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Anthem Adrift
Careful Positioning
04/26/2010, Day Nine

April 26

Had discontinued sending Winlink position reports as current location is displayed on Anthem Adrift site (probably) and Winlink connections are getting iffy. Since, however, there are some who check, have entered this passage (again, probably) and will attempt to continue as long as possible. Closest station is Panama, which continues to recede in rearview mirror. Next closest are Austin, TX and San Diego. Nearest station west is Gisborne, New Zealand at 4300+ miles. If interested, web site is http://www.sailblogs.com/member/anthem on which Google Earth box shows all positions tagged to comments for each day.

Now on to sillier stuff. During last week have thrice dumped two eggs onto cabin sole. There we are, going along easily with beaten eggs (top scientist attest that no pain is felt) in bowl awaiting conversion, thanks to the magic of flaming propane, into French toast or omelet, when Neptune gets revenge for that little equator snub. You'd think after first couple of times that an appropriate stratagem would emerge from sleep addled brain. Mercifully, today's breakfast of sauteed onion, potato, carrot and tomato omelet survived intact.

Although there is scarcely any more fun to be had than dismantling a 50 pound (without fuel or oil), freestanding generator aboard a pitching and rolling sailboat, the downside is greasy, stinky clothing. An obvious solution, of course, is to accomplish this task (*Warning* following sight picture may be inappropriate for children or anyone in close proximity to a meal) without such accoutrement. This is one of the more recondite advantages of sailing solo (or being French), but carries with it the not inconsiderable danger of having some otherwise protected dangly bit experience a distressing encounter with numerous sailboat paraphernalia. As with earlier meal, this exercise was concluded felicitously.

Jack

It's a Gas
04/25/2010, Day Eight

April 25

Yesterday and today have finally evinced southeast trade wind belt. Puffy cumulus dot bright blue sky. Still looking for more agreeable ride as 10 foot SW swell commingles with shorter period, 6 foot, SE waves, but wind remains consistently SE at 16 to 22. Unfortunately, since boat speed subtracts from true wind, KISS has been something less than the battery filling dynamo one might hope, so, every other day or so, for a few hours, Honda disrupts idyllic passage sounds.

Except, yesterday, when that little 2000 watt, red cutie was cranking out electrons, a rogue wave dumped buckets of ocean on it and cockpit. Sailing noises returned. Just got it running again this morning after cleaning carburetor and replacing fuel. Blaming contaminated fuel on this indolence just at that moment seems a titch too coincident, so assume sea water was sucked into one of three vent tubes. Remind me to purchase carb cleaner in Papeete. Don't forget, OK?

Hated to risk demise of generator by returning it to porch, but fumes were getting pretty thick in cabin and cockpit. After lengthy consideration (fumes had remained pretty thick in cabin and cockpit for awhile), decided that carbon monoxide induced hypoxia was probably the less desirable eventuality. This decision was confirmed after fumes (which had gotten pretty thick in cabin and cockpit) dissipated and blood reacquired its customary chemistry.

Tomorrow's folderol will include preventable egg disasters and saving laundry money while disassembling machinery.

Jack

True Lies
04/24/2010, Day Seven

April 24

Economic news from the US has been a little sparse, even in Panama. So what's going on? Has the country fallen into the despair of failed five year plans or has it soared in the sunlight of free-market capitalism? I'm guessing that, as usual, there's more than a little arsenic in the ambrosia. Tastes fine and keeps you alive, but what about that enervating heartburn? Just lucky the government manufactures so much Zantac. Please, may I have some Valium, too? As one may discern, a good night's sleep has restored a semblance of frisky impertinence.

Bobbing along on a very broad reach at six and a half knots with reefed main and yankee in 6 to 8 foot, 7 second swell. Boat is rolling over now and again, but comfort level well above yesterday. Passed 1000 mile mark with scarcely more than 1900 to go. When she asks if we're there yet, always assure Jackie (Inspiration Lady), that "yes, yes we are". It seems like the right thing to do and everyone feels better. Reality and truth should always yield to feelings and desires, don't you think?

