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Anthem Adrift
Spirited Achievement
05/25/2012, Port Vila, Vanuatu

24 May 2012

How did this happen? All efforts to ignore boat maintenance have come to naught.

Fridge (for some indeterminate reasons and because infamous song "friggin' in the riggin'" implies naughtiness have decided this spelling, while overburdened with letters including one that isn't even in "refrigerator", is better than frig) was barely freezing (interior began to smell funny (odd, not humorous)) and running constantly to drive up amp usage to unreasonable levels. Despite repeating everything three or four times to a woman who, I was certain, had the IQ of a clam, two guys from Super Cool showed up this morning with equipment to service recalcitrant equipment. After mucking about with it for 45 minutes and using my refrigerant they had removed all frosting entirely. Departing, they indicated I should call for more advanced exertions if current ministrations were insufficient. Thinking to keep trying sans help.

While sardined into port lazarette toying with freon, noticed that wind generator control, while still operative, was more corrosion than box. Desire to maintain justification for big windmill on port transom and to increase convenience of using the thing, removed, cleaned, replaced various bits and remounted said box to boat interior. While engendering a sense of accomplishment this undertaking did nothing to reduce projects list or make ice for gin.

Three mast-climbing projects - reeving new drifter and port flag halyards and cleaning radar antenna contacts - was placed in abeyance until tomorrow to attend happy hour congregation for discussions of substantive subjects and to support the spirits import business.

Jack

Smokin'
05/22/2012, En Route to Port Vila

She Blows

23 May 2012

Subsequent to reports of Mt Yasur being "awesome" was expecting a come-down as these things usually go. Climbed up outside of cone late afternoon to rim of double caldera with no safety rails and a brisk, gusty wind blowing in toward the edge. Periodic hissing and whumping sounds preceded flaming lava hurled out of one side then the other, often higher than our heads, sometimes partially hidden by great puffs of ash. When darkness came and one could see all the flaming bits it got even more interesting. Great geysers of bright molten magma sprayed out of and around the crater with one volkswagen sized chunk landing just below our vantage. Cool! Ni-vanuatu (natives), who seem to make a good living off this thing, must have eaten all the lawyers back when cannibalism was considered proper social etiquette.

Returning to the "Yacht Club" (it does have a beautiful view of the anchorage) in bed of 4WD pickup that jounced us up and down the mountain on a road nearly as cranky as the volcano, Jan & I partook of mystery meat stew (the place is lousy with fruit bats?), kasava and fruit. The local Tusker beer (named for pigs whose tusks are allowed, by breaking off opposing teeth, to grow full circle and two of which cost more than the food) is pretty tolerable swill.

Currently racing up east side of Tanna with triple-reefed main and yankee for the overnight to Port Vila in 20 to 25 knots and 2.5 meter sea. Except for the occasional gunwale (pronounced gunnel, Cal) roll it's surprisingly comfortable and, so far, dry. We remain skeptical.

Jack

More Pigs?
05/19/2012, En Route to Tanna

Welcome to Anatom

20 May 2012

Despite not showing until 2 days post landfall, imbedding his tinny into our topsides while skillfully avoiding large fenders and mumbling so softly even Jan, who can hear fish breathing, had difficulty understanding, Timothy, the customs/quarantine guy, was nice and had allowed us dispensation to dine with Freezing Rain night before.

Anyway, lay day before pratique remained unwasted. Besides obligatory post- passage sloth we cleaned a seriously debauched cabin and serviced again non- freezing frig. This last done with just sufficient knowledge to be dangerous as too much gas was injected then too much released (no worrys as ozone is stinky and toxic) before a semi-adequate technic was stumbled upon, conceivably, to avoid warm G&Ts.

Welcome dinner ashore, for which we were now legal and which followed contrived and totally unnecessary speeches read by ostensibly uninterested representatives (although probably just shy), music and custom dancing, self-served onto palm leaves must have been terrific for the 38 NZD each it cost. Money probably went to compensate relatives of delicious pig who looked disgruntled after making a lifetime commitment. One skin of Vanuatu Kava, a narcotic reputed most powerful in Pacific, ingested before dining made lips, tongue and throat numb. Three or four apparently occasion an inability to lift one's arms or walk.

Now broad-reaching the 48 NM to Tanna where active volcano, Yasur, which is to be climbed anon, belches black ash as we approach.

