short distance up-river from the Romanian port of Drobeta Turnu Severin, 927 kms
from the mouth, the Danube is squashed in a series of gorges known simply as The
Iron Gates. In Romanian they are Portile de Fier and in Serbian on the
opposite bank they are Derdap. The foothills of the Carpathian mountains
are on the right and the Balkan mountains on the left
Morrison with John Marriner on his motor yacht September Tide ' As
we prepared to leave Turnu Severin in September 1966 our thoughts were varied.
The current upstream was notorious and John Marriner was concerned for the
safety of September Tide and for us, the crew. I was anxious to get some
exciting film and to see the island of Ada Kaleh destined be drowned when the
Iron Gate dam was completed. A River Pilot was obligatory and we were joined by
Alexander Damaschin from Orsova a small, historic town about 26 kms up-river.
[Orsova was flooded as the waters rose and a New Orsova was built]
first hazard, the true Iron Gate was the most infamous. As you can see the gorge
was not pronounced as some writers have said and the danger came from the river
racing over hardly submerged rocks. The Iron Gate was an obstacle for shipping
for centuries and late in the 1880s' some of the rocks were cleared allowing a
two kilometer open route along the now Serbian shore. The cleared passage or Sip
Canal as it was known after the nearby village of Sip had a steam locomotive to
pull ships through against a current running often more than 15 kph..
Alexander arranged for a tug in Gura Vaii [translated as the' mouth of the
valley']. It was a small place and it was drowned like others by the rising
water. At Gura Vaii we were roped to the side of the Portile de Fier for
the journey to Orsova.'