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Anthem Adrift
East is Least, West is Best
01/09/2010, Isla Grande, Colombia

January 9

Did somebody yell fire? Half the anchorage (slight hyperbole) took off this morning for Rosario (actually Isla Grande, as Rosario is restricted) or San Blas. Most will go to the somewhat developed Gulf of San Blas while the more adventurous (slower) of us will head farther east (shorter sail) where the Kuna Indians maintain traditional ways (conditions deteriorate Monday). Expect to move west without uncommon delay to see Aussie friends before they transit to Pacific with World ARC and St. Pete area sailing buddies who will proceed north after quick trip home.

Not certain to do so, but the South Pacific calls and opportunity is now, so last bits are being accumulated to make long passage to Marquessas. Downwind sail and gas generator, to be carried back from home in February, are biggest chunks. Inverter/charger may also become checked baggage. Delta's going to love me. Expect to see other end of canal late February or March. Hey Fitz, this is your opportunity to see the Galapagos, but you'll have to sail. Any Dolphins (sailing group from home, ref. Mike & Barb above) interested in some adventure, give a shout (you won't have to sleep in the orlop or eat bilge rats to survive... probably).

Early departure AM for greater arrival options. Toodles.

Jack

Hounded
01/08/2010, Cartagena Inner Harbor

Stern Line

January 8

There must be a formal adage stating that any task will absorb all available time. It's like that 'filling all available closet space' one. Thought to be ready for departure Wednesday, now scurrying to leave tomorrow (Sat.). New stuff crops up, but suspect the organization thing is real culprit.

Cleaning anchors, chain and underwater lines is major undertaking after two to three weeks here. Fecund water encrusts everything between eye blinks. Without conscientious cleaning, chain lockers, usually separated from V-berth by loose fitting doors, smell of rotting crustacea and swarm with flies. How to say shoo in Spanish?

The cleverest joke Jack Aubry knew was why the two, two hour watches from 1600 to 1800 and 1800 to 2000 (differing from the normal four hours to allow both groups a dinner break) were called dog watches? Because they were cur-tailed. He was captain, he thought of it, everybody laughed.

Have considered curtailing frequency of these dispatches in consequence of working harder for lamentable (OK, more lamentable) quality and fewer chuckles. However (Huh? Cheering dies), may continue for awhile (Hope crushed, suicide watch placed on recipients) as diversions should be fewer going forward and numbed chucklator may revive.

Based on forecast, may limit stay in Rosarios and press on to, possibly, Escoses in San Blas, a 28 to 32 hour jaunt. Big swells (not swell), generated by storms north, could kick sailboat butt after Monday.

Jack

Cowabunga
01/07/2010, Cartagena Inner Harbor

Ice Cream

January 7

Prop clean; bill paid; on anchor. Buddies leaving Saturday for Rosario, so expect to await them. Contrary to popular wisdom, comfort is not a good thing. Cool air, no anchor worries, easy access to land have engendered lassitude. Butter knife has replaced normal finely honed edge. Ennui suffocates. Eagerly anticipate full sails and new sights.

Dinghied to shore this evening with friends specifically to find La Bistro Restaurant. Succeeded about 2130 on walk back home after dragging through most of old town and settling for great meal at pricier place. Assuaged our disappointment (or were we celebrating Thursday?) with ice cream at Mimos. Minimally serious plans were concocted to return tomorrow. Due to forgoing, experienced additional reason to depart Cartagena - another disagreeably late night. Not sure Poor Richard was right about wealthy and wise, but I'm buying healthy.

Have you ever noticed that everyone sneezes in English? 'Yes' in different languages is quite variable, but 'no' is easily understood and usually starts with an 'n'. No matter that it's hot as blazes, citizens of the most sweltering countries invariably wear long pants. They also eat the spiciest foods. Are cows smart enough to be cowed?

Jack

Lock Down
01/06/2010, Club Nautico Marina, Cartagena

Cleaning Up After Cruisers

January 6

No passport, no departure papers, no inverter, still in marina. Pretty sure this isn't how the plan was set to operate, but a recheck of karmic outline may indicate otherwise. Except for that last thing, may have some satisfaction by evening with the niggling consequence that happy hour at Pacho y Guillo will find me tardy or truant.

More than one person has mistaken me for dockmaster John in pursuit of paying off one thing or another. He's from the UK and we look nothing alike, but with small outlay for a receipt book, might be able to enhance the cruising kitty until someone notices and part of hell breaks loose.

