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Anthem Adrift
A Prodigious Delight
05/01/2010, Day Fourteen

May 1

Today marks 14 days under sail with no sight of land or another human. For an inherent loner, this is no hardship, but radio communication each day with old friends and nascent add a nice counterpoint to the vast emptiness. Two weeks, often at what seems break-neck speed, and at least one more ahead gives some perspective of scale, but oddly no more so than from a jet six miles above at 100 times the speed. The Pacific extends 11,000 miles east to west at the equator (about 45% of the earth's circumference), contains almost a third of its surface area and more islands than all other oceans and seas combined. Quite the little pond.

Wind has been variable, up and down, making a difficult endeavor for the Voyager steering. Too much weather helm when it blows and too little as it eases. A reef in the main would set things aright, but the loss of speed is not worth a bit of over-canvas in the puffs. With working sails providing lateral stability, the boat has returned to its familiar motion. It charges along, often at hull speed, lively but comfortable, as wind instrument has regained a sense of responsibility, showing, on occasion, a plausible 16 to 18 knots true.

Finally enjoyed a full day of fecklessness. Midshipman Bolitho has passed for Lieutenant and is off on temporary assignment to help deliver a brash new schooner which will take him to further adventure. A passing shower served only to moisten the salt encrusted deck and an otherwise fair-weather sky canopied the infinite circle of violet sea. Now if only the off-watch crew would fetch me some tea and biscuit. Lazy dogs.

Jack

Playing the Angles
04/30/2010, Day Thirteen

Twice Chafed

April 30

Having everything important operating properly, planned a completely indolent day. Right. Maybe tomorrow. Observed wind speed showing zero. Changed out instrument, installed new terminals and checked connections at base of mast (all previous fixes) with no joy. Finally decided to meander forward, actually look at masthead transducer and discover that anemometer was not anemometating. Bugger. Double whammy as morning was spent in pointless activity and only a complete moron would climb up there to free it. Once cups were spinning again, found that indicated speed was too low, so re-climbed mast to determine problem... Not a chance. Once was enough and remind me not to do it again. Nobody tells Liz - pinky swear. Electronically calibrated instrument to show best guess to no avail as spin is again at an end.

Rest of body has joined elbow, swollen and sore since tunneling into lazarette for SSB fix a month ago, to express highest displeasure at abuse. May indulge in spot of grog to propitiate vexation in unlikely event it is called upon for further abuse next day or two.

Finally gave up on drifter. The concept: Stop working sails from banging in rolly swell and sail further off wind, staying north, for better angle as wind backs east approaching Marquesas. (Reference previous comments on theory vs. practice.) Since reports show wind increasing as one proceeds south, clever idea resulted in slower current speed due both point of sail and lighter winds, also drifter halyard nearly chaffed in two. Now inclining south at better speed with full main, yankee and staysail. Have determined to worry about wind angle when it begins worrying about me.

"Procrastination isn't the problem, it's the solution. So procrastinate now, don't put it off." - Ellen DeGeneres

Jack

Eggstraordinary Hubris
04/28/2010, Day Twelve

April 29

Dorado and cheddar omelets are delicious and a nice alternative to the standard whatever's-handy-and-won't-actually-harm-you omelet. Despite loss of ovage (not a real word) in earlier mishaps, 14 eggs remain. Coffee, pear nectar and last of blueberry nut bread rounded out an excellent petit dejeuner (that's French, you know) which was prelude to a satisfying verification of yesterday's exertions.

An amazing thing happened today. While at the mast adjusting drifter halyard to lessen chafe, a freak wave slammed the boat throwing me into the water. As I watched the transom get rapidly smaller, a pod of dolphins swam up and, with me holding a dorsal fin in each hand, towed me back to an aft ladder allowing climb back into the cockpit. All they asked in return was a handful of Cheez-it crackers for which they had somehow gained a taste. This story is, of course, complete horse flop, but resulted from a little contemplation.

Being 1200 NM from nearest land incentivises taking some pains to avoid falling off for a 'swim with the fishes', but really, probability of survival is little worse than, say, going overboard solo five or ten miles off west coast of Florida or slapping a baby grizzly in front of its mother. This new perspective has increased level of perceived invincibility and made dancing along upper life- lines, like a Wallenda, much less stressful.

Jack

PS Re-sending yesterday's due suspicion that position was not properly linked to it.

Head into Big Game Country
04/28/2010, Day Eleven

Marlin

April 28

Day started off pleasantly enough, beautiful sunrise, head stopped up, coffee made, talk on SSB with friends... huh? what?, back up a couple. Show of hands, all who thought excreta processor was fixed. Oh sure, YOU would be the only one with your hand down. Began working backward from previously cleaned hose to discover a washcloth jammed into joker, Oops. Since rebuild kit had been moved several months ago from its normal storage to a more accessible place anticipating use, decided to replace this operative, but beginning to split, valve. Couldn't find the !@#$%^&*() thing after emptying four most likely lockers. Reinstalled old one while losing 9/32 socket. Rewiring tanks gauge can wait until tomorrow. Expecting perfect life for awhile as toilet related karmic bow wave should be huge.

Just to show life isn't all poopy, as reassembly was commencing, got a fish on trolling rig. Cleaned up and brought in a 4 1/2 foot blue marlin. Cool! Must have been dragging for a bit as it only took 20 minutes or so to get him to the boat. These babies are really long and thin. Looks like fish omelets, sandwiches, soups and fillets for a few. Photo will appear in due course.

Have begun to read "The Complete Midshipman Bolitho" series of novels by Alexander Kent. Good story, great character, but that name, Richard 'Dick' Bolitho. And how about Horatio Hornblower? Heroes shouldn't have sissy names. O'Brian had the idea, Jack Aubrey. Now there's a fellow you'd go into battle with (with whom you'd go into battle). Lead on, I'll follow you into the jaws of death, Dick (Horatio). I don't think so.

Jack

Right End of the Hook
04/27/2010, Day Ten

April 27

Halfway to Fatu Hiva. Unfortunately, the wind doesn't seem to blow as well on the other side of the hump. Coasting downhill on drifter at less than stunning speed. At least the sky is blue with white puffies and sea is regular, if still rolly. Wind vane doing good job despite light wind and quartering sea.

After a week of seeing not a single living creature, a pod of little dolphins played around the boat this morning for an hour. Wonder if they're smart enough to understand the concept of fun? Sure looks so. If possible, will eventually post movies on website. A small cow dorado that gave its life to provide tomorrow's dinner probably didn't experience the same level of mirth. Sucks not to be top of the food chain.

"The fascination of shooting as a sport depends almost wholly on whether you are at the right or wrong end of the gun." - P. G. Wodehouse

A bit of troubleshooting found reason for fading LCD on water, fuel and holding tank gauge is .6 volt input instead of 12. Search and fix mission in the morning will leave less time for more important activities: Lying about, gazing at the ocean, thinking appalling and scandalous thoughts. How does one find the time?

Jack

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

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