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Anthem Adrift
As It Should Be
12/20/2009, Past Rio Magdalena, Colombia

Dorado Dinner

December 20

Seems counterintuitive that we would be getting a counterclockwise countercurrent. Glad to have countermanded previous orders and took countermeasures last night to increase speed so as to encounter flotsam from the Rio before dark. Counterparts on Inspiration Lady were counted on to engaged in countervailing activity to counterbalance foul current as well. It would be counterproductive to produce any more of this twaddle.

We slew a second dolphin which, along with remains of first, was pan fried in Italian bread crumbs and eaten for early dinner. Copious leftovers and chubby tuna caught while crew washed dishes now reside in the frig awaiting future repast.

Unexpected north wind materialized at 1400 allowing conversion of craft into cutter rigged sailboat. Still have not escaped adverse current, but expect to do so directly as we continue beyond Magdalena. Since distance remaining is not great and we have all tomorrow, will sail through the night, if possible. Happy crew, now bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, are revelling in lovely reach with 13 knots wind and smooth seas.

"Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted." - Aldous Huxley

Not here.

Jack

Eating Fish, Not Feeding Them
12/19/2009, 110 NM from Rio Magdalena, Colombia

Frisky Dolphins

December 19

Nearly made it to Cabo de la Vela before wind died. Two days ago 35 knots, now 6. We're a motor boat turning revs to pass Rio Magdalena in tomorrow's light (to see and avoid debris spewing from its mouth) for arrival Cartagena Monday daybreak. Should catch up with Inspiration Lady around midday. Jackster, well ahead (showoffs), are attempting to pass the river in AM to make Cartagena by evening.

Sea legs: Processed fake crab meat that may be found at some supermarkets and mid-priced restaurants or that condition which, the conditionee mercifully hopes, quickly follows the less enjoyable initiation of some sea voyages. Eyes and inner ears get tired of fighting and agree to trial separation. Divorce is usually thwarted by reconciliation back ashore. Drug counselling often maintains love fest for subsequent cruises. Crew has achieved this state of grace due, probably, to combination of Stugeron, less motion and time. Groceries purchased in Willemstad finding greater purpose than ballast. Fish, not picky eaters, no longer follow for chum, although a cow dorado (mahi mahi) was chagrined to find that there is no free lunch. Had first of three meals from her this evening. Will check out roe tomorrow.

Obnoxious bilge noise, besides propelling craft more expeditiously, has also allowed filling wazoo with electrons and water. Yesterday's reluctant water- maker pump, seeing error of evil ways due to malignant stares and scandalous verbiage, has returned to employment. Unable to discern why this tactic so seldom works.

Jack

Bad Dog
12/18/2009, Approaching Punta Galinas, Colombia

Richena - On Santa's "Nice" List

December 18

Departed Curacao at midnight (for those superstitious souls, let's pretend it was 2359, Thursday) with Jackster and Inspiration Lady. I took first three hour watch; Will took second. Despite rather pleasant, if slightly rolly, conditions and what should have been sufficient druggage (not a real word), both crew soon experienced motion related alimentary distress and have remained rather torpid for the last 19 hours, so far. Neither was impressed with the eggs and cheese, toast and greasy, smelly bacon that I prepared for breakfast. I'm sure they were giddy with pleasure at observing my enjoyment, however.

Since we have become low on water due not wanting to run engine at anchor solely to make it, one of two pumps that aids in that very thing has lost interest in helping. This species of tribulation involves immutable law of nature #26 or # 27, I believe - related to one of the Murphy corollaries. Fortunately, a spare resides on board... somewhere, thanks to Mike of Astarte who suggested it.

Having a long waterline, proper sails for aft wind and poles, Jackster is beating Inspiration Lady, who are still in sight ahead, and us like bad dogs. Not having any of these things, we are tacking downwind, but still ahead of schedule. A cruising spinnaker is on list for the fat man.

"The main reason Santa is so jolly is because he knows where all the bad girls live." - George Carlin

Jack

The Game is Afoot
12/17/2009, Boca Santa Krus, Curacao

Cleaning Our Bottoms

December 17

Against all odds, did just as previously proposed. We all motored to shore this morning for a little little boat cleaning. Discovered that 'On and Off' takes off barnacles, discoloration and, probably, fingerprints. Hope not, but it worked so well that someone thought to read ingredients. Ooooh! So far dinghy chaps (protective Sunbrella covering) have not evaporated in a cloud of toxic smoke (ala Oz's Wicked Witch).

