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Anthem Adrift
Git-R-Done
02/22/2010, Shelter Bay Marina, Panama

February 22

News tidbits: A power boat on 'C' dock is called Sea Hearse. Apparently has something to do with carrying dead fish, but still bad mojo. It is always balmy in Panama, but temps have been hovering in the mid-90s with little wind and are forecast to go higher. Still fine sleeping, but even with acclimation, afternoons get toasty. Couple who signed on to handle lines have backed out, so still looking. Any cruising club buddies wanting to spend several hundred bucks (each) to see the Panama Canal from the inside, have three days to get here. Don't delay, first four win!

Got measured, filled out voluminous paperwork and received a ship identification number (3009803. If they bestow those in sequence, that's a pant-load of ships) for Canal transit on Friday. Mounted and wired external VHF cockpit speaker, finished installation of raw water pump, ran engine to check that and to heat oil for changing, performed full check of new inverter/charger without any hint of charred insulation, installed newly welded Voyager wind steering casting and messed around with some other crap that hasn't, at this moment, found its way from short-term memory into consciousness.

Fearing possibility of emergency shutdown as happened last two days, performed a precautionary termination of activity around 1800 for prophylactic ingestion of medicinal rum and coke. To assure continued health and safety, applied a second dose. Seemed to work. May ask around to see if anyone else has noticed ameliorative properties of this treatment.

Jack

PS Probably owe Larry some royalties. Come and get it big guy!

Whittling Them Up to Size
02/21/2010, Shelter Bay Marina, Panama

February 21

Measurement of boat delayed until tomorrow. Hoping Friday transit is not pushed back as Mark & Dana, who will be on Sunday flight home, have volunteered to handle 2 of 4 lines. Buddies who crossed Friday/Saturday have proffered their services, so may abuse those friendships if necessary. Buying help is $130 a body.

Installed new raw water pump today after three-coating it with Westerbeke red. Will crank down screws tomorrow after sealer cures. Two big chunks are done and yet ample, all-important activities anxiously await accomplishment anon. Shutdown circuit again tripped around 1800, requiring additional remedial procedures ashore. After wandering away yesterday (guilt transference), computer remains behind, confined in locked boat - tough love.

The dentist recommended by Shelter Bay is Lisette Abrego Wang. Would make my day to discover she married a hockey player named Levi Muhammed Blutarski.

Because couple from first paragraph will not be returning to Shelter Bay, storage of four large travel duffels until they disembark will preclude assembling drifter in snuffing sock (this is not a weapon, Cal) until Balboa. Otherwise, a multitude of small projects (this is how most big ones begin) tomorrow will doubtlessly forestall ennui.

Jack

Adrenaline, Rushing the Wrong Way
02/21/2010, Shelter Bay Marina, Panama

Pzzfft! Ballast

February 20

Hope, one day, to catch up on blog photos. Despite making camera go "pzzfft", there should be pictures for most days. New Sealife DC1000 arrived yesterday with FedEx bonanza, but learning to use it may languish due higher priorities.

Installed Prosine inverter/charger, turned it on, then off, to check proper wiring and cleaned up installation mess. At this point fun-meter pegged, activating shutdown circuits until corrective action taken. Proceeded to bar for this purpose.

After successful remediation, pleasant buzz was somewhat dampened by realization that computer had been left on dock near Goin' South and had gone missing. Remember "attention span of a three-year-old" and "shouldn't be allowed to wander about without adult supervision"? Fortunately, for the moment, Liz is in India and unavailable to complete commitment papers. A good Samaritan left it on deck early this morning. New Year's, month's, week's, ... nano-second's resolution is to staple it to some body part for future extra-vehicular activity.

Jack

But Can It Continue?
02/19/2010, Shelter Bay Marina, Panama

February 19

Three FedEx shipments in country for eleven days awaiting clearance and two not due until next week showed up in Shelter Bay Marina two hours after me. Each and every bit appears in perfect order, sporting correct part numbers and tagged with modest customs duty. That must have put a ripple in the karmic bow wave. Not wanting to further tempt fate, leap-frogged a hundred and ten pounds of stuff out to boat so to maintain continuous visual contact.

Having not properly cleared out of Porvenir, decided to use an emissary to check into Colon. Stanley will also handle Canal duty if he can finesse me past that pesky first problem. Inspiration Lady and Jackster should be through Gatun Locks this evening and displacing Pacific water tomorrow. Going South starts Sunday, Anthem next Friday... ideally. Watch it on action-packed http://www.pancanal.com/eng/photo/camera-java.html.

