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Anthem Adrift
Better Than Charlie
01/25/2010, Tiadup, Kuna Yala

January 25

Dragged reluctant carcass from slumber at 0600 for an early go at clearing in. Customs guy was disinclined at 0700, so marked time at 'airport' restaurant eating something resembling an Egg McMuffin after pointing out, then addition of, vacant egg. A gaggle of American women, just alighted from early Air Panama twin otter, ordered coffee and ate their own food. Bussing the table was least they could do. I'm guessing Baptist missionaries trying to save the Kuna soul from Catholicism.

Finally got cruising permit and immigration stamp subsequent to enduring senor official declaiming, in Espana (no comprende), about ARC boats arriving in San Blas, but failing to clear in until Colon. Besides still smoldering discontent with Panama and general bureaucratic pique, Kuna Yala probably gets to keep much of the fees. He seemed happy enough as I left, sanctioned for two months, $49 lighter.

As yesterday, location became rolly and remained thus after first move, so sailed, under yankee and staysail only, short distance to Lemmon Cays (yet another beguiling anchorage) for possible 0-dark thirty departure (decision will follow 0-dark hundred alarm, shattering dreams) with straighter shot toward Isla Linton. Was accosted by ulu-borne fish peddler before anchor set. Wanted $7 for a nice little yellow-fin. Should have held out for 4, but settled on 5. Now full as a tick with plenty for morning. Nearly as delectable for breakfast as cold pizza, especially with beer. Regrettable sobriety until setting hook in afternoon will dampen gustatory extravaganza.


Red Sky at Night, Sailor's Delight
01/24/2010, Porvenir, Kuna Yala

January 24

Again sailed off anchor for tack downwind through Lemmon Cays to Carti Sugdup (Soog-Doop), near the mainland and 5 miles south of Porvenir. Anchored near a departing French boat which was delayed when a rock the size of Gibraltar was caught in its Bruce (no Cal, that's neither naughty nor painful). Alas, no monkeys and the longitude's way off.

This island, like all the Cartis, is narrow alleys with no open area. Due to seasonal cruise ship calls it is mola heaven (did not) and has a Kuna museum as main reason for my visit. Listening to Senor Davis, the 'curator' who seems high on the US for saving Kuna bacon in 1925 during the revolution against Panama (didn't mention our hand in precipitating the conflict to begin with), was more interesting than modest display.

Since anchorage was rolly and customs in Porvenir opens early, decided to motor up there for the night. Leaned against furled staysail at the bow to watch a family of dolphins, two larger and one small, leaping and effortlessly riding Anthem's bow as our setting sun turned the sky red over Punta San Blas to port.


Eating, Highly Overrated
01/23/2010, Chichime, Kuna Yala

January 23

Notwithstanding previous comment, relatively few Balboas (marginally drinkable local brew and incidentally, unit of currency, AKA one US dollar, required to buy a can) last night produced less than optimum fettle this morning. Suspect brewer uses alternate products when barley and hops run low. Barring unavailability of anything else, will attempt, hereafter, to eschew chemistry project gone wrong.

Forecast is shaping up to make Tuesday best for hop to Isla Linton, so expect to buy Mike & Barb, "Astarte", a decent, cold beer in three days if they've left any. Speaking of friends (theirs), spoke on VHF with "Sapphire", Tayana 42 - Bob & Sandy, from home town Tierra Verde out cruising since 2002, who know additional mutual friends Richard and Rene, "Sea Tryst".

Had determined that mola lust had been sufficiently accommodated until Venacio, "Master Mola Maker" (his card says so (the card did not actually speak)), came by midday. Signed by him, they really are the best, very intricate and fine. Although parting with significant dinero and a too-small T-shirt during bargaining, expect to have retained ability to eat during coming month. Inspiration Lady may discover the joy of fasting unless material used is secretly a high end comestible.


Sit. Stay. Good Boy
01/22/2010, Chichime, Kuna Yala

January 22

Sailed off anchor to glide out of anchorage this morning for a lovely, somewhat unusual upwind sail west southwest to Chichime. Took all morning to make the 12 miles, but worth it. Normal northeast trades are forecast to return Tuesday or Wednesday in time, he said hopefully, to make 40 mile westward passage to Linton in expected 8 - 11 foot seas.

Passed by Isla Moron which has no good anchorage, possibly suggesting a reason for its name. Clarity and motion of water around reefs makes staying out of trouble pretty easy, but going from here to there, carelessly, can put one into a dead end, suggesting another name - Moron Channel. San Blas cruising guide should have a chapter: More on Navigation.

Saying goodbye to Bristol Rose (Robert, Trish, Rex, Elliot and Owen) took us late into the evening and cost $5 at the beach bar (5 X 5 shack with propane frig.) for a dandy buzz. Wish them safe journey to the land of Oz, scheduled arrival end of July.

Expect to hang here in Chichime tomorrow taking inventory and cleaning in anticipation of trip home in 10 days, but otherwise burning calories consistent with stasis.


A Revision of Beauty
01/21/2010, Eastern Holandes, Kuna Yala

January 21

Anchorage just west is called the Hot Tub, this one the Swimming Pool. Little Bar-B-Que Island in the far eastern Holandes is off to Anthem's starboard bow with several islands astern and crashing surf on either side. Evocative of Grenadine's Tobago Cays, it is a place of surpassing beauty.

After four-day washy, washy, washy, skivvies are fresh & clean. They are also dry, to the degree that concept has meaning here. May try to shorten future process with less 'automation' and more exertion.

Having dropped out of sight and sound, "Bristol Rose" was finally located in Chichime (CHEE-che-May), their last stop before departing San Blas Saturday AM for Canal transit, I believe, next Wednesday. No opportunity to see them again until Oz as World ARC beats feet through Pacific with limited dilly-dallying (no relation to Howdy Doody's pal).

New and improved plan, revising revised revision of previous plan that revised all other revisions of revised plan revisions... where was I? Where's the rum? Anyway, may do this: Chichime Friday, Lemmon Cays Saturday, Carti Islands Sunday, Porvenir Monday to clear in and buy sim card at neighboring Wichubhuala (witch-oo-AH-lah), then, depending on weather, Isla Linton (lean-tone), forty miles west and much closer to Colon and the Canal. Will place boat in adjacent Panamarina on following Saturday for February first flight to Florida. Fooey, you fluently fulminate? Hey, it could happen exactly like that!


A Resolute, but Leisurely Carom Through Paradise
01/20/2010, Coco Bandero Cays, Kuna Yala

January 20

Due to limited time, the sad state of assigning a destination to each coming day forces positive, if languid, use of mental processes. Internet, virtually unavailable in San Blas, is needed to research and order bits and pieces to assure delivery in St. Pete for return to Panama around February 7. Figure all orders must be afoot by January 29, so prudence requires arrival Linton or Portobello NLT 27th.

Lovely Coco Bandero Cays, specifically Dupwala, is today's home. Big reefs protecting and attending small palm-filled islands and clear water provide a most excellent cruising area. Some folks come for a visit and stay for years.

No villages near popular anchorages in western San Blas, but myriad ulu-borne vendors of lobster, bread, veggies and molas make their way, often several miles, out to distant boats. Lobster guy from yesterday failed me, but Emily Grace filled gap with invite for eats.

Have yet to chance upon another "Anthem", but there are two "Akkas". Boat names down here tend not to be cutesy. Not sure how "Naughty Bear" fits that theory. "World-wide Traveller" seems a touch much, but perhaps they are and want everyone to know. Other than for loved ones, names tend to express the joy of freedom: "Neverland", "Wonderland", "Blue Skies", Going South", "Anthem".


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