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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.

Jack

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.

Jack

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.

Jack

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.

Jack

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!

Jack

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".

Jack

Langoustine is My Scene
01/19/2010, Kanlildup, Kuna Yala

January 19

No time to wait for laundry in Nargana, so broke out washing machine, obtained from Richard Davis, for first usage. Two large, covered pool chemical buckets with socks, briefs, water and detergent now agitate in dinghy for 24 hour wash sequence. Rinsing should conclude tomorrow with what promises to be a highly disappointing spin cycle.

Motor-sailed to Green Island for reunion with Jackster who took liberty of buying an extra lobster. As poor fellow had passed away before transfer, decided on early dinner, boiled with butter. What is the commonality between a Korean run over by a bus and a lobster? They're both crushed Asians (works better verbally). Have ordered delivery, tomorrow, of two more in next anchorage. Need bigger pot. May grill in foil with butter and fresh garlic. May acquire lust for fresh lobster.

Coco Bandero tomorrow, working ever so slowly toward closest available sim cards at Wichubhuala and, apparently, non-urgent clear-in with customs and immigration at nearby Porvenir.

Despite use of several physical and psychological techniques employed since Cartagena, depth sounder has proven reluctant to impart distance of keel from bottom at critical moments. Often murky water nearer mainland has made this dereliction of duty of greater concern than in current clear water, but new sounder is on growing list before Pacificating.

Jack

Mayberry Not
01/18/2010, Nargana & Corazon de Jesus, Kuna Yala

January 18

Since only a trifling further than Isla Tigre and sail was magnificent, ended up at Nargana, one of two connected islands that have given up traditional ways. It features television, bars and crime. Highly skeptical that felonious behavior fills it, but there's a jail just in case. No sign of Aunt Bee. Also at hand are a bank, internet (dubiousness reigns) and really loud generator to supply power for all the nifty civilization.

Skimpy skein of skivvies demands depositing duds in local laundry lest numerous noses notice. Turnaround time determinative. May move manana.

Jack

Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock
01/16/2010, Tannaquetupu, Kuna Yala

January 17

SSBed this morning with Aussie friends, Bristol Rose, arrived 14th from St. Lucia. Got the stink beat out of them for eight days, particularly north of Colombia. Good thing about going with a group (they sail with the World ARC as far as Australia) is support. Bad thing is weather windows be hanged, you go when they do. Likely this will be their worst passage of the trip. Should cover 50 NM or so to their location by Tuesday.

Motors are prohibido past a certain point up the Mono River (old guy whose riverbank access to his territory is across from sign didn't seem so happy to see us), so most of tour was spent with three paddles dragging my Caribe. Perhaps this limitation is to give crocs a passable shot at those who encroach on their territory. Never saw one, they are said to be rare, so acquired no knowledge of their taste for hypalon or stringy old human. Also no contact with Tarzan, but did experience some of the movie soundtrack.

Finally replaced old Dahl fuel filter with shiny new Racor this afternoon. Unfortunately shiny new fittings are wrong barb size so it's ballast for now. Budget Marine in Panama City or West Marine in St Pete will enjoy my infusion of dollars. Typical boat project took three times plan and requires unavailable parts.

Isla Tigre tomorrow, Lemon Cays Tuesday, clear in to Panama at Porvenir Wednesday morning. Muck about San Blas for a few more days then head for internet to prepare for return home February 1. Next several weeks will not allow wallowing in seven deadly sins, particularly sloth, with possible exception for gluttony.

Jack

Two Piles of What?
01/16/2010, Tannaquetupu, Kuna Yala

January 16

Expecting slightly better wind angle, unwrapped main in anticipation of using some of that really expensive sailing stuff with which boat was built. Not today. Wind backed and weather guy's dire sea-state forecast, unrealized yesterday, was a touch more applicable today. Concern mounted, for awhile, that Anthem would fling off uninsured dinghy and motor, clinging desperately to davits, but stern (one may disregard minor pun) reprimand and judicious trimming of appropriate straps quelled nascent disaster.

After exhaustive deliberation, strategy was formulated to visit island village of San Ignacio de Tupile (two-PEE-lay) this afternoon, then explore river manana. Ubiquitous Colombian trading boat was on small town dock making dinghy mooring a challange, but high skill and perseverance paid off yet again. Several citizens were eager to help and almost did. Arecio (erase-e-o), who speaks nearly as much English as I habla Espanol showed us around. As there is basically one street on this very narrow island, it didn't take so long. Again struck by ingenuous friendliness of Kuna. Purchase of very nice mola punctuated tour.

Molas, for the uninitiated, are intricate, hand-made appliques depicting, mostly, abstracted local flora and fauna. Prices rise as proximity to cruise ships around Porvenir increase. Today's unique purchase is map of Panama with previously discussed accoutrement.

For those wondering where one 'goes' in a densely packed town completely surrounded by water, outhouses stick out over the shoreline everywhere. Nobody swims near home.

And so, with this much anticipated (will not embarrass Bob or Cal by mentioning them... oops!) scatological comment behind us, adios for now.

Jack

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