Date: 10 Apr 97 10:18:45 EDT
From: Gene Gruender <104675.2134@compuserve.com>
Subject: Cruising Continues

(I'd started writing an account of what is going on, independently of Nellie's, some of it is redundant, but I'll just paste here anyway.)

We were sitting here in George Town this morning (Tuesday, April 8) talking about which way to go when we left. I was sort of bored with the idea of going back past Florida, then across the Gulf. Nellie asked if Grand Cayman was out of the way.

After a half hour of looking at the charts and the World Cruising Routes book, it was a done deal. It's Tuesday afternoon, about 4 PM, and we've got it figured out. We didn't have flags for Jamaica or Cayman, but we do now. What more could we need?

When we get back to Texas, we'll have circumnavigated Cuba. I have no plans to stop there, but stuff happens. You never know. The winds and currents are so much better that it's an easier trip than straight there. In addition, there are stops along the way. Great Inagua to Jamaica, Jamaica to Cayman, Cayman to Isla Mujeres, Isla to Port Aransas.

It's Wednesday now. Things are starting to get settled for our next leg. The problems, we leave from here to go southwest, but must go northwest for a day. Guess where the winds are from through Friday? You got it! We'll wait.

People who are not used to using their radios correctly should spend a few days here. They'd learn quickly or be run out. Well, not run out, but they'd get the message pretty quickly. With 400 boats using the radio for all communications, and most businesses also using it, along with taxis, land and water, it doesn't have room for good old boy CB radio style talk.

A typical conversation on channel 16 where I wanted to call our friends on the boat "Isle" would go like this:

(Rainbow Chaser calling Isle): Isle, Isle, Rainbow Chaser.
(Isle answers, probably with 4 more callers for other boats before Isle gets to his radio):
Rainbow Chaser, Isle.
(Rainbow Chaser answers, giving a channel, after several other calls or answers in between):
Isle, Rainbow Chaser, 12.
(Isle answers): 12

With no more to say, we both are on 12. All on low power, by the way, because with so much radio talk, full power would bleed into other channels on other boats.

Now, how does this compare to where you are??

It's now Thursday and we've talked to Steve and Darlene aboard "Outa Here". Steve is Jamaican and gave us all sorts of information about Jamaica. Now we feel better about going there.

Here are a couple things he told us that may be of interest. He says they get very few cruising boats, partly due to the bad rap Jamaica got back in the '70's. That bad rap was deserved back then, but they've straightened up their act and it's quite different now. We went through a couple books I have, Jimmy Cornell's World Cruising Handbook and the Cruising Guide to the Caribbean, and they both have old information, so it's no wonder people don't know the country now. For one thing, they will now issue a coastal cruising permit, letting you go along your way as you wish, rather than having to check in and out of each port like it used to be. He also says if you go to Kingston, it's like any other huge city. There's crime, etc., but if you stick to the smaller places you'll have no trouble.

He says that, also, you'll be approached by many people trying to sell you all sorts of stuff. They are very aggressive. All you have to do is say no, and there is no problem. A lot of people are very put off by the aggressive nature of the vendors, but it's just their way of life.

We'll be there in a few weeks, so we'll have our own opinion to tell soon. We'll keep you posted.

As for today, I have to go to town and get diesel (30 gal at $2.20 a gallon) and 5 gallons of gas (at $3 a gallon) and a quart of 2 cycle oil (at $3.95). You can see pretty quickly where a cruiser's money goes. I'll also send this email at a cost of somewhere between $4.50 and $20, depending on how much mail there is and how well CompuServe is working today.

We hope to leave Saturday morning - we would have left tomorrow (Friday) but the weather is not cooperating. Saturday it is supposed to be 15 knots out of the southwest, we're heading northeast. If that hold true, we'll be heading for Rum Cay, where there is supposed to be great snorkeling and fishing.

Gene Gruender
aboard Rainbow Chaser
(chaffing at the bit to leave George Town, Exumas, Bahamas)