Roads lack lane lines. There is traffic control by policia, but no enforcement. Riding with a cabbie, who will always be in a hurry, is a free-form adventure in playing chicken and fast reflexes; well worth the 5000 or so pesos, particularly since cabs are bitty and half the rest are SUVs. Ya'll be careful out there now, ya hear!?

- Later

Inverter in hand, but no papers. Port authority closed down departures due rough weather. Bugger. At least attended happy half hour and made the most of it. Marina paid through tonight, so should be at anchor tomorrow. Should also be young, handsome and wealthy beyond measure. Batting 250 could get me in the majors.

Jack

Clear and Pleasant, No Danger
01/05/2010, Club Nautico Marina, Cartagena

Panama Guide

January 5

Bad news, good news. Notwithstanding 'last possible hope' crack yesterday, there is one pequenito hope left to be dashed tomorrow at 1300. Barring lead into gold level alchemy, fried inverter-cum-ballast will depart Cartagena, Thursday, in Anthem's lazarette unrepentant. At least torture of rolling delays will end and 'hot' harbor will cease to gnaw at underwater bits.

Taxied via long detour, care of policia nationale, to arrive at FedEx after closing. Plaintive demeanor outside locked entry succeeded in allowing retrieval of backordered Panama Guide, the good one, sent down care of better half. After initially failing to hail a cab, walked goodly distance back to Marina Nautico enjoying a lovely evening. Rumors of a visiting El Presidente could explain why Boca Grande was unusually lousy with cops who, as always, seemed very professional due perhaps to, with US help, constantly fighting drug trade and Venezuelan-backed FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionaries de Colombia, AKA commie guerillas).

Retrieving inverter and passport, possibly having Max-prop de-barnacled and shopping for a few groceries and gifts for the Kuna Indians will encompass the productive segment of tomorrow. Also expect to settle with marina as they will likely insist. Works out to about $12.50 a day plus electricity. Plan to spend the night on anchor rediscovering cruising and anticipating San Blas, where there are no police and the water doesn't resemble sludge.

Jack

What About Pigs?
01/04/2010, Club Nautico Marina, Cartagena

Pigasus

January 4

Work, work, work. Well, OK, work, work, goof off, but achieved most goals set for the day and a bit more. Unfortunately, received bad news reference inverter. Adequate parts are not as available as envisioned. Last possible hope will be revealed by 1000. May just proceed as is with small plug-in inverter and minimal shore power charger. Panama may be more accommodating to permanent fix.

Expect to clear out for prospective departure Wednesday. Depends on FedEx delivery, currently in Bogota, by Tuesday evening. Love Cartagena, had a great time, but itchy feet and lust to see unfurled sails intensifies curiosity to evaluate greenness of next pasture.

Waiting for friends waiting for clear-out agent for an hour and a half delayed dinner until well after 2100, so this will be short and short on typical puerile humor. If some effort had been made earlier to address this, so far, daily abuse of normal readers (not to slight you abnormal ones) this punctuated poppy-cock could now be done. And if fish had wings they would be... (whispered aside: "What?. There are? Next you'll tell me that squirrels... Oh.) Anyway, didn't, so good night.

Jack

Catching a Few
01/03/2010, Club Nautico Marina, Cartagena

They're Here to Help You

January 3

Unable to explain compulsion to spend two breezeless hours in blistering sun adjusting and preparing to fix recalcitrant Voyager wind vane. First, it's Sunday, the day specifically designated by our wise and munificent leaders to watch sports, drink beer and screw off. Second, any outdoor work should avoid overhead sun. Regrettably, there are certain issues of motivation early mornings and, as a concomitant consequence after nine hours of indolence, lack of momentum late afternoons. It's a quandary best assessed in a state of relaxed recumbency. After somewhat more vertical consideration, an epiphany occurred that one should remain in bed all day with TV and a keg.

At marina office this morning, accomplished a few tasks including paying for laundry, then forgot to take it. Between activities this fact kept slipping what is arguably referred to as my mind until dockmaster, John, left for the day. Should tie a tourniquet around least important finger for reminder to repossess it tomorrow. Fortunately, living on a boat by one's self is the perfect place for people who would be under constant supervision as incapable of independent living if responsible people were allowed to notice.

