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Anthem Adrift
Do the Continental
03/13/2010, Colon, Panama

Whoosh Crew

March 13

Most everything encased in metal, except drinks, is stored securely. Six 2 liter bottles of Sprite have found themselves in bilge with head hose. A fastidious washing will proceed all partaking therefrom (ought to be a real word, but probably not). Canned drinks will live under dinette with some sort of proper restraint (he said confidently) not yet devised.

Returning to the Caribbean was relatively painless as all modes of transport operated as advertised. Taxi - reasonable without haggling. Bus to Colon - on time. Shelter Bay shopping bus - also on time. Checked to confirm location was still Panama. Inventory of comestibles, recently performed, indicated provisioning close to complete, but a few gaps, e.g. chunky peanut better and Fig Newtons, were filled during planned Rey Supermarket stop.

Patricia made dinner on Whoosh and induced rest of line handling crew, an Aussie couple (egregiously young and attractive), to stay. These guys sailed from UK after living there two years and will continue to Oz on a 27 foot Cascade. So, what were you doing at 30?

"By the time I'd grown up, I naturally supposed that I'd be grown up." - Eve Babitz


Movers and Shakers
03/12/2010, La Playita de Amador

March 12

Inventory of provisions, requiring evacuation of all food lockers, recommenced this morning with no concept of where it will all ultimately hide. Sole (floor, Cal) under dinette will have to suffice for some. Have visions of tuna cans launching through port-lights in a blow. Just what can go in the bilge where head hoses travel? Thinking of somewhere else for bread and teabags. All is a quandary to be fathomed (a little nautical lingo) in due course. Is a solved problem soluted? Perhaps a rum and coke will provide inspiration.

Jackster in Las Perlas, Inspiration Lady and Bristol Rose may go tomorrow. Can't wait to find a calm anchorage over there as Playita rolls like a drunken sailor. Trick is to get just drunk enough to synchronize.

Will be bussing to Colon (way better than Slouching to Gomorrah) tomorrow noonish to position for second sail across Continental divide. Jack & Patricia will bring their Pearson 424 (two companionway model) to the rockin', rollin' Pacific Sunday/Monday. Don't get those hopes up, but limited bloggage may result.

"The very purpose of existence is to reconcile the glowing opinion we have of ourselves with the appalling things that other people think about us." - Quentin Crisp

Sounds quite erudite at first reading until you realize it makes no sense.


Where and When?
03/11/2010, La Playita de Amador

Mi Ranchito

March 11

Two months in Panama? Not possible. I mean, it was just New Years in Cartagena about, what... couple of weeks... no?... ummmm... Dang!!! Where'd the time go? Expect another 6 days here, at least. Also, wish to admit a minor faux pas. Next destination after Las Perlas will remain predominantly Spanish speaking. It's the one after that with the lilting, mellifluous articulation.

Met good friends at Mi Ranchito to celebrate birthday for Jackie of "Inspiration Lady". Gary & she (married for freaking ever) are the guys who built their boat from scratch over 23 years. Presented her with used novel, lollipop and this limerick:

There once was a lady named Jackie Who married a guy, very wacky. He promised a yacht And that's what she got, But to make her build it was horribly tacky.

They're Canadian and so fun to tweak, but all in all, and despite his lust for Clamato juice (it's a particularly Canadian sickness), delightful folk. In fact, any jingoist tendencies one might be encumbered with will quickly dissipate while cruising. Acquainted with Germans, Dutch, French, Welsh (not really English), South Africans, Scandinavians, etc. Best friends are Canadian, English and Australian. Can't imagine a more interesting group of misfits.

Tentative plan (if you believe this, you might crave a certain bridge in NY): Enjoy helping "Whoosh" through Canal - Sunday and Monday (most likely bit), retrieve parts from PakYa Panama on Tuesday (least likely bit), depart for Las Perlas on Wednesday or Thursday, depart for Galapagos on Monday, 22 March, commune with sea lions (rather stinky beasts I'm told) before April Fool's Day for perhaps 20 days. You will know anon. Galapagos: By all accounts, one of the most interesting spots on the planet. If I know you (or possibly not) and you wish to visit (since Fitz & Angela have demurred) please initiate contact. Unlikely you will be disappointed.


PS This was way too wordy. Sorry.

Beatup or Up-beat?
03/10/2010, La Playita de Amador

Panama Sailing School

March 10

After early quarter mile walk to sit outside Panama Sailing School (most reliable wifi site) for third download of Sailmail (XPworld is happy again), met the usual suspects at Hung Dong (something like that) Chinese in mid-town Panama for dim sum (sign actually read dim son, perhaps for an idiot offspring although there was little evidence of cannibalism).

