Date: 01 Apr 97 11:49:12 EST
From: Gene Gruender <104675.2134@CompuServe.COM>
Subject: Rainbow Chaser News

Rainbow Chaser is still in George Town. This is a crossroads of sorts. Many cruisers get this far south, then head back to home in the states. It is also a stopping point for people heading back from the Virgins and the islands on down south as they make their way back north. They'll hang out here from a couple days to a few weeks, then go on north. And it is also a staging area for people taking the "Thornless Passage" south.

Speaking of the Thornless Passage, the author of that book, Bruce Van Sant, is here now. I met him yesterday and chatted with him briefly. He gave a Q&A session on his book at a gathering at Hamburger Beach, one of the many beaches/meeting places here. He has a reputation of being somewhat of a hard ass, but he really is a pleasant guy. His biggest problem with people is: They just need to read the book, rather than ask stupid questions that are clearly answered in it? (By the way, those are my interpretations, not his words. In listening to him, it was clear that is his complaint, even if he was too kind to just say it.)

We've had cookouts, gatherings, visits, high winds, with more coming. The wind never blows from the west here-except for last week and again now! It's real easy to just hang around here. I suppose a lot of people do just stay a long time.

Actually, there are a number of people who come here on their boats and use the area and their boats just like the snow birds use south Texas and Florida. They just pull up, drop the hook, and stay for the duration. There are many who do this, including at least one couple who stay 50 weeks of the year. Due to immigration reasons, they leave for 2 weeks and just come back. I suppose there are worse places to just hang out.

The transmission is not any better, but not any worse. Who knows, maybe it'll last until we get to Texas. I won't bet on it though. I'm using motor power as though I may lose it at any minute. Because of that, we'll go south around Andros, near Cuba, south of the keys and across to Texas. If the transmission problem didn't exist, we'd probably go north to the Abacos, then cross the Okeechobee to the Gulf. Maybe another time.

We are trying now to solve a problem with a boat stuck down at Rum Cay. A Dutch boat named "Droom" (at least that's how it's pronounced) has had his fresh water cooling pump seized up. He has the additional problem that the phone tower on the island, servicing the one phone on the island, and the few cell phones in the area, is down. No phones. Who knows when they'll be back. So, we're trying to help. He has the same engine as I do, almost. Mine is the raw water cooled version of the 3QM30 Yanmar, his is the fresh water version. I've used my fresh water pump to suck sea water in through the motor when my raw water pump failed, temporarily going back to raw water cooling. It would seem he could use his raw water pump the same way to convert to raw water cooling long enough to get him into Georgetown and get parts. He had never considered this, so we looked through the manuals and talked it over on the radio. With a switch of a couple hoses, we think it will work. He's going to try it in the morning. For those of you who have watched my propensity to kludge things, now I'm doing it remotely by radio!

Late this evening, Monday, Fred of "Isle", the fellow who's dinghy went on the rocks back at Big Major's Spot, came into port. He called me a little bit ago on the radio and we chatted. I found out that his motor still runs fine after it's dunking, although it is pretty dinged and scratched up, and his inflatable dinghy still floats - after 18 patches.

We've ordered mail and it should be here around the end of the week. As much as anything, we wanted all our sailing magazines. We'll probably get our Cruising World and see how we look in living, although hobbled, color. We did get to see a photo copy of the page we're on, someone put a copy in the mail box in the market for us.

Once we get the mail, we'll probably head back up the Exumas from island to island. I'd like to locate some good fishing holes, although they are pretty slim here. Most people catch very few because there are so many fishermen and so much pressure, but I usually find a little niche where I can get a few. That won't happen here in Georgetown , though.

I want to take a minute to say thanks to all who write to us, even though I may not send a short note back like I used to. We still enjoy the notes and letters, actually, we look forward to them. However, at the cost of email here, it can get out of hand if I send a hundred short emails back. I'd rather just get them and then give a big group thanks. I hope no one is offended.

We'll get email again on Friday, so we'll be looking for news from anyone.

Gene Gruender
aboard Rainbow Chaser

From Nellie:

The crew of Rainbow Chaser remains in George Town, Bahamas. At the moment there are several hundred boats here, and it is like a small community.

At 0815 on channel 68 on the VHF there is a Boaters Net. Any business, community activity, or individual boater can make an announcement. Announcements go from things people need to one boater who just says LOVE..LOVE..LOVE all things can be fixed with LOVE. Anyway, that's the start of our day.

For us the morning consists of school, and then in the afternoon, everyone converges on Volleyball Beach to sun, play volleyball, and just hang out. On Easter Saturday we did an egg dying party for all of the kids (MANY). then on Easter Sunday after the sunrise service we had an Easter egg hunt followed by a pot luck. On Easter Monday 160 cruisers got on several school buses and went to a Bar-B-Que supporting a church in Williamstown about 15 miles from George Town. It was great to see the rest of the island.

It's funny, there is one main grocery store that also serves as the cruisers hub in George Town. Exuma Market. They collect mail for all of the boaters, send, and accept faxes. Everyone stops and chats outside. Anyway, the market was closed for Good Friday, Easter Sunday, and Easter Monday. On Thursday and Saturday it looked like a stateside store does before the warnings of a huge snowstorm (in the North), or an immanent hurricane in the Texas area. Even at the high prices the shelves were being cleaned out. It was like the locusts had hit. What was even better, the supply boat had just come in. It's amazing what creates an "event" here.

There is such a feeling of community, and in a sense security that it's incredible. Parents trade off baby sitting, people trade food, those without water get jugs left on their deck by the water fairy, it's a most interesting milieu.

For those of you interested in cruising, I would be untruthful if I didn't say it's A LOT of hard work, and sometimes sacrifices, but all in all it's more than worth it. This first year out has taught us a greet deal. What we need, and what we don't, what works, and what doesn't. After a couple of months down time we'll be ready, and even better prepared to set out again.

in George Town, Bahamas
Aboard Rainbow Chaser