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Anthem Adrift
Behind the Times
03/03/2010, La Playita de Amador, Panama

Anthem from Miraflores Camera

March 3

Due to flagging priority, blog may have gotten a bit out of kilter. Some wayward posts could be wandering about, causing havoc, in one of the eleven or so super- string dimensions. Hope there's no subsequent unravelling in the fabric of space-time. Just in case, don't look at position reports. According to quantum theory, observing Anthem in La Playita, could cause a simultaneous position change which might result in whiplash. If any of that made the slightest sense, hire a physicist to glare at you with undisguised scorn.

Speaking of sightings, thank you Thierry and Fitz for sending along a few Miraflores pictures (whenever one of them makes it to the blog, we're on starboard - that's the right side, Cal) of Anthem's crew displaying masterful sea and locksmanship. Detail is small, so one has to look really, really closely to see the consummate skill. Mike and Jack (Tyler) are on port and starboard bow, respectively. Patricia and Barbara are working aft, port and starboard.

Lack of an actual memory combined with regrettable loss of Daytimer today has caused yet another wrinkle in the local space, time discontinuum. It's my Linus blanket. Can reproduce look and feel with spare wallet, but notes and calendar insert through April are just a glimmer from a receding past. Shakes should stop by end of March. Everything will be OK again entering May. So... what's on the agenda for tomorrow?

"Time is that quality of nature which keeps events from happening all at once. Lately it doesn't seem to be working." - Anonymous

Jack

Maiden Madness
03/02/2010, La Playita de Amador, Panama

March 2

Boy, is it nice to be in March. 'February' is awfully difficult to type. Fortunately, it will not be necessary to type February now for 11 months unless February is used in a message or February is in the name of a boat or for some other reason February is necessary. I've just had it with February, because typing the word February just sucks. And who came up with that spelling, anyway?

Wifi gods cast their blessings upon me today by allowing internet at two of what should be three places nearby with the service. After utter failure yesterday when some, but not others, were able to connect to the world, had contemplated the customary virgin/volcano sacrifice. Insurmountable logistical hurdles forestalled that notion and, given today's success, it's probably just as well.

Jackster and Inspiration Lady spent a boat buck each yesterday on provisions at Mega Depot. After already moving the water-line up a foot and a half, Gary (IL) may have to block the scuppers to remain afloat. If Anthem takes on that much, hope anyone considering crewing won't mind bunking atop stove between meals.

"There is a theory which states that if ever anybody discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened." - Douglas Adams

Jack

Three Varieties of Sloth
03/01/2010, La Playita de Amador, Panama

Sloth, the Mammal

February 28

Yesterday was pretty mellow in La Playita de Amador, on causeway/breakwater east of Pacific approach to Canal. Visited with Jackster and Inspiration Lady for awhile, then made acquaintance with Keith, a veterinarian sailing Atalanta, a Cabo Rico 38 "B" plan set up remarkably like Anthem. He is headed to Galapagos in a week or so. Gave me, on a flash drive, cruising guides for: cruiser related stuff in Panama City, Coconut Milk Run (standard, easy way though South Pacific), Equador including Galapagos and French Polynesia including Marquesas. Way cool.

Despite relaxed temper, performed a few productive activities including cleaning boat, disposing of trash/tires and wiring DC outlet near chart table. Oh wait, also ran nylon line through dinghy chap skirt.

March 1

Spent most of today shlepping a computer around Las Brisas and Flamenco, failing to find the working internet connection necessary for numerous reasons. Then tonight, dragged thirty pounds of Caribbean charts and guides to sell during book swap at Balboa Yacht Club. Would have made taxi fare back (typically $2) except for rookie mistake of not asking Cabbie's price before departure. Except for re- covering dink and returning ropes to Stanley, could have just stayed in bed.

A couple of sloths live in a tree near Playita. Unlike their three-toed relatives, who, I am told, are quite feisty, these two-toed guys are very affable. One can imagine the thinking process, "Man, I just don't feel confident with only two saber-toothed-tiger sized claws, but if I had just one more I could really kick butt." How can an animal without hint of a single fast-twitch muscle be mean? Oddly, they remind me of my long gone Uncle Albert with a snoot full.

Jack

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

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.

Jack

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