Date: 08 Nov 96 10:13:56 EST

From: Gene Gruender <104675.2134@CompuServe.COM>

Subject: Excitement in Rockport

Rainbow Chaser is still in a slip in Rockport. Very laid back, slow pace. Nice.

We went back to Austin last week to visit. Fast pace. I was there about 10 minutes and stuck at a traffic light. I'd had enough and told Nellie so. She informed me that she liked Austin and missed it.

Half an hour later we were stuck in the third traffic tie up and she let me know that she'd had enough. It's amazing how fast you can get used to the slow pace. Here in Rockport the biggest traffic problem is getting stuck behind someone about 80 years old who drives their Cadillac about 20 miles an hour. For a couple blocks. Then the traffic problem is over.

I had spread the word that I'd be interested in doing some boat work to have a little income. All we've had for some time is outgo and it was starting to worry me. A fellow named Richard has a 1962 48' wooden catamaran just down the street and is fixing it up to go cruising. It needs a lot of work and he hired me to build him new handrails for the top of his cabin. I was on our pier sawing out the 11' long rails and doing a little sanding when Nellie drove up.

She'd gone to Richard's house about 5 miles away to talk to his wife. They weren't home, but their neighbor was putting a note on their door to let them know their boat was sinking. Some one near their boat had called but they weren't home so he called their neighbor. Nellie debated for a minute or so about leaving another note herself but elected to come get me without taking the time to write the note. When she told me I grabbed my wetsuit and pump and we took off. Even from our boat 2 blocks away I could see that the catamaran was listing quite a bit.

When we got there the right front corner was up about 2 feet high, the left rear was nearly under water. It looked awful. I opened the rear hatch on the left and saw that the water was about 2 feet over the motor. There is a port there in the side and the water was about 1/2" from coming in through that port. If that 8" by 14" hole went under water it would go straight down.

I stuck my pump in and started with it. I was losing ground and it would only be a minute or so before it was all over. I tossed the pump and grabbed a 5 gallon bucket and started to bail. Dip, dump. Dip, dump. About every 3 seconds. I don't know how much water that was, but I broke even with the water coming in. The water level stopped raising inside the boat. I stopped long enough to see how fast it was coming in. It was about a half inch a minute, not much time to waste. I bailed some more until I got it down 3 or 4 inches. Then I had time to climb out of the hatch to go inside to look at the living quarters. The engine compartment was about the rear 15 feet of the boat. Forward of that was about another 30 feet of living area. Between them was a bulkhead. The living area was about half full with water running through the bulkhead from the motor area. I went back to bail some more.

One of the neighbors, a rather old man, came over with a small electric pump. Nellie wanted me to stop bailing and help him hook up the pump. I'm not sure if I got them to understand that the boat would sink while I was messing with the pump, but I ignored them and kept bailing. I could get 10 times more water out with the bucket than that pump could do. I couldn't keep it up forever, but surely help would show up soon.

I got the water level down a little bit again and went back to the living quarters to see if anything there was leaking in. Even though the leaking had clearly started in the engine room, with the hull so low in the water other things could be leaking now. Sure enough, water was coming in the drain of the sink. It took a few minutes groping around underwater to find the valve, but I got it shut and that gusher stopped.

I got back to the engine room and started bailing again. I had it down about a foot when someone else showed up. He had a larger pump and we got it running. With it and the smaller one the other fellow had, we could gain on it. I finally got a rest.

Eventually Richard showed up and jumped in. While we were bailing and pumping, someone else showed up and went for a large salvage pump from the rental store. When it showed up, we had a stream of water like a fire hose coming out of the boat.

We finally got the water down nearly to the floor. We discovered that most of the water was coming in the exhaust hose. Richard had removed the muffler, which was low in the bilge, to replace it. The exhaust opening in the side of the both was above the water line, so it should have been no problem. Or so Richard thought. Each time a boat went by the wake would hit the side of the boat and a little water would trickle in. Eventually it got a little deeper in the bilge and the boat would sit a little lower. When enough water got in the bilge the opening for the exhaust went below the water level. Then the water started gushing in. With no bilge pump in the boat, it was a very short time until it would go down. After we figured that out I ended up diving in with hammer and a wooden plug to stop up the hole.

Now Richard is down there trying to get the salt water out of the diesel engine. That old Ferryman 2 cylinder may survive, but it's going to take little work.

I'm now back at Rainbow Chaser. I'm warmed up, showered, had supper and had enough excitement for the day. Hand rails? I'll try to get them done tomorrow.

Gene Gruender
aboard Rainbow Chaser