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Anthem Adrift
Rocks and Rolling
05/07/2010, Day Twenty

May 7

Last day turns out to be most uncomfortable of trip. Surrounded by very short period 2 and 3 meter peaks that throw the boat around like a rag doll. Despite previous comments, wouldn't want to do this indefinitely. Am now eagerly anticipating anchorage at Hanavave (Hah-nah-VAH-vay). About 40 NM remaining and have slowed to arrive dawn tomorrow.

Conditions did, however, provide a convenient excuse for not doing housework. Boat looks like the last hour of a garage sale and it's OK. Things that had been secure for nearly two weeks were flung about and that's OK, too. Will clean it all up after sufficient rest in a day or two or so... probably.

Talked to a couple of boats (manner of speaking, actually spoke to people inhabiting them) about anchorage. They loved it. It's crowded, 100 feet deep, rolly and subject to williwaws. After three weeks at sea, Playita in Panama would probably seem like heaven.

Not too much sleep tonight watching out for converging cruisers, a big motu (rock) about 15 NM this side of Fatu Hiva and, of course, the island itself which is quite hard and must be avoided even during arrival at leeward side anchorage.


Perplexing Occupation
05/06/2010, Day Nineteen

May 6

Leaving the poled-out drifter in place overnight was a not completely unforeseeable error. By late evening wind had piped up to an unlikely 20 to 25 with commensurate sea. Crashing along at more than hull speed was second least desirable option behind going forward at moonless midnight to stow 700 square foot sail and whisker pole. Fortunately, nothing carried away and boat behaved remarkable well until morning. After SSB nets and breakfast (marlin, cheddar, onion omelet and bacon with pear nectar), switched sail plan to yankee and double reefed main with wind still 18 to 20 and 3 meter choppy sea. Speed only decreased to 6 and frenetic motion became merely uncomfortable. This hour of effort bore an uncanny resemblance to work. Really ought to retire. Appropriate individuals have been notified; steps will be taken.

Having gotten into toil mode, finished scouring/waxing cockpit and did a load of laundry. While permissible to turn underwear inside out for a second day, prefer to have fresh clean skivvies next to baby soft keister.

Three quarters of this passage has been in 'confused' seas causing, well, confusion. What happened to lazy, long-period swells, gentle days of easy motion? Have been told this is atypical, possibly caused by El Nino. That baby's a real pain. I want some of that famed Coconut Milk Run, but can't kvetch at 20 days instead of planned 25.

Expect to spend a goodly portion of tomorrow preparing boat and crew to be reintroduced into civilized society. This will include, but not be limited to, shaving, combing hair and not only finding clean clothes, but wearing them.

"Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society." - Mark Twain


Shooting the Curl
05/05/2010, Day Eighteen

May 5

Flopped along in sloppy one to two meter cross sea (we're both vexed), wing and wing with main and whiskered drifter, for bulk of day. Southeast trades have lost their way, meandering east and east northeast. Some of morning was spent with wind coming over transom bringing mind altering effects from Honda exhaust. This is evidenced by commencement of work to scrub and wax cockpit gelcoat. Don't know what else could have caused this odd behavior. Returned to broad reach for the night, leaving pole in place to anticipate more downwind tomorrow.

Last three evenings have been devoted to shooting stars (none were harmed during this exercise) for navigational purposes. Fixes have been 15, 12 and 9.2 miles. Great inaccuracy is blamed on unwillingness of stars, horizon and boat to remain still. This is intolerable. Emails have been sent; heads will roll. Too many clouds tonight, so shall make do with backup global positioning system to which many sailors have gone.

Have neglected to shave since departing Isla Isabela (what was it, six or seven months ago?). Now (to quote Bill Cosby) there are "little tiny hairs growin' out my face". Didn't know humans could get mange. Shaving prior to arrival will seek to avoid traumatizing small children and squeamish adults. Just hope there's booze at the humanitarian award ceremony.


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.


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".


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.


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.


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


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.


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


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.


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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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