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Anthem Adrift
Solo, But Not So Low
12/29/2009, Club Nautico Marina, Cartagena

The Plank

December 29

Crewless. It was 28 days, but seemed like four weeks. Floggings were employed infrequently, although everyone, this last week, walked the plank. Conversation may decrease slightly as there is only one of us to talk with now. Discussions may stimulate, but will seldom surprise.

Although Will, disreputable character that he may appear, was pulled aside in Miami for special attention, he and Chena three-hopped successfully to Louisville's 30 degrees. It was 30 here as well, but seemed much warmer. Perhaps Colombians pack more warmth into each degree or possibly use a different scale or something.

For a modest fee, alterations in VHF radio behavior have been realized. Speaker in cockpit microphone was induced to talk by use of searing torture device euphemistically referred to as a soldering iron. Although receiving via DSC (Digital Selective Calling, allowing communicated plan to ransack anchorage, for example, to remain secret) on main unit has only improved to marginal, believe that as word of methods used to extract compliance from remote device filters down to radio, attitudes will change.

Loss of visitors has precipitated a need to find follow-on excuse for avoiding boat work. Actually engaging in physical labor is, of course, an option somewhere down list. Extended periods of reflection over adult beverages or with eyes closed will precede and seek to avoid any impetuous or imprudent activity.

Jack

An Acting Cartel
12/28/2009, Club Nautico Marina, Cartagena

Chena, Contemplating Ice Cream

December 28

Crew spent morning at open air fresh market enjoying the flavor of a third world bazaar while the rest of us, me, took under advisement a suggestion to have someone from the marina (who speaks Spanish) check out Tonio, the prop guy, across town in Parque Los Borrachos (yes, in a park) before blindly venturing out there. Dockmaster John, recommended a short, stocky, bald fellow named Hymito meaning Little Hymie. Was so bemused by name, forgot to ask if he is Jewish or an oddly named Colombian. Will search for him again tomorrow.

Early morning trek to Asistencia Technica Maritima disclosed potentially good news. Sven had checked inverter and found mosfets were not fried as none were installed. Better system uses something else which were absolutely fried, but possibly obtainable. Also, found corrosion in VHF remote mic that may herald total fix. I'm not buying. Four days (over Christmas), instead of ten, to find easily fixable problems. Right! And Santa Claus is Foster Brooks.

Plied the well-worn calles and carreras of the old town with Inspiration Ladys to find reported food festival. Someone neglected to organize it, so we just plied some more. Had cervezas in a plaza beside three drug lords and their babes, straight from central casting. Who knows? Didn't ask. After still more plying ate a fine, reasonably priced meal before returning to boat with slight detour. Path home leads by Mimo ice cream parlor and Chena, fiendishly clever wench that she is, used her devilish wiles to lure us in for a cup. We blame her, entirely. It's not visible, but guilt runs rampant.

Jack

Uniformly Enjoyable
12/27/2009, Club Nautico Marina, Cartagena

Cevicheria Restaurant

December 27

Everyone stayed in until afternoon communing with their computer screens or napping. What a revolting development. Crew were messing with Gary's Acer while low finance occupied the onboard Mac. Pent up, unused energy finally broke free about 1600 forcing a walkabout to Centro. Found early dinner at a quaint (pardon me for saying so, Sue) restaurant on Calle (cah-yay means street) Stuart near Plaza San Diego. Paella would have been even better with a smidge less salt.

If not previously mentioned, Cartagena is knee-deep in law enforcement of all types. Can't turn a corner without bumping into a uniform. Probably why the area is so safe. Also heard the city is a demilitarized zone because druggers want a safe place to shop. The area appears to be awash in cash. Prodigious amounts of money are made by drug cartels pursuant to massive "war on drugs" by US, which pumps vast resources into the country for, manifestly, no effect on prodigious amounts of money made by drug cartels.

As noticed also in Puerto Rico, Spanish cultures seem to promote provocative women's attire. A straying eye so easily alights on the tight blouse or unrestrained cleavage (sexist pig or healthy male?). Dark under-belly (pun intended) of this, however, is self-censorship, seldom practiced by high percentage of less alluring individuals.

Tomorrow is last day for crew to lay waste to Cartagena. Seductive, last-minute baubles, which will subsequently gather dust, must yet be obtained. Monastery with the grand view must be visited. Fabulously touted restaurant must be patronized. Souvenirs and presents must be purchased. Or maybe we'll just screw off.

Jack

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

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