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Anthem Adrift
This Little Piggy
01/28/2010, Panamarina, Panama

Anthem in Panamarina

January 28

Motored over to Panamarina dragging dinghy through pretty impressive seas. Glad not to have waited for sail from San Blas. Wind too strong from bad direction to back into opening between boats with just two, so hung off channel ball until after lunch. Michael (Astarte) played out long bow line, Jean Paul (Panamarina) pushed with dinghy and I reversed into slot. Don't anticipate that much fun departing.

Laundry, promised yesterday and left on Linton side, was dry but not folded (launderess had left for Panama City), so another lady folded while I (multi- tasking... isn't that a woman thing?) helped, drank a beer and contemplated return across rolly bay, through mangroves to moorings. Would have gone straight home, but in passing Astarte was offered more beer. Didn't want to be rude. They had Presidente, not that evil local stuff.

Will live on the edge during absence by letting frig run. If the sun doesn't shine and the wind doesn't blow to maintain batteries, box will become a very large petri dish. Also didn't pickle water-maker. This last a function of sloth (See! did get in a deadly sin besides gluttony) and stinginess. Will, however, be crying in my Balboa if this necessitates replacing way pricey membrane. Will think happy thoughts.

Bought (so thought) a camera on-line from Buy.com to replace broken Pentax. After canceling order because computer used was not in US (although I have an account with them and destination was Florida), they neglected notification. Only noticed while checking shipping status. Hope to have sorted it out with Skype call, but delivery is now delayed. Still thinking happy thoughts.

Jack

PS Sayonara for now

Where the Sun Don't Shine
01/27/2010, Isla Linton, Panama

January 27

It's a beautiful thing... so far. Four hours with internet (throughput capacity of ethernet cable was unchallenged) paid bills and stamped a minus sign in checkbook buying boat stuff. Savings take a hit, but what the hey, with social security beginning in March, expect to be living large on vast sums paid out from unlimited stockpile in US treasury lock box... Oh wait, funds are transferred directly from you. Thanks, young American workers, for supporting base of pyramid. Good luck getting to the top. Hey, put the pitchforks down, you helped elect 'em.

Due to total capitulation of roadblocks (money CAN buy happiness), timetable for flight home moves up to Saturday. Panamarina welcomes me in the morning, hotel reserved for Friday night and, assuming seats are available to Atlanta and then Tampa, should be freezing cojones off by Saturday afternoon. Hear temps in the 60s are not unheard of. How do people live like that?

Now (well, not right now) scrambling to pack and prep boat for earlier absence. Getting ducks, chickens and aardvarks in a row would be much simpler with access to a memory. Regrettably, both West Marine and Defender have backorders into the foreseeable future. Anyway, where would you stick the chip?

Jack

Lowdown on Upside of Coming and Going
01/26/2010, Isla Linton, Panama

Mangrove River

January 26

As the sun rises slowly over palm-lined beaches and clear, sparkling waters, we bid a fond farewell to the lovely vistas and friendly people of Kuna Yala. Perhaps we'll return one day to once again bask in the tranquility and beauty of this idyllic land. --- end of news reel ---

Departed Lemmon Cay before 0600, braving pre-dawn darkness. Following yesterday's track inbound to avoid narrow passage between reefs was less scary than might be imagined. If you can't see it, it's not there, right?. First half of trip close reaching in 4 foot choppy seas with two foresails and reefed main was good, then wind backed and filled. Last half was hard on it, just barely making last headland, but here I rock at Isla Linton in excellent time.

Dinked a mile or so through mangrove creek, ala Cayo Costa's "tunnel of love", to Panamarina for dinner with Michael & Barbara, "Astarte", sailing buddies from St. Pete, last seen departing Grenada in July. They leave on 29th for thirteen day, three coast (east, west and left) visit to US. Returned by moon and flashlight without becoming acquainted with any anacondas or crocodiles. Poling off reef at east end, however, will provoke transits, henceforth, during daylight.

Got the lowdown on drinking, eating, laundry, internet and, ummm, drinking (critical data at every new place), plus transport to both ends of Canal and procedure for entering Panamarina where Anthem will pine for my return after January 30. Tomorrow begins maximum work, minimum futzing segment of existence that may last until arrival in Las Perlas on Pacific side. Expect, however, to make most of any positive opportunities, especially in FL.

"In comic strips, the person on the left always speaks first." - George Carlin

Cartoon in November 2009 Latts and Atts Magazine (still catching up) was an exception. Although potentially disorienting, finely honed mental reflexes, thankfully, prevented psychic breakdown.

Jack

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

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