I Paid the Ferryman Before He Got Me to the Other Side

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The Harbour in Hamburg. What? This isn’t Waterford. Not even the same country! Stink’in Ferryman

Yes, I know; “don’t pay the ferryman until get gets you to the other side!

A little wear and tear
A little wear and tear

How many times have I heard that sage advice in the last 30 years, certainly more than a thousand!

But you know me, follow convention, but with a twist. OK maybe more than a twist.  Maybe simply unconventional, so of course, I will try to see what will happen if I dare to pay the ferryman too soon.

What’s the worst that could happen I asked myself?

Dauntless being hauled in New Ross
Dauntless being hauled in New Ross

Well, the worst happened.

Dauntless sits naked in Ireland, out of the water in the boatyard in New Ross; with her bottom is full view for everyone to see. I hope there are no Kennedy’s around to see her.

Her hull and keel do show some signs of rubbing on harder things than herself.  The red splotches are old anti-fouling paint showing through.  It’s clear that the new stuff on top stuck not so well.

The work this winter will be repairing those places were the fiberglass (GRP) is showing, as well as patching the numerous nicks and gouges the gelcoat and rub rail acquired since leaving Rhode Island.

Dauntless is very good hands in the New Ross Boatyard.  Stephen, Michael, Tomas and Gary are both caring and meticulous.  They will get done what needs to be done at a price I can afford.  I’m fortunate I found them.  It just adds to the great experience I’ve had in Ireland. Virtually every interaction I’ve had in Ireland has ranged from good to great.  Even going through security at the airport in Dublin is an almost pleasant experience.

Berfranks Cafe on the Quay
Berfranks Cafe on the Quay in Waterford

So the worst part of the Krogen being out of the water is that I will not spend as much time this winter in Ireland or Waterford.  I’ll miss that. Waterford is a great town, full of wonderful, warm people.  I’ll miss the bakers, the butcher, my barber, Aiofe (see the link for the background of that name, http://www.visitireland.com/aboutireland/normans.asp) Berfranks Café, a delightfully cozy little place,

Carmel, Peter & Joan at their dry cleaners/laundry, the guy playing the flute with his dog outside Dunn’s and all the others I see routinely that makes Waterford such a nice place to be.

So now, all of a sudden, I find myself in Germany. Why not. I had a week to kill before going back to America and flying Ryan Air is relatively cheap. (I actually visited Ryan Air during my stint as Product Manager at Jeppesen in the late 90’s.   We were already giving them weather forecasts for the Galapagos, so I was on the hunt for more sources of weather data for that part of the Pacific.)

No Comment

I’m in Hamburg; it’s been 30 years since the last visit.  Much like New York, it’s traded its edginess for gentrification or better yet, Disneyficatin, which makes the whole family want to visit.  The rough and tumble seaport (think Amsterdam) that made it quite different than the rest of the large German cities, is now tamed.

The hardnosed seagoing folk have been replaced by the engineers of Airbus, with Airbus’ second largest (after Toulouse) workforce here in Hamburg.

Flying down the autobahn at 100 mph, on my way to the home of friends I met this summer in Riga with their sailboat Bagatell, I thought about how my life has evolved.  I used to live for fast cars.  I did the passing, hardly ever having to yield to a faster car.  Now, even at 100 mph, I ‘m content to stay out of the left lane, as cars much faster pass, even SUV’s going over 140 mph.

OR maybe it’s not me that’s changed, but simply the circumstances, knowing that this poor rental car doesn’t have much beyond 110 in it in any case.

Another nice feature of the roads in Germany is that in addition to the normal rest areas, with gas, food, etc. every 30 to 40 miles, they have little rest stops, just parking places every few miles.  These spots are sometimes quite near the road, but also there are some a few hundred feet way with NO lights.  In other words, dark, enabling a tired driver to get some sleep.  Being far enough form the road, the noise was also minimal.  Now, I wouldn’t be going for a walk there, but to have a peaceful place to stop was really nice.

Important facts About Waterford

So, I was able to sleep a few hours and got to my friend’s house at 07:30 in the morning, feeling relatively good.

I’ll go to England on Tuesday, also visiting English sailors I met in Riga.  Then it back to Dublin and NYC next week.

 

Coming up:  The Hamburg Boat Show and the Future.

Not deep; but deep enough
Not deep; but deep enough

 

 

Italy, Holland, Germany and the Tower Incident

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THe Tower on Ruden

Sort of like the “Bedford Incident” but without Sidney Poitier, or a submarine or the drama, but let’s start at the end.

So, I just had a little conversation with the conductor of the train taking Ivan to Berlin for his plane to Venezia.  The fact that I could have this conversation in German reminds me how comfortable I am in Germany, in spite of a few glitches and now being locked in a tower.

This past year, having Dauntless in Ireland, afforded me the opportunity to spend much more time with my old friends in Italy, the Netherlands and now, new friends in Germany. Since September, I’ve spent five weeks in Holland and three weeks each in Italy and Germany. The most time in many years.  I do like Germany, maybe not as much as Italy or Ireland, or Holland, or Spain, or …, but I do like it.

