In Bratislava we had a new change of crew: the happy kids left me and took a bus to Vienna airport. Joyce and Sam came from Vienna with Uber. We then had a lovely but hot day in Bratislava, a very charming city, with a well preserved old town without cars and outdoor restaurants everywhere. I also climbed up, despite the heat, to the impressing castle and got a magnificant view of Donau, the five bridges and the fresh new-built suburbs of Bratislava.
Slovakia is a small country, only half the size of Sweden in population, but is evidently thriving after it became a separate country 1993, when Tjeckoslovakia was divided into Tjeckien and Slovakia.
Then came the first day for Sam on the boat and it unfortunately became a very stressful one. First the front part of my construction for the mast gave in because of some big surges, scary for the crew of course but fortunately no big deal as the front of the mast landed and got good and safe support at the bow (see picture).
Then the problem with the cooling system continued, which meant that I had to go in slow speed, slow indeed as a long part of the day was the canal into the big lock Gabcikovo with no current and the wind against us. I even had to stop the engine a couple of times so the engine could cool down. The lock went well, though, with its swimming bollards and Sam on one of the ropes in his first (and probably last) lock. The day was hot, in the 90-ies, I was stressed by the engine problem an my crew was quite fed up when we arrived at a marina in Komarno, Slovakia after the longest day of the trip, 10 hours. Sam then decided to stay at an hotel to get a good night´s sleep and I was sad that for the first time on the trip my crew had had a really bad experience of life on my boat. The next day was not any better as the problem of the cooling-system continued and we decided to tie up after a couple of hours at a deserted restaurant-ship (see picture).
I had a consultation with a mechanic in Budapest and Sam went into the village and managed to get hold of a local mechanic. He was a nice man who seemed to know his job well and after a couple of hours he managed to get the cooling system to work much better well to my great relief. Sam gave up boat-life at this point and went to a hotel in Budapest but Joyce and I started with renewed hope the next day toward Budapest. But alas, the relief was short, the cooling system deteriorated again. Through a dramatic beautiful landscape with high hills (see picture of Visegrad with its castle)
we managed still to go all the way to the Wiking Marina in Budapest, where the mechanic who had promised to help me was waiting.
Now we got some really good days in Budapest, which is an exciting and very beautiful city. We had a nice dinner at an Hungarian restaurant with music (see pictures).
Joyce now left me and the boat to go with Sam to Berlin and then back to Stockholm. She is really not a boat-person and had heroically endured nine weeks of the discomfort of boat-life, just to be with me and make this great adventure possible. Of course she had enjoyed many parts of it but now she was really ready to leave. I will for ever be grateful, Joyce, for your endurance!
To Budapest came now my grandchildren Johan and Sofia to become my new crew. (see picture with Donau in the background). The mecanics have been working very professionally with my engine problems, found that the water pump of the cooling system was failing and ordered a new one, which hopefully will arrive today. August 8th. So tomorrow we will leave Budapest after some delay, heading for Croatia and Serbia.