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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

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