I have some wonderful friends from Germany and being here this long actually makes me miss them more, but that’s a saga for a different day.

So it is with an understanding eye that I relate my incident in the tower.

Let’s set the scene.

For the last week Dauntless has been in the company of about 20 boats, all members of the Cruising Association which is headquartered in London.  We are doing a week long “rally” in Eastern Germany and into Poland.  I figured it would be a good way for me to wet my feet, figuratively, but hopefully not literally, for my first ever trip to Poland.

While all these travels are new to me by boat, before I became a boat based gypsy, I was certainly a car based gypsy and travelled extensively all over Europe, but never Poland or the Baltic Republics.

So on a windy, but sunny day, our little band of boats set off for Kroeslin from Stralsund, with a small stop for those who are interested on the island of Ruden.

Dauntless on Ruden
Dauntless on Ruden

Now, one pleasure I get out of being on a tour organized by others is that I don’t have to do any thinking.  I don’t have to worry about bridge opening times nor actual routes.  In fact, it was only after I was tied to the wall, just outside the little, very little harbor of Ruden that I realized only about half a dozen boats made this detour to check out Ruden.

OK, I was here now, so I figured I may as well traipse down the dusty path and check out the watch tower that looked south over the V1 and V2 rocket development area of Peenemunde and later as the observation post to make sure no one left the people’s paradise known as the Deutsche Democratic Republic (DDR).  It’s actually comical to write that.  You have to hand to the commies; they certainly have a sense of humor.

So, there was Dauntless, right at the entrance to the harbor, flying not one, but two Stars and Stripes, with of course the German flag, a large one mind you and my newest addition, a Kadey Krogen flag thanks to the great people in their Seattle office.

Thus while I was securing the lines and then changing from by boating clothes to my walk a dusty path clothes, a little German boat, carrying maybe six people came in and tied up in the inner harbor in a spot reserved just for them.

One of the Displays of a B-17 Over Germany
One of the Displays of a B-17 Over Germany

So an hour later, I find myself walking down the dusty path, past the island caretaker’s house, past the 1960’s style barracks, though it could be 1930’s, it’s hard to tell in the DDR, with not a soul in sight.

On the path just in front, I pass a German coming from the tower and figure he was with that little boat that came in after me.

The tower is basically a four floor, 20 feet by 12 feet structure.  Each floor had one room looking south towards Peenemunde.

Now, while I was alone in the bulding, I was making noise.  Under such circumstances, I usually talk to the photos and ask them questions.  I don’t get many ansers though. I was also humming a tune; rather loudly as no one was about and it turned out the tune was from the Victory at Sea soundtrack done by RCA Victor and Robert Russell Bennett.  It had been in my head for a few days as I had played it after some arduous crossing.  At the time, I had no idea what particular track I was humming, but did discover later it was “D-Day”.

On each floor they had some information on the wall about the history of the island and one floor was about the war years. There was a photo of a B-17 in flight over Peenemunde.  Now my German is not so great, but I could glean from the explanation, that they were not thanking the B-17s for liberating them from the madman who was Hitler.

And I really had no idea the tune I was humming was titled “D-Day”.

Really, I didn’t.

Having walked to the top floor, I figured I may as well go one more flight up to the open air roof.

It was open air and it was the roof.  30 seconds later, feeling my duty was done, I go down to the ground floor, but realize something is different; it’s dark.  The metal door, which had been propped open when I had entered, was closed.

I actually went to look for the stairs to go down one more floor thinking I had forgotten how I came in.

Nothing.  I go UP one floor, maybe I was in the basement?  No, I can see I’m two stories up.

The German Boat
The German Boat with Tower in the Background

I go back to the metal door, which I had tried to open initially.

I try harder this time, now 98% sure it was the door I came in, I push really hard and see that there is a chain holding the doors closed.  I push harder. Nothing.

Now, at this point, I am not panicked; but simply perplexed.  I am still thinking I had possibly come in some other entrance.

Now, folks, this is a simple building.  We’re not talking Taj Mahal.  So, I realize that someone has chained me in the place.

OK, I check out the windows.  Not only are they bolted closed, but the first floor has those iron gates covering them.  I do see an English couple walking up, so I go wait for them and they confirm that the chain is padlocked.

Now, my phone is on the boat.  Who would I be calling on this island?

I thought to myself, maybe I should have brought my chain cutter with me. The fact that it weighs 20 pounds and is three feet long was probably the main reason I didn’t.  I also am not sure why I even bought it, as I can never remember using it.  Maybe I bought it for just this occasion?

No, brute force will be my last resort.

Free at Last, Free at Last
Free at Last, Free at Last, the Eyebolt hanging down with the nut I put back

I look at the door and the eye bolt the chain is connected to on the outside has one nut holding it in place.  I pull on the end of the bolt hoping to relieve the pressure and maybe I can get the bolt off.

I do; it does and I unbolt the eye bolt.

Push it through and I am as free as a bird.

I consciously put the nut back on the bolt.

I start walking back to Dauntless, who is probably now wondering what is taking so long on this forlorn island.

