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Anthem Adrift
The Program Begins
02/26/2010, Shelter Bay Marina, Panama

Jack, Jack, Patricia, Barbara, Mike

February 26 AM

"Anthem" will begin its transit through Gatun locks, first set of three, this afternoon or early evening, Friday, February 26, sometime after 1700... probably. Passage through the two Pacific side Miraflores locks may happen before noon tomorrow, Saturday. Schedules are somewhat fluid, but it will start today.

If you have a high boredom threshold and enjoy watching paint dry, go to today and/or tomorrow to watch for a cutter-rigged, clipper-bowed, 38 foot, green canvassed sailboat (probably the smallest one in the locks), likely rafted with one or two others. If anyone should happen to see us, please take a snapshot and attach to an email at [email protected] Sadly, crew will be too occupied with duties to assure positive identification by mooning the camera.


Cleared for Takeoff
02/25/2010, Shelter Bay Marina, Panama

Ready for Transit

February 25

Roast chickens are aboard along with non-fuzzy bread. Four one hundred and twenty five foot 7/8" lines and six tires came on this afternoon. Michael & Barbara are in the quarter berth and we are all virtually asleep at 2100 after a few adult beverages and dinner.

Checking account is way lighter, but transit payment has been made and zarpe is in hand for passage all the way to Galapagos.

Should go into first lock around 1700, but times apparently change minute by minute. If watching grass grow gets you all giggly, watch the Gatun locks tomorrow and Miraflores locks Saturday on: Will try to send a time update when more is known.


A Phalanx of Phantastic Pholk
02/24/2010, Shelter Bay Marina, Panama

February 24

The roster is full. Jack & Patricia Tyler from "Whoosh" will man the last 2 corners of Anthem for tying her up to other boats, tugs or the lock walls. They are very involved with the SSCA (Seven Seas Cruising Association), plan to transit in the near future and are delightful people. The provided food may suck, but sheets are clean and there will be plenty of booze. Not sure they indulge in adult beverage, so perhaps a showing of (classic and required equipment on every cruising yacht) "Captain Ron" would provide sufficient mind enhancement.

Someone organized a potluck tonight. It was well attended, including some people who can actually cook. I took a dozen deformed deviled eggs (all the yolks had drifted to one end of their respective albumen) which were all snapped up before anyone could get word back to stragglers. I've made them twice, so they have therefore become my specialty. Yowser!! These events are a great way to meet people who are as weird as you (in this case, me... OK, not that weird).

Speaking of victuals, discovered that sandwich bread has molded and (after defrosting ice-caked freezer) meatage is meager, so plan to catch 0800 bus to grocery manana por la manana for comestibles. Would it be cheating to buy a few roasted chickens? I think not!

Boat is operational and clean(ish), so full necessity for tomorrow is a little shopping, replacing renovated dinghy chaps, cleaning prop (Canal authority requires swearing to eight knot capability (OK?)... minimum five (OK!)) and then entertaining Mike and Barb, who will remain over-nights through Sunday (I'm thinking 'bar'). To the delight of millions, this blog may suffer neglect over the next three days.


Convoking a Convenient Convention
02/23/2010, Shelter Bay Marina, Panama

February 23

The Dolphin Cruising Club of Tampa Bay is an organization of sailing folks on the west coast of Florida who... wait a minute, don't tell me... like to cruise, often together, in sailboats. The term organization is a tad solemn for a group whose motto is, "We ain't got no noble purpose", but they do lots of stuff, planned, unplanned and occasionally haphazard. Anyway, since members Michael & Barbara from Astarte are here and have agreed to help Anthem through the Canal, and ignoring input from the other 84 boats, we have declared ourselves a quorum and will have a long weekend cruise-between-the-oceans plus a rules-making congress. As there are currently no regulations of any kind, every member should plan to attend. Burgees will be awarded for silliest costume and naughtiest limerick. Bocce ball winner gets a free trip to the Galapagos.

Still need two line handlers as second couple in a row has scrubbed for scheduling reasons. Have left message with a cork board notee and have also advertised, but will feel better when all four positions are locked in. Even if your vessel is in the middle of a raft, crew is required at each corner for tying to adjacent boats. But what am I thinking? See first paragraph.

At least the boat is ready for the Pacific. Now if only someone could arrange all the mess aboard into some coherent order. Then, of course, someone would be required to remember what items there actually are and where to find them. And then if this person could teach me how to speak fluent Spanish, French, English and to understand everything they know about all above, I wouldn't need them.


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.


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.


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.


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

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.)


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 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.


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?)


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