At this moment there are perhaps 100 cruising boats en route to Marquesas from west coasts of North, Central and South America. This is a WAG ('wild-assed guess' for non-cognoscenti), but even quadrupling that number and factoring in surface area of eastern Pacific, have determined that likelihood of running into one is roughly equivalent to 'W' and Hillary chucking it all and running away together. Bet they'd go to French Polynesia, too.

Jack

Zoning Out
04/23/2010, Day Six

April 23

Ending first 1/3 of passage more sluggishly than it began. Speed over ground 5.7 in wrong direction. Ten knot apparent wind has difficulty holding sails from slamming with choppy seas, so course is south of desired, bringing it toward the beam to keep rig from taking a pounding. Expected trade wind conditions have not materialized, so soldiering on until they do.

Passed 105 degrees west so have set clocks, not on Greenwich Mean Time, back an hour to equivalent of Mountain Standard Time, which, by the way, few are currently observing. Daylight Savings Time, foisted on a tractable population, is a miserable idea. Always figured the government could accomplish the same misguided effect by just getting TV networks to move prime time up an hour.

State of consciousness at an awkward stage, too tired to be flippantly ironic, cheeky or whatever and insufficiently so to hallucinate. Could go either way, but have decided on the less interesting choice of a restful night to regain normal aplomb.

Jack

Nemo No Mo'
04/22/2010, Day Five

April 22

Going fast was exciting on day one, great day two, OK on three and tolerable by four. It's day five. Now looking for promised easy downhill slide. Could even endure only 6 knots to eschew galley strap (not an S & M device). (Note skewed perspective as preplanning speed was 5) In fact, notwithstanding previous snub at equator crossing, Neptune has seen fit to lay off a bit, but still rolly doing 7.3 knots.

Raised main before weighing anchor in Isabela and fell off just right to sail out of anchorage without engaging noisy mechanical thingy below cockpit sole. May get to Hanavave, Fatu Hiva before having to endure it again. Cool! Will, however, as at this very moment, be subjected to grumbling Honda for battery recharge.

Deck continues to be littered with fish and squid. Although flying fish skim the surface, one can visualize a max. 'G' pull-up to avoid that big plastic wall, but why precursory calamari? Maybe they were inspired by "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea" and think they can take me. Squid are not very bright.

Jack

Honkin'
04/21/2010, Day Four

April 21

Another day of hanging on. Making hull speed with yankee and reefed main. Sea two meters and choppy; later three meters, more regular, but peaks from cross swell have boat rolling over and wagging its tail periodically. Finally laid in another reef. Jimmy Cornell indicates this area and south as being a bit rough, now exacerbated by winds higher than average. Could continue for a few days. Still averaging 7.5. Tough to complain given great progress, but will anyway.

Similar to last night, sauteed potato, carrot, onion and garlic (all fresh) for dinner. Also cooked up some rice and made a salad. This for those expecting a diet consisting solely of peanut butter, canned beans and tuna. I wave my spatula in your general direction.

Pleased to report admirable compliance of head with requested obligations. No leaks, no smells, no sh... fooling and process of movement from inside to outside suggestive of a goose.

Jack

Almost There
04/20/2010, Day Three

Oceania

April 20

Took today off. Didn't ask the captain or anything. If he doesn't like it, I'll quit and then where would he be? He's not the boss o' me!

Unfortunately, enjoying a day of rest isn't what it's cracked up to be when conditions are this rambuctious. Engaged in no projects, but after a relatively mellow morning wind has been kicking around 20 with up to 30 near squalls. Currently 25. Confused seas occasionally put the boat on its beam ends. Still cracking off miles as to this point average speed over ground, 7.5 knots. Only 2500 nautical miles to go.

One gets so caught up in logistics, that the big picture is sometimes lost, but even an unromantic can appreciate the glamour and mystique of sailing off to the South Pacific. French Polynesia: Nuku Hiva, Tahiti, Bora Bora, Raiatea, Rangiroa; Tonga, Fiji, Samoa, Vanuatu. The history, the scenery, the beautiful, friendly women dressed only in grass skirts... OK, that last thing was gratuitous and, regrettably, a thing of the past, but, still, part of the narrative that has created a fascination with this area of the planet. The Caribbean was fun and exciting, Galapagos unique and interesting, but Oceania is exotic and alluring. I look forward to the unfolding adventure with keenest anticipation.