Jack

This Little Piggy Cried Wee, Wee, Wee
05/17/2012, Anatom, Vanuatu

18 May 2012

Arrived at 2100 into Anatom anchorage in drizzly, overcast, pitch blackness. The originally voiced strategy to run in until hitting something, fling an anchor at it and go to bed was circumvented as all seventeen boats already hooked became wonderfully helpful in finding us an open location. Thinking to sleep in until customs and quarantine beat on our hull around 1000 after dealing with the bi-weekly cruise ship (there's a small village and little else, but snorkeling on the reef is reported excellent) we instead awoke at 0630 NZST, 0530 local. Sleeping only 3 hours at a time must be habit forming. Currently catching up on emails and choking down tubs of plunger coffee awaiting belated officialdom.

Little Anthem was caboose of train into Vanuatu because its 29 foot 11 inch waterline limits maximum and thus average speed. This regrettable circumstance is usually the case as nearly every Pacific cruising boat is longer. Sailing time for us was 4 to 18 hours greater over 7 1/2 days than majority of fleet (15 total including speed sleds). Harrumph! A smidgen of cogitation has revealed that averaging an additional .15 knots would have prevented the ignominy of last and .5 the veneration and glory of top 5. Hmmmmmm. So, "says I", how much additional length would achieve this sublime outcome? Using the formula for theoretical hull speed and percent of same one might average on passage, 36 feet approximates a salutary length. As Cabo Rico 38s have a low waterline to deck length ratio many boats of 42 to 43 feet would serve (A Cabo Rico 45 would answer nicely if one could be found for meager contents of piggy bank). Hmmmmmm. Wonder if there are any abandoned and lonely Pearson 424s or Shannon 43s out there.

Jack

Nut?
05/16/2012, Day Seven to Vanuatu

15 May 2012

Wind has backed into south southwest, sea has become a lazy rolling 3 meters (giving one a feeling of power and vastness without getting slapped about) and brisk progress toward Vanuatu (for a shortish waterline) may get us in early tomorrow evening. Dinner prep included grilling sausage on the rail without loss. Shorts, T-shirts and bare feet are sufficient accoutrement with now balmy temps. How boring. Where's the challenge, the adventure, the character building stimulation? In an unrelated note, crew have been observed casting furtive glances, frowning and muttering about food - fruitcake, nuts, bananas and crackers.

Which brings to light a quandary. While a preponderance is convinced solo sailors are quite mad, they can provide, given no first-hand observation, minimal real proof. However, although sharing the adventure with an enthusiastic partner is wonderful, delightful and several other adjectives that are inappropriate or escape me at the moment, the fact that aboard ship one exhibits interesting, anomalous behavior including talking to himself, disagreeing and occasionally losing resulting arguments, can place his sovereignty in peril. Fortunately, in this case due to roughly equivalent levels of certifiability, a policy of mutually assured destruction (oddly enough MAD) maintains sanguinity.

How many out there know that Nut is the Egyptian sky goddess who eats the Sun at night and gives birth to it in the morning? Oh sure, now!

Jack

Half and Half
05/14/2012, Day Five to Vanuatu

14 May 2012

Two bad days, two good and today a bit of both with a fair breeze forecast for second half. Wind will circle the compass as we ride a slow high followed by a low and second high. WE'VE PASSED THE POINT OF NO RETURN! Sounded more dramatic when said to John Wayne and Robert Stack in "The High and the Mighty". Anyway, actual point was somewhat before half way as winds to 60 knots currently encourage stragglers in New Zealand to head north when able. Expect to arrive Anatom, Vanuatu Friday if GRIB (Generally Ridiculous Information Blunder) has even the most tenuous contact with reality.

A magical state of grace has descended upon Anthem for the first time in 18 months. Everything works. OK, frig may have a small leak, radar is intermittent, likely due a corroded connection, and port spreader flag halyard broke, but let's not allow picayune detail to sully the warm glow of preferred reality. Thank you.

First watch (2000 to midnight) proceeds slowly as we punch to windward in 18 knots apparent (finally able to lay our destination after 24 hours of beating upwind) and Jan sleeps.

Jack

Erroneous is Felicitous
05/12/2012, Day Three to Vanuatu

12 May 2012

Passed a car freighter this afternoon inbound to Auckland. As a giant, floating shoe box these guys make cruise ships (BUTTS as you may recall) look attractive. Wonder if Captain's mom knows what he does for a living?

