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Anthem Adrift
Whoa There Horsey
01/10/2010, Halfway to Panama

January 10

What happened to shifty winds? Had 15 to 20 all day, just aft the beam with reasonable seas to seven feet. Making time like Superman flying faster than light to save future dead Lois. Departed Rosario at 0600 to assure arrival before Monday's forecast north swell. Have now reduced to yankee only for delay past sunrise.

Wind steering has been challenged by variable aft breeze and rolling seas, but adjustments in Cartagena seem to have worked. With change in direction back to port, too far off the wind to use it tonight. Besides, wouldn't want to stay awake to watch it. (joke, no nasty emails, please)

After jumping around like a kid with a snoot full of Cola, finally(?) decided to land at original destination, Puerto Escoses, far east San Blas. Was spring- loaded after delay in Colombia to hurry, but should have ample time to catch friends other end.

Official currency in Panama is the Bolivar, referred to everywhere else as the US dollar. Probably makes them feel better. Prices are reported to be low, but have heard that little canard before. Optimistic that reports are true for taxis as walking around Colon is said to be guaranteed mugging. Kunas (next shortest people after pygmies), on the other hand, are apparently quite trustworthy. Apropos of nothing in particular, a high percentage of Kuna dress as women. Some of them are women.

Jack

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

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