Tomorrow morning will consist of shopping and meeting with agent, then new parts should begin replacing ailing ones during afternoon and Sunday. Hope to help someone through the ditch next week (maybe Going South). Four competent line handlers are required per boat and if you don't tell, I won't.

"We are here on Earth to do good to others. What the others are here for, I don't know." W. H. Auden (1907 - 1973) (For Barb and all my progressive friends.)

Jack

Adios and Adieu
02/18/2010, Panamarina, Panama

February 18

Planned to continue using Ham for email, but Sailmail is just as slick and has stronger stations so, over time, will probably use it more often. Only downside is an online time limit virtually missing from Ham. If propagation is poor and Sailmail is working, may not try very hard to get winlink. Address is WDC4957 @sailmail.com. Don't be a stranger.

Said goodbye at dinner tonight to good friends from St. Pete, Michael & Barbara on "Astarte", for what promises to be awhile. They plan to explore the Bay Islands of Honduras next fall after ducking storm season in San Blas. May get the itch to see Pacific in a year or two, so who knows.

Bought dog biscuits in Puerto Rico, 80 cents for nearly two pounds of these things. Keep forgetting to take them along, but it's just as well. Even a saved puppy prowling the restaurant whose ears are half his body weight wouldn't eat one. Sawdust molded with Elmer's glue? It's embarrassing when a starving waif looks at you with contempt. Got to spring for a higher level bribe.

Resurgent wind is making batteries happy and keeping saloon more pleasant. Sleeping under a hatch-deflected breeze is the best. Tomorrow in Shelter Bay may bring air conditioning. Drying out (the boat not me, heaven forfend) will be nice. Sultry works better for women than for weather.

Jack

Attitude
02/17/2010, Panamarina, Panama

February 17

Attempting to travel from Panamarina (boonies) to Quatro Alto shopping center (close to Colon), Astartes and I waited on road, 3 kilometers from marina, for an hour and a half as two full buses passed us by, to stand for an hour of the hour and a half trip in a converted school bus with no hand holds and a driver with spastic-brake-foot syndrome. Michael asked rhetorical question, "why are we doing this?", to receive rhetorical answer "will get back to you". This particular adventure took all day to buy groceries, have lunch, store purchases and eventually indulge in dessert, ala Sylvie, and adult beverage back at marina.

Indeed, why? Every such adventure while cruising, up with which few people would put (blame Mrs. McCaskel, high school English teach who was always highly disappointed in me), is a patch in the quilt of a fuller existence. Does the lifestyle engendering this sort of ordeal make one happier than the guys who are born, live and die within a 50 mile radius and talk in their elding (not a real word) of the time they drove to Disney World for a week? Not likely. Although some individuals are congenitally happy (or otherwise), that state seems more to evolve from meeting ones own expectations than from anything else. Some people need to know and some may just intuitively know better.

"Money doesn't always bring happiness. People with ten million dollars are no happier than people with nine million dollars." - Hobart Brown

Last day here, tomorrow, will consist in settling bill (always a lovely experience), changing engine oil (ditto) and preparing boat for forecast 9 foot seas during expected 5 hour sail to Shelter Bay on Friday where 5 shipped packages will presently appear. (Another triumph of hope over experience?)

Jack

They're All Good
02/16/2010, Panamarina, Panama

She Wants Me

February 16

Began day with no propagation, no electricity and rain. Another beautiful day in paradise. Then Jean Paul cranked up the generator until power was restored, internet subbed for SSB and sun came out. Another beautiful day in paradise.

Fought crowd to get single usable washing machine and drier. Clothes are fresh and clean. Camera and pump have been sent. There is room at Shelter Bay for Friday. Dinghy cover is being repaired. Another... Oh wait, already said that.

Friends on Inspiration Lady, Jackster, Going South and others are anchored in the Flats, Canal waiting area, for a schedule. Carnaval apparently delayed them from tomorrow, Wednesday, until, probably, Friday or Saturday. Anthem will go to Shelter Bay Marina to retrieve several packages and varnish teak before attempting transit by end of February. Using agent is less pricey than originally told, so will probably go with well recommended Stanley.

Dropped CruiseEmail as commercial SSB server to go with Sailmail (commerce prohibited on Ham (KI4UWV) connections). New address will probably be WDC4957 @sailmail.com, but will not be available for a week or so. Will check it irregularly, so just as well you not use it unless offering to sell the Brooklyn Bridge for a really good price, naughty pictures of Julie Banderas or some such.

Jack

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.

Jack

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.

Jack

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.

Jack

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