Jack

Taking the Prize
04/19/2010, Day Two

April 19

Phenomenal first day of passage. Twenty four hour run was 182 NM averaging 7.6 knots. Would be impossible without following current as hull speed on Anthem is 7.3. Continuing to average in the 7s. Have kept up with bigger boats until now, but expect that to change over next few days.

Spent another stimulating day working on Raritan head. Feared additional leaks as fetor continued to emanate. Trepidation ungrounded as system found secure. Liberal use of clorox in all effected areas plus washing rug seems to have succeeded. Had previously swapped Y-valves, putting clean one on head output. Disassembled gunky one, cleaned and put on holding tank. Placed removed scale deposit in cup of vinegar to check cleansing efficacy of flushing the stuff through. Zip, zero, nada. Does anyone know how to make pickles?

Sailing west has one effect similar to approaching the speed of light. All objects aboard experience a slowing of time. My day is 10 minutes longer than yours, which must mean I don't age as fast as you. Bet Albert didn't think of this one. Someone call the Nobel committee.

Jack

Watch Out!
04/18/2010, Day One

April 18

Did not earn breakfast that Jacksters provided this morning for helping them with Sailmail (SSB-based email). Only potentially constructive suggestion was to upgrade from older version of application. David's effort in proceeding into Villemil to download latest came to naught as all internet services were closed. Unless one is most rigorously religious and can sense the spiritual essence of a Sabbath, Sundays (for Christians) tend to be indistinguishable from others.

Since recounting daily events is likely to get a shade tiresome - watch, eat, nap, watch, eat, nap, watch - will probably begin to make things up. The really good stuff may begin after a week or so with sleep-deprivation-generated hallucinations. A reread in Marquesas after good rest should be a hoot.

Inspiration Lady has decided to try six hour watches. Although on-watch is lengthy, off-watch crew have time to get really useful sleep. It seems like such a fine idea that Anthem will also effectuate this system with half the crew being on watch at all times.

Progress westward will probably demote winlink to secondary status. Sailmail has closer stations with, probably, stronger signals that should, theoretically, provide better access.

"In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; In practice, there is." - Chuck Reid

Jack

Happy Feet, and Blue
04/17/2010, Villemil, Isla Isabela, Galapagos

Booby, Blue Feet

April 17

With accompaniment of Inspiration Ladys went walkabout on moonscape island to look for blue-footed booby and penguin inhabitants. White bird excrement covered every outcropping of jagged volcanic rock. Saw literally herds of marine iguana, a few lava lizards, many red crabs and one bird flying away. First suspicion was that whole flock went up to cabins on Seymore for long weekend after our Tuesday visit. This last guy stayed behind to shut off the lights. Finally got pictures of blue-footed boobies and penguins on dinghy ride back to boats.

As head is apparently project of the week, found leak at joker valve (post bowl segment, Cal, of course) which led to discovery of another leak when through-hull valve accidentally left closed for test pump. Beseeching poo god to intervene with head to properly discharge its responsibilities, henceforth.

Last walk into Villemil for internet disclosed finances and sailblog in acceptable order and resulted in extensive acquisition of pastries upon instigation by Robert on whom entirety of blame descends.

Four boat flotilla leaving for Polynesia tomorrow are Inspiration Lady (Canadians Gary & Jackie), Bristol Rose (Australians Robert & Trish with sons Owen & Elliot, 23 & 20 respectively), Jackster (Englishmen David & Jacqui) and Anthem (the token Yank). Additional amigos and acquaintances are ahead and arear. Anticipate being turtle of group due significantly shorter waterline. SSB 'local net' for mutual contact is initially 8149.0 MHz @ 1300z and 2300z (0900 & 1900 EDT). Propagation to St. Pete unlikely, but friends there are welcome to come in if able.

Jack

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