Big boat bottom had slime, but few barnacles. Still seemed like work. This activity, have been told, can release a larva that burrows in and crawls around under your skin. Did anybody see "Alien"? Can you visualize a marine earwig boring through to your brain? Behold the undeniable glamour of cruising on a yacht.

Will, unless talked out of it (almost anything will do), leave at midnight for 70 to 84 hour passage to Cartagena. The others, in larger boats, should be beyond our VHF range in a day or so. They will be faster, Cal, my non-sailing exemplar, because theoretical (and usually actual) hull speed increases with waterline length.

"All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure." - Mark Twain

Jack

Eat Your Heart Out Willie Nelson
12/16/2009, Boca Santa Krus, Curacao

Santa Krus Sunset

December 16

Charts, skivvies, tool purchase, car return, motored through narrow cut out of Spanish Water around noon 30. Conditions were remarkably benign, 2 - 3 foot quartering seas and 12 - 15 knots wind, but rolly enough to displace one crew's breakfast into Caribbean. Drugs will precede next outing. Tacked away from land for better ride with single reefed main and yankee, then back into Boca Santa Krus. Wind picked up last few hours for wonderful beam reach at 9+ over ground with favorable current. Now firmly hooked to ground with two other boats in idyllic narrow anchorage between cliffs facing white sand beach. All crew have recovered remarkably. Plan cleaning of big and little boat bottoms and prop tomorrow in preparation for 4 day crossing to Cartagena.

Boom made me proud. Only aggravation is reefing tack without ramshorn (no Cal, naughty boy, there are no sheep aboard (punch line for which you may formulate your own joke - "I know, but you picked the ugliest one!")). Used 7/16" line as replacement, but have no proper way to secure. All to be established in the fullness of time.

Major excursion into haute cuisine (for cruising) with chorizo and brocoli in brown rice and grilled chicken breast, followed by after-sundowner soda pops and prune tort with crew of Jackster.

On the road again and life is good.

Jack

Stage Direction
12/15/2009, Spanish Water, Curacao

Floor Duty for Jacksters

December 15

For some unknowable reason, plan for today worked out OK. Morning saw actual, no fooling completion of all activity related to everything boom. Better, new arrangement including preventer may even operate as planned. In addition, saloon, galley and berths were made bare of most objects easily converted into seaway missiles. At noon, rented mo' bettah, albeit underpowered, Hyundai van containing five seats. With rotating floor duty, seven of us headed off like a turtle with a hernia to clear customs and immigration. Waited for harbour control until 5 seconds past scheduled post-lunch reopening before thumbing the collective nose and questing after closest beer followed by afternoon tour of island.

As stated previously, Gary gets blame for dinner. Tuesday's advertised all-you- can-eat ribs slipped minds of Rodeo Restaurant staff until our arrival. Patient, happy (beer) group waited for hurried preparation of less than best effort that was subsequently up-charged from 35 guilders to 50 (special Christmas buffet, we were told). Still good, but everyone agreed to boycott next week from Cartagena.

Early go in AM to copy charts at Xerox (Jackster and Inspiration Lady) and pick up laundry (Anthem) ahead of feet beating (with untried rigging) to Santa Cruz (north end of Curacao) for staging next 400 NM to Colombia. Still no final decision on stop at Aruba, but with good sailing wind diminishing each day through weekend, enthusiasm for delay in "Caribbean Las Vegas" dwindles apace.

Jack

Zippity Do Dah
12/14/2009, Spanish Water, Curacao

Inspiration Ladys, Jacksters and Crew in Willemstad

December 14

Preparatory to extricating this operation from Curacao tar baby on Wednesday, took stinky sheets and underwear to laundry for discovery that Tuesday's holiday (nobody could explain for what) prevents retrieval until past planned departure time. May try to leave later in day for Santa Cruz, north end of island, but feel like Michael Corleone, "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in".

Seems that nearly all non-European natives here speak Dutch, English, Spanish and native Papiamento. Pretty impressive. Of these, my best and favorite language is English... Oh wait, it's my only one. That would probably explain the affinity.

Did my part for the planet today at Ben & Jerry's by buying scoop of Imagine Whirled Peace. Almost surely Al Qaeda and Somali pirates will take notice. Feel so much better about myself now, but frankly, it wasn't all it was cracked up to be. Next time will visualize Chunky Monkey or Turtle Soup (Oops, there went my greenie creds).

