Date: 24 Oct 96 12:42:00 EDT

From: Gene Gruender <104675.2134@CompuServe.COM>

Subject: Hanging around Rockport

With Nellie's ankle still mending, we got waylaid here on the Texas coast. We started oui in a slip at the UT Marine Sceinces Center at Port Aransas. Our plan was to be there a couple days, sail to another port, spend a few days, then go back to the slip and do it all over again. Nellie has told the tale of her broken ankle so you can see why that plan got sidelined.

The original deal was a good one. Our friend Jim Isbell had a slip rented. He had no boat yet. He said we could use the slip. UT said they didn't care. So good so far. However, they also have a rule of no extended liveaboards. We figured that was a month or two. They figured a day or two. We were asked to leave.

So, the cruisers moved on. Rainbow Chaser went to Rockport. We're now in a nice slip with a finger pier beside it. If we'd had that pier in the first place, Nellie wouldn't be waling impaired now. We also have parking right in front of the boat and our own mailbox right in front of the house. All for the grand total of $84 a month. If you have to be stuck, I guess it could be worse.

What do you do while you're sitting waiting on an ankle to heal? Work on the boat, of course. Fix numerous things that always need fixing. Look for more storage. There has to be more somewhere, isn't there? And find the source of leaks. I'm not sure you ever get them all.

Boat projects seem to explode. I started to fiberglass new shelves into two lockers in the main cabin. Simple project. Empty the lockers, cut the plywood, glass it in. When I got the lockers empty, I found that water was leaking in around the chainplates. (For my nonsailing friends these are what the cables that hold up the mast hook to. VERY important!) I started taking them out to do a good job of fixing them and to check them for corrosion, etc. One of the main ones was badly cracked. That meant I had to go find someone to make 2 new ones. 2 days later, I finished the shelves.

We went fishing off the back of the boat right in the slip the other night. We caught hardheads. They were big hardheads, mind you, but still hardheads. (For those that don't know, hardheads are a totally worthless form of catfish. No editable, not good for bait, only good to get stuck on their fins and sting like hell.) I caught a 3 foot long eel. Had a heck of a time getting rid of him. And I caught one very nice speckled trout. Speckled trout are very good eating. It was like a tease, though, 'cause I never caught another.

When we got to Rockport they we having an infestation of cabbage heads. These are jelly fish that look like a head of cabbage with a skirt. The skirt wiggles and makes it move. It goes straight until it hits something. Then it bounces off at the same angle it hit at. They were going everywhere. Remember the pong games we used to play 15 years ago? It looks like hundreds of pong games going on in the water. These things are not harmfull like most jellyfish but they have one very bad sideeffect. When mr. pong hits your intake for the air conditioner water pump, he's sucked into it. He just sticks. Then mr. pong is stuck. Then mr. air conditioner quits. Then mr. cruiser has to go over the side to get mr. pong off the damn intake.

I've made a number of trips to get mr. pong loose already. As I sit here, the air is off. Mr. pong got stuck again. Actually, I don't care tonight, as it cooler. But yesterday mr. pong got into mr. air conditioner's intake in the middle of the afternoon. I went in to get him out. There were about a thousand of the damn things around Rainbow Chaser, along with a few of the real jelly fish that sting. I was getting bumped all over by them and was really expecting to get stung by a jelly fish. I was getting pretty jumpy and wanted out of the water. Once I knocked off mr. pong, I started kicking hard to get out from under the boat. Unfortunately, there was a post from the pier there. Even worse, I kicked the dickens out of it. Actually, I think the post did OK, but I shredded the top of my foot on the barnacles.

So, when mr. pong number 2 got into the intake about 2 hours later and it was getting dark, I let them win. Now, Nellie and I are both a little banged up.

We've found that people treat you like royalty as you move around. We've been invited to supper a number of times, had offers of help, transportation, and had places left open just in case we needed them. I've heard that the best part of cruising is all the good and interesting people you meet, and I'm finding it is true.

We're going to try to sail up to Port Lavaca, about 60 miles north, in a day or two. Nellie thinks she is up to a little sail and people along the coast probably aren't used to crew sporting bright red designer casts. Should be interesting.

They have discovered a boat from a couple hundred years ago, Lasalle's boat, I think, out in the middle of the bay. We'll try to find the site and visit. I understand that they have a cofferdam around it and the site is dry, even though it is miles out. I also heard they won't allow visiters. We'll find out. If they won't, I'll anchor next to it, climb to the top of those new mast steps I put on and use the 24 to 1 zoom on the camcorder to see what is down there! Let's see what they think of that.

Gene Gruender aboard Rainbow Chaser