Otherwise our little patch of South Pacific has been unsullied by human intervention or even by the weather lizard who again steps on his dangly bit. No wind forecast is instead SSW for 5.5 to 6.2 boat knots with main and drifter. Glass is both half empty and half full. Seems somehow wrong, but no one is complaining as a beautiful day in easy sea under clear sky meanders into night.

Jack

Vagabondage
05/11/2012, Day Two to Vanuatu

11 May 2012

Thus begins the 10 month ICA (Island Cruising Association) Western Pacific Rally from New Zealand to Vanuatu, Solomon's, Papua New Guinea, Eastern Australia to Tasmania (devils are tiny rascals, but mean) and return. Jan & I will steer off after Hobart for New Caledonia and Queensland then Darwin to catch the Indonesia Rally next year.

Rallys have advantages. They can grease bureaucratic wheels, provide local knowledge and serve as a focal point for get-togethers with other cruisers, most of whom are wonderfully likeable. Also, due to schedules, it discourages procrastination when starting a passage such as with those weenies back in Opua who are waiting for an actual weather window. Ha! After a day and a half of getting hammered by an obstreperous sea the two of us may or may not try to scrape together enough energy to credibly scorn their pusillanimity (real word Cal). No worries though as tomorrow bodes no wind or sea at all before the following day's headwinds change the rolling to pounding. Change is good.

We're paying good money for this.

Well, that's it. Except for a few pesky daily details blog's done until July 2013.

Jack

Potpourri
05/09/2012, Opua, Bay of Islands, New Zealand

16 April 2012

Passage across the 130 NM Bay of Plenty has been fraught with motoring, but an unforecast breeze sprang up at 0430 for 6 1/2 hours of beautiful sailing.

28 April 2012

Having the attention span of a three-year-old, forgot to return to blog for almost two weeks in a failed attempt to make boat fully operational.

Arrived morning of the 17th at Pier 21 after surprisingly long periods, given forecast, of using only the big, white sheets for propulsion (oddly, Cal, in nauticalese sheets are ropes and ropes are lines and the big, white things are called something else entirely - sailors are a perverse lot).

Wind generator ordered from US remained backordered from Trinidad, one watermaker pump died without a whimper and refrigerator decided that cold beer was over- rated.

Found a non-working KISS (that first thing listed) by virtue of the chance encounter of a friend with its owner in Napier who actually lives within 2 hours of Auckland. Met him halfway to pick the thing up. It continued to not work on sail up to Opua.

Had a spare pump plus Spectra will make water with only one of two pumps, so blew off that little problem until later.

Frig may have small leak, but was made operational by adding freon plus dye for subsequent leak check after arrival in Opua.

After various machinations and an unconscionable amount of brightwork varnishing, cast off for an overnight to Opua on 26th, arriving 27th.

9 May 2012

All go for departure wee hours tomorrow in a manner of speaking. Anything weer than 6 is likely to be too wee.

Frankenstein wind generator and new 145 watt solar panel are maintaining amp leakage out the the wazoo. Honda generator (box-o-Honda) is back together and may possibly run one day. Water maker pumping on all cylinders. Spare freon is aboard for leaky frig. Life is good.

Now preparing to say goodbye forever, or possibly not, to many friends and acquaintances at the Opua Cruising Club. Will miss New Zealand, but new adventure awaits and plan to return one day.

Jack

Running Hot and Cold
04/15/2012, Day Three to Auckland

15 April 2012

Necessitousness (possibly a real word, but in this case entirely gratuitous) for haste has diminished as, while festivities start on 29 April, fleet not scheduled for departure until 5 May with intervening time devoted to heavy drinking. There may also be ancillary activities such as briefings, provisioning and boat prep. Suspicion grows that organizers will expect some level of compliance with rules. Where likelihood of discovery and subsequent reproval is high one does what one must.

Three hundred nautical miles has provided significant thermal relief as extrication from duvet cocooned bunk for morning watch from 0400 to 0800 is now minimally traumatic. Crew concensus indicates that continuing north to more tropical climes would not be infelicitous (again gratuitous, but a pretty cool word).

After one more comprehensive attempt in Wellington, water system was carefully reassembled to await professional help in Auckland. Supervening operation of engine while progressing north yielded hot water. Thinking, of course, that this was a cruel hoax, foisted upon gullible life forms by a perverse inanimate object, as they do, a second test was conducted following an extended period of sailing. Hot water was again obtained and yet again with subsequent similar activity. Not wishing to underestimate deviousness of mechanical devices, have nevertheless once more become enamored of resulting hot showers.

Jack

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