautiful picture of ”Madonna in the Meadows” (see picture),
two charming Mozart-and Strauss-concerts and a lunch at the Donauturm (Danube Tower) with a revolving restaurant and a magnificent view of the city were all well worth the Wien-visit.

But there was another big event that took most of my energy in Wien. My mast, 150 kg heavy and 13,4 meters long, had been delivered there from Travemünde, Germany, where I left it a year ago. This has saved us from having the mast on deck in all af these 400 locks, where it would have been very vulnerable. But it also took a great cost, 2000 USD for the transportation, the biggest expense of the whole trip. Worth it? Maybe. And there at the Marina Wien it had been delivered and was waiting for me. I had now the task to build a construction for it on deck, good enough to last to the Black Sea and comfortable enough to live with for a month. Construction is not an easy game for me but I had gotten good advice from a very good handy-man, Lennart. Now it involved getting the material (timber, screws and good straps to hold it) from Bauhaus, a huge hard-ware-store, which meant renting a truck for the transportation. And then measuring, sawing and drilling and mounting it. A sign that it created some stress for me was that these days I woke up at 5 in the morning instead of my usual 7.30. It was indeed quite a challenge to get it right, especially for not to making it interfere with the cover over the cockpit, which is badly needed for protection from rain and sun. But I got it done and on the picture you can see the result together with the happy crew, Christoffer, Philip and Agnes.
In Wien, Joyce left me for a couple of nights that she will spend with his son Sam in a fancy hotel before they will join me in Bratislava. I and the teenagers went on toward Bratislava, a day trip from Wien. The first big waves from the big boats showed some instability of the construction, which we corrected. After the lock in Wien the Donau became far more violent than before, with a strong current, taking us at more than double speed downstream, eleven knots instead of five, which means a current of six knots! This is definitely a current too strong for my boat to manage upstream, which is why there is no way we can go the same way back. There was no problems to navigate and we were expecting an early arrival in Bratislava had we not run into problems. The cooling system of the engine had earlier shown some signs of failing but now suddenly it failed seriously and the temperature of the engine went high up to dangerous levels. I had to stop the engine but we could make good speed all the same with the current. Thing was, though, that we had to find a place to tie up the boat to let the engine cool down and work on the problem – probably a stop in the intake of cooling water around the propeller. I found a possible small harbor in Hainburg close to the Slovakian border, and had to use the hot engine quite forcefully to be able to get out of the strong current to get into the harbor. It went well, the harbor was luckily deep enough for us and we managed to tie up the boat alongside another ship. After some diving down to the propeller of me and Philip we found a possible cause to the problem in weeds entangled in the propeller. It would be possible now when the engine had cooled down and there came some water through through the exhaust pipe to go the rest of the way down to Bratislava but it had now become too late in the evening. So we stayed the night in our emergency harbor, fortunately with a restaurant close with ice-cream for the kids. Next day we went on low rpm without problem to this peaceful marina outside Bratislava, which I mentioned in the beginning of this blog. It is run by a family and includes a restaurant, where we had a good and cheap dinner yesterday. And today: a farewell to a great crew and a night alone till Joyce and Sam comes.

Author: nilsassarson

Retired child psychiatrist but still working part-time. I am recently married to an american woman and we are living halftime in Stockholm, Sweden halftime in Palo Alto, Ca, USA. Have three kids and nine grandkids from earlier marriage.

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