Rest of day consisted in stops at hardware, Abernathy chandlery, Mega Depot (large lots) and Riba Smith (grocery). Since heavy shopping was not anticipated, spent a paltry $675.33. The others, tapering off after previous days of running amok, were slightly lower. Concept is that cheap supplies here will last through expensive islands to Australia. Yes, but where do it go?

Some will run over to Las Perlas, on Saturday, for 7 to 10 day change of scene before returning here to retrieve parts from PakYa Panama freight forwarder. I will again be yachting across the continent this weekend, helping handle lines for Jack & Patricia on "Whoosh". Should be back on Monday when all ordered bits will have arrived... Stretching that "hope over experience" concept to its limit? I'm an optimistic guy! May head for The Pearls next week, assuming aforementioned 'hope' thing is realized, then keep going until spoken to en Francais.

"The nice part about being a pessimist is that you are constantly being either proven right or pleasantly surprised." - George F. Will


Happy Days
03/09/2010, La Playita de Amador

Racor Fuel/Water Separators

March 9

Noticed a loose prong on boat's shore power socket. After removing the thing, discovered backside was fried. Possible cause of charger/inverter failure? Local chandlery had one (only one) for a not-quite-outrageous price (Marinco thinks highly of their stuff). Since new one is, of course, slightly different, several tool lockers were emptied to accomplish minor surgery.

While removing corrosion encrusted plug from short 3-wire cable to longer one that can reach above mentioned outlet from Honda generator, it broke. Trip to hardware is envisioned. Dubious beginning to day and then:

Do NOT attempt honesty with Microsoft. Nothing good can come of it. After receiving several requests to protect myself by participating in the "Genuine Advantage" program, finally clicked the "Yes, please check my OS then mash me like a bug under the full weight of the Evil Empire button". They decided that my copy of Window XP "may" not be genuine. It use to be! When attempting to reinstall, the computer hung in a perpetual setup loop. Would a snapshot before beginning have helped? Yes. Was it done?... Anyway, have now re-returned to Jan. 20 for another round of updating. Luckily expertise has been gained in exactly that procedure and an invaluable temporary lesson has been learned until forgotten. Aside: Why do valuable and invaluable, like flammable and inflammable, mean the same thing?

Ready for the good news? Yeah, me too! Oh wait, there is some. Very unexpectedly found and installed an elbow fitting for parallel Racor filter installation at the other, smaller, marine store in vicinity. Specialized fittings arriving next Monday, he avers confidently, will finally get that rascal operational after only 10 months.

Everything considered, after all the kerfuffle, not an awful day. Sun hasn't gone supernova, aliens haven't induced mass hallucinations (probably) and this little segment of the planet, despite downside potential, ended up nearly a wash.

Speaking of which, the shower awaits.


Compute This
03/08/2010, La Playita de Amador, Panama

March 8

Wooncha know, it was a simple matter, after reformatting the indisposed drive, of dragging movies back to it from the temporary unit. No obvious reason that reverse shouldn't have worked, but then, it's a computer. All is right in Macland except for any SSB communication since 1/20.

Spent much of day buying items out with which I could not live, including, but not limited to, another pair of sunglasses and holders for soap and toothbrush. Albrook Mall, across from main bus terminal, is one big mother. Not quite Mall of America or West Edmonton, but bunion achingly large with additional similarity that most patrons talk funny.

Decided to indulge pizza lust tonight while dashing out this blarney. 12 inch Tropical with ham, cheese, several fruits and maraschino cherries. No anchovies. Delicious.

Stiff breeze last three days has made for tempestuous anchorages, but inspired wind generated tumescence of wazoo (reference may be a tad obscure for newer readers)(divined naughty intent due choice of vocabulary is strictly in the readers mind). Nights are past cool requiring sheet and blanket pulled to chin avoiding hypothermia. Highs are down to high 80s and lows around 77. Feels like winter. Please, no sympathy cards as mail delivery is altogether haphazard.

"Things are more like they are now than they have ever been." - Gerald R. Ford


Crapper Cropper
03/07/2010, La Playita de Amador, Panama

Just No Drive

March 7

External hard drive is now read-only due, probably, to someone yanking plug before unmounting. Glad it wasn't me... Oh wait, it was. No problem as it is a backup and can be erased and reformatted. Unfortunately, there are also 19 movies on it. No problem as I can borrow a drive, copy files and reinstall. Not so fast there sparky! Different formats. Won't continue with ugly details, but attempt to increase space on internal drive for multi-stage transfer, reverted to January 20 with all after lost. Emails, sent and received, updates and entire Sailmail system, kaput. Muttonhead mistake wasted much of afternoon into evening on reconstruction as yet unfinished.

