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Anthem Adrift
He Went Thataway
05/04/2010, Day Seventeen

May 4

Another day, another dollar (not spent on the boat) - an often unappreciated advantage of being at sea for three weeks. Liz is smiling at this. VISA bill remains below ionosphere, probably feels neglected. Chase Bank concerned at resultant necessity to discharge employees. GDP suffers. All to be reversed, if cost reports are accurate, in Papeete.

After first several days of getting tired and run down, have gotten into a rhythm and recaptured a more typical joie de vivre. More than a month might seem like a rut, but for now it is most agreeable.

Fourth day of beautiful trade wind sailing. Although southeast trades have backed to east and east northeast, which would require nearly a run to remain on rhumb line, discovered that staysail seems to help drifter stay full for increased speed on a broad reach. This is a surprise as it is useless off the wind with yankee and appears, now, to have little pressure on it. Unfortunately, unless wind rediscovers its proper direction, a jibe onto starboard tack looms in the future. Possible arrival in Fatu Hiva, Saturday.

Have begun to nibble around the edges of cleaning up gunge that envelopes Anthem. Actual work could begin any time.

Jack

Whatcha Got Cookin'?
05/03/2010, Day Sixteen

May 3

Weevils have formed a civilization in the brown rice. As it was well sealed assume they are indigenous. Don't mind ingesting the little black carcasses, but don't need the protein so long as peanut butter holds out. Marlin also a help on that with added advantage of avoiding any potential mercury deficiency.

For someone being miserly with propane (only one ten pound bottle) red beans are a trial. Finished cooking some this morning subsequent to running out of time last night. Expect next batch to soak overnight and succumb to pressure cooker. In a related comment, sailing solo has a number of advantages including uninhibited expression of rude noises with accompanying aura. TMI?

Thought all Bolitho novels were in Kindle, but discovered, to loud lamentations and gnashing of teeth, that his career in wake of making Lieutenant must remain a mystery until internet connection with Amazon can be obtained, hopefully, in Hiva Oa next week. Bugger. Dan Brown will be called upon in the interim to fill in with "The Lost Symbol". Hope it's as engaging as "Angels and Demons". May need that and more if wind continues to ease and expected Saturday arrival Fatu Hiva delayed.

"An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered." - G. K. Chesterton Bob Bitchin said it better, "Attitude is the difference between Ordeal and Adventure".

Jack

Let's Do Shots
05/02/2010, Day Fifteen

Long Neglected Sextant

May 2

Finally decided to drag out the old sextant last night (this is a completely wholesome activity, Cal) to attempt relearning celestial navigation. Besides having to knock off great chunks of rust, discovered that someone had moved all the stars. Put 'em back! Oh, never mind, these probably work, too. Have now figured out a few useful ones, so tonight's the night (also a punch line to semi- clean joke, thanks Pat). Feel pretty confident about finding the correct ocean.

Show of hands. How many out there think fish, cheese and whipped eggs is a little piece of heaven? OK, the three hands probably belong to people who had a grouper omelet at the now defunct pier restaurant across intra-coastal from The Seafood Shack, south of Bradenton. It was delicious, but can't hold a candle to fresh marlin and cheddar. It is exquisite. Bet you won't find one of these babies on St. Pete Beach at the Frog Pond.

Based on SSB net check-ins, Anthem is the only boat making good speed with decent wind. Who was that wretched miscreant who decried remaining so far north? Tie him to a grate for flogging. All hands lay aft to witness punishment. Who? Oh, well, in that case I probably just misspoke. Never mind.

Jack

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

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