Car rental, at $6 a head, with Inspiration Ladys tomorrow noon will facilitate, most critically, all-you-can-eat ribs for dinner at Rodeo Restaurant near Curacao Marina (blame falls entirely on Gary). Ancillary activities will include clearing out with customs/immigration (open all day, every day), copying charts of Colombia/Panama and reclaiming clean, fresh skivvies from Het Washok Wednesday morning.

Jack

Fit to be Fried
12/13/2009, Spanish Water, Curacao

Fitting Fits

December 13

Remember previous complaints about insufficient rain to wash boat free of dust, dirt and salt? Remember? At some future time the message will state, "Remember when it wouldn't stop raining to allow playing outside? Remember?". That reference will be from today.

Ship's complement played three-way Mexican train (again Cal, this is not naughty) dominoes all afternoon, then indulged in gourmet (is there a phrase "defining excellence down?) cuisine: House salad, sliced potato and onion sauted with capers and over-ripe tomato and pepper steak served sur un assiette. Finally, the chef d-oeuvre, a succulent torte du repoussoir. Don't look anything up, you'll just be disappointed (apologies to Eveline, crew of Chocobo and French speaking friends everywhere).

Only productive activity occurred on wet trip to Albert Hein (strictly to keep the string alive (ref. Dec. 11)) for crew and neighboring hardware store (to replenish diminished screw collection) pour moi (sorry, got on a French roll (ba dump bump - can't shoot me unless you come for a visit)).

Also, fittingly, after some fits and starts, had a fit of enthusiasm for sanding Boomlock fitting until it fit (don't you just love English?). Did not see fit to confirm this as it was raining.

Jack

Go Figure
12/12/2009, Spanish Water, Curacao

Small Hammer Method

December 12

Taking advantage of Vreugdenhil grocery bus to locate outhaul car wheels, visited Budget Marine, Napa and Dijtham hardware in near vicinity. Figured something, somewhere might work. Have now perceived need to update 'figuring' apparatus. Of course, since only Budget was open, conclusions were jumped to, which may have been unwarranted. Rigger, Gijs (previous guess at spelling his name (Tys) was woefully incorrect, although pronunciation is still not available in English) will also look. Trip was nevertheless fruitful as more panettone was acquired.

Wrote previous sentence this morning on spec. Updated version is thus: Napa was open, no help. Didn't make it to Dijtham, but found something at Budget that could work. Cut and finished donuts from a copper nipple (get your mind out of the gutter, Cal) that had sufficiently thick walls to work temporarily (copper doesn't acclimate well to life at sea) until permanent fix. To that end found it necessary to borrow 17/64th bit from Gary of Inspiration Lady for tapping casting to make next removal easier (in any case, couldn't find additional 1/4" aluminum rivets). He had scrap Starboard and a hole saw that, with additional drilling, cutting and sanding, resulted in permanent remedy... probably. 'Figuring apparatus' enjoying upsurge in respect. Found time to buy two panettones. Life is good.

Although Boomlock fitting is still a tad too thick (have considered 'bigger hammer' method to encourage compliance), Anthem is all dressed up with nowhere to go. Weather may cooperate Wednesday.

Jack

Trampling the Path of Righteousness
12/11/2009, Spanish Water, Curacao

Mounting New Boom

December 11

Boom was assembled and mounted with uncharacteristic ease creating great angst. Fortunately drilling out rivets for removal of aft casting to insert outhaul car if proper parts can be found because they bounced overboard while removing said item from old boom (deep breath) will now interject a more typical complication and supply welcome relief. In a related story, weather along Colombia coast excessively boisterous, ala Chris, the weather router, until middle of next week.

Maintaining tradition that at least one of us visit a Curacao grocery each day, Will & Chena thus had first brush with panettone bread and fresh papaya. Reactions were delightedly positive and bemusedly ambivalent, respectively. Will save johnny cake and cherimoya for next trip, then on to lobscouse and spotted dog.

Attempting to be virtuous, have told Satan to get behind from which vantage he has repeatedly propelled me into ice cream parlors. The focus of his attention today was something excessively decadent called Hokey Pokey (just repeating ingredients spikes cholesterol). Similarly traceable transgressions have involved sausages, hamburgers and all things greasy. Adipose tissue barely kept at bay, so far, by objectionable exercise levels.

"I'm not concerned about all hell breaking loose, but that a PART of hell will break loose... it'll be much harder to detect." - George Carlin

Jack

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