Additional diversion was derived from arranging to have second, unordered and expensive wind instrument sent back to JTH Marine Electronics before forwarder ships it out from Miami. For those interested, also added a few pictures to blog with more to follow.

Today's aspiration to piety sadly came a cropper. Although no ice cream was ingested (line was too long) and acceptable sorrow was felt, work was, nevertheless, done... attempted. I feel so dirty. Must now abjure slightest implication of toil for at least a full day. Toss me a Balboa, I'm beginning to feel better.


Cat Herding
03/06/2010, La Playita de Amador, Panama

Balboa Yacht Club

March 6

Yesterday's downtown excursion of nine occasioned some random thought. When proceeding alone, one has only to deal with his own disparate personalities and invisible friends who can often be pressed to malleability. Coordination complications, however, increase exponentially with group number until, it seems, a tipping point is reached where members take on flock mentality and become more harmonized. This is probably due to fear of being burned as a witch or warlock. Impersonally large groups, of course, are completely uncontrollable and become an electorate. Women, being more socially mature, are much better at manipulation than men. Size matters.

The noon Pacific Puddle Jump party, sponsored by Balboa Yacht Club and "Latitude 38" magazine with presentations by Stephanie from French Polynesia tourism, was interesting, informative and fun. Although accepting a PPJ burgee and this month's issue, presented to every boat, Anthem skillfully avoided an embarrassing door prize win, particularly the black pearl. Strangely, this event was well attended by far more cruisers than are headed across the Pacific? There was free food and booze. Oh.

Desiring to show solidarity with Catholicism during tomorrow's Lenten Sunday, will eat no ice cream, abstain from work and express sincere sorrow for succumbing, yesterday, to both by remaining in bed until noon. Piety is burdensome and demanding, but cleanses the soul and makes one feel righteous.


03/05/2010, La Playita de Amador, Panama

Big Chicken

March 5

Cruiser buying frenzy in Panama is due costs reported in SoPac. Bunkering (hey! food is fuel) has become quite fashionable. Accounts of $8 beer in French Polynesia have suds sippers hopping until they can barley walk... Don't mind the odd quaff myself, but it's not really a drug of choice. In related news, Budweiser (carbonated horse whiz) commands a dollar more at restaurants than the good domestic stuff. That's just wrong.

Trish organized a gaggle of oglers to visit Panama Viejo, the old city. Smaller, narrower and more run down than Cartagena, it is in process of rehabilitation (charming restaurants and apartments coexist with ghetto tenements) and, while OK now, should be pretty cool in a few years. Large obelisk with a rooster on top presented intriguing imagery, but no one asked.

Stayed out late consuming veggie pizza and visiting with Bristol Roses after no fooling, I'm not kidding this time, absolutely final on-line purchase, so will now put this disaster to bed. Pacific Puddle Jumpers meeting tomorrow noon will present a reason to get up while excusing absence of productivity.


Holy Rolling
03/04/2010, La Playita de Amador, Panama

March 4

Cranked up Honda generator, second outing. Works good, lasts long time. Noise is quite noticeable in saloon, but observation from dinghy at neighbor-boat distances reveals a mere whisper. Have needed the help here every few days as clouds often emasculate panels (that doesn't sound good) and wind is erratic, zero (often) to 20. Unfortunately, when it is up and against tidal current (added to ship induced waves) this anchorage, for extended periods, is a chore.

Normal Gulf and Caribbean anchoring practices, where setting the hook in 15 feet is overkill, when transferred to this side of the divide may occasion the invention of new words for the 'salty' repertoire as tides can run to 20 feet. Sailors with ninos under foot are encouraged to either monitor sea level or explain that speaking in 'tongues' is part of their new religion. Using a tent and snakes may be necessary to convince bright kids older than 4. This extra exertion is dispensable for many U.S. government school attendees until 18... or so.

Today was spent, after assembling drifter during morning wind lull, attempting to inventory and arrange storage for forthcoming visit to Price Mart. Since cash will be necessary, care must be taken to prevent ATM card from metamorphosing into a molten lump during preparation. Visiting the old city with other cruising rabble tomorrow should provide a temporary diversion for us all from hemorrhaging money into provisions and boat parts.


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S/V Anthem
Who: Jack Warren, Janice Holmes
Port: Weeki Wachee, FL
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See profile for information on why this mess is being foisted upon an innocent world and, despite what is probably your better judgement, how to make contact.
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