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Anthem Adrift
Buenos Tardes Oceano Pacifico
02/28/2010, La Playita de Amador, Panama

Barabara in Miraflores Locks

February 28

Ran through down locks tied to steel boat (at their request as was told) that had pulled out Amel's cleat. We insisted on being controlling boat so as to take full credit for any spectacular disaster. Ricardo, our excellent second-day advisor, did a masterful job of coordination, although he tended to micro-manage heading, virtually in single degrees, to stay lock center. This tendency was probably irrelevant to his eventually, self-admitted poor depth perception.

We entered Miraflores locks (the ones with an internet camera) around 1245, earlier than expected, and bobbed into denser Pacific water about 1330. Departing last lock, standing beneath protecting bimini, I experienced uncomfortable dampness from great crocodile tears while watching crew work lines and break apart raft in a torrential rain shower. The thoughtless miscreants then dripped water all over cockpit. Would have docked their pay had there been any.

Reunion dinner at Ranchita restaurant with numerous previously transiting buddies resulted in a raucous good time and, as has been alleged, but not confirmed, considerable consumption of adult beverage. After a relatively early night, my four crew left early this morning for journey back to, respectively, Shelter Bay and Panamarina.

May see a transit from deck level next week unless Jack & Patricia ("Whoosh") can find a line handler who is actually competent. Otherwise will have opportunity to dodge lead-weighted, sender line monkey fists (no actual monkeys are harmed during this procedure) and sail across the continent twice in a week.

The entire experience was, gratifyingly, both fascinating and uneventful.

Jack

Plugging Along
02/27/2010, Gstun Lake, Panama

Gatun Lake Moorings

February 27

Boooring! Traversing the continent is less exciting than it sounds. Gatun Lake is very nice, but motoring along isn't that much challenge. Galliard Cut, dynamited through solid rock, should prove at least interesting. Since we passed Gatun Locks after dark, don't know whether it was possible to see, but the next set should allow a sighting. Appears we will arrive at the Pedro Miguel Lock at noon which will put us in camera range around 1330 or a little later at Miraflores Locks. Just a reminder if anyone happens to catch us, please take a screen shot to pass on.

Besides cold roast chicken (my contribution) for dinner last night we had fresh broccoli and real boiled potato. Cupcakes for dessert. Picking good crew keeps you healthy.

Jack

Eighty Four Feet High
02/26/2010, Gstun Lake, Panama

Gatun Locks at Night

February 26 PM

After a quick climb up the learning curve, we were pretty good by the third lock. Went through, center lock, alone, behind "Sichem Eagle" owned by a chemical company, carrying "Dangerous Cargo" as explained in gigantic letters across its pilot tower. Started around 1930 and popped out the top at 2100. We are essentially rafted up in Gatun Lake to one of the earlier three boats to go through with a huge mooring buoy between. Locking down tomorrow should be with a steel boat that ripped a cleat out of the Amel up with which it came.

Fransisco, our advisor tonight, said we will start locking down at noon after crossing through the isthmus. Ought to be on anchor no later than 1500 with friends who transited a week ago. Tomorrow is party night. Astartes and Whooshes will both stay over to celebrate. Do not look for a message until Sunday... or Monday... or so.

Jack

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 http://www.pancanal.com/eng/photo/camera-java.html 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 anthem38@tampabay.rr.com. Sadly, crew will be too occupied with duties to assure positive identification by mooning the camera.

Jack

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: http://www.pancanal.com/eng/photo/camera-java.html. Will try to send a time update when more is known.

Jack

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.

Jack

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