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Anthem Adrift
Not Really Lilliput
01/12/2010, Suledup Island, Kuna Yala

January 12

Along with Inspiration Lady, ran (this is actually a misnomer as a boat propelled by diesel and staysail was used) short distance late morning to anchorage by Suledup (Soo-lay-dupe). In Kuna, Sule means chicken, dup is island. Apparently tupu also means island - don't know why. After paying, and receiving receipt for, $5 landing fee to Damasio Castro, who came by in an ulu with his son and a buddy, the ILs and I were invited for a tour of Caledonia, his nearby village.

Although not really an indigenous people-phile found the experience fascinating. Houses for 800 people completely cover the tidy island. These guys are happy, friendly and short. Also don't care much for children, but these are, to a kid (over a quarter of the population), the cutest ever. Normally suggest to friends with attractive youngsters that they sell them and buy an otherwise out-of-reach luxury item. These people could make a fortune, but suspect a Ferrari would be overkill on a 1/4 mile island with no TV, AC power or roads. Also no avariciousness, crime or stress. They typically live to great age.

Didn't want to before decision time, but have commenced getting excited about seeing Pacific. Concluded opportune to do so now as may not be in proper mood when 80. Boat would be 44 by then.

Liz, my spousal unit and 'one who must be obeyed' (but given high level of incorrigibility in worse half, sometimes isn't) will travel to India last three weeks of February, so may fly home first week (earlier than planned) to retrieve charts & such and trieve (... well, it should be) some new stuff for bigger ocean. Work, work, work. So much to do, so little time... careful, able to detect crocodile tears at great distance.

Jack

Nut 'n' Honey
01/11/2010, Puerto Escoses, Panama

January 11

Ran all night with yankee only, then had to roll in some of that to watch sun come up before arrival. Given relatively short waterline on Anthem, a 160 mile day is smoking. Wind climbed into mid twenties, seas to 7 or 8 feet from aft. Not a good night for mal de mer should one be so inclined. Depth sounder suspended function at critical point, so, in murky water, had to anchor twice to stay off bottom. Do bad things always happen at worst possible times or do we just remember those?

Water must have been particularly warm and salty as great sheets of sparkle- filled luminescence spread out from wake to form a brilliant halo around rushing hull. Entire surface was alight. Never seen anything like it. Looked like we were plowing through a glowing Milky Way.

No Kuna, yet, but then might not have notice with eyes closed. Slept, read, slept all day with good breeze, interspersed with the occasional williwaw, coming through cracked hatch. Sustenance was cereal and handfulls (is that a proper word?) of nuts, but did summon energy to make dinner of dumpling noodles with cream of chicken soup. Leftovers means never having to say you're hungry. Wind genny has topped batteries, so may watch Serenity movie, last chapter of Firefly series. May just sleep. May sleep through movie.

With Inspiration Lady plan slow excursion northwestward tomorrow toward Gulf of San Blas, friends and eventually the Canal. Somewhere along the way, a perfect mola awaits purchase.

"Doing nothing is very hard to do... you never know when you're finished." - Leslie Nielsen

Jack

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

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