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Anthem Adrift
Ransom, A Game Everyone Can Play
12/26/2009, Club Nautico Marina, Cartagena

Fort San Felipe

December 26

Seems we are about to kick another year in the caboose, sending it into a past that will seem, in retrospect, either better or worse than it actually was. For my part, can't imagine it could have been so much fun, keeping in mind a pretty low threshold and an iffy memory.

Walked to San Felipe Fort before heat of day. Didn't help - hot. Very impressive fort didn't help Spanish much either as Drake captured it in 1586, plundered the town and ransomed the whole kit and kaboodle back to Spain for 110,000 ducats. No idea how much that was then, but in pesos now it comes to $55 US. He should have asked for more. Place is riddled with dark tunnels where powder was stored and which, upon capture, was to be ignited to turn the whole thing into rubble. Guess word didn't get around to the troops or possibly they told commanders to stick more than powder where the sun don't shine.

Dropped dink from davits for drinks at Inspiration Lady, anchored way out in 50 feet of slimy bottom. Will and Chena were commandeered and shackled below to fix vexatious gremlins in egregiously complex computer/monitor/internet/entertainment system on the Brewer designed behemoth while everyone else enjoyed soda pops and snacks in the cockpit. Ever eager to avoid the lash, they apparently fixed all but one technical problem. Electronic paraphernalia returned with them to Anthem for continuation of efforts. Serious thought given to ransoming gear back to owners for 10,000 ducats or a couple of cervazas.

By the way Dixie, a boat just beside our friends, had its dinghy stolen after thief cut though 1/4" security chain last night. During morning net, someone shared info that "there's this guy" who might be able to ransom it back. Guess this is South America.

Jack

Easy
12/25/2009, Club Nautico Marina, Cartagena

Old World, Quaint

December 25

Feliz Navidad. Vrolijke Kerstmis. Joyeux Noel. Frohe Weihnachten. Buon Natale. Merry Christmas.

Slow day at Club Nautico. Despite a realized urge, early on, to attack rust spots with On and Off, Christmas has been an exercise in prostration. Watched "The Illusionist" on HD big screen, then pilot for "Firefly" on computers. Both get thumbs way up (no, Cal, not up there). Basically didn't leave the boat until 1830.

Joined ILs and Js to perambulate Centro and San Diego, the walled old area. It's like miles of the best of New Orleans with narrow streets lined with second and third story balconies inside a fortress wall. There are shops, restaurants, residences and a cathedral interspersed. Christmas lights adorned many buildings. Horse drawn carriages carried revelers among the crowds and street performers entertained in the plazas. No one seemed drunk or disorderly. Saw no one smoking. A very happy, friendly experience.

Down side of the holiday is that no work gets done. Radio and charger molder on a back shelf. Prop sits uselessly in cockpit, but what the heck, there's a festive atmosphere, food is good, rum is cheap, it feels like summertime and the liv'in is easy.

Jack

Bad Girls and Golden Eggs
12/24/2009, Club Nautico Marina, Cartagena

Charge It

December 24

Broke down and bought mucho expensive "Smart" battery charger at Home Center. Alternative was small trickle unit. This one is "Fully Automatic Electronic" and handles gel and AGM as well. It equalizes and reconditions batteries and also performs minor cosmetic surgery with proper insurance. No boob jobs. Just hope it doesn't endanger passing fish with shrapnel by blowing copper-based anti- fouling off bottom.

Appears that dinghy prop will wait another day or three for attention due slow morning and other concerns. Traffic to hardware store was so bad (how bad was it?) that taxi there took longer than walk back. Seems Colombians procrastinate gift shopping even worse than Americans. After rigging new toy, arrived late to Christmas lunch at De Oliva for grand time with friends. Ended day walking over to the old city, Centro, for first visit. Beautiful.

Crew is cool to idea of staying up to capture St. Nick, so suppose the old guy will escape unscathed. Too bad as finding where naughty girls live could be a terrific business opportunity, not even counting the toys. On further reflection, it's probably just as well because like with the golden goose, you may only get one gift at a time out of that big bag and bad girls are, well... bad.

Jack

Hey, Hey, Hey, Santa's Gotta Stay
12/23/2009, Club Nautico Marina, Cartagena

Freezing in Cartagena

December 23

Anticipated visiting Old Town tomorrow morning, but planned Christmas dinner with friends midday may delay that activity until later. Also, may use early day to find fellow reportedly able to re-bush stainless outboard prop. Info was gathered without the first word of mutual understanding except 'bushing', so hoping for best with low expectation.

Frigid blast on second day of winter dropped high temp to 84 fahrenheit. Low clouds failed to deliver snow, but tomorrow, with forecast 2 degrees cooler, surely portends white Christmas. Unable to find parka and mukluks in Colombia. Will hope for best.

Quick perusal of previous entries revealed untold missed opportunities for inane, but personally amusing, malarkey. Given minimal memory and attention span, much ridiculous balderdash has been lost in purgatory of semi-sinful rhetoric. Writing down random ideas would facilitate releasing even more codswallop (I love the English) onto a gullible audience, but this would require an unlikely level of conscientiousness. Count your blessings.

Concern has arisen lest Santa be nonplussed by lack of chimney on Anthem and depart without showering occupants with well deserved largesse. Considered watch schedule for shoot-down, but previously contemplated Mossberg shotgun is presently unavailable.

Jack

PS Title is first half of naughty punchline. Write for enlightenment.

And I Was Having Such a Good Day
12/22/2009, Club Nautico Marina, Cartagena

State of the Art

December 22

Semi-promised to write something today after minimal exertion yesterday. Please keep in mind that disappointment is an important component of a balanced life. You are more fortunate than you know.

Motored over early to Club Pesca for fuel, then into Club Nautico dock. Electric panels there are electrician's worst nightmare, but power, when applied, braving an electrical conflagration that would potentially destroy every boat within visual range, was a solid 117v, 60 Hz. Notwithstanding, charger/inverter, suspect from failing to charge in Puerto La Cruz, seemed to operate OK until someone noticed burning insulation smell. Neither inverter nor charger thereafter took notice of switch positions or expletives undeleted.

Both Prosine 2.0 (inverter/charger) and Icom M422 (VHF radio) are in shop for potential repair (another triumph of hope over experience?). Sven (farthest northern Spain?) seems very competent, but is slammed and may not get to aforementioned trinkets for 10 days despite highly proficient whining. Suspects fried mosfets (a kind of hoity-toity transistor) in inverter may require sending to Xanrex repair station, Bogota, as available Chinese replacements are unreliable (i.e. crap). Bugger. May be in Cartagena longer than initially supposed.

Good news is that with nothing to do (yeah, right), feel obligated to find every ice cream parlor in vicinity for production of butt the size of Cleveland. The delights, so far undiscovered, of Cartagena await.

Jack

Drugging and Dragging, Not the Same Thing
12/21/2009, Cartagena, Colombia

Madonna and Child Monument, Inner Harbor, Cartagena

December 21

Cartagena in AM after very nice sail from Rio Magdalena. Heard Endorphin calling Procrastination and Witchcraft calling Gaia. No other ironies presented. Place is eat up with cops and Italian eateries.

Internet down. SSB propagation poor. Spent day afoot without clearing in. Returned late. May write something manana.

Jack

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

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