A few items on to do list for tomorrow are checking on inverter parts, purchasing appropriate screws for wind vane then installing same, building three-point dinghy harness for halyard lift, gluing square of inner tube on bow sprit to prevent galvanized shackle from corroding against stainless plate and calling a number of businesses in US for various reasons. Just saying all that crap is tiring. Need to check retirement handbook, written by 'responsible people' previously mentioned, to see if that much activity is allowed.

Jack

A Fugitive From Judiciousness
01/02/2010, Club Nautico Marina, Cartagena

Club Nautico

January 2

Just when we get comfortable with a month it changes. Pretty soon February will arrive, January will be relegated to the landfill of history and all the energy expended acclimating to that next one will be a sunk cost after only 28 days. This, adding insult to injury, occurs concurrently with changing not one, but two digits in the new year (a zero remains, but is moved to a different location; how diabolical is that?). It's not, of course, as traumatic as a new century, but decades are still no slice of pecan pie.

After recovering main and spare halyards from masthead... OK, so here's what happened. To show support for Club Nautico (currently having difficulties), pay tribute to Cartagena and raise money for some kid's belated Christmases, someone organized a scheme for collecting donations in return for tree lights to adorn 100 boats on New Year's Eve. Said decorations were so flimsy (how flimsy were they?) that anyone injudicious enough to haul them up the fore and aft stays might discover they broke upon first attempt at hauling down. Anyway, walked all over Cartagena searching every gas station, residence, warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, outhouse and doghouse in the area, to no effect, looking for, among other things, DVD player to replace Radio Shack junk that lasted for two and a half movies, siphon hose, vent loop siphon break and 5000 peso lunch. Did, however, find a 10 cent cup of coffee (tinto) and the dirtiest, smelliest open air "fresh" market on six of seven continents.

Having thrashed delicate physiology today, plan a day of rest on the day of rest by, ummmmmm, resting, in contrast to yesterday, when inactivity was produced moment by moment with a remarkably comprehensive absence of conscious thought.

Jack

2010, The Year in Review
01/01/2010, Club Nautico Marina, Cartagena

Elvis?

January 1

Man, this year has just flown by. It's already noon. Hope the next 8748 hours don't pass as quickly as the last 12. Of course, sleep tends to go by more quickly than consciousness, so assuming a higher average percentage of wakefulness going forward, confidence runs high.

Several projects await attention. It's a good thing they don't wait at attention as this could get very tiring over great expanses of time.

- Later

A trifling expanse of time has elapsed on the way to a modest one with singular lack of attention, on my part, to anything approaching productivity. Can't speak to demeanor of anticipated projects, but suspect they, also, are quite at ease. Spent day reading, shirking and watching episodes of short-lived series "Firefly". Crew turned me on to this gem about space cowboy smugglers... You may just have to watch the pilot episode to gain an appreciation.

Time for another disclaimer: While there are obscure references and oblique inferences in some of this blarney, please don't assume that every possible association is intended. Like seeing Elvis in the mall, you may just be imagining it. Bet you miss some, though.

Jack

When I Was 61, It Was a Very Good Year
12/31/2009, Club Nautico Marina, Cartagena

Blue Moon

December 31

Tonight is second full moon of the month. The next New Year's Eve 'blue moon' occurs in 2028. This evocative phrase calls forth a song: "Blue Moon, you saw me eating a scone, without a creamy fruit tart, without a pie of my own." Rogers and Hart were probably poking fun at anyone who accepts practical goals rather than striving for something unobtainable, e.g. pie in the sky. As the largest satellite in our solar system, it may also be black, wet, gibbous, harvest, hunter's, waxing, waning, new, full or crescent. While quite versatile, it contains, contrary to popular belief, no cheese or small green sapients.

Further adventures in color artistry, an exotic territory for me, this morning produced what must needs pass for a design to adorn nascent drifter. Have tentatively settled, unless there is credible input to the contrary, on dark red melding (without any Vulcans) to medium toward the leech (for the saltiless (not a real word), Cal, this is the aft (back) or leeward (away from the wind) edge of a fore and aft (not square-rigged) sail. No blood sucking vermin are involved as this is not a political process).

Late abed this morning in hopes of preparing what passes for a brain to accommodate coherence and ambulatory capability into next year sufficient to reacquire V-berth. (For residents of Pinellas Park (or Rio Linda (unknown reference for progressives)), I slept in to stay up late).

For everyone not on the "naughty" list, may you have a devilishly satisfying and prosperous 2010.

Jack

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S/V Anthem
Who: Jack Warren, Janice Holmes
Port: Weeki Wachee, FL
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