Just before the harbor, I pass one of the Germans I had seen earlier, now sitting on a bench waiting, watching or maybe just plain resting.

He smiles. And it all becomes clear.

His smile gives him away.  He gives me that mischievous smile that explains the whole situation to me at a glance.

I give him my “we’ve beat you twice and we could do it again” smirk and continue down the path, back to Dauntless with her two American flags standing straight out in the brisk wind.

I’m proud to be an American.

And, I really didn’t know the tune was titled, “D-Day”

 

 

 

 

Dauntless’ Spring & Summer 2015 Cruise Plans

Currently Dauntless is wintering over in Waterford, Ireland, a wonderful town in the southeast of the country, full of really nice, interesting, outgoing people.  Ireland has so exceeded my expectations, it will be hard not to return next winter, but we have six months of exploring and cruising before that decision must be made.

Dauntless in Waterford November 2014
Dauntless in Waterford November 2014

As of now, I am subject to the 90 days out of 180 days Schengen Visa requirements.  Worst case, this means I can only be in the Schengen area for 90 days and I would then plan those 90 days to be 1 June to 1 Sept.   There is a possibility that the Schengen area countries will offer a 180 day Visa in the near future.  That clearly would solve my issues and I could stay in the Schengen area for April, May and September.

Ireland, Scotland, the U.K. and the Channel Islands are all out of the Schengen area.

So worst case, only 90 days,is once I leave Ireland in the spring, stopping in France and Belgium only for a week or so, before retreating to the Channel Islands.  Then by the end of May, start heading east, first into Holland, then Germany ending up in Gdansk by mid-July, starting our Baltic explorations as described below.

Spring and Summer 2015 Cruise Plan

When Where What
March Waterford, Ireland Prepare Dauntless for the cruising season
Early April Depart for France/Belgium Channel Islands, enter French Canals, Dunkerque-Escaut, in NE France or go to Belgium direct
April, May France/Belgium or Channel Islands Explore NE France & Belgium Canals, subject to our Air Draft of 4.5m
June Head NE, Belgium, Holland and Germany Find the most interesting route to the Kiel Canal, the Baltic adventure begins
End of July Germany and Poland Eastern Germany and Poland, Gdansk last two weeks of July
August Baltic Republics Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Finland. Russia?
September The Baltic or the North Sea Finland, Sweden, Baltic Republics, Russia???
October Winter Haven? Returning to Ireland ,Scotland or the Orkney’s

 

Could This Be Heaven?

Sunday Morning Sunrise Savannah Georgia
Sunday Morning Sunrise Savannah Georgia

But once you start to think it is; it won’t be.  It’s also the title of one of my most favorite songs, “Could This Be Heaven?” by Original Mirrors.  Released in 1980, I heard it for the first time in 1982 while in Germany. I taped it from SWF3, Südwestfunk drei, still one of the best rock stations of all time.  They played a wonderful mix of American, English and European songs in the style of the original album FM stations of NYC in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s.

But I digress, being in the car, listening to certain songs, is almost like having a time machine. I am transported instantly to the time and place where that particular song had an impact.  In this case, it’s 1983, I’m driving between my home near Pirmasens to Baden Baden and I am taking these very small roads through the Alsace of France (which is really German, just look at the town names).  I loved this route, little traffic, little hassle at the border and some great roads, through beautiful forests and medieval towns.  But the best part was the driving, flat out for the most part, especially once I got off of B10.

In France, there was a particular spot that I knew well, as it was quite technical.  The road had a little rise, that caused the car to almost get airborne, but it also curved right in the middle.  So one had to set up the car knowing where you were going to come down.  And while the car did not get airborne, it was so light on the suspension that it was only going to go where you pointed it when it took off.

Every time I hear, Could This Be Heaven?” I am brought to that place, and the joy I felt when I took ti perfectly.  I had Canadian friends at the Canadian Air Base at Baden Baden, so for a while I was taking this trip monthly.  It was heaven.

But then, so why did I leave?

Three years earlier, I was listening to another song, not as dramatic, nor as catchy, but for me, somehow it epitomized my year.  I had fallen hard for a married woman, but she was a good catholic and wasn’t going to change anything, even though she wasn’t very happy.  I remember walking on the flight line at Ramstein to say goodbye and the tune on SWF3 was “American Music” by Prism.

“American music you can hear it all over the world. Right now somewhere this minute there’s a radio playin on And it’s playing that rhythm and blues…”

I was the one leaving, having to return to the U.S. It took me quite a while to get over her, and this pretty upbeat song, always brought a sadness and even now, 34 years later, I still get wistful.

This brings me back to the point of this story.  As Brad pointed out in his comment, in Quantum Mechanics, you can know a time or a place, but not both.  Once you decide you are deliriously happy, Fate will intervene.  I’ve had too many deliriously happy months that took years to recover from.  The pain was so out of proportion to the actual loss.  Shirley, the woman mentioned above was a friend, a genuine nice person and so very faithful,much to my chagrin.  The sense of loss I experienced was so out of proportion to the actual loss.

So now on Dauntless, I am living the life that I have planned.  I’m content knowing that I am not deliriously happy.

Now, if only I had a cat.