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Anthem Adrift
Incomplete Waste of a Day
02/15/2010, Panamarina, Panama

February 15

Due to limited interest in Carnival around most of US, was able to get train moving for repair and replacement of engine pump and new camera (fried beyond help; may be awhile until pictures catch up with blog). Will get excellent price on new one and frankly deserve a good spanking for not checking voltage. Will endeavor to be more observant henceforth. "Once burned, twice only singed"... slow learner.

In interest of avoiding dubious culinary efforts, dinghied through mangrove tunnel with Michael and Barbara to Hans' restaurant across from Isla Linton for early dinner (Panamarina restaurant is closed until Wednesday). Very nice pulpo (octopus) was enhanced by beer and preparation avoiding any evidence of tentacles.

Yesterday, created permanent installation of 500 watt inverter as backup for new heavy duty Prosine 2.0 inverter/charger still awaiting customs clearance. Earliest likely delivery of same would be Ash Wednesday depending on bureaucratic hangoverage.

Tomorrow should consist of massive boat chores. Regrettably, the best, coolest time to work is before I get up and then it's happy hour.


Frying More Than Eggs
02/14/2010, Panamarina, Panama

February 14

In organizing (there's that ugly work again) and labeling all electrical connectors, chargers, bits and pieces, managed to attach an identical 12v charger (for DVD player) to new 5v Sealife camera. Oopsie! She be completely dead. Didn't smell, feel or see anything untoward, so hope damage is minor and does not require unit be shipped back to Eastern Slobovia via donkey train at cost only slightly more than original cost of camera.

Despite light wind and solar panels retracted by proprietor, Jean-Paul, after my departure from Panamarina two weeks ago, batteries kept frig frosty and food same general color and flavor. This in no way implies any plan to forgo Silvie's cooking in favor of choking down on-board cuisine. Period of calm to finally end Thursday accompanied by 9 foot seas for expected sail to Shelter Bay Marina at Canal mouth on Friday. In future will have to work on timing.

SSB propagation has been less than optimal for sending these things, but don't look for a reprieve. Have managed to get them out eventually.


Horsing Around Until Next Week
02/13/2010, Panamarina, Panama

February 13

With new gear and a little time have begun a bit of reorganizing (even with no aptitude, if one keeps at it, something eventually works better... probably). Removed dinghy chaps for repair and restitching by Herve (pretty sure that's French for Harvey). As a large chunk of corrosion had warped aluminum engine mounting plate (in the interest of clarity, the mounting plate, not the engine in this case, is aluminum. This is not to say that the Johnson doesn't have significant amounts of aluminum, just that... never mind) away from transom, removed it to clean, seal and reinstall at some foreseeable future time. Fortunately, dock is rowably (not a real word) close. Also began studying how to operate new Sealife camera. The preceding plus a few other minor activities doesn't seem like much, but it took all day. Tomorrow promises more of the same. The allure of cruising continues to amaze.

Tomorrow night's dining may be at Caballo Loco, literally 'horse crazy'. Assume this term is figurative and menu includes a variety. Restaurant at Panamarina, normally closed on Sunday and Monday, will remain so Tuesday as well for Carnaval (apparently correct spelling), so the specter of eating own cooking rears its ugly head. Speaking of which, did not know rotten potatoes could smell so bad. There are no cool, dry places on a boat down here.

Tentative plan is to head for Shelter Bay Marina, inside west breakwater at Canal entrance, next Friday to begin preparation for transit. Expect shipped boxes will have arrived by then. Also expect a fruit bat to fly out of my ear (second choice of orifice as this is a 'G' rated site) and perform a tap-dance on my nose. Optimism runs high.


Don't Try This at Home
02/12/2010, Panamarina, Panama

February 12

The prodigal sailor returns to Panama, poorer, yet little wiser. Bringing 150 pounds of mostly boat bits with Delta's help was a two day adventure that required multiple forms of conveyance including the bed of a pick-up truck. Fedex contingent of this "replacement parts for yacht in transit", responsible for 103 pounds, has been in Panama City awaiting government indulgence for 4 days.

Having virtually never closed the sea-cock responsible for allowing cooling water into engine heat exchanger, doing so this time was nearly guaranteed, despite a large note, to cause what happened. Engine is OK, but raw water pump, overheated by dry former impeller, is now flooding bilge with significant amounts of salty liquid. Bugger! Rebuild is possible, but, given that Carnival, just begun today, will last a week, nothing happens until at least next Wednesday. Double bugger!

Another week in Panamarina is no hardship as beer is cold, the Clos boxed wine is drinkable "it's not good, but it's Clos" and Silvie's food is excellent (she's French, you know).


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 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.


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?


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.


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.


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S/V Anthem
Who: Jack Warren, Janice Holmes
Port: Weeki Wachee, FL
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